McLaren Life banner

1 - 20 of 22 Posts

·
Registered
Joined
·
6,894 Posts
Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
I visited Exotics Racing in Vegas over the weekend. They didn't have the Aventador that day, so I just decided to take out a few other cars that I'd never driven before. In ER's favour, the operation is otherwise fantastic. I was a little bit worried, based on some participant reviews, that they wouldn't let you flog the cars. But, that is easily overcome by telling each instructor (you have a different instructor for each car) about prior track experience. Then as long as your first lap is clean, they'll usually let you take more liberties with the cars (i.e. shift at higher RPM, brake deeper than their braking zone pylons indicate) since like everybody else in Vegas, they are working for tips. The one caveat is that they run all the cars in Sport mode, or equivalent, obviously to keep some level of safety net, which is understandable.

The track is a relatively short lap, but well laid out with a variety of turns and a decent straight that gets most of the cars well into 5th gear. Here are the cars I chose, in the order that I drove them:

Mercedes SLS AMG: The big Merc surprised me for a few different reasons. It was much easier to drive than I had anticipated. On the track, the long bonnet is a non-issue - in fact, I wasn't even aware of it. Forward visibility is fine and the car is very well balanced, making it easy to place anywhere on the track. It still feels like a big car, though, and while you can probably extract some very decent lap times, it is probably still too cumbersome to track regularly and really enjoy it. The engine is punchy, perhaps not quite as strong as I'd hoped, but probably held back by the relatively high weight of the car. The car seems to do everything well, but the transmission is crap. The shifts take forever and are a real let-down when you are trying to hustle the car around a lap. So, that spoiled it for me. Since I probably wouldn't track this car very often, I'd probably just rather have a manual box and why not a V12 while they're at it. I think it would be a nice collectible GT car in that case.

Porsche 911 Turbo S: Silent assassin. I loved this car. Obviously, it was going to feel nimble, stepping out of the Merc, but there is definitely much more refinement, too. It just devours the track without fuss and you don't feel the insane speed you are carrying as the engine and wind noise are minimal. It is probably just as fast as the 12C in a straight line, but the power delivery is slightly different - very constant vs. the waves of boost that catapult the 12C down the road. Definitely a driver's chassis, responsive to lifting off and trailing brake, etc. You can really finesse the car around the track and it is challenging and rewarding to get the best out of it. Feels like a RWD car, much more so than the GT-R. Absolutely impeccable steering and the suspension didn't feel as soft as I thought it would. Out of all the cars I drove, I wanted to stay in this one longer and discover it, coax faster and faster laps out of it. I'd assumed it was just a one-trick dragstrip pony, which was a dumb assumption of course as it is still a 911.

Ferrari 458 Italia: Of course, given the amount of heated debate on these forums, I was a little worried that it would be so fantastic that I would unsubscribe from McLarenLife and sell my 12C when I got home. Certainly, some journalists would have you think so. It's an excellent car, but for me not an amazing one. Jumping from the the torque monster Porsche didn't help, as the 458 didn't give the same shove in the back. Seemed geared very low, which helped keep it zingy, but the overall thrust seems more on par with a 430 Scud than the warp factor of the Turbo S or 12C. It definitely has more body roll than the 12C, but not excessive considering the conventional suspension. My biggest issue is with the steering and overall grip level. The steering ratio is overboosted to the point of being slightly erratic. As a result, you don't have the resolution to steer in minute increments and you can't place the car inch perfect through each phase of the corners. You definitely get the feeling of a lively chassis, but not the impression of utter confidence, especially on corner exit. Perhaps in their attempt to keep ratcheting up the "fun" factor, Ferrari has swung the pendulum too far. Whereas in the Porsche you feel you've been given the unadulterated tools to go as fast as possible, in the 458 I felt as if there is something else being layered over everything, a "coating" if you will that defines the car as a Ferrari. Which is strange, because the 430 Scuderia has perfect steering and is very much a lively Ferrari, so why mess with the ratio? The 458 is a step up from the base 430, no doubt, but I feel it is at best a step sideways or perhaps even backwards from the 430 Scud for pure driving dynamics.

Nissan GT-R: Amazed and disappointed at the same time. The grip is bewildering, it truly is. You feel the size and weight of the car, but the traction it finds everywhere is boggling. Easily the quickest of the cars I drove over a single lap because you just have to make sure you don't way overcook the entry and then just nail the gas. Power is great - not as smooth as the Porsche, but out-hustles the Merc and Ferrari without a problem. I just couldn't warm up to the size of the car. With all that performance potential, it just feels strange to be steering a big car around the track. If I could get the same technology in a car with smaller overall dimensions, I'd take a hard look. How could you not? Some say the GT-R isn't fun, but what isn't fun about murdering a racetrack. Even in the 12C, you better be on your A-game if one of these is behind you, because you could wad up your car trying to stay ahead of it. Nissan has some amazing technology - I just really hope they put it in a smaller, proper sports car.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
6,894 Posts
Discussion Starter #3
Nice write up, very objective no bias to a particular brand........can u imagine 991 Turbo S :-0
Will be formidable, no doubt. It seems the latest bandwagon onto which journalists are jumping is bashing Porsche for going with electric steering on the 991 series. I fully expect that if you blindfolded them, most of them wouldn't be able to tell the difference.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
4,955 Posts
I fully expect that if you blindfolded them, most of them wouldn't be able to tell the difference.
And they would 'do' faster lap times!
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
98 Posts
Nice write up, very objective no bias to a particular brand........can u imagine 991 Turbo S :-0

Absolutely 991 Turbo S is something to look forward to, probably will have around 560 horse and similar torque and withat new chassis the added balance in the corners will make it a killer car!
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
367 Posts
Great write up, thank you 6E!

I am suspicious that the LP700 is out for more than "routine" service. I was told they were waiting on a part. I did get an advance email and choice of other cars at a discounted rate. Given the loveliness of the girls at the desk, no discount was necessary for my complete embrace of their business model. Thus my 7 laps in the 12C were $399. Not too bad, and on someone else's insurance, tires, and brakes.

As mentioned on other forums ad nauseum, some think the 458 lacks Ferrari "soul". There is some truth to that and perhaps Ferrari's response was to make the steering and throttle and exhaust valve behave so abrubtly that it feels like more is going on than really is; electronically twitchy without the old mechanical immediacy.

The market will get really interesting if Porsche lays out their mid engine platform at the price point of 458 and 12C.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
6,894 Posts
Discussion Starter #7
As mentioned on other forums ad nauseum, some think the 458 lacks Ferrari "soul". There is some truth to that and perhaps Ferrari's response was to make the steering and throttle and exhaust valve behave so abrubtly that it feels like more is going on than really is; electronically twitchy without the old mechanical immediacy.

The market will get really interesting if Porsche lays out their mid engine platform at the price point of 458 and 12C.
I think you may be right, regarding the 458. Perhaps they felt they needed to counteract the extra weight of the dual clutch gearbox by speeding up the tactile responses. Certainly, when you are "busy" in the cockpit and needing many steering corrections, you have the illusion of going faster than you really are. They know their customers, however, so I have no doubt that this is exactly what the majority of them want. For me, though, there is no way I could walk past a 430 Scud and buy a 458, as the Scud feels more like a precision instrument and the 458 more of a have fun toy. Maybe with the 458 Scud, since the car itself should be significantly lighter on its feet, they will dial some linearity back into the controls. Doubt it, but maybe.

Yes, I'm very interested to see what the Porsche 960 concept will look like (although I just read that Georg Kacher is insisting it will be a four-door??). By 2015, it should have hybrid drive tech trickling down from the 918. Would love to see carbon make an appearance in the chassis, as well.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
367 Posts
6E what did you think of the sights and sounds of the cars side by side? A diverse group.
I thought the 458 stole the show from a spectator's point of view. Cockpit experience being different of course.

I still get excited talking about Porsche, like when a GT2 passed me in Texas last week, but I am done with the brand. Too many service problems and treatment by PCNA was unacceptable at any price point.
Might as well give the Italians a chance. Or the British :)
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
6,894 Posts
Discussion Starter #9
6E what did you think of the sights and sounds of the cars side by side? A diverse group.
I thought the 458 stole the show from a spectator's point of view. Cockpit experience being different of course.

I still get excited talking about Porsche, like when a GT2 passed me in Texas last week, but I am done with the brand. Too many service problems and treatment by PCNA was unacceptable at any price point.
Might as well give the Italians a chance. Or the British :)
There was a black lp570 superleggera there that was seriously hot looking. My buddy drove it and he hasn't been right in the head since. The 458s were definitely represented well, the one I drove was burgundy-ish. Would have loved to see the Aventador, though; I didn't even ask what colour it is :eek:. They had an Indy car driver giving people hotlaps in a yellow Gallardo that sounded like it was ripping a hole in the universe- not sure if the exhaust was stock, but it was mental. It was riding on RE11 tires, so maybe some other mods done to it.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
367 Posts
There was a black lp570 superleggera there that was seriously hot looking. My buddy drove it and he hasn't been right in the head since. The 458s were definitely represented well, the one I drove was burgundy-ish. Would have loved to see the Aventador, though; I didn't even ask what colour it is :eek:. They had an Indy car driver giving people hotlaps in a yellow Gallardo that sounded like it was ripping a hole in the universe- not sure if the exhaust was stock, but it was mental. It was riding on RE11 tires, so maybe some other mods done to it.
The LP560 sounded stock to me. I was told the driver was "Rudy. A drifting champion with mad skills."
Two laps of him scaring the passenger= $99. He clearly enjoys it.
Maybe he has various Stig-like identities.

I saw the Aventador in white in Chicago area. Not the best color for it IMO. Turned down a test drive as I just wasn't in the market. Honest to a fault I guess.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
6,894 Posts
Discussion Starter #11
The LP560 sounded stock to me. I was told the driver was "Rudy. A drifting champion with mad skills."
Two laps of him scaring the passenger= $99. He clearly enjoys it.
Maybe he has various Stig-like identities.

I saw the Aventador in white in Chicago area. Not the best color for it IMO. Turned down a test drive as I just wasn't in the market. Honest to a fault I guess.
Richie Hearn was the hotlap driver when I was there. Re: Aventador colour, I was hoping this:

 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,459 Posts
Will be formidable, no doubt. It seems the latest bandwagon onto which journalists are jumping is bashing Porsche for going with electric steering on the 991 series. I fully expect that if you blindfolded them, most of them wouldn't be able to tell the difference.
+1......like cola comparos;)
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
886 Posts
No drive in the 12C? You would need the back to back, same track same day. Of course the 12C would be quite dissapointing in sport/sport.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
6,894 Posts
Discussion Starter #14
No drive in the 12C?
The organizers said it wasn't available that day, but they wouldn't give me a clear answer as to why. So, I assumed somebody crashed it. I told the 458 instructor I was looking forward to comparing the Ferrari to my car. He said the McLaren is definitely faster. I'll let you decide if he was blowing smoke! ;)
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
356 Posts
I told the 458 instructor I was looking forward to comparing the Ferrari to my car. He said the McLaren is definitely faster. I'll let you decide if he was blowing smoke! ;)
As you pointed out earlier, he was working for tips. ;)
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
6,894 Posts
Discussion Starter #16
As you pointed out earlier, he was working for tips. ;)
Also remembering that this 458 probably came from Wynn Ferrari Las Vegas, not a press car from Maranello. ;)
Truthfully, all the cars were noticeably quicker than the Merc SLS. I felt that the Turbo S and 458 would be a fair fight, although the Porsche gets a better drive out of the corners. The GT-R sends them both packing without breaking a sweat. You need to stay in the boost though. Some of the instructors want you to use 3rd gear in a couple of spots where you really need 2nd; I downshifted anyway and just took the wrist slap.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
292 Posts
Good story. Funny, my impression of 458 was pretty identical after my test-drives (on the street only): entertaining, but ultimately a B.S. car, especially compared to the scud.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
6,894 Posts
Discussion Starter #18
NOTE: I am editing my initial post to remove the reference about Exotics Racing not calling me to notify the Aventador was unavailable. In fact, they did call me well in advance and left 2 detailed voice messages, which somehow I missed until I returned from my trip. My apologies to Exotic Racing for the oversight in my initial review.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
367 Posts
...and Porsche's already huge Asian market expands

Speaking of which, doesn't the Turbo S have a brake steer mech like the 12C?
 
1 - 20 of 22 Posts
Top