Mount Alma Mile Hillclimb 2014

MtAlma2014 1276Kevin Mackrell has thundered his way to another consecutive 4WD outright victory in the Mount Alma Mile hillclimb, held recently at Inman Valley on the scenic Fleurieu Peninsula. Behind the wheel of his all-conquering V8 powered Datsun 260Z, Mackrell held a firm grip on the two-day event, overcoming a five second penalty to take the win.

MtAlma2014 1277The 2WD category was won by Clinton Faustmann in the REVS/Faustune prepared FD RX7, who wrangled the flame spitting rotor up the hill slightly quicker than Jason Unkovich, who claimed third outright 2WD in the same car.

MtAlma2014 1320The big battle all weekend was between Mackrell and the Supaloc Racing Lamborghini Gallardo Superleggera of Kevin Weeks, now sporting a fresh twin turbo setup. Weeks was still a fraction off Mackrell’s times, but the noise of the forced induction Italian V10 outclassed the 260Z in every way. It was spine tingling and worth coming just to listen to it alone. Continue reading

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Driven – Mercedes-Benz AMG A45

DSC_0012The official tuning arm of Mercedes-Benz, AMG, has a reputation for building slightly bonkers cars. It began back in the early 70’s with the 6.9 V8 500SEL built for the European Touring Car Championship and continues today as the company stuffs gruff V8’s, usually with a supercharger or twin turbochargers added for good luck, into whatever Mercedes-Benz product they can lay their hands on. So what exactly is the AMG badge now doing on the side of a medium sized four cylinder hatchback? It may be turbocharged and have four wheel drive, but still…

DSC_0037Rest assured, this is still a proper AMG and one look at the numbers reinforces that. The turbocharged 2.0 engine produces 360hp (265kw) and an astounding 450nm of torque, making it the most powerful four cylinder production engine, ever. 100hp/litre used to be the old benchmark – the A45 smashes that out of the ballpark with 180hp/litre and it races to 100km/h in just 4.6sec. The Haldex 4WD drives the front wheels around town for fuel economy, but can divert up to 50% to the rear when the pace picks up.

DSC_0093Hmm… a fast, turbocharged, four cylinder, all wheel drive small car – haven’t we seen this before? Well, yes. The concept isn’t exactly new, but the A45 brings a lot more to the table than the others. It offers style, build quality and levels of refinement that makes an Evo X or STI look and feel quite crummy in comparison, and the AMG brand brings benefits you don’t get with a Golf R or BMW 1M. It may be keenly priced (on the AMG scale), but make no mistake – the A45 is a legitimate AMG. That means your hand crafted engine bears the name and signature of its builder. You also have access to the same program of customer benefits, like drive days and product launches, that SLS buyers get which is possibly one of the greatest marketing ploys ever. The A45 will attract new buyers to the brand and when it comes time for them to upgrade, of course they’ll buy another, more expensive AMG. Who’d give up the lairy track days you now look forward to? Continue reading