Performance Academy LA Recap
Posted originally on ST Nation:
Just got back. Soooo glad my wife and I took the motorcycles, 'cause it was bumper to bumper all the way back from Dodger Stadium to where we live by the SM airport. Really enjoyed lane splitting past not one, but two Lambos and a Ferarri on coming home. I love doing that.
Met up with a couple of ST Nation peeps and hung out for about 3 1/2 hours. It was 110 degrees in the parking lot when we left (according to my bike thermometer).
I stalled a bunch of times on the runup to the practice laps. I'm pretty use to the clutch on the Trans Am (my current car), which allows a more gradual easing in of the clutch (more travel for engagement), and I think I'm really used to the feel of my engine. The ST engine is so smooth, you can't tell the car is even running without looking at the tach.
For a fun daily driver, this is the car. It's just so damn well behaved when you want it to be. Since we were in second the whole time, couldn't really tell how fast it is because just as it's coming on the horsepower, you have to turn. But the low end torque was super satisfying. In bumper to bumper traffic, you won't have to row the gears.
I did crap times. 37.3 and 37.1. The pro driver did 32.5. Both times I was two aggressive and washed in the gravel. I was doing a good time on my second lap, but my big Frankenboots caught the brake once when I went to hit the gas and I lost nearly a second on that alone. But I have to say, even washing the gravel in a 4 wheel drift, the car felt totally confident. I should have brought some sneakers with me, but riding the bike means wearing steel toed boots.
The Red Haired Shedevil did 38.x and 36.23, beating my times. She also hung the rear end out several times which was fun. It was so well behaved, she didn't even notice til I told her. She's super aggressive in her PT Cruiser and skates roller derby, so I expected her to do well. She's been watching a lot of Top Gear lately, so she felt inspired. By the time we did our power laps, the gravel was all over the track and few people were getting below 34, not even the dudes who regularly race autoX. They also were only letting us do two power laps by the time we went up.
Nowhere near as much understeer as the TA. I could really feel that inside front wheel pulling the turns tighter.
Like a lot of people, I didn't really pay attention to the sound symposer. I can only say that the sound seemed appropriate for the driving. Might also be less noticeable when the windows are open. From outside, the exhaust note sounded a bit like a 1970s era Porsche 911, which I liked.
The ST3 seats appear to tilt the whole seat back, and the thigh support was fine for me. I'm 6'. My wife is 5'10. Those seats are super comfy IMO. I like the size and grip on the steering wheel, but like a lot of people, I hit the windshield wiper stem with my hand. I was just a total embarrassment.
The deteriorating parking lot surface was very gravelly. It was a good test of the traction control which worked really well. I suspect the snowy region people will be very pleased.
The progressive steering took a little getting used to. Once I was used to it, I was hooked. The road feel was pretty acceptable, I was expecting more numbness considering some of the reviews. You couldn't feel everything, but that's true of most cars with even mechanical power steering.
I didn't feel any torque steer despite smashing the pedal to the floor. Maybe it was there, but I didn't notice it (and I'm kind of sensitive to that, being a rear wheel drive guy).
I saw groups of 3 and 4 big and tall guys (some in both directions) riding around. The guys in the back seat said it wasn't bad at all. Not roomy, but not uncomfortable either.
Obviously, it wasn't optimal conditions. Hot and gravely. But it was an absolute blast doing hot laps in 2nd gear. There is absolutely nothing I don't love about this car. Just the right amount of power for normal street and a little enthusiastic driving, and for the most part it handles like an RWD car except for the ability to do rear wheel power slides (at least with TC full on). I'm not as into that as I used to be, after replacing some very expensive tires several times before their time.
Very glad I pre-ordered one already.
Last edited by Frankenbike; 08-13-2012 at 02:10 PM.