Test Drives

Also see at PGT vs. Similar Cars

2000 Subaru Impreza 2.5RS

Stuart L. contributor November 99

Salesman let me take it out by myself, Mistake #1. Said "keep it for a while", Mistake #2. The car was fun to drive. I once owned a 323 GTX and loved powering out of the turns. The 2.5 has good power down low and jumps to rev limiter quick in first and second. 60 MPH takes third gear which slows down its test time and can be annoying but other then that I was impressed by the big four and short throw shifter. Handling is Cadillac soft compared to the Probe and the weak tires had me pushing and sliding all around. And for some reason the brakes on this car were very soft, suprising seeing they are 10.9" twin piston upfront and 10.7" disc in the back. Salesman states that it will go away after 1000 miles or so?????? Still, this is an attractive car for the money. Salesman states I can order any model with any options for 2.9% over invoice. The car I drove was fully loaded, minus leather for $19,500. So, to sum it up:

1998 Camaro Z28

Jan98: I drove one of new 305hp Z28's. The seats were only so-so, and the car actually looked pretty good. The engine made this "hammering" noise- like metal on metal and really didn't sound good. It was a little hard to launch- the shifter seemed numb to me. Mostly I felt I couldn't feel what was going on the car- especially what the back end wanted to do under power. The engine (the new Corvette LT1 engine) seemed oddly sluggish at low RPMs. It had thrust (0-60 in 5.2 seconds) but sounded like it was going to blow up getting there. I wondered if there was something wrong with it.

After driving the PGT at Sear's Point and seeing a lot of Camaros at autocrosses, I have become more curious about what remains of the classic pony car. I never liked the Mustang- the seating position didn't agree with me much.

1997 Toyota Twin Turbo Supra

Lacking a Z28 to drive (in December), I wandered over to the Toyota dealership to look at a Supra. They had only one, a 15th Anniversary edition Twin Turbo- black. It looked very out of place surrounded by hundreds of Corollas and Camrys. This is a car that Batman might think too ostentatious.

They were pretty anxious to get rid of it as the salesman practically twisted my arm to take a test drive. (Not that much twisting was required, however :)). I told him about the NASA schools and racing once we were safely (?!) in the car. He was very cool about it.

I got to wring the car out pretty well. The salesguy was very restrained and only gasped once when I activated the ABS coming down an offramp. I knew the car had some of the best brakes in the world, and am familiar with the huge stopping power of the Probe, so I really wailed on the pedal. The ABS let the tires make quite a bit of noise as we hauled down from 70mph.

Next I got to try out power oversteer- as the second turbo cuts in at 4K the rear end will get out on you pretty fast. But the suspension was so amazing communicative I felt I could hang the back end out with throttle and feel everything the car was doing.

The suspension was the most amazing thing about the car. It rode very smoothly- better than our 1992 Legend sedan- and on these super low profile tires. But you could also feel every little change of road surface. Fabulous. Mid turn bumps couldn't upset this suspension.

Thrust was bountiful (0-60 in 5 seconds) and exciting due to the twin turbo. Despite being just a little faster than the Z28, the experience was totally different. It felt much, much faster than the Camaro- but best of all, I felt I could use all the power through that magnificent chassis.

It's been a couple of months now since I drove the Supra, and I am continually haunted by the refinement, power and solidity of that car. It may very well be my next car.

As I drove my Probe home, with all its creaking and rattling, I knew still that I had bought the absolute best car I could afford at the time. The thrust was far less than the Supra's, but there is something seductive about the way the power builds in the PGT- and it always feels like its begging you to wind it up and drive it hard.

1996 Acura CL 2.2

I drove this car in 1996 before I ended up buying my PGT. The 3.0 liter was not yet available. The salesman summed it up from the back seat "this is not a wild car". I barely stayed awake on the test drive even at WOT. zzzzzzz.... Naked screw heads in the interior, flaws in the body work did not impress me either.

1998 Passat 1.8 Turbo

A friend of mine bought this car recently (Feb98). I was impressed with its generous interior room, the feel of quality through out and a pretty willing motor. But it bogs very easily starting from idle- no torque in the tiny 1.8I4 until the turbo boost builds. However the turbo boost came on very smoothly with little lag and decent thrust.

1999 Miata

I drove the 1999 Miata with the sport package in Aug 98. The salesman was nice and let me and my girlfriend take it out ourselves. Of course I didn't mention the autocross and track experience. Power was good, and it was easy to squeak the tires even on a modest launch.

Once in the car I was impressed with the solid feeling of the chassis. It was easy to get sideways under both power and trail-braking. The steering had a pretty jumpy, almost springy feel to it. It took a bit of concentration on the highway.

The salesman told me it had ABS, but after slamming on the brakes down a steep hill I decided that he probably was wrong. The OEM tires are VERY loud while they are flat spotting. :) After that the car smelled pretty bad and we had to drive around a little until the burnt rubber smell went away.