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Double DVD Review

Best Motoring International 7 and High Octane 4 under the spotlight.

Review by Michael Knowling

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Best Motoring International 7 - The EVO Strikes Back!

Best Motoring International 7 (The EVO Strikes Back!)
Running Time: 85 minutes PAL DVD
Rating: G
Country of Origin: Japan
DVD Regions: 0 (All)
DVD AUD$38.94 (US$26.50) through the AutoSpeed Shop

Hot on the heels of Best Motoring International Number 6 comes the latest release - Best Motoring International 7 (surprise, surprise!).

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The main car featured in BM7 is the latest Evolution 8 Lancer, available in three guises - GSR, RS 6-speed (for tarmac) and RS 5-speed (for rally). Not ones to play about, the guys jump behind the wheel of a new EVO 8 GSR and hit a closed road for a "winding impression". Understeer, oversteer, AWD drifts, jumps - the GSR does it all and with tremendous stability. "I'm able to control the car just the way I like it," says Akihiko Nagaya of its steering and throttle controllability.

A quick spec-check that illustrates the differences between the superseded EVO 7 wraps up the coverage of the GSR.

With little doubt left that the GSR is a purpose-built road ripper, the team then heads to the track for the "Competition Machine Check". At 1410kg, the GSR is considerably heavier than the competition-based RS (at around 1350kg) so it's the 6-speed RS that's chosen to do battle against two aftermarket tuned EVO 8s - an Advan-PIAA rally car and a Puma bitumen racer. This is an interesting battle around the Tsukuba circuit, as all three cars show considerable differences in handling - the standard RS 6-speed (on semi-slicks) looks pretty nicely balanced, the rally car (with its AYC system removed) gets all messy and, well, the bitumen racer runs away with it. The drivers then discuss what they found behind the wheel of each, talking about balance, grip, torque and top-end speed. Good stuff.

And then the EVO gets the real acid test - it's put against the current Japanese-spec (2.0-litre) STi.

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Once again, the Tsukuba circuit sets the scene for a showdown between the complete range of standard EVOs and STis - it's the fully-loaded EVO GSR and STi versus the lightweight RS 5 and 6-speeds and the STi Spec C (the car which last ousted the EVO 7).

In quarter mile blasts, the cars are all extremely close - and extremely fast! The EVO 8 RS 6-speed wins with a 12.658, while the slowest (if you could call it that!) is the EVO 8 GSR with a 12.735. Talk about splitting hairs!

And then it's time for the track. We won't give too much away, except to say the winner is actually the car that's probably the least likely to win - and, as you've probably guessed from the "EVO Strikes Back!' title, it's not a Subie... Tyres play a major part in the final rankings and, again, the drivers bunch up and discuss the on-track performance of each of the models.

A broad variety of cars follow these hard-fought AWD 2.0-litre duels.

A new segment - My Car Challenge '03 - sees a group of modified vehicle owners wanting to take on the drivers from Best Motoring; the legends themselves. The twist, though, is that they challenge them in the own tuned cars! A final selection of drivers and cars - a Starlet Turbo and RX-7 twin-turbo - step up to the challenge with the threat of a shaved head going to anyone who loses the lap dash by more than 0.5 seconds. The Starlet looks simply awesome while the RX-7 "does not turn... everything's wrong". Much to everyone's disappointment, though, there is no hair lost during the segment...

Some final words on the difference between a racecar and a good tuned streetcar follow from well-known heads in the Japanese tuning industry.

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A regular feature of BM DVDs is the awesome Togue Challenge - a winding up and downhill road section that tests both machine and driver to the limit. The Togue Challenge is upscaled this time around with a wide variety of cars thrown down the Togue for "driving impressions"; the top three performers then go on to challenge each other back-to-back for the title of Togue King. The field is extremely mixed - everything from tuned AE86 Levins (still a favourite in Japan!), a MR-S (aka MR-2), Phase Integra R, Circuit Club Honda City, G-Limit Cappuccino and even a supercharged Vitz (Echo) 1.5!

Each car shows its strengths and weaknesses - which the team don't hold back on when discussing - and the thrill from the home sofa is great; only the BM crew dare to fly down the Togue at these kind of speeds! The car that takes the Togue King crown is a surprise too - or maybe it isn't...

BM8 - The EVO Strikes Back is available on PAL DVD through the AutoSpeed Shop for AUD$38.94 (US$26.50) plus delivery. Total running time is 85-minutes and it carries a G-rating; it's great stuff for anyone into Japanese performance cars, particularly EVOs and STis.

High Octane 4

High Octane 4 - PAL DVD
Running Time: 90 minutes PAL DVD
Rating: M
Country of Origin: New Zealand/USA
DVD Regions: 0 (All)
DVD AUD$36.95 (US$25.14) through the AutoSpeed Shop

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High Octane 4 marks a change in the direction of the High Octane series. While previous High Octanes have blended general entertainment with some hard-core car based content - with a fairly good split - the latest production is certainly weighted more towards general entertainment. The latest is definitely not the greatest - not if you're a true car nut anyway.

This time 'round the crew travel to America where they kick off filming a US-spec WRX and R33 GT-R duel on a mountain road (traditional High Octane style) and then you're off to the first of US car shows - SEMA. Try to get used to Ketz's corny American accent and the new female co-cost - Sharon Sotto. Throughout both the SEMA show and Hot Import Nights show (which comes later in the DVD) there's a few minutes of perusing interesting cars (if you can call them that!) and a whole lot of, as they say, "checking out the booty".

Toward the end of the SEMA segment you talk to the owner of the world's fastest Mazda - a 7.28-second weapon - and the following day you catch it in action (briefly) at the strip. Other cars of interest at this 'test'n'tune day' include a turbo NSX drag car and a wicked little R100 drag car; this is the sort of stuff we like!

Some more drag action comes from the Texas drag strip where you talk to the owners and check out the form of a current-shape 8-second turbocharged Beetle, a jet-car, an 11-second street Integra and, of course, there's a few other fast Hondas and Supras. There's also a hydraulic'd Honda doin' it's thing. Not bad.

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The other good bit of track action is the drift day at a New Zealand racetrack. Watch the guys hang it out and show their style - or lack thereof... Inevitably, not all goes to plan in a drift session!

In the Modifying Guide segment, Ketz whacks a GT-R 'box in his tuned R32 GTS4 build-up car, pulls a dyno run and then heads to the track - where it cuts some impressive first-time-out numbers.

The Road Trip in NZ is particularly annoying. The trip, it turns out, changes into a 'Tough Man' contest including bridge jumps, a camshaft throw and various other challenges. There's an awful lot of time that goes by without any real car-related hard-stuff. Another non-car related bit includes a 'people race' on a bike, office chair, scooter and by foot.

A short film - 'Cruisin' - is there for pure entertainment value. It's essentially a comedy piece involving bad parking, an Indian piss-take in a worked-over Daihatsu and a bar brawl involving Ketz. The brawl then turns into a chase - it's 100 percent slapstick. The final moments of Cruisin' include a rip-off of The Fast and The Furious movie - complete with mention of a "MoTeC exhaust"... That is priceless!

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The final main feature includes a cruise through Hollywood's Sunset Boulevard in a Ferrari F355 and Dodge Viper V10; the pair then head down 'Deadman's Road' for a duel, where the Viper tragically tumbles over a cliff...

Extra 'bonus' content includes a visit to a NZ track day, Hot Import Nights NZ, Willow Spring track day, Glo Show Melbourne, i-Drag Nationals and out-takes.

As mentioned, we don't rank HO4 as highly as some of the previous versions - there's simply too much time devoted to non-car stuff for our tastes. The DVD, does, however run for a considerable 140 minutes in total (including extras) and carries a M-rating (recommended for viewers 15-years and older). If you're interested, it can be bought in PAL DVD form through the AutoSpeed Shop for AUD$36.95 (US$25.14) plus postage. To get a taste for yourself, check out the on-line previews at the AutoSpeed Shop.

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