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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Well, after owning an Evo 6 GSR and subsequently downgrading to an R34 GTR, there is now an Evo in the household once again. An Evo 7 GT-A to be precise.

Now, I know what you're thinking. Automatics are for a limited market, right? You know - gays, arthritic pensioners, people with only one arm, fat Americans, stupid women with 'auto only' licences and a few other select groups like people who need to keep a hand free so they can masturbate vigorously whilst driving. And whilst, like me, you might have a certain respect for those wishing to knock one out in perfect safety whilst negotiating a tricky roundabout, you're quite certain that a manual gear box is the only way to go. No niggling doubts or aching left knees at all, no? And anyway, even if you did secretly occasionally just think that you might fancy an auto for those tiresome commutes and town runs, you wouldn't want an automatic Evo would you? I mean, what sort of abomination is that, right? Who the hell would buy one of them?

I know. That's exactly what I thought too, but the damn thing's been parked on my drive for a month now. And it may just be the best car I have ever owned. Here's why:

Performance

It feels fast. Well, duh, it's an Evo, what else is it going to feel like? It's just that after getting used to the GTR which feels terribly slow, it's worth saying. The pickup in the GT-A is even more instant than in the 6; the turbo is unique and was apparently chosen specifically for low-down response. It shows. It may only have 272bhp and 253 lb/ft but give it a tickle at 1500rpm and it pulls you off quicker than a £5 crack whore. There is a slightly breathless moment around 4000rpm before things really take off again - almost like a sequential turbo changeover - and it doesn't quite zing through the last 500rpm like a manual Evo, presumably due to the different turbo setup. But, make no mistake, this is not the watered-down engine you might expect to be paired with a poofter's gearbox.

Ride / Handling

Subjectively, it feels better than the 6 (and is leagues ahead of the GTR), probably because the ride is more compliant, although this may well be a 6 vs 7 thing rather than being GT-A specific. The steering is also not quite as quick as a manual car and combined with the less crashy suspension setup this means no tramlining and far less skittering with the wheel tugging about. The ACD/AYC combo also seems a lot less in your face than the AYC in the 6, somehow less obvious. 'Composed' is probably the word - this is a car which comports itself with some considerable decorum, at least in comparison to its less Evolved brethren. It may hitch up its skirt and hurry along but you never get to see its knickers, whereas with the 6 you definitely got the odd flash now and again. And as for the GTR, well that just goes commando and lets it all hang out - it's far too busy making an exhibition of itself to address the basic job of getting you round the corner.

So, for someone like me who is a fundamentally rubbish driver the GT-A is a great car - you really feel like it's on your side. The filtering applied by suspension and steering may reduce the quantity and depth of feedback but that's a good thing - it tells you what you need to know and doesn't bother you with unnecessary, peripheral information. I can balance this car on a roundabout and still feel precisely where the limits of grip are, but I'm not being distracted with continual detail about tiny changes and imperfections in the road surface. I can punt it down a rough, bumpy B-road and place the car where I want it to go, not where the potholes dictate. I'm sure a skilled driver would prefer the unabridged feedback offered by the GTR (and to a lesser extent by the 6) but a low-ability muppet like me can't cope with all that information, so the GT-A wins every time.

That Gearbox

First things first. Yes, it blunts the performance. How could it not? Even without the extra transmission losses, the gearing is super-long (~2800rpm @ 80mph) so you're never going to get the brutal catapult power of the closer ratios found in a manual Evo. The box is also not that great when left to its own devices - the INVECS II auto mode is supposed to be intelligent enough to 'learn' your driving style but I can only assume that mine has some kind of electronic Alzheimers as it is forgetful, easily confused and tends to lose its train of thought. However, the solution is straightforward; train the auto mode to stay in maximum-Gran mode (which means nice smooth short-shifting up the box) and switch to Tiptronic for any performance moments.

The Tiptronic changes really are quite impressive - quick and smooth, giving absolutely seamless pull. Other than the 1st-2nd change which always seems to delay for a second, they are also just about instantaneous when the button is pressed; a decent driver could certainly match that kind of change occasionally, but not each and every time. Choosing the 'right' gear yourself also means the auto doesn't have to slip - get it into 3rd gear and mash the throttle at 65mph and it takes off with those clutch plates clenched tighter than a choirboy's sphincter at a priests' convention. Can it ever beat the tactile pleasure of a perfectly-timed manual change? Probably not. But it definitely has its advantages. It's like paying for sex (I imagine). You might miss the personal satisfaction of having 'scored' yourself, but you're guaranteed a result every time; it's not something you want to tell all your mates about, but it's quite enjoyable all the same…

Economy

A typical week's driving, with lots of short journeys and no motorway cruising sees around 20mpg. On a decent run you can get 25mpg, probably more if you could be bothered. Marginally worse than the 6, slightly better than the GTR. Like anyone here gives a **** anyway.

Looks / Image

Looks? Well, it's an Evo but with the tasteful colour, smooth bonnet and central number plate it's about as far removed from the real 'rally' Evos as you can get. It's a 7; a Vectra with a spoiler; a chavmobile with polished wheels, clear lights, tints and a big wing. If that bothers your sense of rally heritage, well good for you. Each to their own and all that - I'm sure you're very happy with a bit of the old 45 Left over crest into 90 Right on weekends and the occasional furtive wänk over some rare Tommi footage. As for image, well it's a working class hero innit? Cheers from teenage dreamers and sneers from middle-age Beemers. Suits me fine, as it happens. I've always suffered from a bizarre sort of inverted snobbery which means I'm far happier looking like a chav boy racer than I would be looking like a rich bloke in a Ferrari. Or, worst of all, looking 'aspirational' in an M3. I don't care how much better SMG might be compared to INVECS - I'd still rather cut off my penis and change my name to Katie than be seen driving a 3 series.

Interior

Look, this car has genuine chrome interior door pulls. What more do I need to say? Actually, I was disappointed to find they were not fake plastic chrome like I first thought as that would have suited the car rather better. The off-white dials are straight out of a Rover 75, at least until you turn on the lights and they glow bright red, which matches not at all with the white illumination of the heater controls. The GT-A only blue trim panels are a bit random but still great - they are dull until the sun shines and then glitter with a really cool metal-flake sparkle, straight off a 1970s Mini Clubman roof-chop. Love it.

Look at interior pictures and the 7 appears much nicer and more modern than the 6. However, the reality doesn't lend itself to close inspection. The dash itself may be imprinted with that classy VW-style elephant-bum texture but it's still hard, cheap plastic and it still rattles and buzzes like a bee trapped in a washing machine. To make matters worse, the garage we bought it from (evidently unaware of the old adage concerning turds and polish) made the unfortunate mistake of using some kind of interior cleaner that made all the plastic reflective. "Shiny but festive" as old man Steptoe might have said. Now every time the sun comes out I find a ghostly elephant's arse superimposed over the windscreen view. Still, this must be the most comfortable Evo. The seats have a touch of 1980 XR3 about them (including the hollow-D headrests) but they are much better than the Recaros in the 6. Quite apart from the basic ability to keep their reclined position for longer than 10 minutes, they are significantly softer and absorb a lot of vibration. They may not hold you in quite as well round corners but at least you can travel more than 50 miles without one buttock turning blue.

What's the Point?

If you can overcome your prejudices, this car is not as irrational as it first sounds. When you're doing a crappy, tedious journey across town it is half as stressful and twice as comfortable as a manual Evo. When you want to really 'drive' then it's got all the handling, almost all of the performance and almost all of the involvement. It all boils down to this: An Evo with an automatic gearbox is always going to sound like a stupid idea. See it that way and it will only frustrate you; it's a travesty, it's missing the point, it just makes no sense. But the GT-A is not an Evo with an automatic gearbox. Really, it isn't. No, what the GT-A is, is an automatic car that just happens to look like an Evo, handle like an Evo and pretty much go like an Evo. Now that, to me and my ageing left leg, makes all the sense in the world.
 

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Sold...to me! Good write up :)

I really do want a fast automatic next, all this notchy shifting in my current car has me longing for a nice wafting drive next. I've experience of the INVECS box as my mate has a Legnum VR4 and it's a very nice drive, but I think I may just be tempted by a big MB V8 instead. As you say, hang the fuel economy, at least I won't have to seek out SUL/Optimax at every fill up!
...pulls you off quicker than a £5 crack whore...
How could anyone resist? :lol:
 

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Nice one good write up m8 i particularly liked this bit :D

"It may hitch up its skirt and hurry along but you never get to see its knickers, whereas with the 6 you definitely got the odd flash now and again. And as for the GTR, well that just goes commando and lets it all hang out – it’s far too busy making an exhibition of itself to address the basic job of getting you round the corner. "

:crackup:
:coolsm:
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Re: Re: A little review: Evo 7 GT-A

chunky said:
I've experience of the INVECS box as my mate has a Legnum VR4 and it's a very nice drive, but I think I may just be tempted by a big MB V8 instead.
I tried a Galant and a Legnum but didn't get on with the steering. Leggies are still very cool cars though, even if they don't have the steering wheel buttons.

I nearly succumbed to the luxo-barge Benz/Lexus urge and even looked at a GS430 but the Evo Force is still strong in me and could not be overcome. Maybe when I'm (even) older... :D
 
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