Car Reviews, News and Blogs


.. for one FTO owner!

Alex’s car is featured on the cover of the 2016 FTOOC (owners club) Calendar.

FTO FTOOC Calendar Cover




The Gymkhana Slalom Test

Our second, and last, activity in the 2015 Club Le Mons mini-gymkana was a test of our car’s handling ability. As mentioned previously, a nice skid pad and some proper instruments to measure G forces would have been good, but all we had was a bit of airfield and some cones. So a slalom it was to be!

And fun it was! Anyway as they say, a picture tells a thousand words..

Bruce having fun on the slalom course

Bruce having fun on the slalom course

Bruce taking the slalom course very seriously

Bruce taking the slalom course very seriously

Angela giving it all she's got!

Angela giving it all she’s got!

Neil trying really hard in the SLK

Neil trying really hard in the SLK

The GT86 on the slalom course

The GT86 on the slalom course

The RX8 coming up to the end

The RX8 coming up to the end

The Z3 showing off some bodyroll

The Z3 showing off some bodyroll

The FTO going round for another go

The FTO going round for another go

The MR2 caught mid slalom

The MR2 caught mid slalom

Can you believe the G forces?

Can you believe the G forces?

Getting ready to go. Concentration faces on!

Getting ready to go. Concentration faces on!


So, what were the results?

Slalom results

Well, in the absence of the S2000 and MX5 – two very strong contenders – it looks like the FTO, with its sticky tyres and handling focused chassis takes the win.

Considering the SLK’s performance in the brake test it did surprisingly well here, but once again the Toyota GT86 was disappointing.


The Points

So, what does this mean for the overall points?


Brake Test Driver Car Distance Rank Points
Bruce RX8 29.70 1 100
Alex FTO 30.00 2 90
Angela Z3 30.30 3 80
Simon MR2 30.40 4 70
Adam GT86 30.90
Becky TT 33.80 5 60
Michelle MGF 35.75 6 50
Neil SLK 38.30 7 40
Steff S2000 Joker 30
Duncan MX-5 DNF 20


Slalom Test Driver Car Time Rank Points
Alex FTO 33.61 1 100
Simon MR2 34.56 2 90
Neil SLK 34.67 3 80
Bruce RX8 35.77 4 70
Adam GT86 37.00
Michelle MGF 39.78 5 60
Angela Z3 40.15 6 50
Becky TT 48.55 7 40
Steff S2000 Joker 30
Duncan MX-5 DNF 20


And with the May points awarded the final drivers leaderboard stands at:

Driver Car End of Month Points Difference
Simon MR2 1524
Bruce RX8 1425 -99
Alex FTO 1395 -30
Steff S2000 1320 -75
Neil SLK 1287 -33
Angela Z3 1218 -69
Becky TT 1099 -120
Duncan MX-5 1055 -44
Michelle MGF 944 -110


Simon still leads, but Alex manages to claw back a place from Steff, and Bruce is closing in on number 1!


And The Best £2,500 Sports Car is?

So, after 11 challenges and 12 months of ownership we decided to have a look at how the cars have done, points wise.

As you know some of our challenges have been based on the drivers (driving test, etc), so if we take all of those out and leave in just the points awarded to the vehicles, we *could* say that this point, that the best £2,500 sports car is:


The Mitsubishi FTO

FTO Review

Driver Car Points
Alex FTO 925
Angela Z3 899 -26
Steff S2000 842 -57
Simon MR2 835 -7
Bruce RX8 788 -47
Neil SLK 711 -77
Becky TT 705 -7
Michelle MGF VVC 677 -27
Duncan MX-5 654 -24




And Don’t Forget..

Our gymkhana will be best experienced in an upcoming episode!


Video Coming Soon


The Gymkhana Brake Test

Right, so we’ve done all the introducty/explainy bits, lets get down to the results.

Gymkhana brake test

Michelle brake tests the MGF from 60 mph

Gymkhana brake test

The might Toyota GT86 getting ready for her run.

Just as a reminder, there were two criteria we were testing.. how well would our £2,500 sports cars do, some nearly 20 years old, against a brand new £25,000 sport car AND how well would we do against the Highway Code, from 60mph:

Highway Code Stopping Distances

Well, the results may surprise you.

Gymkhana Brake test results

First of all there wasn’t much in it. With the exception of the Mercedes SLK. But then, as Neil pointed out, he should probably have taken all the camera equipment out of the boot.

All of our cars easily beat the 55 metres the Highway Code considers typical, so you’ve got to wonder what rust buckets they used to measure that.

What was surprising was that the GT86 didn’t win. Now, this test was in no way scientific, so we can’t say with absolute certainty that if we did it 100 times over this would be the result every time. But on the day, this is what happened. It got beat by 4 other cars.

The winning cars were in fact the oldest and newest in the Le Mons fleet. They are also, both, the only cars wearing very sticky -track day- rubber. Now, what does that tell you. Oh, and the FTO? No ABS, unlike all the other cars here.


Next time – the Slalom.


Challenge 11 – The Gymkhana

…and we’re back.

You may have noticed we’ve been a bit lax when it’s come to updates lately. That’s entirely due to the fact that in June we hosted the amazing Roundel Run, a 75 car & bike strong adventure through the counties of Surrey, Sussex and Kent, all in aid of the Biggin Hill Festival of Flight and our charities. More on that on the Roundel Run website, Facebook and Twitter feed.

Although the Roundel Run was a great success, raised a nice amount of money for charity and will be held again next year (hint hint) it did mean most of the team were flat out, so catching up on sleep and work were required.

That said, on to our gymkhana!


What’s a gymkhana?

Well, basically, and according to Wikipedia, it’s roughly:

“a place where skill-based contests were held”

From an automotive point of view you might know it best for a gentleman named Ken Block, who does things like this:

Obviously that’s slightly more adventurous (and skillful) than we might manage in our £2,500 cars, but we thought we’d take the name anyway and test our cars to their maximum too. Just slightly less insanely.


Where can you properly play with your cars?

Obviously, unlike Mr Block, we couldn’t have closed any roads, and with our limited budgets we couldn’t exactly rent a whole track or airfield. But, a couple of quick calls to our friends at Car Limits later and we had a small section of the North Weald airfield for our very own! A massive thanks to Andrew and his team for making that happen!

Map of North Weald Map of North Weald



What’s this about a special guest?

Ah, you’ve seen our tweets!


One of the things we’ve been trying to achieve is to see if a £2,500 sports car is as much fun as a super car. For this event we thought we’d ratchet that down a notch and see how our cars compared to a modern day sports car.. and what better opposition than-the-already-future-classic Toyota GT86.

And thanks to the great folks at Hills Toyota of Bishop’s Stortford, we we’re able to borrow one, plus a driver, for the day. Adam was so excited about taking part he arrived before anyone else, in a gorgeous black ’15 plate ’86 auto, with the Aero pack. An absolutely stunning car. And fantastic to drive too.

We chose the ’86 as it matched many of our cars – RWD, reasonable power (200 bhp), coupe styling and, like 5 out of the 9 Lemons – Japanese. A few of us left that day, more impressed with it than we already were. It would be fair to say it’s on a few must-have lists now.

A massive thanks to everyone at Hills, they couldn’t have been more welcome, accommodating or sporting! In fact, they even joined us on the Roundel Run!

On the down side though, two of our drivers couldn’t make it on the day. Steff and his S2000 and Duncan and his MX5 were all sorely missed, as we believe they would have done very well in our activities. Still, more points for the rest of us!



So, what were the activities?

The idea behind the day was based on further testing our cars. We’d had them on the dyno, we’ve tested their acceleration, some of the cars have been put through their paces on track, but we’d never really tested braking and handling in a comparable way.

With limited space (just one long straight) and technical resources (i.e. no official timing gear, just stopwatches), we needed to keep things as simple as possible.


The braking test was based on the publish Highway Code for Typical Stopping Distances. We wanted to see how our cars might do against each other, the GT86 and the official numbers.

Highway Code Stopping Distances

Each car was driven up to 60 mph and then stopped as quickly as physically possible. We ignored the Thinking Distance element by setting out two cones through which the cars would pass, and at which point they were to start braking. Our target to beat – 55 metres.


What better way to test a car’s handling than putting it on a skidpad and seeing what G numbers it’ll achieve? Well yes, except we didn’t have a skidpad or something scientific to measure G forces with. So we settled on the next best thing – a cone course. A quick slalom down, followed by a big turn, slalom back and then a quick sprint to the finish. Our GT86 set the benchmark, and we all followed!


The results!

They were, surprising. But you’ll have to wait for the next post to find out!


Challenge 10 – The Driving Test

If you had to retake your driving test, today, how well would you do? Would you even pass?

It’s been a good 20 years, or more, since any of the Le Mons drivers took their driving test, so we thought it would be a good idea to see if they still have the right stuff.

Turns out, they don’t. Oh dear, oh dear, oh dear.

This was a secret Challenge. The drivers weren’t told what we would be doing, just where and when they needed to be. Everyone took part, except for two drivers – Alex, who organized the challenge, and subsequently withdrew, forewarned is forearmed, and all that. Additionally Duncan couldn’t make it, owing to a new job, which was a shame as his son Fergus had only just gone through the driving test, so he would have been well prepared.

The Devon Hotel Exeter

After parking ourselves, quite literally, at the Devon Hotel the team were introduced to Ian May, of Top Marks Driving School, and updated on the day’s activity. It would be fair to say a slight panic ensued.

Phones were whipped out and practice tests were Googled.

Club Le Mons Re-takes their Driving tests (3)

The Challenge would consist of three parts – theory, hazard perception and practical. The theory/hazard test results would be combined for a maximum 100 points score, based on results rankings, and the same would apply to the practical. With one caveat. The tests needed to be passed in order to earn any points. As in real life, if you failed, you get nothing. So, no pressure.

Club Le Mons Driving Test DVD

The Theory/Hazard tests were taken, with sound deadening headphones, on a laptop running a 2015 edition Driving Test DVD. Each driver took both tests, using the Mock Test functionality, ensuring that everyone had different questions.

Club Le Mons Re-takes their Driving tests (1)

The Practical was taken with Ian. In his Mini. So no home advantage either in location, or in car. Because of time limitations, the test was a cut down version of the official driving test. Twenty minutes on local roads. Eight minor infractions allowed. No majors. Each minor would be worth 1 point, each major worth 10 points. A maximum of 8 points would be allowed, in order to pass.

Club Le Mons Re-takes their Driving tests (2)

So, how did they do?

In short, not great.


Driver Car Theory Hazard Practical
Angela Z3 Pass Pass Fail
Becky TT Pass Fail Fail
Bruce RX8 Pass Pass Pass
Michelle MGF VVC Pass Fail Fail
Neil SLK Pass Fail Fail
Simon MR2 Pass Pass Fail
Steff S2000 Pass Pass Fail


The only person to pass all three tests, and therefore be eligible for the maximum number of points, was Bruce! And even that was by the narrowest of margins.. you see the practical route included a particularly nasty bend. Now, many had argued that if it wasn’t for that bend they too would have passed. Which is true. And if you grew up in these here parts, and drove that route as part of your driving lessons then it wouldn’t have been a bit of a surprise when you came up to it. But isn’t that the point? Driving, and in particular driving well, is all about dealing with the unexpected. And apparently Bruce was the only one in the team with the right reflexes, on the day.

The Points

How did these results translate into points? The Theory test consisted of 50 questions, so each correct answer got you one point. The Hazard test was marked out of 75, so the scores were converted to a percentage out of 100 and halved. Remember, you had to pass each test in order to earn any points.

Theory Points Driver Car Points
Alex FTO 0
Angela Z3 79
Becky TT 44
Bruce RX8 77
Duncan MX-5 0
Michelle MGF VVC 43
Neil SLK 46
Simon MR2 81
Steff S2000 78


The Practical, once passed, would be based on ranking of best to worst, 100 – 20, by the least number of points scored on the test.

As mentioned, only Bruce passed. So Bruce earned 100 points.

Neil did the worst, he earned 43 points on the test, which was based on 3 major faults (30 points) and 13 minor faults (13 points).

Practical Points Driver Car Pass/Fail Points on Test
Angela Z3 Fail 28 0
Becky TT Fail 18 0
Bruce RX8 Pass 4 100
Duncan MX-5 DNF DNF 0
Michelle MGF VVC Fail 18 0
Neil SLK Fail 43 0
Simon MR2 Fail 12 0
Steff S2000 Fail 31 0


So, in total:


Total Points Driver Car Total
Alex FTO 0
Angela Z3 79
Becky TT 44
Bruce RX8 177
Duncan MX-5 0
Michelle MGF VVC 43
Neil SLK 46
Simon MR2 81
Steff S2000 78


So, what does this mean for the overall standings? Well, first we have to look at the April points.


It was a busy month for events, with Alex, Becky and Neil all earning points for going to various events, and blogging about them.

Alex and Neil attended an RX8 Owners Club event, on behalf of Bruce. They took Bruce’s RX8 down and had a jolly good time, apparently. Highly recommended!



Neil and Becky attended the Piazza Italia, in Horsham and drooled over some very nice, very expensive machinery.  

And Becky followed it all up with some blogs:

Becky hangs out with some Ferrari owners

Becky hangs out with some Bikerz

All together this netted Alex an additional 10 points, Becky 40 points and Neil another 30 points.


The Scores

With Alex and Duncan not earning any points for the Driving Test Challenge the rankings have changed, quite a bit! Simon still maintains his lead, and even grows it slightly from 88 points over 2nd to 94 points. But second has changed.. Steff is back! Does that mean Alex is in third? No, Bruce overtakes Alex thanks to his gargantuan 177 point leap.. So, if Alex had taken part, and passed, he could have been in first place by now. Gutted much?

Lower down the rankings Angela overtakes the unfortunate Duncan, but the rest of the field stays the same. With the exception of Michelle, at the bottom, everyone is within 100 points of the next one up.. so things are getting exciting!

Driver Car Points Difference
Simon MR2 1354
Steff S2000 1260 -94
Bruce RX8 1255 -5
Alex FTO 1195 -60
Neil SLK 1157 -38
Angela Z3 1088 -69
Duncan MX-5 1015 -73
Becky TT 999 -16
Michelle MGF 824 -174


And as for our graph?

Club Le Mons Points at the end of April

As always, click on the graph for a larger view.


What’s Next?

Our next event is on the 9th of May and will be a true test of car (and driver). There are rumours that there will be double points, and even a star guest car..