Video of Ken Block’s scary crash at Lake Superior Performance Rally

We regularly cover news on the indelible Ken Block and this is another story we thought worth sharing.  Back in October, Ken Block and co driver/navigator Alex Gelsomino needed a win at the Lake Superior Performance Rally to take the 2013 Rally America championship. However, this was not to be as the boys missed a clump of dirt in the road along with a word in the pace notes resulting in their Ford Fiesta becoming airborne and tumbling over five times.

Check out this video interview as Ken and Alex describe what went wrong on the course that day. Thankfully they both walked away from the crash uninjured.

The video reveals Block’s incredible competitive streak as you see him start the engine and attempt to get back on the course as soon as the car stops rolling.  The only problem is the front wheels were both gone…..

Here are some more images from the crash captured by Jalopnik.

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Ken Block’s Gymkhana Six

It’s that time of year again! Ken Block along with sponsoring partner Need for Speed have come out with a new installment of the epic “Gymkhana series”.  Having covered the infamous series for the past few years there is nothing in the world like it.  This latest version picks up where the fifth installment from the streets of San Francisco left off. Titled Gymkhana SIX: The Ultimate Gymkhana Grid Course this new version is set in an industrial area where once again Block is able to do the impossible; drifting between shipping containers, hitting man-made jumps while narrowly avoiding Lamborghini Aventadors and cops on Segways.

Ken-Block-Gymkhana-6

Ken Block in Gymkhana 6

After watching the six and half-minute video it’s no surprise this series is one of the most watched and shared web franchises of all time.  Ken Block truly is a magician while in the driver’s seat of his purpose-built, out of this world, 2013 Ford Fiesta ST RX43.  I only wish I was a member of Ford’s marketing team when the deal was signed to get Block to switch from Subaru.  I’m sure they pay him a pretty penny but seriously there is no better advertisement in the world for the blue oval.

Please beware after watching this film you may think you are a rally star but I’m afraid you will still be an armchair star like the rest of us.  Please note: video participant is the best professional stunt driver in the world…..Don’t try this at home.

New Ken Block Video

Ken Block is featured in a new GoPro video camera ad barreling through a forest in Potosi, MO as part of his preseason training. For those not familiar with rally car racing you can see just how close drivers come to hitting trees and other obstacles in the off road course.  That’s where driver skill and co-driver navigation are critical, something that Ken and is co-driver Alex Gelsomino have in spades. Enjoy.

For more Ken Block check out his previous Gymkhana videos, here and here.

2013 Chevrolet Spark

General Motors is certainly taking some bold moves with their 2013 models and the recent introduction of the 2013 Chevrolet Spark is another step in the right direction.  The Chevrolet Spark is based on the South Korean platform of the Daewoo Matiz model which has already proven to be a potent sales success in other parts of the world. Having the opportunity to drive the Spark over a one week period, we can honestly say, if we were in the market for a small, fun, economical vehicle this would be at the top of our list. We were pleasantly surprised how much fun we ended up having behind the wheel of little “Sparky”, an endearing name my wife came up with which suits the car’s personality perfectly.

The combination of compliments from teenagers, its peppy performance and the utter jubilation of filling the gas tank at a price I can only remember from my high school days, there is a so much to love about this car.

We drove in both city and highway environments and the Spark passed all the usual tests with flying colours while being ultra convenient for parking and large enough to grab a few groceries in between. All the while, we averaged 6.5L/100KMs (36 MPG US) which is very solid fuel efficiency for a combined city and highway driving experience.

As for things we did not like, similar to the 2013 Chevrolet Sonic, the passenger seat is missing an armrest which can be aggravating on a long trip. As well, the steering wheel column is poorly designed since it is attached to the gauges as all one piece, this results in the steering wheel blocking the top of the speedometer from view.  However, aside from those two things, the Spark performed amazingly well, and was fun to drive around town.

The interior is solid for an entry level car and competes with anything on the market today. Of course, saying that, you get what you pay for as our tester was the top of the line model.

Our 2013 Chevrolet Spark review vehicle came in the 2LT Manual trim package which includes the following features:

  • ECOTEC 1.2L DOHC four cylinder engine
  • Horsepower: (hp @ rpm): 84 @ 6,400
  • Torque (lb.-ft. @ rpm): 83 @ 4,200
  • 5-Speed Manual transmission
  • Leatherette Seat Trim
  • Wheels: 15″ x 6″ Machined Faced Painted Aluminum
  • 10 airbags
  • Heated High Back Bucket Seats
  • OnStar ®System With 6 Months Directions and Connections Plan
  • Air conditioning, keyless entry, power windows, locks and mirrors, cruise control, and SiriusXM Satellite Radio
  • Trunk/storage space – Flip-and-fold rear seat with 31.2 cu. ft. (884 L) of cargo volume – based on GM Canada’s vehicle information
  • Chevrolet MyLink  TouchTM –  AM/FM stereo, 6 speakers, seek-and-scan, digital clock, 7″ diagonal colour touch-screen, Bluetooth streaming audio for music and select phones, Stitcher smartphone compatible, cruise control, steering wheel controls, software updatable for radio software and 1 USB/iPod/MP3 input jack located in front centre stack storage bin.
  • $16,995 MSRP* CAD MSRP from GM Canada’s website as of December 3, 2012

GM has recently announced they will be producing an electric version of the Spark as a 2014 model in selected markets.  The electrified version of the Spark will have a whopping 400lbs of torque and will do zero-to-60 mph in less than eight seconds. We can’t wait to get behind the wheel to see how it compares to its internal combustion engine sibling.

GM has also announced that select models of both the Sonic and the Spark will be receiving Siri integration.  Driver’s with a compatible iPhone will be able to hands free:

  • Make voice-activated, hands-free calls to Contacts on their iPhone
  • Play songs in the iTunes library, and even switch music sources automatically from AM/FM/XM radio to iPod mode
  • Listen to, and compose and send an iMessage or text message to a phone number or anyone in saved Contacts
  • Access Calendar and add appointments
  • Minimize distraction even more by keeping the screen of the iPhone from lighting up, even when Siri answers simple questions such as game scores or the dates of national holidays
  • While in Eyes Free mode, Siri will not provide answers to complex questions that require displaying a web page.

Competition

The micro or subcompact segment is growing fast as many manufactures now offer models in the category.  The key players currently competing with the Chevrolet Spark for buyers here in Canada  include the Ford Fiesta, Mazda2, Fiat 500, Smart fortwo, Toyota Yaris and Hyundai Accent.

Ken Block’s Gymkhana Five

For all you Ken Block and rally fans out there check out the new Gymkhana Five video from Ken Block!  Filmed over four days on the  streets of San Francisco there are some very cool scenes going both up and down the streets of this famously hilly city. The slow motion cinematography, true to form in this series, is also fantastic.

Enjoy!

2012 Chevrolet Sonic LTZ Review

Earlier this month, we accepted GM Canada’s offer to provide us with a 2012 Chevrolet Sonic LTZ test vehicle to do a one week evaluation. In doing the review we drove the Chevy Sonic in both urban and rural environments to experience first hand what GM’s newest subcompact product is all about.  And I have to say, it did not disappoint and exceeded our expectations overall of what a subcompact car should be.  From its unique and distinctive styling, well appointed interior, powerful turbo engine, fun, six speed manual transmission and eco-friendly footprint it really is a solid car able to compete with the best cars in its class.

Our tester was a top of the line 5 door LTZ model which comes with all the bells and whistles including:

  • 1.4L Turbocharged ECOTEC four cylinder engine with 138 horsepower and 148 lb.-ft. of torque at 2500 RPM
  • 6-speed manual transmission with overdrive
  • Air conditioning, keyless entry, power windows, locks and mirrors, cruise control, SiriusXM Satellite Radio, USB port and auxiliary audio input jack, and Bluetooth: hands free phone and audio connectivity.
  • 17 inch painted aluminum wheels
  • Trunk/storage space – 19 cubic feet with rear seats up and 30.7 cubic feet with rear seats folded down – based on GM Canada’s vehicle information
  • $20,495 MSRP based on GM Canada’s website as of May 27, 2012

Some key facts about the Chevy Sonic:

  • Currently built in GM’s Lake Orion, Michigan plant, the Sonic is the only Subcompact car sold in North America manufactured within the United States.
  • This is really great news for us in North America as it signals more good things to come from GM in the way of innovative and high quality products.

With its modern, machined metal look and driver focused feel the Sonic’s interior has the appearance of a much more expensive automobile inside.  

We found the Sonic’s driver and passenger visibility to be very good overall which is reassuring since there has been some recent criticism about driver visibility within the subcompact vehicle segment.

And with a highway fuel consumption rating of 5.1 L/100 KM as based on GM Canada’s manufacturer information the Sonic is very fuel efficient even for its class.  An effective eco-feature with the six speed manual transmission is a notification on the dash of when to shift to a higher gear in order to save fuel.  While it’s hard to say if this feature will really change anyone’s driving behaviour, it is very cool to know what the optimal shift times are.

The nimble Sonic is a blast to drive. When accelerating off the line it felt solid, ready to give you more. The engine is very responsive as is both steering and braking.  The ride is elegantly quiet and smooth.  Literally, the only complaint over the week was the fact that there was not an armrest on the passenger seat, or a high enough centre console for the passenger to rest an arm – not exactly a big deal in the whole scheme of things.

Competitors to the Sonic in this subcompact class include the Ford Fiesta, Hyundai Accent, Kia Rio, Nissan Versa and the Mazda 2.

Our overall rating for the Chevrolet Sonic is a 4.5 out of 5. With this type of stellar performance, it should be at the top of your list if you are in the market for a new sporty subcompact.

Ken Block Gymkhana Four – Bonus Edit

A new edit of the Ken Block Gymkhana Four video has appeared online.  Gymkhana Four was filmed as part of a DC shoes promotion.  The new edit of the video has removed the ‘Hollywood’ aspects of the video (read commercial aspects).

DC explains: “We’ve removed the “Hollywood” aspects of Gymkhana FOUR and instead placed the focus on Block’s behind-the-wheel driving precision by incorporating never-before-seen shots and all-new angles of previous shots.

The time of the video has been reduced from 9:16 to 5:11.  The result? Well you be the judge:

New Edit:

Original Edit:

 

 

 

 

 

Ken Block’s Ford Fiesta Does Gymkhana Hot Wheels-Style

A few weeks ago we posted a video of rally car driver Ken Block taking his Ford Fiesta rally car through the Autodrome de Linas-Montlhéry in the third instalment of his Gymkhana video series. Well the folks over at Hot Wheels have created a replica of Block’s Fiesta and the following is a video of the RC version of the car tearing it up around Venice beach, California.

After watching the video it makes you want to go out and get one of these!