The end of the 2014 V8 Supercars season is almost upon us, following a cracking (and controversial) Bathurst 1000 that saw Ford win for the second year in a row and Nissan claim its first podium finish in the great race since the Skyline GT-R’s infamous 1992 victory.
So in time for the final two rounds, and before next year’s car (and broadcasting) changes come into effect, CarAdvice decided to assemble the current crop of V8 Supercars, in road-going form, to find out just how close the street-legal models are to their racing equivalents and how each performs in the real world.
Putting all five currently competing manufacturers – Ford, Holden, Mercedes-Benz, Nissan and Volvo – to the test will be three key challenges focusing on fuel economy, space and practicality, and parking prowess. A 220km assessment road loop will also see us take in such famous V8 Supercar-related locales as Bathurst, Phillip Island and Sandown.
First up the Volvo S60. Joining V8 Supercars at the start of 2014, the Gary Rogers Motorsport-backed Volvo Polestar Racing S60 marked the Swedish brand’s return to Australian touring car racing for the first time since 1998 – a year when Jim Richards and Rickard Rydell took out the Super Touring Cars Bathurst 1000 in a Volvo S40.
Like all cars competing on the Car of the Future (COTF) platform – introduced in 2013 – the Volvo S60 racer is powered by a naturally aspirated 5.0-litre V8, outputting around 470kW. In the Volvo’s case, its racing engine is a modified version of the Yamaha-sourced 4.4-litre V8 last used in the S80 and outgoing XC90.
Again sticking to the COTF formula, the Volvo is rear-wheel drive, employs a six-speed sequential transaxle gearbox and weighs a mandated 1400kg (including driver).
Suspension comprises a double wishbone front and independent rear set-up, both with adjustable dampers, as well as cockpit-adjustable front and rear anti-roll bars.
Six-piston calipers squeeze massive 395mm ventilated steel front discs with four-pot items clamping 355mm ventilated steel discs at the rear. All AP Racing components, the brake package sits inside 18×11-inch forged aluminium wheels wrapped in the series’ Dunlop control tyre.
Pop that Rebel Blue pony’s face and there’s a 257kW/500Nm turbocharged 3.0-litre inline six-cylinder (running 31psi of boost pressure) powering all four wheels via a six-speed paddle-shifted automatic transmission.
Claiming a 4.9-second 0-100km/h and 250km/h (limited) top speed, the S60 Polestar is down on its track twin’s performance by around 1.7sec and at least 48km/h – 3.2sec and 298km/h-plus respectively.
Its standard 19-inch graphite aluminium wheels – recently updated to 20-inch alloys – are an inch larger than those fitted to its racing compatriot and it misses out on its V8-powered sibling’s polycarbonate windscreen, 112-litre maximum fuel tank capacity and in-built fire extinguishing system.
Similarities? You bet. A genuinely performance-focused model, the 1684kg (dry) Volvo S60 Polestar scores two-way adjustable Ohlins shock absorbers and six-piston calipers, albeit the latter being Brembo units teamed to smaller 371mm front and 302mm rear ventilated discs.
Further racing nods come from a rear spoiler, rear diffuser, black wing mirrors and a 2.5-inch stainless steel exhaust system with dual 3.5-inch tailpipes (sadly these are not side-exiting like on the V8s).
Upping real-world practicality and liveability just a touch compared with the single-seat racecar, the S60 Polestar has the capacity to seat five occupants in leather upholstered comfort, with four able to opt for additional heating too.
Dominating local Group A touring car racing between 1990 and 1992, thanks to the twin-turbocharged, all-paw marvel that was the R32 GT-R, Nissan made its return to top-tier Australian motorsport last year with the arrival of the Altima V8 Supercar.
Factory-backed by Nissan Motorsport, the full-tilt Altima is based around the Japanese marque’s existing VK56DE V8 engine, though its capacity has been reduced from 5.6- to 5.0-litres. Featuring an all-aluminium block and heads, the 32-valve powerplant is also home to double overhead camshafts.
Initially seeming a far cry from its rip snorting V8 Supercar brethren, here we have the Nissan Altima Ti. Exclusively teaming a 127kW/230Nm 2.5-litre four-cylinder with a continuously variable transmission (CVT), the $40,490 Ti, like all variants in the Altima range, is front-wheel-drive only.
Arguably the 183kW/312Nm top-spec 3.5-litre six-cylinder-powered Altima Ti-S, at $45,490, would have been a step closer to the track beast but, due to availability, the Ti was called upon to represent the brand.
All is not lost with the road-going Altima, however. With a dry weight of 1467kg, the Nissan is the lightest car in our assembled field and the closest in mass to the V8 Supercars benchmark – despite being longer than the Mercedes-Benz E63 AMG. It also rides on racecar diameter-matching 18-inch alloy wheels and uses Dunlop rubber – a pairing also seen on the Ford Falcon.
Claiming top spot on the Bathurst 1000 podium for the last two years, 2014 marks the end of the FG Ford Falcon, with next year’s racecar to be based on the new-look FG-X. And with the last V8-powered Falcon flagship, the XR8, not being part of the large car’s line-up since 2010, the performance pick of the outgoing crop is the XR6 Turbo.
Attached to a list price of $48,235, as tested here with the ZF six-speed automatic ($46,235 if fitted with a six-speed manual), the FG Ford Falcon XR6 Turbo remains a powerhouse: its turbocharged 4.0-litre inline six-cylinder produces 270kW and 533Nm.
Make no mistake, while that may be shy of Chad Mostert and Paul Morris’ Bathurst-winning FPR Ford Falcon by at least 200kW, the old XR6 Turbo brings enough poke to this party to outdo all bar the mighty Mercedes in terms of sheer grunt.
Channelling its V8 Supercars’ pedigree and making rear-end tyre frying all too easy, is a limited-slip rear differential and independent rear suspension. And although the racecar’s integrated spool differential is amiss in the road car, the boosted Falcon does get a rear spoiler and performance brakes comprising two-piston calipers and 322mm ventilated discs up front and single-piston calipers with 303mm solid discs at the rear.
Its 10-spoke 18-inch wheels are also closest in spoke count to the 14-spoke items of the V8 Supercars – a trait mirrored by the matt titanium grey 19-inch AMG alloys adorning the Mercedes-Benz E63.
Priced at $48,690, the Holden Commodore SS V, has – on paper at least – the closest ties to its circuit crushing sibling – apart from its six-speed automatic transmission of course.
One of only two cars in the field to team a rear-wheel-drive platform with a V8 engine, the road-going Commodore’s 6.0-litre pushrod unit delivers 260kW and 517Nm (270kW/530Nm in $46,490 manual guise).
Down on power compared with Holden’s 5.0-litre cast iron race engine, the all-alloy Generation IV V8 does mirror the competition unit’s single camshaft design and it’s the only engine here able to be run on E85 fuel – a bio-fuel blend of up to 85 per cent ethanol and at least 15 per cent petrol used by V8 Supercars since 2009. Sadly, the road car doesn’t share its compatriot’s dry sump oil system or 7500rpm rev limit.
It does, however, come standard with one-inch larger 19-inch alloy wheels, four – rather than two – exhaust outlets, and significantly smaller two-piston brake calipers up front and single-piston calipers at the rear. Its also has the second-largest fuel tank capacity of our quintet at 71 litres, trailing only the Mercedes’ 94L.
Easily taking the title for best-sounding engine in V8 Supercars, the Mercedes-Benz E63 AMG-based racer joined the local series in 2013. Run single-handedly by Erebus Motorsport, with no financial support from Mercedes-Benz Australia, the German contender’s time in V8s has been accompanied by mixed success.
Finishing 10th overall in its debut season, 2014 has seen highs such as Lee Holdsworth taking out Race 8 at Winton Motor Raceway and lows like Holdsworth’s 265km/h crash during Race 29 at the Sandown 500.
Regardless of race results, the 5.0-litre Mercedes-Benz M159 race engine has always delivered a monster soundtrack. And it’s not hard to hear the family resemblance when you plant your foot in the $250,930 Mercedes-Benz E63 AMG S-Model.
Comfortably the nearest of our troop in terms of price, to a million-dollar-plus V8 Supercar, the big Benz is powered by an almighty twin-turbocharged 5.5-litre V8 spitting out 430kW of power – or roughly a 1998 Daihatsu Sirion-worth off its naturally aspirated V8 Supercar lookalike.
Employing two overhead camshafts and variable valve timing, the almost 4.9-metre-long E63 AMG also develops a mildly daunting but hugely entertaining 800Nm of torque from between 1750-5000rpm.
Aided by a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission, the Mercedes claims a 4.1-second 0-100km/h time and, if its 250km/h electronic limiter were to be pulled, could more than hassle the proper big boy racers for outright speed.
Bringing things to a halt are six-piston front and four-piston rear calipers coated in eye-catching red, along with 360mm ventilated and perforated front and rear brake discs – the Volvo just pipping the Benz for largest disc diameter.
Providing strong visual links to the Erebus-liveried E-Class is an AMG radiator grille with dual silver-chrome louvers, a special AMG front apron with a silver-chrome front splitter, flared front wheel arches and a rear spoiler.
The E63 AMG S-Model also includes adjustable settings for the gearbox, suspension and steering as well as for the grin-inducing AMG sports exhaust. Disappointingly, the pneumatic air jack system common to all V8 Supercars – allowing crews to change each 22kg wheel and tyre combination during pit stops – is not even an option.
THE WARM-UP LAP
Kicking off in the V8 heartland of Mooroolbark in Victoria – at the aptly named Bathurst Street – the first challenge requires all cars complete a lap of the local shopping centre car park. Sounding basic enough, the test incorporates two dislikeable speed humps, two low-speed hairpin turns and finally, a reverse park to finish.
With the goal being to find and nail a podium winning parking spot as easily as possible, we start with the Ford.
A super straightforward affair, the Falcon’s supple ride seamlessly deals with both speed humps without fuss, while the hairpins are negotiated without too much wheelwork.
Good vision forward out of the car and via the rear view mirrors make positioning a breeze and despite the Ford’s rear-view camera display being somewhat primitive by modern standards, it still works well in assisting with the reverse park – though it does turn off as soon as reverse is disengaged.
Jump into the Nissan and its smooth drivetrain and super light steering are the first things that hit you. Needing more turns of the wheel to round the hairpins than the Ford, the Altima is a bit crashy and not overly happy tackling the speed humps.
Helped by good vision out of the mirrors and the split-screen combination of rear-view and around-view cameras – both switching off as soon as reverse is disengaged – the final manoeuvre is a relative cinch.
With heavy steering and the largest turning circle of those gathered (11.9m), you are instantly aware of the four-wheel-drive Volvo’s reduced steering lock. Wheel work itself isn’t largely increased compared with the others, however, steering effort is noticeably more demanding.
Hitting the first speed hump alerts you to the S60 Polestar’s very firm (as-tested) suspension setting, with an angled crawl employed to gently traverse the second. Presented by an oddly super-skinny image (pictured above), the Volvo’s reversing camera also provides an equally uncommon – though potentially helpful – zoom function. Cleverly too, the camera stays active once you disengage reverse.
Smooth and simple, that’s the phrase that best sums up the Holden. Despite the VF’s slightly small and narrow wing mirrors, good vision is still provided and the locally built large car’s soft, comfortable and compliant ride sees it ace the speed bumps.
The hairpins are a breeze thanks to the SS V’s nicely weighted electro-mechanical power steering that sits perfectly between the Volvo’s adjustable system and the Nissan’s speed-sensitive set-up. A little basic in its presentation, the Commodore’s reversing camera (pictured below) is another that helpfully stays active once you disengage reverse.
Creating a buzz every time you crank the engine, the Mercedes-Benz provides the best aural experience of all our challenges… provided you want to be looked at while simply going to the shops.
With the suspension in ‘Comfort’ mode, the E63’s softened front end takes our challenging speed humps well. Less thrilled with their existence is the noticeably stiffer rear end.
The Benz’s nicely weighted steering is similar to the Holden’s, though the AMG scores the best reversing camera of the lot thanks to its clarity, guidelines and rear-and around-view cameras staying on once reverse is disengaged. Surprisingly given its acreage – second only to the more than 4.9-metre-long Ford – the Mercedes also has the smallest turning circle of all our V8 Supercar wannabes (11.35m).
THE MAIN RACE
Fuelled up, tyres set at 40psi and manufacturer windscreen banners on, the field headed off to the holy land, Phillip Island.
Helping Australians rip skids in comfort since 2008, the FG Ford Falcon is still a solid thing. Easy to drive at a cruise, the rear-wheel-drive XR6 Turbo combines bags of low-end grunt with doughy steering, suspension and throttle response.
Now, that might not sound like the ideal mix for a high-performance car, but luckily for Ford, the XR6 Turbo isn’t one. It’s a big, comfortable and characterful lump of Australiana that can light up its rear tyres with uncontainable ease. And that’s what still makes it loads of fun in the right hands – as James recently discovered – and more entertaining than its VF-refined Holden rival.
Sure road noise on course-chip surfaces is heard in the cabin, and it certainly feels its age inside – that seat versus steering wheel positioning issue will forever be a sore point – but the Falcon is far from being a lacklustre package.
With its four-cylinder engine and front-wheel-drive layout, the Nissan Altima Ti is, of all those gathered here, the car that is furthest away from a V8 Supercar. More than just drivetrain related, the Altima’s uphill battle stems from it being the only one of our five to have no dedicated sports model in its line-up.
The XR6 Turbo, SS V, S60 Polestar and E63 AMG S-model are all performance-minded variants in their own right. The Nissan, even in six-cylinder Ti-S guise, is not. However, what it may lack in motorsport flair, it makes up for in real-word liveability and practicality.
Easily one of the most comfortable (albeit nosiest) cars to eat up smooth highway miles in, the Nissan Altima takes the chequered flag for both rear-seat legroom and rear seat-base size. While it has to be said that its interior is not dripping in class, its fit and finish is still a generation ahead of the Ford’s.
The large-capacity four-pot engine does feel breathless – particularly in this company – and while the CVT delivers smooth ‘shifts’, it will hold high revs when you leave your foot buried in the carpet. The Altima’s soft suspension translates to a lack of body control over more challenging surfaces, with heavy cross winds making the car feel less planted on the road than any of the others.
Doing nothing fundamentally wrong, you could argue that the tame and somewhat unexciting Nissan actually does a decent job of translating racecar to roadcar, given the Altima is probably the least aggressive looking of the V8 Supercars field.
Firm, fast and feisty. The concept behind the Volvo S60 Polestar is blindingly clear: to take you from here to there with phenomenal pace and in Swedish luxury. This is a car you get in and instantly want to grab by the scruff of the neck – or rubber-backed steering wheel-mounted shift paddles in this case – and chase down apexes and advisory signs with.
The most hardcore car present, the Volvo sits flattest through bends, has massive amounts of grip, solid brakes (although our test car’s pedal travel suggested a bleed mightn’t have gone astray) and an engine that provides tons of easily exploitable torque.
Paired to a constant bassy drone when driven ‘normally’, the turbo-six suffers from a distinct lack of either intake or exhaust noise as revs, and enthusiasm, rise – an attribute that would complete the racing-inspired S60 perfectly.
Sharp, spirited and built for a purpose, the S60 Polestar is absolutely the car you want it to be… Provided that car is something that encourages that way of thinking and feels borderline silly on the road (at least as far as a daily driver with a ride that alerts you to every pot hole, cat eye and ant you drive over).
At ‘The Island’ long enough for a quick bite, a coffee and some highly relevant discussion about which car would pull the most grid girls, it was soon time for us ‘gentleman’ to start our engines and head back north towards Sandown Raceway.
Significantly quieter and more upmarket than its Blue Oval archrival, the Holden Commodore SS V has a compliant and sophisticated ride that brings with it comfort, stability and control.
Up there with the Mercedes in terms of overall dynamics, when it comes to noise, the 6.0-litre Holden is, in this group at least, too quiet to stand out –disappointing too when you’ve heard the same powerplant tweaked by Walkinshaw Performance. Even CarAdvice CEO Andrew Beecher jumped out after his first steer of the Commodore and asked, “So that’s the six, right?”
With its V8 delivering solid but linear power, the SS V is hushed inside and out and feels less punchy than the force-fed Falcon and nowhere near as exciting as the mildly manic Volvo.
Similar to the Ford – but with much better seat and steering wheel adjustability – the Holden is less hard-edged road weapon and more effortless family tourer. And it completes that task extremely well.
A favourite since launching locally in pre-facelift guise back in late 2009, the Mercedes-Benz E63 AMG sits low, looks tough and sounds even better. It’s got serious stance and proper presence. But is it five times better than the Holden or two and a half times more exhilarating than the Volvo?
Updated in 2013 with the more powerful S-Model, the E63 isn’t perfect. Tyre noise still penetrates the cabin when riding over coarse-chip blacktop, the lovely interior is starting to date and let’s not kid ourselves, a twin-turbo V8 is about as environmentally conscientious as Tony Abbott.
But today’s test is about how it relates to V8 Supercars and, from the driver’s seat at least – with your hands all over the sublime half-Alcantara steering wheel and high-quality metal paddle shifters – the Affalterbach-fettled sedan looks hard to beat.
Impressing earlier in the day as Dr Jekyll, switch to ‘Sport’ mode and the Mr Hyde-spec AMG becomes far more capable than any 1800kg-plus four-door has any right to be. Loud, swift and willing, the Mercedes-Benz E63 AMG S-Model is still very much the real deal.
THE PIT STOP
Parked up on Sandown’s doorstep, it was time to test arguably the most important quality of any large car (quiet Nissan, your 4.8m ‘mid-size’ Altima is 35mm longer than your old Maxima large car): can it fit an Esky in the boot?
To make things more interesting, our boot challenge includes cramming in a suitcase and skis, while having a booster seat take up the kerb-side rear passenger space just to increase the degree of difficulty.
With 535 litres of load space, the Ford’s boot (pictured below) is second only to the Merc’s by 5L. And… the Falcon blitzes the task. The Esky and suitcase fit in the boot-well’s cut out, the skis stowed without hassle.
With stacks of space left over, the Falcon’s only hiccup is the split of its 60:40 rear seats, which dictates that the right-hand rear passenger seat and the centre seat, both must be down.
Doing a solid job and sitting just behind the Falcon, the Altima’s boot swallows all three items trouble free – particularly commendable given the Nissan’s 488L capacity is the second smallest here, trumping only the Volvo’s 380L.
Again leaving plenty of additional boot space available, the Nissan also suffers from the same rear seat split foible as the Ford – and the Volvo for that matter – meaning two out of the three rear spots are out of action.
Teaming the smallest boot with the shortest car was never going to play out well for the 4.6m Volvo S60. Adding insult to injury, though, is the brain-numbing inclusion of a strap-in temporary spare tyre.
We manage to fit in the suitcase and skis reasonably well but the Esky has to be flipped onto its side to ensure it isn’t left behind (pictured below). With things in the rear snuggly packed, any remaining cavities require Tetris-like skill to be taken advantage of.
Good but not great, the Holden’s 496L boot places it between the Nissan and Ford. And although skis can be conveniently slid through a centre seat ski port – allowing one passenger to hypothetically stay close to bub in the back – the Commodore’s slightly letterbox boot aperture makes getting the Esky in a bit of a squeeze. Once loaded up, though, there’s ample room left around all the gear.
If the Ford Falcon and Nissan Altima are impressive, the Mercedes-Benz (pictured below) is remarkable. Sure, it has the biggest boot capacity of all our contenders at 540L but, thanks to its handy ski port, the E63 also gives you a free rear passenger seat and by far the most spare boot space of all assembled here.
Accommodating the Esky, suitcase and skis with ridiculous ease and nonchalance, in this test at least, the Benz is champion.
THE VICTORY LAP
With testing done and more than 220km completed, it’s time to pick our winners… First though, fuel usage figures. Consuming approximately 112 litres of premium unleaded between them, how did our five road-going V8 Supercars perform?
No surprises for the day’s most efficient model: the Nissan Altima. With its four-cylinder engine sucking down a claimed figure-matching 7.5L/100km, the Altima comfortably takes out top spot – in this category anyway.
Next best is the Volvo S60 Polestar. Recording an on-test figure of 9.3L/100km, the S60 surprises us and betters its official 10.2L/100km claim.
The first to break into double figures is the Swede’s turbo-assisted six-cylinder bedfellow, the Ford Falcon XR6 Turbo. Netting 10.5L/100km for the day, the Falcon blitzes its ADR figure by 1.2L/100km.
Proving there’s no replacement for displacement when it comes to burning through fossil fuels, the final positions are split between our V8-powered pairing. The Holden Commodore SS V finishing just ahead of the twin-turbo Mercedes-Benz E63 AMG S-Model – 11.2L/100km plays 12.4L/100km.
However while the Holden becomes our third challenger to go below its claim, the Benz ends the day with the largest discrepancy between claimed (10.0L/100km) and actual data. Regardless, neither is as thirsty as a V8 Supercar, which inhales around 80 litres of United E85 race fuel every 100km.
The champagne has been sprayed and the fans have all packed up their deck chairs and anhydrous tinnies. Which vehicle has crossed the line first though?
We said at the start that this test was about two things: finding out which current V8 Supercar, in its road car form, is the closest match to its racing equivalent and which is best at tackling the realities of the ‘real world’.
Proudly holding up the trophy for the latter is… the Nissan Altima. The most affordable option here, the humble Nissan did extremely well in both the parking and boot challenges, smashed it for rear-seat legroom (pictured below) and delivered the best fuel economy by some margin.
It may not deliver the most premium experience or the best dynamics but as a daily driver, the Altima is the least likely to upset your neighbours, your grandmother or any protective mums waiting to collect their kids from the school zone you happen to be passing through. Simply put, its biggest hurdle is its struggle to engage the driver.
Having no such problem is our overall winner. The car that most closely matches the excitement, thrill and one-track mindedness of a V8 Supercar is… the Volvo S60 Polestar.
Taking top honours ahead of the always excellent Mercedes-Benz E63 AMG S-Model, the Volvo not only looks the part, it also hammers home the point (almost literally) with its super firm adjustable suspension, huge brakes and general ability to flatly destroy straights and corners with equal levels of contempt.
In the same boat as the Benz, if you like V8 Supercars and can afford the entry fee, the S60 Polestar will make you grin every, single, day – it’s also less than half the price of the Mercedes.
Without any doubt, though, the Merc is a car you want more time in to make more noise in while chewing through more fuel than anyone has ever seen. It’s big, fast and loud and, for us, that’s pretty synonymous with V8 Supercars.
In third place by only the very slimmest of margins from the German super sedan, is the Ford Falcon XR6 Turbo. Louder and more aggressive than the lion-fronted Commodore, the turbine-equipped Falcon feels faster and looser than its Holden combatant too and we love it for it.
Heading straight into parc ferme for a debrief, the Holden and Nissan round out the minor placings.
A supremely good road package with all the ingredients to excel in this particular comparison, the rear-drive V8-engined SS V falls short when it comes to character. Polished no doubt, especially when compared with the Falcon, the Commodore lacks the sort of brute charm Aussie muscle cars are so loved for.
Perhaps the biggest fish out of water, the Nissan Altima Ti left few offended and even fewer interested. With sedate looks and an equally tame drivetrain, the Japanese four-door offers little to get pulses racing, for or against.
At a ratio of around 19.5 words per kilometre, we’re here: the finish line. But while the above conclusions might be those of CarAdvice as a whole, for our guest steerers on the day, things were not so clear-cut.
CarAdvice CEO and long-time petrol head, Andrew Beecher: For mine the closest to a V8 Supercar was the Volvo, followed by the Holden and then the Mercedes-Benz. In my eyes the Volvo is an engaging performance car for those that want to stand out from the mainstream and feel like they’re on the starting grid each and every time they drive it.
My pick for the best ‘real world’ option was – assuming you can afford it – the Mercedes (ahead of the Holden and the Volvo).
Twenty-five-year-old car enthusiast and bachelor of mechanical engineering graduate, Matt: To me, a V8 Supercar means four doors, rear-wheel drive and plenty of power, performance, noise and drama. Based on this, I’d say the E63 AMG is closest to the racecar because of its ludicrous power and because it’s just so loud, brash and menacing on the road. The Volvo and Holden round out my top three.
In terms of the ‘real world’, I’d put the Holden first, with the Ford and Volvo closely behind.
Forty-year-old account manager and father of three, Michael: My top pick for closest to a V8 Supercar is the Mercedes based on its power, handling and that amazing V8 engine sound. For most people the price tag also makes it about as unrealistic to own as an actual V8 Supercar. And while I put the Volvo and Holden second and third respectively, I couldn’t help thinking about drivers flying around Bathurst in the Benz having their backs massaged at 300km/h…
Back to reality, and my ‘real world’ picks were the Holden first, the Ford second and the Volvo third.
Whatever your brand and wherever your allegiances may lie, our V8 Supercars versus the real world comparison showed two important things. One, for sheer entertainment and excitement, noise should never be underestimated. And two, more than a few tears will be shed should V8 Supercars lose its two greatest rivals, Ford and Holden.
Click on the Photos tab for more images by Tom Fraser and James Ward.