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The Mercury Cars Guide : May 29th 2010
24--- Classifieds 62 300 400 • carsguide.com.au Saturday, May 29, 2010 T-Rex goes close to extinction Three-wheelers can be somewhat of a novelty, but Campagna's new addition is definitely worth a look. Peter Lyon test drives the T-Rex 14R in Japan WEIRD: The Campagna T-Rex 14R looks funny but is seriously fast. There is nothing subtle about the T-Rex. It is a raw thrill and can snap on you if pushed too hard' WHEN you are paying Audi TTRS money for a silly looking three- wheeler you need to know you are getting something special for the money. The Campagna T-Rex 14R definitely delivers. It's like bungee jumping with a steering wheel in your hands. It's one of the very rare CarsGuide test vehicles that doesn't feel as if it needs an extra 10 per cent, or even 20 per cent, in the engine room. It's got more than enough for the job, as it can easily sprint to 100km/h in 3.9 seconds --- supercar territory for the Italian and German brands. The perspective from the driver's seatisasclosetoanF1carasyoucan get in a road-going vehicle. Sitting just centimetres from the road and with a marginally-covered cockpit, every sound is amplified and every driver action is more critical than in any car I have driven. But the T-Rex is not a car. Where it is built in Canada it's registered as a motorcycle by the Department of Transportation. But I'm driving it in Japan, where the Campagna company is now start- ing sales after a preview at last year's Tokyo Motor Show. The T-Rex is built by hand at a factory in Montreal with a chassis constructed from tubular steel that's covered by fibreglass body panels. Mounted behind the driver is a 1.3-litre in-line four-cylinder engine and six-speed manual transmission transferred directly from a Kawasaki Ninja ZX-14. A special reverse gear with separ- ate lever has been retro-fitted for obvious reasons. The three-wheeler has a double- wishbone suspension setup at the front and a traditional bike-style swingarm at the rear end. Boarding the three-wheeled power- house is an exercise in contortionism. At 190cm, I was calling on every torso and back muscle available to squeeze into the tight cockpit. First you must remove the steering wheel, then you first lower your right leg into the footwell as you delicately sit on the side pontoon, levering in your left leg as you twist your body towards the seat while holding on to the roof frame. Luckily the seatback and pedals can be adjusted or it would be a very uncomfortable experience indeed. There is nothing subtle about the T-Rex. It is a raw thrill and can snap on you if pushed too hard. The 14R will spin to 11,000 revs but for the first half hour I was quite happy to just hover around 5000 rpm, as any more feels like tempting fate. Piloting the T-Rex is almost like learning to drive all over again. With each successive corner, and then straight, you find yourself pro- gressively pushing harder, coming to terms with the prodigious feedback through the steering and seeking the limits. That's until you realise that you won't get anywhere near its limits --- at least not on a public road. Just once I held 6000 revs in first gear and launched. The T-Rex took off out of the blocks like a cheetah in hunt mode and, after just one gear change, I had cleared 100km/h. Not since the rev-happy Honda S2000, which can buzz to 9000, have revs seemed so easy. And the T-Rex roars beside my right ear, holding the thrill factor at non-stop 100 per cent. This Campagna three-wheeler is seriously quick, in any gear, and especially when hovering above 5000 revs. And it's seriously edgy too, es- pecially in first and second. There is a very fine line between grip and grief and only by careful experimentation can you hope to find that perfect balance between the two. Even with a huge BF Goodrich 295x35 18-inch rubber on the rear the tail will go, quite easily, and you'd have to be the Drift King to catch it in time. When you turn the three-wheeler it wants to stay turned. And when the rear loses traction, then you have the front and rear dynamics working against your correction efforts. Then there are the gear changes, which are not subtle at all. They're more like throwing the clutch-plate against a wall and waiting for the next gear to fall into place. If you're a bike rider then the gear changes will come more naturally, but it took me some getting used to. There is no time to relax in the T-Rex. There is no power steering, no power brakes, no traction control, no airbags, no audio and no air- conditioning. A helmet is not compulsory, at least in Japan, but a full-face is my recommendation to avoid flying stones and airborne tyre pieces. All that aside, the T-Rex is as pure as any machine on the road today. After spending several hours behind the wheel I couldn't help wondering what its creators were thinking. Its nearly as fast as a Nissan GT-R to 100km/h but weighs less than half a Mazda MX-5. Truthfully, this three-wheeler has too many herbs for its own good. Unless you're a professional racing driver, you will never use more than half of the T-Rex's potential. On a race track you can approach the limits, but you'll still need F1 driving skills to get anywhere near them. For about $70,000 in Japan it's an incredible thrill ride, but the T- Rex is not for everyone. www.djmotors.com.au firstname.lastname@example.org Glenorchy 275 Main Road, Glenorchy Phone: 6213 3 315 Brian Anning 0418 531 853 Chris Wakefield 0400 635 446 Allan Gebel 0428 729 659 Hobart 1a Brisbane Street, Hobart Phone: 6213 3300 Warren Amos 0417 544 829 Jason Spong 0408 473 756 Easy finance available with DJ Financial Services †To approved business clients only, with a $2,500 deposit over five years with a 30% residual payment. 1. Interest rate 11.2%. 2. Interest rate 12.2%. GREAT DRIVE AWAY DEALS ON NISSAN! 09 NISSAN Tiida Automatic with dual airbags, cruise control,ABS brakes, air conditioning, CD player, remainder of 3-year 100,000km new vehicle warranty. Stock No. 322537 09 NISSAN Micra Automatic, 1.4 litre with driver and passenger airbags, power windows,ABS brakes, air conditioning, CD player. Stock No. 322540 $10 .50 per day†1 $9.25 per day†1 04 NISSAN X-Trail Ti Luxury Automatic, leather seats, electronic sunroof, dual airbags, 6-disc in-dash CD player, climate control air con, cruise control, towbar. Stock No. 322454 $12.50 per day†2 $15 ,990 DRIVE AWAY $13 ,990 DRIVE AWAY $18 ,990 DRIVE AWAY
May 22nd 2010
June 5th 2010