Vince Pornelos / Vince Pornelos | October 11, 2010 20:34
Power to the PeopleAs most manufacturer-held trackdays go, it's often hard to actually have as much fun as you want. It's quite understandable, as in an effort to preserve the participants and the cars, organizers often carve a watered down course designed to slow you down so much that it's highly unlikely to have a shunt.
That's not the case with Chevy. Not with BRE.
To introduce the latest version of the Chevrolet Cruze, the Covenant Car Company, the exclusive distributors of Chevrolet in the country, held a trackday at the new Clark International Speedway. Chevy did this in partnership with their racing team, Blanco Race Engineering.
BRE is a new group headed by the ever colorful tuner and our favorite Colombian from AutoPlus, Francisco "Pacho" Blanco. A true car enthusiast, racing and tuning nut, Pacho cut his teeth during the Philippine Touring Car Championships as the chief engineer for TRS. After setting up his own shop, Pacho immediately went to work on the Chevy Cruze as his new blank slate for racing, culminating in the Cruze PHTC race car.
Seeing the tuning and customization potential in the Chevy Cruze, Chevy Philippines created the Chevy Motorsports Program, or CMP, and set about putting official modifications on the Cruze for street use. After several months of trials, CMP and BRE came up with the CMP Cruze Street Edition, a moderately tuned and customized version of the Cruze.
The most obvious changes are in the body work, as car aesthetics expert Atoy Llave of A-Toy Bodykits created a 6-piece bodykit especially for the Cruze. The kit enhances the look of the car, giving it a lower, more aggressive look thanks to the wraparound skirts and a ducktail spoiler. Sammy Liuson of Concept One also got involved, and installed a set of special 18 inch Concept One Replika wheels and Nitto Tires to complement the new look of the car.
Inside, the CMP Street Edition also has a customized look, thanks to a specially designed leather upholstery system from Leder Interia. Depending on the car's color and the owner's preferences, CMP offers a range of swatches of leather for that quality, custom look.
In the handling department, CMP sourced the expertise of H&R and Arvin Lim with a set of sport lowering springs for improved handling and a lowered ride. For even better handling but at the expense of comfort, a full competition coil-over suspension system can be ordered.
Being a true tuner, Pacho and BRE sought out a list of mods that will greatly enhance the Cruze's abilities. A custom made intake system with an HKS power flow filter takes care of aspiration, while a custom fitted full exhaust system, from headers to muffler, was sourced from Fremuff.
With the car ready, CMP and BRE invited a group of media to experience the new Cruze Street edition on the Clark International Speedway. The speedway is the newest racing circuit to be built in the country, and features a 2 kilometer short track, a long main straight, and a yet to be completed full track.
Being a trackday, organizers instituted an accuracy competition, as participants were to round the track and hit every apex, as marked by an orange pylon. Drift too far and you'll incur a 3 second penalty, and the same applies if you hit the cone.
Getting strapped into the seat of the Cruze Street Edition is pretty easy. I've always liked this car from the start, given its design, quality feel, pricing and handling. With the upgrades, I was eager to get a feel for what the Street Edition has to offer.
Taking it out on track for the first time, the exhaust and intake mods certainly sound and feel the part. The intake and exhaust notes are properly aggressive and exciting, but its not all sound and show, as the mods raise the horsepower produced by the 1.8 liter engine from 115 horsepower at the wheels (141 hp rated at the crank) to 127 horsepower at the wheels.
On the corners, the already good handling abilities of the Cruze were further improved by the upgraded springs. The car is a relatively heavy one, and having stiffer springs most definitely handle the weight much better. At the new Clark International Speedway, the suspension upgrades, power mods and wider tires combine to elevate the stock car's lap time from 1:24.57 to 1:20.12, a full 4 seconds quicker over a lap, a remarkable achievement considering that no weight has been removed yet.
The package for the Cruze CMP Street Edition is priced at PhP 192,000 (exclusive of VAT), and can be re-upgraded to include even better suspension, tires or leather at extra cost. But as a package, the CMP Street Edition is a very worthy upgrade to an already very worthy car from Chevrolet.