GRAN TURISMO CAR REVIEWS

Mazda Cosmo vs. Toyota Soarer
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GT2 Grand Touring Car Comparison:
Mazda Eunos Cosmo VS Toyota Soarer
by Matej from GTP
 
This review includes the Mazda Eunos Cosmo Type-E ‘94 and Toyota Soarer GT-T ’95, two cars which are fairly equal in status (used cars). Other models may appear if comparison is necessary, in which case they will be marked.
 
By definition, The term grand tourer derives from Gran Turismo, an Italian phrase, and I assure you it doesn’t have anything to do with our popular video game series. Grand Tourer represents a luxury performance car capable of traveling long distances in a high-speed manner, while simultaneously offering a significant amount of comfort.  This could be disputed to a degree if we consider that the original game of the series incorporated plenty of grand tourers on the cream of the crop level.
 
Basically, we could say that grand tourers have been meat and potatoes of the entire franchise. If that is the ball we want to keep rolling from now on, then we should remember the following: grand tourers are not high-performance cars. Certainly they do have some capabilities, as they successfully compete on the motorsport scene, but pure speed is not something the concept began with. Sure, over past few years several cars have managed to beat this premise (Supra, Skyline) while some were close (300 ZX, DB7), but the general image has remained the same: luxury and comfort at slightly increased pace. That is what being a grand tourer is all about. With that image in mind, we are going to test two famous grand tourers, Mazda Eunos Cosmo and Toyota Soarer. Iron your suit and polish your shoes as we are entering VIP area. No frivolous activities allowed!
 
People may disagree with me, but grand tourers indicate a life of prosperity and happiness – at least for the owners themselves. Japanese representatives may not be as expensive as famous European four-wheel role models, but if you can afford one of them, your pockets obviously aren’t empty.
 
The Mazda Cosmo provides a good example. It was quite expensive back in its days, and still is by today’s standards. Massive fuel consumption and big power implies a necessity of owning vast amount of funds in your bank account, in order to cover for all the subsequent expenses that may (and will) show up eventually. A well-paid surgeon or a manager of a private company shouldn’t have any problem with that, but the rest of us may.
 
That is where Gran Turismo comes into play. Since money can be obtained in no time, only few button clicks separates peasants from nobles. In other words, if you claim there is a glimpse of injustice surrounding your life, a video game that nourishes realism like Gran Turismo should balance that and give you the chance to experience something you always wanted to.
 
Assuming you have nothing against second-hand cars, the Soarer can be yours for 20 to 30 grand. I have seen the price dropping even below that range, so pay attention to what the dealership has in offer; you may just be lucky enough and buy a decent model for a really miserable price.
 
The situation above also counts for the base ’95 Soarer GT-T (Toyota) model though. The only other models in GT2 within the Soarer's price range are to be found in mint condition from this GT2's new car lot, but they also have a price tag to deal with. For that matter, you’ll have to single out more than 30 grand for either entry naturally-aspirated SC300 (Lexus) or turbo-charged ’96 GT-T VVT-i (Toyota) model whereas the V8-powered SC400 (Lexus) will negotiate almost 60 thousand units of your wallet. Quite expensive in relation to a Supra or Skyline, but if we consider that the Aston Martin DB7 lineup requests alarmingly more, and their performance is below expected average, I believe there should be no room for objections.
 
With only two models on offer, the Cosmo lineup doesn’t add that much confusion or diversity. Either entry, the Type-S, or top of the line Type-E are available. Interesting fact: the Type-S (turbo-charged) model uses one rotor less than the Type E, to bring 230 ponies. There are no naturally-aspirated models that commonly precede 276 hp units. These two cars are too old to be part of the new car dealership, yet they are usually more expensive than the ’95 Soarer GT-T. Therefore, if you find one below the second-hand price range above it is likely going to be the Type-S model, so look carefully.
 
At this point you may have realized how a grand tourer won’t be a part of a cost-benefit analysis. But a wealthy businessman doesn’t care about that as much as he does about image, and that is exactly what you get with a grand tourer. Now I dare you to open a dictionary and come up with all kinds of adjectives, as these two can initiate some really ground-breaking emotions, and thus words.
 
 

In my early days, while I was actively playing the original Gran Turismo, no other car managed to attract so much of my attention as the Cosmo did. It certainly had that factor I couldn’t find on anything else, particularly as it was hard to deduce to which manufacturer it belongs, just by looking at it (!). Seriously, strip down the badge and name and ask around; I wonder how many people would guess that we are talking about Mazda.
 
Yes, Mazda, that peculiar manufacturer that always manages to raise question marks, hardly any conviction. Your knowledge about their history wouldn’t help here, as I believe they managed to outmatch even themselves. The most prestigious model of the house in its exterior department has nothing in relation to it. The Cosmo's sleek rounded rear end and extended taillights are details commonly seen on American cars, hardly Japanese. That is a bit ironic given that the Cosmo was officially never sold outside its original borders.
 
Nevertheless, the idea was certainly reasonable, if designers had wanted to introduce the Cosmo to American market in its early stages of development. We also shouldn’t forget that the earlier Japanese industry was heavily influenced by American, so there is a chance that the Cosmo paid homage a bit longer than necessary. As a result, the Cosmo is an unusual, one of a kind model that serves as a benchmark to car designers. Unusual in this case is good, because it carries great amount of personality that identifies you from anything else you can find on the road. With that said, I just don’t understand why it has been absent from the GT series for quite some time now, it deserves much better treatment.
 

 
On the other hand, there is the Soarer, a sleek grand tourer built by Toyota (rebadged as Lexus in America) which doesn't look nearly as glamorous as the Cosmo, yet it managed to achieve impressive sale results, particularly in America. Quite a paradox, isn't it ? To be honest, I’ve never been a fan of Toyota’s organic design policy. At times they would come up with something interesting, but lack of true identity was always the main reason why I would end up being indifferent. I also found it difficult to appreciate their work, given the vast amount of similar models they have in production. They do have my sympathy though, it must be really hard to keep being creative that way.
 
The Soarer was designed in Toyota’s North American CALTY studio, and according to various web sources, the idea was to reach the American buyers through emotions and feelings that allegedly had been the main template for the final design. Hm, seriously ? I’m not sure what average buyers would think about it, but if I were responsible for initial drawings, I would use eraser more often. A car that reminds me of a vessel can’t invoke any affection in person, don’t you agree ? I honestly hope that this isn’t the case with the car's handling.
 
Both cars have several colors to paint their bodies. The Cosmo looks important in silver and red, while the Soarer will impress crème of the party with beige. Racing modifications are optional, but I recommend them as you’ll need a lot of downforce to move those two around corners.
 

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----- ENGINE / DRIVETRAIN ----

 
Every grand tourer should feature a reasonably powerful engine. These cars have plenty of gadgets inside to keep our stock brokers and engineers entertained, so there must be some power to keep the car moving in a spirited manner. The two don’t disappoint in that area, but I have to say that better results could have been achieved in both cases. Let’s see where.  
 
The Cosmo features twin-turbocharged, 3-rotor engine that squeezes out 276 ponies off the hood. This is the only Mazda ever built by such solution. Other models used either 2 or 4-rotor configuration, opening a space for Cosmo to hope and tuck in. This unique technology is mated to a 4-speed automatic gearbox. Surprisingly, Mazda never offered manual transmission on any of the two Cosmo models, even though this should be standard equipment on a sports coupe.
 
Luckily, the initial ratio is moderately wide, which is why the car can effectively use the massive amount of torque the engine produces. From 2000 to 5000 rpm, the maximum punch is being offered, so make sure you fasten your seatbelt as the Cosmo is prone to aggression. The gearbox is well optimized for high-speed runs, but it lacks swiftness during gear changes. I strongly recommend buying the Close-ratio gearbox, as not only you will get the response and extra gear to play with, but the ratio will be slightly shortened, enough to make sure that the engine never falls below value 5000, the limit below which the car’s power is not that useful anymore.
 
The Soarer, on the other hand, features a 2.5 litre turbocharged engine. It is supported by 5-speed manual gearbox which provides more pep in shifting sequences, but the general ratio is overly short. This is especially noticeable in first gear, during which the car can’t productively use its own torque. This is the exact reason why the acceleration results, as provided in the table below the review, are disappointing. The same bug tortures other models in range, so if you want to effectively use their power and thus even up with the Cosmo, a launch in second gear is strongly recommended.

 The Soarer's peak power aims for the high rpm range, and since its power chart is steeper, you have much less room to navigate with available power. Unfortunately, the only solution is upgrading your drivetrain with a Fully Customizable Gearbox. The gearbox of the car is obviously built with sports driving in mind, but it is far from being optimized for it.

 There is nothing much to say about the Soarer's torque. Unlike the Cosmo, the Soarer produces peak values from 3000 to 5000 rpm. If you want more punch at lower range you should consider the ’96 VVT-i model. Its torque distribution covers a range from 2000 to 5000 rpm, and its more linear output should allow for accurate acceleration dosage. Speaking of the other models, let’s mention the Lexus SC400, whose popular V8 unit doesn’t need to worry about the turbo lag which can be of benefit if you plan to race with default gearbox.
Maximum obtainable power is also a place where the two separate. The Soarer's max of 420 ponies the is not worthy of any applause, especially when compared to the Cosmo, which can produce 620 ponies at best. I should mention that the SC300 can produce 520 ponies when tuned to the maximum level possible, despite being at first the weakest model in range.
 
In the sound department, neither car stands out. The Cosmo sounds like a mature MX-5, while the Soarer reminds me on a silencer of a gun. However, things drastically improve once you install some of the muffler attachments. With a Semi-racing kit, the Cosmo incorporates rotary whistling. With the Racing attachment, the Cosmo gets a frightening, loud sound that perfectly matches with its character. The Soarer has two good tunes on disposal (Semi-racing and Racing) and both of them invoke traditional TRD connotations. With either choice, a little identity can be found. In both cases, I would recommend installing ditto mufflers as soon as possible, to increase your joy of the drive.
 
 

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----- CHASSIS & HANDLNG -----

Now it is time to see how well these two premium members can perform under racing conditions.
 
 I entered the Grand Touring Event at Red Rock Valley Speedway. Usually considered to be an easy race for an average driver, now this track presents a real challenge for a car like the Cosmo. Its soft suspension configuration is not suitable for high-speed cornering, which is particularly noticeable on corner entries where the car exhibits understeer. It is mandatory to have patience while waiting for the springs to rebound to an acceptable position, at which the weight of the car can be easily manipulated without sliding around the track. Of course, this goofing affects average cornering speed, which doesn’t allow for spectacular lap times. I probably don’t have to mention that I lost the entire race.
 
On the sharp corners of Laguna Seca or Seattle, the situation is much more promising. Due to lower average cornering speed, it is possible to use the maximum potential of the car and its soft suspension configuration, even though the negative handling traits are still there, keen for sending you off the track. The Cosmo's high ride height (150 mm) allows for plenty of weight pushing its on tires, and because speed isn’t high, the suspension can take it, permitting the Cosmo to run at a decent pace. On these tracks the Cosmo would clear some corners in very fast and agile manner, particularly if you manage to keep the understeer under control. Unfortunately, these circuits vary in their corners, so you’re likely going to be surprised during some, and disappointed during others.
 
I have no objections on this car's rear-end stability. Massive torque injection won’t disrupt traction of the rear tires that easily. On corner entry braking, drift occurs smoothly and progressively, with plenty of time to react. But more importantly, I’m glad it remains controllable when acceleration is applied on exits.
 
Overall, the Cosmo is too gracious to operate in aggressive circumstances. In order to perform at least respectably, installing a suspension kit provides an initially stiffer spring ratio, which is necessary, although weight reduction is likely going to be the best starting option. This chap requires the soft, premium hands of a wealthy pencil-pusher, not rustic slapping.
 
Now, I hope you haven’t placed all your bets on Mazda’s unusual handicraft yet, as its handling is exactly the place where the Soarer turns the table on the Cosmo.
 
The first thing I noticed was a strange ratio of front to rear springs. Majority of cars have the bias set towards front end, but 7.4 against rear’s 3.4 on the Soarer is a bit disturbing. Surprisingly, that doesn’t affect amount of understeer that the car may produce, although the front end occasionally does feel stiff when entering a corner, which is a side effect I’m not really fond of either. The first two non-adjustable suspension kits only make it worse (I recall ratio around 13 against rear’s 7 with Semi-racing kit), so the only solution is buying the expensive Full customizable suspension kit. Ah, whatever.
 
Another problem that may catch your attention is the lack of traction on the inside rear tire when pulling away from a corner. Allegedly, all Soarer models feature Torsen torque-sensing differential. I’m not sure how the device works, but in Gran Turismo 2 the Soarer acts as a car with no LSD of any kind, so mark those words and fit one by yourself. Let’s hope your wallet is not empty yet, plenty of gadgets are required!
 
On the other hand, the car is supported by very responsive steering, and a fairly rigid chassis. Its shorter wheelbase affects the speed of weight transfer, so it becomes possible to induce oversteer just by letting off the acceleration pedal at the right moment, which is not an easy task on the Cosmo. The general extent of understeer is much friendlier, and doesn’t require polished skills to be tamed. Actually, the difference between the two’s handling is sometimes apparent as night and day. Once you balance the ratio of its springs, the Soarer may even become completely invincible – at least as far as these two rivals are concerned of course.
 
Based on my experience with Soarer in other video games, the car is considered to be quite agile, with little if none disturbance occurring at its front axle. I have to say that GT2 replicated this paradigm good enough.
 
And that is about it! If you care about lap times, the sports-oriented Soarer will provide you with some sweet, competitive numbers. It requires several expensive parts to be fully prepared, but the result afterwards is rewarding. The Cosmo is a more of a collector’s item than a true sports car. Oddities can be found all over the place, and the Soarer just can’t match such personality. Not surprising, given that the Soarer is just another Toyota, another surrogate of Supra that shares too many already seen elements from models like Chaser, Aristo, etc. The Cosmo is unique in the class and that is something lap times or sale results can’t explain.
 

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CAR
Mazda Cosmo ’94

Toyota Soarer ‘95

My price:

24,586 Cr.

20,703 Cr.

 Engine:
Rotary3, 654 x 3 ccm

L6 DOHC, 2491 ccm

Real power:
274 hp at 5800 rpm

270 hp at 6100 rpm

Real torque
41.2 kg/m at 3000 rpm

37.1 kg/m at 4500 rpm

 Weight:
1640 kg

1570 kg

 Wheelbase:
2750 mm

2690 mm

 Tires:
215/60 R 15

225/55 R 16

0-400m:
0’15.176 sec 

0’15.472 sec

 0-1000m:
 0’26.772 sec

0’27.160 sec

Top speed:
280.29 km/h

272.19 km/h

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