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S401 Rimutaka Rally Car

We went away for a long weekend, and of course we HAD to take the S401 for a decent shakedown after the work I did.

I can now conclude that all the work I have done was very much worth it. The trip consisted of going over the Rimutaka Hill, and back a couple of days later. The hill road is about 15KM of nonstop twists, turns and hairpins going up and then back down the hill. It’s a great drive when there is no traffic, or traffic is considerate (and using the slow and stopping lanes to let faster traffic passed).


I have gone over this road a few times, in a few different cars now, and I have to say the S401 is by far the most effortless drive I have had. Keep it in third, keep the revs up and just ride the wave of boost. Come up to a corner, stomp on the big Brembo brakes and it’ll haul you down to a more reasonable speed quickly, and then back onto the gas using the grip of the AWD system and multiple Limited Slip Differentials to pull you around smoothly. Its quick, its smooth, and strangely it’s so good it’s almost relaxing. Some cars you come off the hill and you’re tired, you arms ache and you just want a rest.

Driving like this does take its toll on the brakes though, my front wheels are now black with dust. Cant wait to get some Dragons Breath on them, and make them shine again.

Whilst we were over the other side of the hill, I decided that I just had to find a gravel road and see what this beast can do off the sealed roads. Sure enough, it was exceptionally good. The grip on the loose stuff was immense, and the feeling of stability at over 80KPH was awesome. I thought better of seeing what the handling was like when sideways, both due to limited visibility on the corners, and as not to scare my passenger.

Driving on gravel roads brought back some great memories of hooning the Marina and Familia around back roads, growing up. Its been a long time since i’ve done that. Much nostalgia.

I’m back home now, ready to get stuck back into work again tomorrow (woo 🙃), and the car is now in dire need of a good clean. I have some new cleaning products on their way, as well as a proper snow foam cannon for my water blaster. Excited to see how that goes, hopefully it shows up before the long weekend, next weekend.

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