November 2004: Well the Mojo has been on the road for a good few weeks now, and I have been asked by a few people for my initial driving impressions. So, rather than writing emails to everyone that asks, I've added this new section.
Performance- Having been brought up on a staple diet of front wheel drive cars, the truth of the matter is that I'm taking things fairly easy in the Mojo at the moment. I am now getting a bit more confidence with booting it in a straight line (in the dry...), and the straight line performance is pretty good. It's a bit difficult to compare, as the noise, turbulence and distance that you sit from the ground (not a lot! With the sidescreens removed, I can place the palm of my hand flat on the surface of the road- whilst stationary of course!) all make it rather different to driving a 'normal' car. But, as a comparison, it does feel significantly more accelerative than my 180bhp Leon Cupra, which allegedly does 0-60 in about 7.5 seconds, so I guess the Mojo may be capable of doing it in five-point-something. One area in which the Mojo is fantastic is traction away from the line. You can pretty much use full throttle as you feed the clutch in, and it just gooooooooooes... This is rather different to your typical FWD car, which only really gets into it's stride once you're away from the line.
Handling- Again I'm taking it fairly easy, and plan to get the car on the track ASAP to get to grips with how it feels at the limit. On the road, I'm not driving any quicker than I would in the Leon, and I'm being more careful with higher speed cornering than I am with roundabouts, where I feel a little safer. The Mojo will obviously have much higher limits than I'm used to, but I don't want to find out exactly where on a 60mph left hander with a forest on the right hand side... Mid-engined cars can tend to be a bit more twitchy at the limit, and with a 60% rear weight distribution the Mojo demands respect, especially in these early days.
What I can say is that driving round a particular roundabout at 30mph in the Leon with understeer just beginning to build up, feels like a stroll in the park at 30mph in the Mojo. No body roll to speak of, no noticeable tyre slip, just a 'cornering on rails' feeling, to use a somewhat dodgy phrase.
I'm looking forward to getting some track time, and am particularly looking at doing a track day where instructors are available to give me some hints and tips. I've also looked at the Academy Days run by Motorsport Events as these have had a very good reception on the wscc forums and on blatchat, although the next one will now be in 2005.
Steering- On the initial drives to the MOT test, the steering felt strangely numb and uncommunicative. I put this down to the new ball joints at the outer ends of the upper and lower wishbone and on the track rods, and sure enough, after the drive to the MOT retest and to SVA (twice) it was feeling less 'friction-y' (no, I don't think that is a word either...).
However, I had always been a bit uncomfortable about the rubber lower joint in the steering column. In the original installation in the Sierra, this was aimed at reducing vibrations transmitted to the steering wheel (it is actually referred to as a Hardy Disk in automotive lingo), and was not intended to be used in place of a universal joint. In the Mojo, the rubber joint was being forced to deflect due to the steering column routing, and was doing the job of a UJ. However, this deflection meant that even with the front wheels jacked up, there was still a friction-feel to the steering. I had noticed that the recent Mojo kits were now being built with a proper UJ, and hence arranged for Sylva to modify mine to the latest design.
With the new joint in place, there was a big change to the feel of the steering- much more feedback, and a much more responsive 'alive' feeling, much more how I had expected the car to feel. Admittedly the car is now more 'darty', but I want this agile feeling rather than the dead feeling from before. Friction is a Bad Thing!
Another thing to note is that the steering is very light at low speeds, parking is not a problem! With only 230kg shared between the front wheels, I guess this is not too surprising...
Other points- The sidescreens make a big difference! Admittedly you only get the full-on open air experience without them, but you get buffeted quite heavily, and holding a conversation with a passenger would be difficult above about 50mph. With the sidescreens fitted, a conversation at 60+mph is easy, and the main discomfort is airflow hitting the back of your neck. The heater is also surprisingly effective, more so at lower speeds, but it makes things much more comfortable during cold spells (most of the year then...)
I had a lot of resonance/vibrations/rattles to start with, and am still chasing some of these even now. They are a bit of a pain to track down the source, but I'm getting there slowly. If I were building another kit, I would definitely bear this in mind more during assembly, and try to eliminate possible sources of noise at that stage.
The cable operated clutch initially felt good, but after a few miles became progressively stiffer, and began squeaking. I found that running some 3-in-1 oil down the cable from both ends has greatly improved matters, but some owners have had cable failures, and I now regret not going for a hydraulic setup. The cable does currently run down the tunnel, and hence is in very close proximity to the radiator pipes which will be in the region of 90 degress C- I guess the cable is breaking down in some way under these conditions. Steve Knee has plans to upgrade to a full hydraulic system, and I may end up following suit.
The throttle cable, however, has improved with use, especially after the addition of some 3-in-1 oil. Heel and toeing is easy!
The gearchange is generally pretty good, the only issue being a lack of springing across the gate. This can occasionally make finding 3rd or 4th a bit difficult, but it is generally OK. The fore-aft and left-right throws are nice and short, and I'm really pleased with the relationship between the lever and the steering wheel.
The brakes initially felt very soft, and I was concerned they were not bled properly. However, after a couple of hundred miles, they really started to firm up as the pads bedded into the disks. They now have a nice feel, and stop the car easily. I want to play around with the balance a little, as currently the fronts seems to lock up quite early...
The driving position is pretty reasonable, although I was surprised how much leg room I lost by fitting the Sylva seat cushions. The back rest has an extra thick section for your lower back, which tends to make you sit in a more reclined position, reducing leg room. If I were to start from scratch again, I would investigate a pedal box mod to give an inch or 2 more room- I think Jeremy Phillips at Sylva would be able to do this. The best thing to do is have a sit in a Mojo before ordering...