Few bragging rights are as hotly contested as Nürburgring lap times. Things have gotten so heated, in fact, that automakers have started slicing up the pie even finer: who makes the fastest sedan ever to lap the Norschleife, who the fastest front-driver, the fastest this and the fastest that. But the ultimate bragging rights still belong at the top of the leaderboard for the fastest street-legal production car. And now another exotic automaker is throwing its hat in the ring.
Developing a new vehicle is not without its complications, we're sure, but usually things follow a fairly predictable progression: you develop a prototype, you test it, test it and test it again, then you put it into production. What you don't expect is that your prototype will burn to the ground, but that's what famously happened to the NSX which Honda engineers were testing a few months ago.
For the past couple of decades, Land Rover has watched pretender after contender try to topple it from its throne as the world's ultimate purveyor of luxury SUVs. The British automaker has answered with an ever-expanding and ever-improving array of entries of its own, capped by a flagship Range Rover that seems to go more upscale every year, positioning itself as the high-riding counterpart to fellow British luxury marques like Jaguar and Bentley. It might even abide by the Leaping Cat, its sist
Aston Martin is on the verge of a renaissance that stands to be the biggest shift for the British automaker since it went independent in 2007 – if not since Ford took it over in the early 1990s. It's got a new chief executive, a new engine deal in place with Mercedes-AMG, a new platform under development and – if the new Lagonda sedan is anything to go by – maybe a new design direction in the works. And what do we have here? A test mule that could foreshadow one of the first ne
Endurance sports car racing always always centered around the 24 Hours of Le Mans, but that's not the only event on the calendar. For the past few years, the FIA and the ACO (the French racing body behind the race at Le Mans) have come together for the World Endurance Championship, the only series that features the top-tier LMP1 prototypes from Audi, Porsche and Toyota. Now the ACO has revealed the full calendar for next season, and it includes a rather enticing new addition.
We like the 24 Hours of Le Mans just fine. With the world's manufacturers in attendance and a varied field of classes and cars circling a high-speed circuit that's partially hewn from public roads, the appeal of the crown jewel of endurance racing is obvious. But, if you're tired of all the Le Mans love, there is another 24-hour race that is arguably more exciting and more extreme – we're talking the Nürburgring.
If we had a nickel for every version of the Elise that Lotus has rolled out over the years, we might actually have enough spare change to buy one ourselves. And we're not even talking about the entire separate models (like the Exige and Europa) that Lotus has based on the Elise's platform or the other automakers' cars (like the Tesla Roadster and Hennessey Venom GT) that have used the same. And now Lotus appears to be testing another one.
It used to be that if you wanted a Mercedes-Benz S-Class, your choice pretty much came down to which engine you wanted, and that was that. But into the new S-Class, Mercedes is integrating several other model lines and extending its flagship family (both literally and figuratively) as far as it will stretch.
Ferrari may not play the Nürburgring lap time game to the extent that Porsche, Nissan and Radical do, but it has been known to go for some lap times of its own. And now an F12 Berlinetta has been spotted lapping the Nordschleife in an apparent record attempt.
The Nürburgring Nordschleife has the reputation as one of the most difficult tracks in the world to master – deservedly so. With 14 miles of roadway and about 160 corners over a massive amount of elevation change, the amount of grip can change from turn to turn. As the driver of the famous BMW Ring Taxi learned this weekend after a shunt into the barricades, the 'Ring can bite unsuspecting pros just as easily as amateurs.
Europeans get very serious about their hot hatches. So do the Japanese. In fact there's been a whole back-and-forth lately over who makes the fastest one, and now Nissan looks set to throw its racing hat into the 'Ring.
Nürburgring lap times, it should come as no surprise, have become the ultimate bragging rights for performance automakers. So much so, in fact, that the records have been categorized. The Porsche 956 has held the outright record at 6:11 since 1983, the Pagani Zonda R is the fastest production-based track car at 6:47, the Radical SR8 LM the fastest (albeit barely) street-legal vehicle at 6:48 and the Porsche 918 Spyder the fastest fully street-legal series production vehicle at 6:57. But bey
Scroll down the leaderboards of Nürburgring lap times and you'll see mostly racing cars, supercars and sports cars. Delve deep enough and you'll eventually get to hatchbacks and sedans, albeit the most performance-focused of their kind. But a hybrid? Sure, the Porsche 918 Spyder posted the top time for a street-legal series production car, and it's technically a hybrid, but we're talking about another kind of hybrid here. We're talking about a Toyota Prius.
The next-generation Ford Mustang SVT is one of the most anticipated performance cars of the moment. We've already seen it testing multiple times, but it has always been covered is some very heavy camouflage. However, Ford has just given us our best view yet of the new muscle car. According to our spy photographer, the Mustang was at the Nürburgring for high-speed testing, which meant that the Blue Oval had to remove most of the heavy obfuscation that the SVT has worn previously.
It was a big deal back in 2008 when the original Cadillac CTS-V clocked a lap time of 7:59 at the Nürburgring, making it the fastest sedan ever to lap the Nordschleife to that date. Not many four-doors have bested that time since – the list consisting pretty much only of the Porsche Panamera Turbo – but now hot hatches are lapping faster than that, so you can bet that the new one will manage an even better time.
The tragic and completely bizarre accident that claimed the life of racer Bobby Goodin at the Pikes Peak International Hill Climb this weekend serves as yet another underscore to the dangers of motorsport. Advances in vehicle design, safety equipment and emergency medicine have all worked to make racing a less dangerous occupation than it once was, but there's no doubt about the fact that lives are on the line just about every time the ladies and gentlemen start their engines.
Ford is expected to be launching a revised version of the Focus ST soon, but the latest snapshots from our spy photographers at the Nürburgring suggest that the Blue Oval is already working on an even more potent example: the new Focus RS.
We've seen (and frankly reported on) so many rumors of more powerful and performance-focused versions of the Subaru BRZ, Toyota GT86 and Scion FR-S at this point that haven't materialized that, at this point, we're almost tired of them. Almost. But what we have here was enough to pique our jaded interests as only a carbon-bodied sports car on the Nürburgring could do.
In case you haven't been paying attention, there's a battle raging on between two European automakers over who makes the faster hot hatch. The battle ground has been the Nürburgring, where Seat and Renault have been going back and forth, taking the front-drive lap record away from each other.
Head out to the Nürburgring, and you can witness all manner of racing. Most of it remains confined, however, to the GP-Strecke, where you'll find superbikes, DTM touring cars, GT racing cars and even the occasional Formula One race competing in top-level world championships. But not on the infamous Nordschleife – a circuit so dangerous that F1 left it in 1976 and the World Sports Car Championship (precursor to today's World Endurance Championship) packed it up in '83. These days, the