Beater or Sleeper? COTW! Week 55: Jaguars! (2012 Jaguar XKR-S)

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The ND Miata came 25 years after the first gen MX-5, so let's see what two and half decades of progress gets you.

And in a nutshell, more size, more power and more grip. It's well balanced, though still slightly oversteery on the limit. Front end doesn't feel as agile as the OG miata, but that contributes to it feeling more balanced. It's competent in every area, except in recreating the personality of the original MX-5. I'll spare you the bit Top Gear used to do about a new car being "better so it's worse", but that does apply here. As Vic pointed out, this car needed either less grip or more power to feel more like Miata, and be more engaging to drive IMO.

That said, it's still a great car. I could see this being a perfect daily driver IRL, provided you live somewhere with a lot of sunshine. Especially when looking at the current market, there are actually very few small, sporty, affordable roadsters. It's become a bit of a dying breed.


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Neutral in Horizon, but a sleeper in real life.
 

Obelisk

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Not much to add, the MX5 is a stellar car across all of its versions.
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I'd say Sleeper, though I can understand any arguments for Neutral.

Side note: I'd argue the extra grip is a good thing for this car. It leans hard into the MX5's identity in Horizon as a momentum car - you can just haul through a lot of turns that other cars might be hesitant about.

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SPD Writes Car Of The Week: Week 43 - Mazda MX-5 (ND)


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Huh? That soon? Oh wait, is the RX-7 coming next week? DON'T ANSWER.

Umm, another Mazda already? And not a rotary, but the triply generational sequel to last week's open top escapades? Thanks to last week, I think I've exhausted quite a bit on Miata information with the history of the NA. Being a new car doesn't do much when all it does is bring that old age Miata essence to the new kids.

So, to begin, we head back to the NC, which even though it's quite the success like just about any generation that came before it, had one tiny problem. Or rather: the fact that it was the fattest and most weighty of the lot. And Mazda's way of fixing that is to put lightness and compact performance on the focus the next time they go back to the drawing board. And thus, in 2015, we get the ND.

Powered by a 155 horsepower 2 liter SkyActiv 4 cylinder modified from a Demio, the ND notably is actually lighter than the NA2, and also smaller. Unlike the NA, I've never been in one to say if it's any more tight. But if there's something it isn't tight on, it's popularity. The ND came out to much fanfare, in many thanks to it being quite accessible, affordable, got that ease of maintaining, and of course: credentials in autosport. The car's currently got a league of its own in racing, and I forgot to mention its customizable nature. This car would be a base for things like drift builds, engine swaps, modified specials and an overall standard of the everyday open top roadster, and this all means the ND's just the perfect kind of car for just about anything that isn't handling a family.

And while the past generations speak out for the MX-5's general compact look, the ND stands out with Mazda's current aggressive styling that's on most of its cars today. And if we head inside, we see pretty much a primitive look back at the NA era, with nothing but a center screen for any kind of tool you can see on today's cars. Maybe it's different on the Abarth 124: a car that was essentially the ND with an outside shell of Italian drip. Game wise, this is a car that's everywhere when a game's got licensed cars. As early as Forza Horizon 2's DLC, but I'm sure there's an earlier occurance of this car.

The ND ranks itself in the early B-class of 620. As mentioned in week 35 with the RX-8, I feel this is unnaturally high up, and I do recall that Rambo Lambo is significantly behind.. Umm.. I'm not going to compete these two. Rambo Lambo has Der Trüffeljäger von Zuffenhausen to deal with first. How are they competing, well, I did sort of put this on stone with how I was supposed to end on week 39.

Autoshow puts this Mazda at 35,000 credits. I was already hesitant due to last week, but okay, it's 13,000 for both most common and least cost in the Auction House. I say go for that player thriving marketplace if you're needing a spare. Strangely I have a pair.


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While I already had Test in mind, I guess it's inevitable we return to the Horizon Mexico Circuit to bring out the best of the latest and greatest of one iconic Mazda bloodline.

Oh possum spit. It seems that this week's Trial is on this track. Not an issue like with the week for the Durango because this circuit is way more recognizable.


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Yes, it's another Miata, get over it, you big baby.. don't take it personally. I am talking to a car.


"A circuit that is well-balanced for rookies and veterans alike, the Horizon Mexico Circuit is the ideal place to hone your racing skills and thrill the crowds."

I've already taken this track once, and I don't think there's a need to mention what it offers again. It's a balance of handling and speed. You can say it's all because of it mixing hairpins, straights and speedy corners. The perfect place to test out any road build. And to reiterate: like with the Supervan 3, I have a time on this track already set, so the screenshot's going to look a little different on that part.


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Everyone's always said that Miata is the answer. Being a former owner of the NA means that I have this statement in heart already. This is yet another car I wouldn't mind finding in my real life garage.


- My first note inside, other than my familiarity with it, is how thick that windshield frame is. It blocks out the surroundings quite well. Then again, I'm glad we get this kind of view with this car, considering the roof stays on its brethren COTW alumnis in the NA2 and the NC.

- You can't muck up the launch unless you're not putting your foot down all the way. So just put it down, no tricks or special tools required. While this thing can go up to 7500 RPMs, I shift it by 7000, notably on later gears.

- First thing to touch here is the brakes. Just like.. maybe both the NA2 and the NC, the ND's brakes are biased to the rear, and will punish anyone braking and turning with a miniscule drift. This is a bad drift, since you lose control.

- Looking at the gears, I feel this car's gears are a bit long. Not overly long: a bit. Still quite nice to see manuals still getting praise, though if you find yourself at the 3-5 thousand RPM range, you're going to wish it had more oomph. At least the car's at the bottom of B so you can think about that when you're bringing up the oomph.

- With long turns you're faced with a compromise. Drastically shift down, but risk losing control of the car's rear, or keep your gear and control, but exit turns at a snail's pace. Often I find myself doing the latter, and that's going to cost me some time.

- And don't worry about traction. This is a car with plenty of it thanks to having low levels of power. There's grip everywhere, and I can't fault that.

- It's also agile, so much you can push it to the redline just after the last hairpin going underneath an overpass. Only time you get to control the traction is when you find the rear wheels spinning.

- However, even though this car has a 50:50 balance, it's more unwieldy to handle compared to the NC, though the NA2 is a rear slippery beast on its own for a D class car. I wonder how the NB would rank itself when it comes to stability.

- Since I don't have much to say about the track, I'll just go straight into the final bit of advice: find your flow, and don't go to the extremes. The former shows when you can go into certain turns at full speed.. the final corner comes to mind. That latter advice I think I mentioned with the NC, but I'm sure I'm wrong if I look.


So, I always enjoy my time around Horizon Mexico circuit, and my off and on times on Horizon shows how rusty I am. While the ND is a stellar car for general hotlapping, as in real life, I strangely didn't find that magic in Horizon. Maybe it's the physics or the fact it's a game world. I dunno, I can't explain.


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Something to at least explain is the best lap of 1:17.775.

Aiming for a 1:18, I'd say I accomplished something. Not a bad car, and I guess you can see I've been driving inside. Or is it me just changing the camera to the inside to show that I can flex by driving this way.. Yes and no is the answer. I did change the camera, but I can also confidently drive in the cockpit at a small difference in pace. Maybe a game with more extreme visual motion can challenge me.


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Let's bring up the hot in the ND's ability to hotlap.

I already said it, but the presence of the Festival site doubling as the one stop shop for anything Horizon car related, it means I can give the ND another thing to do: give it a Test to plow through.

New to this Test idea? I got you. It's just bringing this week's nominee up to the top of A-class road, without any engine swap or drivetrain conversions. This does mean that any car above A is already not allowed. This purist build does mean I'm not pushing it to unreal levels as it would try to be within the region of a.. semi decent time of 1:07. It's so that it doesn't need a crutch called an engine swap to be viable. Aspiration? Well, if it's needed, sure I'll put it on.

The last time I did this, rally compounds stole the show and put on quite a display. Due to its lack of weight, the ND needs the sports tires as rally tires will boost its PI. And after a quick setup made, we have a car with numbers looking like 318 horses with a 1,942 lb body. And still naturally aspirated. I hope this is the right viable choice.

As a little thing to add, let's compete with the RX-8 R3, which a fully upped A class model got a time of 1:07.411. I actually have 3 Mazdas on the top of A class now, the one not seen being my self designated Rotary Queen in the form of a yellow RX-7 Spirit. I feel that's a car with a strong influence on my Media shots. But now's not the time for that car... that comes later.


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I'd say a boost in power is just as important with a boost to weight reduction. But does it all pay off?


MX-5 ND Test.jpg



This up specced ND provides dividends with a best of 1:06.924. Gives me more reason to not enjoy the RX-8, I guess..

To me, beating 1:07 means we get a very solid car. What it sacrificed in traction control and stability comes to reward me in how well it pushes ahead in the straights. The amazing grip and handling still remains. The issues with the brakes just.. vanished too. It's not the Corrado or the Megane R26.R, but I don't mind bringing this car out every now and then.


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So..

What is the Mazda MX-5 (ND)? It is..

Anger management handled well by taking your top off.

At least when I look at it, I'm going to say I'm biased and put Sleeper, but I can't say if it's any more than that of the NA and the NC. The main reason is how well it outshined the RX-8 we got a month back. I was so taken away by how far ahead is it compared to Rambo Lam-I mean the NC. Goes to show how good engineering can really up the car's general outlook.

Yes, if we're going to make a pattern, that Sleeper badge is going to the Mazdaspeed NB by default, but I'll have to convince myself of that first hand.


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While we're still at the Horizon Circuit, today's post COTW entertainment: for the title of best nickname is Rambo Lambo versus Der Trüffeljäger von Zuffenhausen! Place your bets! Place your bets!
 
1,972
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Well, after being absent for some weeks (blame it on work, travel, and other distractions) I'm back to give the 2016 MX-5 a well deserved SLEEPER ranking.
Arguably one of the better looking sports cars of this or any other era, this MX-5 introduced the Kodo design language to the world (the past generation frankly looks like a lozenge), and that makes Mazda one of my favorite current brands, style-wise.

The car's handling was completely neutral around the track, and only at the limit the skinny factory tires did protest, making certain sections a bit difficult to navigate with understeering, and my best time was about 1:20:581. So I decided to fit wider street tires and brakes for better grip/braking response at the limit (new performance rating 648), and lo and behold, my times went down to 1:18:362 and with more concentration could go into the high 1:17:XX.

Maybe I could add more horspower and make a B700 build, but since the car currently feels so good, I'm reluctant to do it. All in all, it was a great car for a comeback!
 

Obelisk

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I will tally and record the results for the MX5 as I'm writing this announcement post, but I don't want to lead off with it.

History has unfolded today in a dramatic change. We've hit a major inflection point - and have lost someone who was held in high esteem the world over.

Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth II, passed away earlier today at 96 years old. It is quite a tragic thing to see, as Her Majesty was (to my understanding) a good person and a good leader for the United Kingdom. As people turn to face the future ahead, I feel that the least I could do is pay tribute to such a big name in the game of life.

How might we be able to do so in a little thread like this, you might ask? Well, there's one little detail that I don't see mentioned much which makes this possible: Queen Elizabeth was a petrolhead. She drove herself around even in advanced age, and had quite a collection of vehicles ranging from Bentleys to a gold horse-drawn coach first built in 1760 (seriously). One in particular stuck out to me, and it will be the car we drive this week.

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The Land Rover Defender 90.

The Queen has owned several Defenders throughout her life and her tenure. Reportedly, her personal favorite Defender was a 2002 model that she had for a while.

As the sun sets on a long and storied life, I ask you all to take this week as an opportunity to just enjoy one of the many cars the Queen loved. We will still have a time trial on Tapalpa Trail, but this week's focus is on celebrating one aspect of a long, storied life.
 

Vic Reign93

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So… where do I start?

With the Land Rover Defender I suppose.

A car which by the time this model came out, was already a popular off-roader, not just with the civilian market, but other services like ambulances, small fire trucks and military vehicles, especially the British Army.

Now small disclaimer, the year of this particular model (1997) doesn’t exactly have a great history with the Royal Family.

So while unintentional, I do appreciate the dark irony of paying tribute to a Royal with a car built in the same year that a much younger Royal lost her life in a car crash. 😳

Hey you gotta enjoy life’s little irony’s, even if it’s pretty 🤬 up. 😜

But back to the Defender, specifically it’s powerplant, the 3.9 litre Rover V8.

This engine came in all its different sizes, from 3.5 litres up to 5.0 litres and many in between them, all in different states of tune.

And it became the automotive backbone of British motoring, if it was British and had a V8, chances are it was a Rover V8.

But before I get too uncharacteristically patriotic, I should point out that the Rover V8 didn’t actually start as a British design, it was originally an American engine built by the company who’s cars in COTW have gotten good votes by us lot. 😉

Buick.

The Buick 215(Cubic inches) as it was known then, was also shared with Oldsmobile and Pontiac which gave it the nickname of the BOP 215, but due to issues with the engine’s reliability and the cost of the aluminium engine meant GM gave up on the aluminium V8 after 1963, 2 years after introducing it.

Rover gave their head American Operations guy the green light to look for an American V8 to use in their cars and upon discovering the lightweight Buick 215, they chased GM hard to try and get them to sell the tooling to build the engines in the UK, which they did in early 1965.

The rest as they say, is history. :P

What cars did it end up powering?

Well I’ll let Top Gear do that for me. 😁



In a way, the engine in this car is arguably just as famous as the car itself.

How’s it to drive in game?

Well when it comes to low class off roaders, Don’t race them stock if you’re actually trying to win, but don’t write them off as terrible either.

The gearbox in this model is a 4 speed Automatic and the long ratios mean that you never need more than 3 gears for this weeks track, but everything else is relatively solid for it class.

But as was mentioned by @Obelisk in his introduction for this car, this week isn’t exactly about this car, but the person who drove many versions of them in her long and memorable life.

Queen Elizabeth

For many Brits, she was the ONLY Royal in charge of Britain and while many jokes over the years have been made about her age and still somehow outliving us all, it can never be said that she never lost sight of who she was before and after taking the throne.

Even in her later years she never lost her sense of humour, her kind nature and her independence.

She might have been the Queen, but she was also the Grandma Of Great Britain for many people. :lol:

And… She will be missed, not just here, but across the world too. :(

We lost part of our identity last Thursday, but as long as she’s remembered, it’ll never be gone completely. :cheers:

Godspeed Your Majesty 🫡

Verdict: Iconic 👍
 
53
France
Paris
space wadet
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I don't have much to say about the Queen, may she rest in peace. Us French tend to have a slightly different view on monarchy :lol:. I'll just get straight to the car.

The Defender's been an icon of (actual) offroad vehicles for decades now, so much so that Land Rover hasn't felt the need to update its design until a couple years ago. The outer shell, itself a modest evolution of the also iconic Series III, stayed much the same from its inception in 1983 until the L663 in 2020. The car has a lot to live up to.

Launch is awful due to the loooong 4 gears of the gearbox, so it's not off to a good start. Never got close to using 4th gear during the whole run either. The gear ratios make the car feel slower than it is. I was surprised to see its Rover V8 actually packs 182bhp after completing the runs. That said, this car isn't built for speed. Take it to its natural habitat, meaning anywhere without asphalt, and it does brilliantly. Incredibly stable and balanced offroad, despite the short wheelbase of this 3 door version, leaving you the driver all the focus needed to avoid whatever obstacle nature has to offer. It'd benefit from shorter gears obviously, but the engine has plenty of torque to offset the long gears.

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With just a new gearbox and either additional power or less weight it'd be plenty capable in either D or even C class for offroad racing. Sleeper.
 

Obelisk

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I am still struggling, but I am getting myself back on track. As a side note, Thursday may see a very early or very late update to the car of the week as my younger rabbit has a surgery that we have to be ready for by 8 AM my time. It's a minor one, but you never know.

Anyways. I may not have much knowledge of HM The Queen, and most American jokes/stereotypes about the Brits tend to be about throwing tea into a harbor (in what is essentially my geographic hometown but I digress), but I can at least take the time to see why she adored the Defender.

Off the bat, our numbers are simple and humble for an offroader. The Defender 90 has a 180 HP V8 powering all four wheels, and that engine is being tasked to move almost exactly two tons of steel so it can be easy enough to infer that the car isn't winning any races anytime soon. The gearbox has long ratios, which is sort of a double edged sword. You have fewer gears to deal with both accelerating and decelerating, but acceleration and speed both suffer as a result.

And that Rover V8, despite being saddled with a lot of weight and long ratios, does a lot of work. The Defender accelerates smoothly in WOT, and it also has quite a bit of room to over-rev in each gear due to the long ratios. I'm intentionally revving it all the way out to 6100 RPM before shifting to squeeze a lot more out of the car.

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On the dirt, it's hard to argue with what this car is capable of. Holds the line and allows you to stay wide open on the throttle in a lot of places. On the road, it handles about as well as you'd expect of a two-ton offroader with chunky tires.

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It's a great experience, and if you use it with the understanding that it's an offroader based on a very old design, it can be quite potent.

Sleeper.


Additionally:
May Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth II rest in peace. Elizabeth Alexandra Mary of House Windsor, who became the Queen on 6 Feb 1952, was one of the longest ruling monarchs of the world. And while there are a lot of divisive opinions about the status of the monarchy that has now been passed down to King Charles III, there is no denying that the influence of the Queen (as well as the fountain of memes that have resulted from the length of her reign) is going to be studied and remembered for a very long time. She assumed a difficult role, and from my understanding played a huge part in reducing the Monarchy's power over the UK including the devolution of the UK in the 1990s. I would say a lot more, but I'm honestly out of energy due to the stuff happening in my life.

See you all Thursday.
 

Obelisk

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As is tradition at this point, I have lost most of my Thursday to rabbit affairs. I'll try to keep this one brief as I need to check on them again.

HRM Queen Elizabeth's favorite car has earned a Sleeper rating. While this is very small in the grand scheme of things, she can take this little victory with her into the next life.

And with this chapter closed, it's time to bring COTW back to its usual jaunty goofiness. This week's car, selected by our resident alien @Vic Reign93, is a personal favorite car of one of our GT COTW members, @Pickle_Rick74!

It's the...
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1989 Porsche 944 Turbo!

Since Pickle Rick is probably going to be coming into this thread anyways due to the @ notification, I'm going to only very briefly summarize this car so he can fill in the blanks for us.

The 944 Turbo, internally known as the 951, is a turbocharged variant of the Porsche 944 coupe and had some other changes under the hood to improve the drive. The '89 featured was the first 944 Turbo to have the Turbo S features rolled into the standard trim, as the S trim was dropped on that year. It had the M44/52 engine from the Turbo S producing 246 HP (247 in-game), making it the fastest four-cylinder production car at the time.

And to test it, Vic has challenged me to track down a track we have not run. That's going to be the Panoramica Sprint, set in and around Guanajuato.

Hey, he didn't say it had to be a good one. :sly:

Let's get the engines warmed up, turbos spooled...and let's not make any Rick and Morty references because we're all civilized drivers here.
 
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109
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As is tradition at this point, I have lost most of my Thursday to rabbit affairs. I'll try to keep this one brief as I need to check on them again.

HRM Queen Elizabeth's favorite car has earned a Sleeper rating. While this is very small in the grand scheme of things, she can take this little victory with her into the next life.

And with this chapter closed, it's time to bring COTW back to its usual jaunty goofiness. This week's car, selected by our resident alien @Vic Reign93, is a personal favorite car of one of our GT COTW members, @Pickle_Rick74!

It's the...
View attachment 1194727
1989 Porsche 944 Turbo!

Since Pickle Rick is probably going to be coming into this thread anyways due to the @ notification, I'm going to only very briefly summarize this car so he can fill in the blanks for us.

The 944 Turbo, internally known as the 951, is a turbocharged variant of the Porsche 944 coupe and had some other changes under the hood to improve the drive. The '89 featured was the first 944 Turbo to have the Turbo S features rolled into the standard trim, as the S trim was dropped on that year. It had the M44/52 engine from the Turbo S producing 246 HP (247 in-game), making it the fastest four-cylinder production car at the time.

And to test it, Vic has challenged me to track down a track we have not run. That's going to be the Panoramica Run, set in and around Guanajuato.

Hey, he didn't say it had to be a good one. :sly:

Let's get the engines warmed up, turbos spooled...and let's not make any Rick and Morty references because we're all civilized drivers here.
Well yes!!! I happen to be the very proud owner of a 1986 951.
I can't really comment on the stock version as mine had already been fitted with a stage 4 lindsey racing kit when I got it.
The ballance of this car is incredible, I have had some holy **** moments in it, but myself and Claudia(my car) are both still here to tell the tale. The 80's turbo lag is almost terrifying, you step on it and wait, and then you get kicked in the back by a bull, in my example, even in 4th gear at 110mph if you stomp on it, when the turbo finally spools up the rear tires will light up.
I would not put this car in the hands of a teenager. But anybody who is a driving enthusiast should for sure at least try and get their hands on one before they are out of reach.
The look is timeless, the low roof line and blistered fenders are a joy to look at from any angle.
I fell in love with this car was I was like 10 years old when the first one came out. When the turbo was released, the front bumper treatment just made it for me. I had to have one before I left this earth. I have been lucky/unlucky enough to have gotten mine cheap off of a friend 14 years ago.
It has its problems as any car from the 80's does, but it was my daily for 8 years. The engine is in 2 pieces right now, but I have no doubt my 11 year old son will drive it to his graduation. (With the turbo disabled)...
In short... lol, can't really be a sleeper as it wears a Porsche turbo badge, but also, people sleep on these cars, they were stock racing series Champs through the 80's and over here in North America only the Z28's could compete with them, and I'm pretty sure that was bop'd with weight.
Soooo, sleeper/does what it says on the tin.
Also, sorry I don't have forza5.
I want it and an Xbox just for that car though..
Pickle out!!!
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Vic Reign93

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Straight out the box it’s good news with responsive, yet not over eager steering upfront, the brakes(when you’re not overworking them) are effective at scrubbing off speed and the gearbox is well ratioed and quick shifting. :)👍

The 247hp 2.5 litre turbo 4 has great punch and while underpowered compared to cars at the top of B Class, it’s capable of still being a threat.

If you want something more, there’s 3 engine swap options available, the M3’s 3.2 I6, the 1.6 turbo rally and the 3.0 litre Racing I6 TT. :D

But if you’re like me, you want to see how far you can push the factory engine, and the answer is farther than you think.

2.5 litres? now it’s 3.2 litres.(Big by normal 4 banger standards)
247hp? Try nearly 730hp maxed out. :drool:

My A800 build sits at 532hp, 459ft-lbs of torque and weighs under 2900lbs.

For 35k at the Autoshow or less if you feel lucky on the Auction House, it’s the 2nd cheapest entry to Porsche ownership in FH5 with the 914/6 being the cheapest at under 25K to buy. 💰

But if say 140K isn’t too much for you, you can get the 1993 968 Turbo S instead. :sly:

In Summary, as cheap Porsche’s go, it’s not Top Gear £1500 Porsche’s cheap, but it’s a drop in the bucket in FH5 and it’ll still make you feel you got one hell of a bargain. 😉

Verdict: Sleeper 😁👍
 
53
France
Paris
space wadet
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This car surprised me. As a cheap (by Porsche standards), front engined, turbo, RWD, 80s sports car I was expecting it to struggle a fair bit more on the tight streets of Guanajuato, especially in all the blind, uphill and downhill hairpins.

Design-wise it's one of the least Porsche-looking Porsches. Not knowing the car, I might have guessed it was a Saab or Citroen instead. Not that it's a bad thing, it's not an ugly car, but it does embody that quintessential 80s European design to a tee.

The engine feels quite punchy for the power it has, as long as you're in the right rev range for the turbo to do its magic. Gear ratios are well judged too, making it easy to avoid being in the awkward position of a wrong gear out of a hairpin.

The brakes provide all the stopping power you need, even in difficult downhill braking zones.

But what makes this car shine on this course is the handling. Decent turn in though not enough to upset the rear, it's also stable around high speed corners. It's a good balance, tending ever so slightly towards understeer. Even in tight hairpins, and with a touch of understeer, there's enough front end to make the corner without having to slide the car. Never had any issue with the back end stepping out either. My first run on the sprint even was a clean run! On a street track that says a lot about the car's chassis.

And in the end its time reflects its qualities. Despite it being only halfway into B class it's fairly competitive with cars from the top of the class. I'll definitely be adding it to my roster of B class builds.

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Sleeper. I was wrong to expect anything less than excellence from Porsche.
 
1,116
Singapore
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XSquareStickIt
I wish this car (or any relative of it) was in the Gran Turismo series. A front engined Porsche sports car is such a rarity in its history, not to mention it was the... uhm... inspiration, for the FC RX-7.

space_wadet's comment about the 944 being the "least Porsche-looking Porsche" reminded me of this excellent video by one of my favourite motoring journalists, Jason Cammisa. Long story short, the 924 didn't even start life as a Porsche :)

 

Obelisk

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So, the 951 944. Coming in at the middle of B class with a decent stat spread (except launch), this Audi-Porsche is a strange little machine that seems to go against the ethos of Porsche. And yet, the 924, 944 and 968 were all a thing so I suppose we can chalk it up to Porsche being high on something.

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And even while high and using an Audi design, they managed to get it right. This is a car that is faster than its on-paper stats tell you - to the point that I was a little surprised at how it drives. Everything just hits a perfect note with this car, and I can see why Rick is such a huge fan of his Claudia.

The acceleration is strong, which feeds into solid top speeds on the WOT sections. The handling is balanced and the brakes are strong, lending themselves to a car that feels less like a road car from the end of the 80s and more like a slightly underpowered racing car.

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Got this run, then decided to have another go.

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GGs, space. GGs.

And on that mic drop, the Porsche 944 Turbo earns a Sleeper rating.

@Pickle_Rick74 for your viewing pleasure:
 

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And on that bombshell, we bring an end to our week with the Porsche 944.

We have five votes for Sleeper (as I am counting our guest of honor Rick's comments on his 944 as a vote for Sleeper), making the 944 a Sleeper. Well done!

And on this week of C class of the...let me try that again.

On this week of C class- no.

What is our

Next

C

Class?

...Well, then. We've had so many C class cars that my brain has defaulted to C Class of the Week rather than Car of the Week. And our car choice by @Nacho Libre this week is no exception.

It's the...
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1996 Chevrolet Impala Super Sport!

We'll be taking this classic American sedan (C 509) around Emerald Circuit.
 
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Nah, don't worry about it. I just find it absolutely hilarious how many C class cars get picked for COTW.
 

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Sporting a 5.7 liter V8 producing 260 HP and 330 ft-lbs, the 1996 Chevrolet Impala weighs in at a whopping 4,037 lbs (1831 kg). I lead off with these numbers because it's important to understand off the bat the kind of car we're reviewing this week - a 1990s rendition of a pony car. ...Or rather, what ought to be a pony car. See, while I was driving to Emerald Circuit, I was trying to get a feel for the car and for once I legitimately had next to no steering feel. I couldn't tell if it's a wheel issue or if it's how the car itself is set up to feel, but it doesn't bode well.

This tank of a muscle car has a four speed transmission, though you will only find good use out of the first three, as 3rd gear maxes out beyond the car's natural top speed of 137 MPH.

That's right. A sporty trim for a relatively modern car is still using a four speed automatic when other cars of the time were using 5 or 6 speed transmissions. And oh boy, do all of these things add up.

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At first blush, this car genuinely feels off. The soft, decidedly-American suspension feels more soggy than usual and it takes quite a few laps to get the hang of how this car flows through a corner. The long gears give you the impression that the car is slow, and it certainly feels that way with the rather sluggish wheelspin launch it gets. I don't even use 3rd gear very much in the power lap.

The brakes are in a weird spot - they seem a little too strong for the level of grip the car has, and lock up abruptly. The front wheels lock up first too, forcing you to reduce your brake input to essentially just breathing on the pedal. They don't even slow the car down super fast, which is a bit of insult to injury (hi Barry R).

This is where things get weird. The long gears meant that half of the lap is in 3rd gear, and the other half is in 2nd gear. And when you learn the two shifting points on the track, they become a complete non-issue as the car stays in its power band. The brakes end up being surprisingly good for some degree of trail-braking, and the suspension is surprisingly tolerable of off-road excursions. The V8, while somewhat lacking, is torquey enough that the car accelerates decently regardless of the angle of incline it finds itself on. The suspension also contributes to a surprisingly easy drive, as any oversteer is very gentle and lazy. You can even slide it a little on corner exit like the Porsche LH we looked at a while back.

Strange, isn't it? All of the flaws I listed in the first paragraph have somehow become upsides several paragraphs later. Even stranger still is the ultimate result of my runs on Emerald Circuit:

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This car is not even ten points into C class. As a matter of fact, I can look back at a previous lap time set by a COTW car here. The Starion, back in week 3, landed a 1:03.972. You read that right. A 2 ton, floaty American car got within a second of a light, agile and peppy Japanese rally machine that is a whopping 40 PI higher.

To conclude, this car is definitely a strong example of what makes this thread shine. Our job is to sort the wheat from the chaff, and we've been finding so many good cars that we're all wanting to find one to dunk on. So, Nacho set out to do just that and provided us with a car that, on paper, ought to qualify as a beater. Long gears, soft suspension, interesting choice of engine (a V8 that looks anemic with its mere 260 HP vs rival V8s producing over 300) and most importantly - it's a car from the good ol' U.S.A. But that's the ace in the hole for this car. The Impala is deceptive in its presentation. The glaring flaws turned into net positives. The car proved far easier to drive than anticipated. The supposedly easy write-off caught me off guard.

The best part of it is that you have 91 points to work with to cap this thing out at C class, and so many options to achieve that.

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The Impala Super Sport is a true Sleeper.


Edit
: Because I managed to forget this train of thought...
A sleeper does not necessarily have to be a car that has tight handling, good performance numbers and feels good to drive. Any car can be a sleeper, whether that's through being a surprisingly agile barge or through being a car with no power somehow outperforming a car significantly more powerful in a straight line. Really, what makes a car a sleeper is just...well, everything about it. A sleeper is a car that is greater than the sum of its parts.
 
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