Did some testing with the 4C Gr.3 Road Car, also including other Road Cars. I also included some N500 vehicles for good measure. Each vehicle were driven for at least 2-3 laps, although the TCS is disabled.
The madmen. They've gone and done it. We're finally testing an Alfa for the first time in COTW.
I've never really gotten the appeal of Alfas, or understood how they haven't yet gone bankrupt. Their cars supposedly have such "soul" and much "passion", but to the uninitiated, they're just cars that break silly and break often. There's even a saying in the car community to sum this up that goes, "You can't be a true petrolhead until you've owned an Alfa". The gist of the saying is that, by owning a car that was as horrifically and unbelievably prone to breaking as though designed by the Italian cousins of Edward Murphy, you'll experience the most distilled and purest of automotive joy, as your hands will never be clean and you'll always be late for work or stranded. Or just begging for help on Alfa forums. That's the essence of the joys of motoring, isn't it? Such soul! Much passion!
I honestly can't even tell if the saying is a joke, or if it's actually meant to be taken seriously, as a way to romanticise pain and hardship and for Alfa owners to justify to themselves that they've made a good purchase. Or maybe they just want attention. I don't know. And I don't want to know. But alas, either by the blind loyalty of the extremely niche market of rich petrolhead masochists or some black art sorcery support system I'm not privy to, Alfa Romeo is still in business today, and this week, I'm blindfolded, gagged, whipped, and half kicked, half pulled by the leash of my employment contractual obligations into the dungeon of despair that is Alfa ownership for a week.
Somehow, I get a feeling that this wasn't the car the masochists have adorning their bottomless pits of pain when they recite their memes with dipsticks embedded in them.
For starters, the car didn't explode when I pressed the engine start button. The wipers work, as do the lights, and the wheels haven't fallen off at the daunting parking lot speeds of 10km/h! Rather than the car, it was the person, i.e. me, that caught a bad case of the Alfanxiety Romeouminate the moment I read that we're testing an Alfa Romeo and broke down this week, missing the meet and hence why this review in isolation. It's contagious, apparently. And its transmissible through text. But hey, employment contractual obligations.
To ensure that I'll have at least ten combined minutes in motion behind the wheel this week to formulate an opinion worthy of your money, the unerring and frighteningly effective mechanics at COTW have made every reassurance that the car will work as intended, making sure every wire is as securely connected and protected as being put into a straitjacket, every body panel is as persistently part of the car as a scar, and the engine will be as incapable of dying as someone who's selfishly told that suicide is selfish and not a solution, no matter how much they want to. But, perhaps due to their obsession with the mechanical and electrical components, something in the interior did manage to break unnoticed: the seats on this particular press car are completely stuck in place like a bad coping habit, because being not quite right is just part of the Alfa DNA, just as depression can be. It's amazing how elevated and refined an art form hiding pain and personal flaws can be.
Sitting in an Alfa to me is akin to walking into a modern art gallery: I don't understand the appeal of any of it. I'm sorry, but if you've to explain to someone what your art means and why it's important, your piece of art has failed to move people as intended. For Alfa Romeo, that last sentence is often more literal than figurative.
The original 4C is a car that, like other Alfas, I didn't really understand. I had an opportunity to quickly test drive the Launch Edition once, and I found it to be way too rear happy under any circumstance and lacking in front end grip, resulting in both under and oversteer, sometimes simultaneously. This was not helped at all by how rough I found the gear changes from the DCT to be. If you're going to make a tiny, lightweight, expensive, problematic, highly compromising, focused sports car, at least make it fun to drive, maybe? Offer a manual, perhaps? I hear the 4C's styling has such "soul" and much "passion", but it's not like the Elise, Cayman, and A110 are particularly awful to look at. Overall, it's an immensely capable car, one that I appreciate for existing as an alternative to the Cayman (I do sometimes try to be unbiased, I swear ), but I'm admittedly not a fan of these rear mid engined short wheelbase cars with souped up econobox engines. With a tune, perhaps it could be something really special, but do you really want to open the aftermarket Pandora's Box with a car that's already so prone to going wrong even when everything is within the manufacturer's scope of normal use?
So, what's changed in this "Gr. 3 Road Car" from the base 4C? Well, a rather handsome body kit which just so happens to generate downforce, for a start. Unsurprising, given that the road car borrows more than heavily from the Gr. 3 race cars that Alfa enters in FIA-GT's Gr. 3 category. What hasn't been carried over however, is the shadow scraping ride height of the racing cars, resulting in a horrifying wheel well gap accommodating enough to hide all your problems and feelings in, comically destroying the svelte proportions and menacing stance of an otherwise serious business looking car, along with any hope of controlling airflow under the body in an act of self sabotage. The turbo with an engine attached to it to was already boosting to within millimetres of it the Inline 4's life in the stock car, but here, boost has been further upped to a gasket shredding, casket teasing 1.5 Bar (21.7psi), to produce 330kW (443HP) and 447.8N⋅m (330.3ft-lb) from the 1742cc package, and specific power ratios that would make a Rotary Engine judge in jealousy.
On the inside, the road car borrows from the racing car a very helpful rear facing camera and a aftermarket looking screen used exclusively for the rear view, jutting out of the dash where the air con vents should've been, because who needs air con in a road car? And if you're thinking of ripping it out, don't. The rear window has been sealed shut by a dark, opaque wall, much like a heart in response to a trauma in the past, meaning that dinky, disruptive, air con robbing screen is your only rear view aside from your side mirrors.
Highly irritating and completely baffling is the gearbox of this Gr. 3 Road Car: it uses an automated manual operated by the stock car's paddles, which were used to shift a rather brisk DCT auto in the stock car. "Oh, you want a manual in a 4C? Here, have a manual in a 4C. What are you upset about now? We gave you exactly what you asked for!" So, counter-intuitively, shifts in the G3RC take several times the duration of the DCT in the stock car, or what an average driver can manage if they were just given three pedals and a stick, while somehow being rougher still when shifted mid corner. I've shifted vans faster and smoother than this gearbox changes gears! As a result of being fitted with a poop gearbox that feels lifted right out of the early 2000s, you have to drive this thing like a manual with auto rev matching to get the best out of it; you have to manually lift off the gas and gently roll back onto it mid corner to prevent the rear end from jerking loose, and I'm almost certain manually lifting helps the revs drop faster for a quicker upshift. Trust me when I say that whatever pace advantage you might have being able to left foot brake in this two pedal setup is more than negated by the utterly disgraceful and insufferable shifts of this thing. I know I just whined about how the 4C doesn't have a manual option, but this alternative is so much worse, it's borderline offensive. Feels like an autistic kid trying to change himself to adapt and fit into a world he doesn't understand, and I can't even tell if it's done out of spite or a genuine effort to better themselves.
And it's such a shame, too, because the reworked ratios in this poop gearbox are brilliant and complement this engine so well, being short, peppy, and ensuring you always have revs and torque for every situation. Not that the engine really needs much coddling; one of the highlights of the stock car was its engine, which made peak torque at a near idle 2,000rpm, and pulls all the way to the redline of 7,000, making it a joy to wring on a track and easy to use on the streets. With the increase in boost in the G3RC also came a shifting of the powerband towards the upper range, and redline has been increased to a a therapist worrying 8,500rpm. Peak torque in the G3RC comes in only at 5,500rpm as a result, and the engine still likes to have its naughty little neck wrung, resulting in an engine that has an ample powerband for the track, but becomes a little irritating to work around at pedestrian pace, especially with that farce of a gearbox. The powerband is so linear and predictable in both these cars that it truly felt like an NA at times, and lag was minimal.
The original car's highly irritating handling vices, such as the pushing understeer on turn in and tail happiness everywhere, have been almost medicated and numbed out completely. In fact, aside from the very similar engine noises and largely intact interior, there is absolutely nothing at all from behind the wheel that resembles a 4C. The car has bulked up markedly in dimensions, increasing in length and width by 350.5mm and 81.3mm respectively (13.8in, 3.2in), while being dropped 5.1mm in overall height (0.2in). Wheelbase looks to have been increased as well, though I wasn't given the exact numbers, nor did I bring a ruler for a test drive. To really rein in the tail happy car, tyres have been upsized as well for both the front and rear; might as well, right? Given the flared bodykit?
All this sounds wonderful for performance, but once I got onto the track, I felt somehow more frustrated driving this beefed up G3RC than I did the stock car: the differential was set up astoundingly tight, and when coupled with the chunky rear tyres, understeer was very pronounced, especially on power. I was constantly trying to fight the differential to meet the apex on turn in and stay on the road for corner exit, much to the dismay of the front tyres screaming in agony, and you can tell the completely unassisted steering of the 4C was not meant to wrestle itself like this. Because I was always fighting the differential, the car was very prone to snapping in an instant between chronic understeer and severe acute oversteer, without much warning or leeway in transitioning and modulating between the two. Add to the fact that this car SOMEHOW gained a not-even-funny 370kg (816lbs) over the EDM 4C, and you have a driving experience that is completely unrecogniseable from the stock 4C. I mean, what the hell even? Is it the god awful gearbox? Are the flared fenders made of Osmium? Was the road car BoPped too to be as uncompetitive as its racing car cousins? Or has it been binge eating on comfort food to mourn the end of the 4C's production?
At the end of the day, it's a mid engine sports car. It's not terrible; it's capable in the right hands. It's still light by today's standards at (2,910lbs), and is plenty powerful for its mass. It looks good. But... who is it? What gives it its own flavour? What sets it apart from the oceans of other mid engine sports and supercars? What does it say or do differently than anyone else? Only that it's an Alfa? The problem is made even worse now that it has grown in size — and mass, to be your cookie cutter Cayman with a quarter of its charisma and reliability. I never liked the original 4C much, but this just feels like it has tried too much to change into something it never should've been, either willingly or otherwise, and is worse off for being less distinct and expressive as a result. The only interaction you'll have with it is fighting: fighting the differential on the track, fighting the wheel, and fighting the automated manual at town speeds and at every upshift. And unlike the red Italian rear mid engined 2 door supercar with chronic understeer making around 450PS that has chunky rear tyres, wonky shifts, and a steering wheel I've to wrestle at every turn from last week, there was no epiphany to be found in mastering the 4C G3RC. There is no reward to be had for getting everything just right on the track in this car. You simply coexist with the car in the best of times, and have a messy fight with it at its worst.
And what are you fighting for, anyway? It's never fun. It never made me smile. It doesn't communicate with me. It's just a car with no character. The more it changed, the more it threw away what made it unique and special, and now the only thing that's left of it is a fast car with a stupid gearbox, broken seats, and a lousy diff. And no, being constantly problematic and ill isn't a character trait.
No matter how debilitating an illness is, you can't let it define you as a person. You want to be the guy that likes to write as a hobby because it helped him get through tough times, not the guy who's always brooding and condescending in writing because of his past. You want a car to be an involving, cooperative, communicative, fun to drive, and unique, that then tends to require a bit more justifiable attention on and off the track, rather than the car that always breaks down that might be capable if it made it onto a track and didn't then decide to Irish Whip you into a barrier at the slightest push to get to know it better.
Because if being sick consumes you to the point where it becomes your only identifiable trait, who would you be if you were cured? What would you then be known for? If you let it define you so much, do you even want to be cured? Would it be a scary thought to lose your one defining trait? And that's why an illness can never be allowed define someone, no matter how debilitating and all consuming it may be. And that I feel is what has happened to the 4C Gr. 3 Road Car: it thinks that being pretty and constantly broken is all it needs, and it's almost comfortable and used to being the sick kid, expecting you to bend to fit its expectations and be loved regardless rather than come to a compromise for both sides. There was never any communication, and the power in this relationship is too skewed to one end. And I realise you can't force someone to talk to you if they don't want to open up, even if you've every intention to get to know them and help. Or maybe it has so many problems, it doesn't even know where or how to begin conveying it. Well, I guess I'll help it a little. By ripping it a new one.
I never was any good at dealing with crap like this.
I took the Peugeot RCZ Gr3 road car on a test and I think its the better car. The chassis doesnt seem to be as rooted to the ground so theres a bit more play/liveliness and the motor seems to have a bit more of a mid to high end hump that helps in overtakes.
Its still not good... not a fan of these turbo 1.6 - 1.8 fours and I think these were always strange choices for the mileage exchange.
Comfort Food for the Masses A mildly serious review of the 2017 Porsche 911 RSR by MisterWaffles
The Porsche 911. It's a nameplate that's ubiquitous with the world of GT racing. Ever since they started popping up in the GT class at Le Mans in the late 1960s with the 911S, these glorified Beetles have come very far while changing very little. Every generation of Porsche 911 is defined by "evolution" rather than "revolution". Many passers-by would have a very difficult time telling you the difference between the 997, 991 or 992 generations of 911. I suppose what I'm trying to say here is that the racing versions are very similar in philosophy. Every racing version of the 911, barring the GT1 which is a completely different car, follow the general formula of the engine right in the back past the rear axle. From there, widen the fenders, stick on some slick tires and put a big wing on the back. It's a formula that shouldn't work due to the placement of the engine creating a pendulum effect on the handling, but through constant refinement it has become the gold standard in GT racing. Nobody dares make a rear-engine racing car nowadays because they know that it won't be anywhere near a Porsche's handling and reliability.
However, Porsche decided what wasn't broke should be fixed when they conceived their newest Le Mans challenger. Since the start of the GT3 RSR line of racing cars, they all aligned with the formula of other 911 models and kept their engines behind the rear axle. In 2017, that all changed with the introduction of the newest RSR. The engine was now packed in front of the rear axle, creating the first mid-engine 911 based on the original chassis of the road car. The 911 GT1 doesn't count, as that was essentially a rebodied 962.
The moving of the engine forward allowed this 911 to have enough free space to fit the largest rear diffuser ever mounted on a 911. The car as a whole also became wider and lower, with incredibly aggressive and bulbous fenders to hide the massive Michelin tires it rocks. A swan-neck rear wing was also mounted for the first time to improve airflow under the aerodynamic surface. This bold retooling of the 991-generation RSR allowed it to clinch 20 class victories to date, with manufacturer's championships in both WEC and IMSA. Not to mention two driver's championships in WEC and one in IMSA. The 2017 RSR has taken home its fair share of silverware.
So, the car was incredibly successful in real life. There was no surprise that it has repeated its success in the virtual world of Gran Turismo. While the car has only recorded one Manufacturer's cup win at Tokyo in 2019, it has become possibly the most popular Group 3 racecar online. Any thread about beginner recommendations usually returns a bunch of suggestions for starting out your racing career in a Porsche 911 RSR. For good reason; it's hard to find any car in Group 3 that is as consistent or reliable as the RSR.
There's no denying no matter what control scheme you use, the 911 RSR is always stable. The massive aero kit afforded by the mid-engine layout allows for immense amounts of downforce and grip not found in some other cars in the class like a Ferrari 458 or BMW M6. There are certainly cars that can rival the Porsche in terms of stability, but the mid-engine layout also allows the car to dart out of corners much faster than a front-engine car in the same class. Unlike other mid-engine cars in Group 3, the 911 RSR also doesn't suffer from too much of a trailbraking penalty. The rear hardly ever wants to rotate out under braking. All of these handling traits combine to make a car that goes pretty much wherever you throw it.
Ok, so the car handles like an oversized vacuum cleaner? Surely, there must be a catch? Unfortunately with the 911 RSR, there is a catch to all this wonderful performance. The car lacks on a standing start and on top-end speed. Unlike a 458 that darts off the line, the 911 RSR struggles a bit to put the power down, making it feel somewhat sluggish. Top speed is also not that great in the class. Not the worst, but not competitive compared to other straight-line monsters like a GT-R.
So what you have here with the 911 RSR is a car that will serve beginners to GT Sport very well. It's also a car with a good amount of real-world success and carries a lot of name recognition. These are all certainly elements that make the 911 RSR a solid choice for anyone looking for a no-fuss Group 3 car. Although it seems to carry a bit of the "noob" stigma online. It's very common in lower SR lobbies to see the RSR in solid or gold chrome paint ramming into everything and everyone on the track. If you've lasted your whole career in the RSR, good for you, but most people often branch out to other cars once they get a taste for more machines and solidify their driving style.
Overall, a significant car in the rear world and a very stable drive with little fuss. Lacks any sort of "zing", however. Looks as good as it drives but looses out to other Group 3 cars in different niches.
I absolutely love racing homologation models. They're some of the most bonkers and fun to drive cars the public can buy, even if in an extremely limited quantity. It's why we have the 22B Impreza, the Ferrari 250 GTO, the Dodge Daytona, the Ford RS200, the list seemingly never ends. It's also why I'm so hyped for the upcoming Toyota GR Yaris! (Granted, that's not a homologation model per se, but it's a step in the right direction!)
So imagine my delight when I first found out that GT Sport featured "Gr.3 Road Cars" that were purchasable from a weekly rotation in the mileage exchange menu. I couldn't wait!! Obviously, once I'd gotten all the cars the novelty wore off slightly, but until then each week was exciting and I couldn't wait to see what the next car on the list was!
The Alfa 4C Gr.3 road car seems to follow the usual homologation model setup guide, which is as follows:
Step 1: Take your regular run of the mill road going car.
Step 2: Cram as much racing equipment into it and onto it as you can.
Step 3: Raise the suspension so you can at least attempt to clear speedbumps without shearing off your entire front end and splitter.
Step 4: Re-install as much of the interior trim as you can, as well as seatbelts, in car entertainment, etc
Step 5: For good measure, maybe slap a phony license plate sticker on it. Don't want people thinking this is some... race car on the road, now!
Now, there's actually a very good reason I have a love for the 4C Gr.3 Road. And it dates back to a couple of years ago when I'd just bought my G29 wheel. At the time, you were allowed to use a manual H pattern shifter in the Sport Mode / FIA races. While that sounds like not a big deal, it meant that in some of the Nations Cup races, particularly the ones that used N class cars with manual gearboxes, you could shift gears faster than the AI would for those using paddles of a DS4.
This, for some reason, caused enough of a stink for PD to take action, and they ended up changing it so you could still use the H pattern, but you could only shift as fast as the AI, otherwise it would just pop you into neutral, as if you missed a gear entirely. No more F1 speed shifts! This was especially infuriating with older cars that, by default, take longer to change gears, and it tarnished my driving enjoyment, as someone who likes to just go into a free run and cut laps by myself.
However, I noticed that most of the Gr.3 Road Cars, despite being basically race cars in N class guise, had manual transmissions. This meant I could drive them with the shifter, and change as quick as I pleased! The 4C especially, because even though it's very clearly a car with paddle shifters, it still has a "manual" transmission, so you can drive it H pattern while shifting as fast as you like, no worries about being denied the shift! If you can go faster than paddles, you deserve to be nerfed.
Anyways, I found myself driving them more and more for sheer pleasure. Eventually PD simply banned shifters outright from the Sport Mode, and hey that's fine, but I still have a love for the 4C as a result. It's a sleeper for me, one I still actively drive!
Also here's that battle between me and Vic in totally different cars.
If there is a car that can be considered the embodiment of that phrase, that would be the 911. Ever since the 356, the basis hasn't really changed all that much. A flat, naturally aspirated engine placed right behind the rear axle, and the iconic "googly eyes"-like headlights, all these features can be found in every 911, from the 901 concept in 1963, to the latest 992 model. Even the GT3 racing car retains those characteristics.
However, for the 911 RSR, Porsche's next GTE contender, they had to sacrifice the rear-engine placement in the name of competition and went for the more conventional, but proven middle-engined approach. It proved successful in real life, but how does it fair inside GT Sport's Gr.3 category, the equivalent to GT3 ?
In spite of the numerous tries of Polyphony to tailor the car via BoP to the GT3/Gr.3 category, you can tell straight away that this is a GTE car, more fit to face off against much more advanced machines, in the likes of Ford's revamped GT and the proven C7.R. Unlike most mid-engined cars, like the R8 or the NSX, the lift-off oversteer that plagues those is almost non-existant on the Porsche. In general, it's a very planted car, easy to handle and much more tolerant to kerbs, unlike-again-most mid-engined cars in this class.
Just because it has that tad-bit more downforce however, doesn't mean it won't bite if you push it too hard.
And of course, in traditional Porsche fashion, the GTE is powered by a 4-liter, naturaly aspirated flat-6 engine, putting roughly 500 horsepower through the rear wheels. Being naturaly aspirated, it's the black sheep among the dosens of turbo V8s, found everywhere in GTE and GT3 nowadays (bless the Audginis). Having most of its power in the higher revs, it rewards you for taking it up to the limiter, making the car that much more satisfying to drive. And for the sound, to say that it sounds great would be an understatement.
And the crackles of the exhaust add the cherry on top.
Being very planted however, doesn't mean that it caters to every racer out there. It's great of course in a competitive sence. It can be pushed to the limit easier and you will have a greater chance of saving the car from a spin due to your throttle mismanagement unfortunate circumstances, but some people like their cars more "spicy" and melodramatic. Having extra downforce and a power delivery smoother than butter allows the car to be the exact opposite to that. For the same reasons, stuff like understeer while exiting corners will be much more pronounced, since it doesn't have the grain of oversteer to counterbalance that. Plus, as powerful as the flat-6 is, in the straights it won't really do anything against cars like the V12 Vantage and the M6.
The game may be 3 years old at this point and the PS5 is right on our doorstep at this point, but the level of detail put into it still amazes me.
In conclusion, the 911 RSR is a car that you can't go wrong with in most circumstances. Stable, yet fast, it's a racing machine at its very core and it will grant wins even to the less experienced drivers who are still learning the ropes, but won't cater that much to those who also want a more exciting ride.
It's probably worth mentioning that even though I missed the 911, I had a livery all made up and ready to go. A road going variant based off the 911 GT2 RS which when I finished it, thought looked pretty sharp.
Sorry guys. No review this week. I feel pretty out of it these past two weeks. You probably could figure as much from watching Rob's replay at Kyouto where I lost the car on a straight. Plus, I feel like what can be said about the car has already been said best in Waffles' review, and I don't think I can do any better than him. So I'm just here to drop a video.
Very quick thoughts on the car: Undoubtedly a handling car. Absolutely hopeless in the straights and bogs on launches. Has power severely uprated and mass thoroughly increased to make it consume more tyres and fuel to slot into Gr. 3 competition, but was so well balanced and very eager, it hardly felt it. Tyre wear can easily be adjusted and played with via brake bias, making it the only MR car in Gr. 3 right now that actually has longevity in a race. Requires you to be a bit smoother with it as I find it a bit softer compared to GT3 and Gr. 3 cars. Looks ugly in photos though. I can't find an angle that didn't make it look "wrong" for some reason.
"Dude this is sweet this is fresh to death" Shawn- Psych
Though we don't have the normal Toyota Yaris that is nicknamed the Blueberry in Psych but we get the brand new tuned Toyota GR Yaris. This week we are testing the brand new car that came with the patch and hopefully it is a bit more livelier than the GT6 Toyota Yaris. This weeks car is chosen by @TonyJZX
What a surprise! After not driving for so long, I started with an 08.14.xxx lap and thought I would never bring it under the 8 minute mark. Well, well, see how that turned out! This car has a lot of understeer imo, but when driven to the max, it does incredible things. I mean such a time with 268hp? Wow. (I know it's light, but still). The only major JDM up until 2002 to beat it, is the R34. Let that sink in for a moment...
With its driven time, it is the 63rd fastest car of all road legal cars. Its closest rivals are the BMW '03 with a 07:53.696 on the 62nd place and the Audi TTS Coupe '14 with a 07:55.368 on the 64th place.
Driven stock on hard sport tyres without any driving aids, except ABS. First lap in third person view, second one in cockpit view and third one in cinematic replay view. All driven laps are the same lap.
One thing I dislike about the Yaris is that it is in essense, still an FWD car with the stuff added to the back.
On certain tracks it exhibits quite unpleasant understeer... granted this is typical for FWD based 4wd cars. You see it in the EVO and WRX.
On the Nurburgring it doesnt seem to be that apparent... nor Spa... but on certain tracks with slower corners the understeer is 'bearable' and it'll get worse once your front tyres wear.
So you have to be accurate in making the car make as wide and fast turns as possible. Even back the hell off the power and let the car use momentum to continue thru the corner then use power once straight.
This would be fixed if it has the variable center diff like the real one has. I beleive in track mode its F/R 30:70?
In GTS it feels 50:50 at best... could even be 60:40 like in normal mode.
Yarisn't A very academic review of the 2020 Toyota GR Yaris "Super Special Ultra Sexy Launch Edition Mk.1 High Performance RZ Gazoo TRD Deluxe Package" by MisterWaffles.
Gran Turismo Sport is a pretty dead game as far as support has gone this year. Promised cars such as the Lamborghini V12 VGT, Porsche VGT, Porsche 917K, and Porsche 917 Living Legend concept have gone unreleased thus far presumably to be saved for the upcoming launch of Gran Turismo 7. Even though this Porsche partnership for GT Sport that was going pretty strong before January seems to have fallen off pretty hard, PD have another partnership up their sleeve that they've arguably been milking harder. Yes, that's right. The new update didn't bring any new exciting Porsche models our way or another track to breathe a bit of life back into Sport, they have brought us one egg-shaped boy with a big hatch.
When I first heard the news that the "GR Yaris" was being added to Sport, I sort of groaned and rolled my eyes. "Great, another useless N100 hatch with a riceroni body kit that produces 100 horsepower if I'm lucky." I thought to myself. The mention of the name Yaris gave me horrible flashbacks to the mind-numbingly boring Yaris/Vitz trophies of Gran Turismo's old. But I figured "what the hell, I still want to be able to play the game occasionally." so I installed the latest update and gave it a whirl. Keep in mind up to this point I hadn't actually read any of the news articles surrounding this update fully.
What awaited me when I booted up the game after installing the update was unlike anything I was anticipating.
Staring back at me on the main menu of Sport was not some garbage five-door hatch with a ricer body kit. No, this was not even a Yaris at all. It was low, wide, aggressive, purposeful. Wasn't just N100 either, it was... N...
That's right, this new "Yaris" has hardly anything in common with the vanilla car which this monster shares its name with. I did some research after this surprise and my suspicions were confirmed. This is a full-on sports car posing as a Yaris.
The 2020 GR Yaris is not just a hotted-up Yaris with a Supra engine in it or something, this is a bespoke car riding on a unique chassis. Toyota has converted the base Yaris to 4WD by essentially cutting off half of the original Yaris' chassis and then welding half of the CH-R's chassis on the other end. That's right, this little rocket of a bean is riding on half of an SUV platform. The extra beef and drive wheels of this new platform has allowed Toyota to dub this new 4WD system "GR-Four", inspired by the legendary Celica rally cars of old.
Obviously Toyota didn't just stop at the 4WD system. New in this GR Yaris is the G16E-GTS inline-three engine, custom-built for this car. Producing 268 horses at 6,500 RPM, this is over twice the power you get in a regular Yaris. All of this power is put to the ground by wheels that feature 18-inch BBS forged rims, connected to bespoke and sophisticated double-wishbone suspension. Sports brakes, a carbon-fiber roof, aluminum body panels and some of the most blocky fenders you've ever seen on a Toyota top it all off.
When it comes down to it, Toyota is producing a real enthusiast's car here. In a climate where these kinds of projects from automakers are rare. This car is built from the ground up to be fun to drive, and it supposedly features the most powerful drivetrain of its type ever put into production. But there are some underlying motives for Toyota to release a car like this. It all has to do with the WRC. The GR Yaris is actually the "homologation special" Toyota hopes to put to use in the WRC. They need 2,500 of these cars sold to make it, so there's a huge push from them right now to get it out the door. If you buy one of these cars, not only is it an absolute toy, it's almost like a GoFundMe for your favourite automaker.
Well, now that this unassuming beast has been added to Gran Turismo, how does it drive? Is it a good car to rely on in races?
For starters, the GR Yaris is one of the best-handling hatchbacks in the game. The addition of 4WD over FWD makes a huge difference in getting this thing around corners. While there is still a hint of understeer in the car due to the 4WD system, the rear end can be a little playful thanks to its double-wishbone suspension setup. I don't think the entire car is hyper-reactive to your inputs or anything, but my word is this car smooth. Whatever brakes Toyota fitted to this thing must be incredible in real-life because this car stops really well compared to other N-class vehicles.
Power is very decent for its weight and once you set off I find you don't even really need to touch first gear ever again in the slow stuff. The torque this car makes is also very good. To be fair, the acceleration isn't going to set your pants on fire or anything, but it's quick off the line within the N300 class and it has decent acceleration. Top speed is a little lacking, but this is supposed to be a rally homologation special, not a Toyota Supra, so I'll give it a pass for that too.
Overall, I think this would be a very good choice if the rating system in Sport wasn't so messed up. You won't be beating any Supras or X-Bows with it so it's not that useful in that regard, but I think this car will really come into its own once PP is re-introduced in GT7 and it can race against cars that actually match it.
Let's talk other things besides pure handling. The car has one of the best-looking shapes out of a hot hatch I've ever seen. The GR Yaris really invokes the rally car homologation specials of old like the Peugeot 205. You can clearly see how this car's been beefed-up on the exterior by taking a look at those super blocky front and rear fenders protruding out to cover the longer wheelbase. The base Yaris has lent it's headlights and taillights well to this car because they actually do look quite aggressive. The rear spoiler over the hatch is also pretty big and complements the design well. The thing I think helps the looks most of all though is the choice of going for the two-door model. Toyota chose to use a coupe design to get around WRC regulations that don't allow aero parts on the rear doors. It's succeeded in not only improving the performance of the upcoming rally car, but also improving the looks of the road car it's based on. The cost of this is the loss of practicality, but this is a racing game, not a hauling sim.
Complementing the design of the GR Yaris nicely is muh new livery. I liked this car so much I resurrected the MadFactory X Puyo Pop racing team and gave them this nice new company car. The design features a nice red/white split separated by green and a subtle red checker design underneath along the sides.
The GR Yaris. I'm not going to say it was worth three Porsche models and a Lamborghini, but it sure is fun for what we ended up with this year. I just wish we had some more friends for it or at least a new track to drive it on. Either way, GT7 is around the corner and I'm pretty excited for that, once PS5 systems actually become somewhat available to the general public.
Ever drive a car so good, you don't need to drive it any longer? Yes? No? Maybe so? Well, that's the GRY to me. So damn good, It's parked it in the garage after the first few days. Haven't touched it. I know it's there.
While mine only has 174.7kms on the odometer, that is more than enough time spent enjoying this car. In this first week, reading the raves and some members' not quite getting to grips(no pun intended) with the car, I'd call the GRY an instant Gran Turismo Classic & Iconic car.
Due to some horrifically debilitating issue that was only vaguely described to me as "instability", Car of the Week offices have cut down in operations for this week, and apologise for any inconvenience caused. To translate, their entire server room caught on fire this week, and the closest thing they've in their offices that resembles an extinguisher is leftover champagne from their celebrations of actually getting a PS5. They do not apologise for ALL for the inconvenience surely caused to their employees, whom they still expect to churn out a review by the same deadline. That means no affluent flights around the world to run the car around in hot blooded competition nor videos of such racing, no professional photographers, much less editors. No fanciful hotels, and certainly no car sourced for me to review. This means that I have to go buy it for myself... and actually take care of the thing — by my man child self — so that it might be worth something when I flip it after the review.
Despite appearances, this job isn't very profitable. In fact, sometimes, I pay to work. It's good incentive to either get on Vic's driving level to draw in crowds and sponsors to spray brand names all over your car, become the de facto advertising arm like Nismo and his Twitch channel, or just... you know, write better reviews that others actually want to read. But hey, this is fun worth paying for, and cars like this week's is what my old, retired, condescending butt suffers months for to get a chance to sample: this week, we're testing the Toyota GR Yaris 1st Edition RZ"High performance". No, there isn't a space between the "RZ" and the opening quotation marks, nor is the "p" in "performance" uppercase. Yes, I checked and double checked. I don't know if the car is supposed to be "High performance", or if the people in charge of naming it were tasked to put on a "High performance".
...oh my god, I think I can actually see where people are coming from when they tell me I'm overly condescending in my reviews.
Upon my arrival at the GR Yaris launch event at Fuji Speedway in a Taxi, I was led to the paddock area, where a bunch of creatively designed Yarises (Yarii?) sat in the dark, already donning liveries bearing the names of some of my colleagues who couldn't be here. Someone else — I'm not sure who — has set aside a plain body car for me true to my MO... in non factory standard pink.
The staff's response to my outburst of "ITTAI NANI ZAA HERRU, KORE WA?!", was that it's apparently a very popular colour on the Yaris, especially among the younger, tech savvy demographic of Yaris buyers, whatever correlation technology has with a flat pink paintjob in the even flatter corporate answer I was given. Also, I'm not sure if they've been made aware, but I'm semi retired now? Acting young isn't my sort of thing, and I'm certainly no spring chicken by racing driver standards, physically or mentally. Because of my age, I've absolutely no idea why kids would suddenly fawn over a pink Yaris. I suppose it does make it easy to find this otherwise nondescript box of a car in a parking lot, which apparently is enough to qualify it as being "technologically advanced". And there I was thinking cars today are getting too complicated for their own good.
Because of how fast these things were selling, every car on exhibit has been spoken for, and so it was either drive this accursed pink Yaris, or not do my job properly for the second week in a row. My balls weren't just in the figurative vice; they are, against all conventional laws in the known universe, rapidly losing mass as I sized up my exhibitionistic cage this week.
The GR Yaris is Toyota's first car to feature a performance oriented AWD system in 20 years since the Celica, coined the GR-FOUR, and offers drivers three options for centre torque split depending on the drive mode selected: 60/40 F/R in Normal Mode, 30/70 for Sport Mode, and, very oddly, 50/50 for Track Mode, when I could've sworn the industry lingo for that was, "don't". The GR Yaris is built as a homologation model for Toyota to enter the WRC, and I can already hear the shockwaves generated from one of my colleagues' throbbing erection all the way over here even before he publishes his review, even though I've only had mixed feelings about homologation model cars so far, much to my chagrin (believe me, I want to like things). It will be hard to disagree with him this week though, as this production car packing amenities such as air con, stereo, requisite safety equipment, kiddy youthful stuff like Android Carplay and smart ways to get into the car (whatever that means) weighs in at a sports car humiliating 1,290kg (2,844lbs), and I gotta say, that really restored a little bit of faith in humanity that we can still get a car this light in 2020. For some context, that's just 50 kilos (132lbs) more than a GT86, while packing 70HP (53kW) more and AWD.
To help achieve that anorexic figure, the GR Yaris shares barely any body panels with the base car, and even unabashedly boasts bare carbon fibre parts assembled in Toyota's Motomachi plant, famous for being the plant where the LFA was assembled. On the GR Yaris, the black woven magic is most prominently on display as the single piece roof panel (which looks more like marble than CF, but eh, I'll trust that no one will take a prank that far). The chassis may operate on logic that seems more suited for a Mr. Bean show than motorsports: sawing a Yaris into two aft the front doors, and then gluing a sawn off C-HR at the rear to form a 3 door hatchback with a much widened rear track over the base Yaris, but the whole package works surprisingly well stylistically, and if Master Driver Morizo is to be trusted, should work even better on the track. That's right: the CEO of Toyota, Toyoda Akio, otherwise known as "Master Driver Morizo", had more than an obsessive amount of time behind the wheel of the car when in development phase, and thus personally signs each "First Edition" GR Yaris on the windscreen. However, when I checked my pink car, there was no signature on it. Of course I asked about it. Apparently, there was no way Toyoda-san was putting his signature on a pink car, and if he's known by the kids as the most "hip", "trendy", "straight fire" and "boss autofocus (whatever those mean)" of CEOs, then it just proves that my views aren't outdated or overly condescending.
I groan and stretch out to my body to break the tired, slight hunch I've had this whole time looking at the car, cracking a few bones in the process. Time to make me feel young again then, eh Yaris-chan?
On a wide open and smooth track like Fuji, it was immediately clear that the GR Yaris is as close to a racing car as modern rules and regulations will allow; it's taut, immediate, darty, light on its feet, and responds wonderfully proportionately and immediately to your extremities' every twitch. It rarely puts a wheel wrong on the track, as there are no perceptible electronic nannies or pretentious engineers who think they know the best way to drive to veer this carbon shroud monstrosity off the strict racing line; only the 268HP (200kW) that it has, an immensely capable AWD system, and the driver's clumsy, aging foot. However, I did notice some slight pushing understeer under trail braking, which is perhaps to be expected given the front mass bias of this hatchback chassis and AWD. There seems to be a certain way to coax it into biting a corner, and I'm sure Impreza or Evo owners will know what I'm talking about. Me personally though, I'm not used to driving AWD cars, and thus struggle with hitting apexes in this thing, and I've had to compensate by braking earlier than I perhaps need to. The brakes on the GR Yaris does slow it down exceptionally well, especially when coupled with the drag of a hatchback shape, and braking points are almost on par with GT3 racing cars, which made for a particularly easy drive around Fuji, especially with that accursed first corner following a near 1.5km straight.
The GR Yaris' seemingly paradoxical combination of light mass, AWD, and shocking power to boot means that acceleration out of low speed corners makes this thing a true pocket rocket. In the few hours of spirited driving I've had in it thus far, I never got used to how fast the GR Yaris gains speed out of a corner; it surprises me still from time to time, and I still understeer out of corners as a result, not because the suspension is floppy or the tyres weren't up to the task, but because I'm an ex racing driver and not a rocket scientist with a laptop: handling rocket launches is WAY beyond my pay grade and JD.
The only time it will attempt to yank itself from your grasp is if you ask it to, because this car, in track mode with 70% of the torque going to the rear, will swing its rear out on you if you're abusive with your feet, all without ever touching the handbrake. Even then, it's always a quick flash of counter steer away from returning to the straight and narrow. Rather than a fault of the car, I get this distinct impression its set up that way for either a driver way more skilled than I, or to just enable the car to slide better on dirt. You can certainly predict and control it, as even when the car starts to slide, it never ever once felt like it ever gets away from under your fingertips and toes, as the car maintains some composure while always being communicative, up to and way past its limits. You certainly feel the centre differential locking up and causing the front wheels to go as well if you... *ahem* encourage it a little mid slide, allowing for some hairy moments of all wheel drift if you're skilled enough. Make no mistake, this is a driver's car, way more so than most pretentious "sports" cars.
As brilliant as the car is on a paved racetrack, it only truly comes alive on a narrow winding mountain pass with bad road conditions. There, the rally car roots of the GR Yaris really began to shine and become apparent: the car sailed over very pronounced bumps and never once gave me a surprising moment, as the car maintains composure and control over every undulation, dip, and rise in the road. The extreme front mass bias on the GR Yaris makes its the aforementioned tail happiness a scary inevitability rather than a slap on the wrist for overly aggressive driving on narrow, rapidly twisting mountain roads, as the featherweight rear end will step out without fail under most downhill braking zones if you've even a slight lock of steering applied under braking. While I was quietly lamenting the lack of a fully adjustable centre diff before taking delivery of my car, I don't think I would've set any more torque going to the rear even if I did have the option, as the car is right on the verge of being a nuisance in Sport Mode*, which is exactly how I like my cars to handle. It will certainly require years of driving RWD cars on the limit and precise pedal and wheel control on these roads to properly rein back in this 3 door hatchback before you smack head first into a wall, but this just means you get to (and have to) slide this thing round corners. Because I don't drift, I can't tell you how well it drifts, and so I defer you to the British Toufu delivery driver colleague for that matter, though I do have this oddly vivid dream that a certain Kiwi was sliding it round Tsukuba as well. Does that not belong in a review? Ahh well, I suppose my editor will edit it out if it doesn't.
*I don't actually know if it's in Sport Mode. Feels like it with how tail happy it is.
As I close out my first week of ownership with a GR Yaris, I'm feeling... oddly conflicted about it. Usually, with cars, my brain tells me I shouldn't like something my heart loves, but with the GR Yaris, it's the exact opposite: my brain tells me I should love this thing and praise it like the second coming of your preferred deity, but I'm just not feeling it in my heart. I consciously recognise that it's everything a sports car should be, and the talent and passion of the people behind it is clear as day. It's properly lightweight, has just the right amount of power, does not care about 0-100 times, practicality, or fuel economy. It is properly special, crazy, and limited. It even has a six speed stick! It's fun to drive! It would make an FD RX-7 or R34 GT-R sweat around any given track! I legitimately think that this is the single best enthusiast's car you can buy new today, and that you'd have to be a medically certifiable loon to feel otherwise. But it's just... I don't know if after this week, I'll wake up one morning and go, "you know what? I would REALLY want to drive the GR Yaris instead of my FD RX-7 or 981 GT4".
For a while, I wondered if I still had a pulse. I wondered if I should still be doing this job if I can't fall in love with a GR Yaris. I wondered if there was something horrifically wrong with me. And then I took my FD out on the same roads as I had the Yaris, and I immediately smiled. I immediately felt special. I was seated so low to the asphalt I could smell it. The impeccable balance the FD had was so much more fun to work with. The effortlessly silky smooth whine of the Rotary Engine kept telling me emphatically I was truly in something special and unique, and despite the 13B having told me that for a good portion of my life, it never once got old. And when I parked it back and locked it up, I couldn't help but to look back at it and smile like the kid I had been when I first saw it. Thrice. And I think it helped me realise why the Yaris just hadn't done it for me.
It could've been properly balanced. It could've been set lower to the ground. It could've been something designed from the ground up to light your senses on fire and be the best toy money could buy, instead of being a Frankenstein thing cobbled together to be capable. It could've had a truly unique engine. It could've stuck out in your shopping mall's parking lot even without a garish paintjob. It could've been something you took ONE glance at and immediately want. It could've been the car that spoke to that 10 year old kid inside me. It could've been the A90 Supra. It could've been the GT86. It could've been an MR2. All this passion, all this engineering, could've went into the body of a properly balanced sports car, but it didn't.
Toyota is capable of being so amazing, yet they just always seem to miss out on that last 5 or so percent of making something that is truly must-have, no ifs, not buts, no second thoughts. And I suppose the GR Yaris is Toyota at its purest and best. You could say that the GR Yaris is Toyota's essence distilled and saturated into a car. And that car is a three door hatchback. I want it, but I don't know if I want it. Every time I look at it, I see Toyota at their indisputable best in decades, perhaps even ever, but I also get the contradictory feeling that it could've been that much better. And it's such a bummer feeling to have when you look at your sports car.
I really am overly condescending and there truly is no joy left for me in this world. I'm sorry, my FD. I know you're tired. But you can't retire yet.
I apologise for my old man tastes and rambling, and also for my indecision about the car. I hope no one was expecting this to be a proper review.
Sorry for the double post, but I feel this is important enough to warrant it.
I won't be able to join today's races, or any more in the foreseeable future. Same with reviews. The throttle pedal on my Logitech G29 has been giving me issues for the past year or two, and it's finally gotten to the point where simply blowing compressed air into it isn't doing the trick anymore, and I loathe the thought of having to disassemble the potentiometer AGAIN. I can't get things to align properly for some reason, and now my throttle pedal is now permanently stuck at about 5% on. It's all just a frustrating affair of trail and error as to where things fit and how they align on the G29, and I'm not very experienced with things like this.
I don't know when I'll be able to rejoin you guys, to be fully honest. The representative from my country's Logitech service centre tell me the fix will be so expensive, the cost will equal buying a whole new set (which I feel is complete BS, especially if you've ever torn down a pedal set of a G29 and seen how barbaric the setup is). And honestly, I'm not in a financial position to be splurging on a new wheel, and I simply can't drive with a DS4 at all. I certainly won't be able to feel as connected to the car and give the same standard of reviews I've been writing... assuming they ever had standards, but eh.
Anyway, thanks for having me for so long. I'll still keep poking at my set hoping the problem magically goes away, and I'll still keep lurking on this thread for reviews and replays. This has been some of the most fun I've had in my life thus far. Cheers.