Car of the Week: Week 92 Honda NSX GT500 '08

Discussion in 'Gran Turismo Sport' started by Racer283, Sep 4, 2018.

  1. The_Nagger187


    Will be changing my name to Pickle_Rick_1974. The_Nagger187 is no more...
  2. Alex p.

    Alex p.

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  3. XSquareStickIt


    "...and I'm the best guy you got for this?", I snark, trying my best to not throw my resume across the table but instead place it down. The folder still made a rather loud smack as it sat, words facing me, on the table.

    "As you already aware from your earlier inquiry, the regulars at COTW are busy", she almost lifelessly retorts, but not before pushing up her glasses for the umpteenth time, not even looking up from her own folders when mine hit the desk. "We've selected you as you write the most drawn out reviews, which allows us to place as many ads in as possible".

    "Fine", I bitterly retrieve my folder with a bit if a stretch across the table. I got up and turned to leave the room, and Esther the editor, my chaperone for my short trip to Germany, followed suit. Descending the stairs to the pit garage and making it round the door for the first time, a loud racing car greeted my sights in the dead quiet garage. There might've been a Mercedes GT3 car buried somewhere under the cyan and pink paintjob, sponsorship decals, and under the skirt of Hatsune Miku, but I honestly can't tell.

    "So... what have we here?"
    "A car for you to review"
    "Okay, but... what is it?"
    "It's a racing car"

    I'm not sure if I detected a hint of frustration in her last statement, so I figure it's best for me if I just looked it up myself. I took another look at the folder in my hand again. I'm sure they buried... aha, here it is. Some basic info on the car I'm reviewing.

    This appears to be an AMG GT3, mechanically identical to the one HTP Motorsports ran in 2016's 24 Hours of Nürburgring, albeit with a vastly different livery due to copious amounts of time spent in Japan. Without Balance of Performance, the car produces 621PS from it's 6.2L V8 transplanted from its bigger sister, the SLS, and mounted behind the front axle, solely driving the rear wheels, as if that needed mentioning. The whole package weighs just 1,325kg, which is perhaps a bit on the heavier side for a GT3 class car, but light for what I'm usually reviewing, which tend to be modern, fat, and bloated "sports" cars.

    "What a stupid name for a racing car", I quip. "AMG GT3 could mean any GT3 car AMG worked on. Hardly tells me what it is". Even before getting to writing the review, I was already finding problems with the car. "What's the point of having this engine in this car if I can't buy this car with this engine? I thought FIA wanted to make the race cars close to the road cars", I continue, almost as if on a mental momentum of complaining. Maybe that's why I've so much to say in reviews, because I'll complain about anything. Might be a Singaporean thing. "Amazing how much wasted space must be in the road car if you can still have space for a 6.2L V8 wholly behind the front axle. Says here the road car's weight distribution with the 4.0L V8 is 47:53? It's just meant to come with this engine, isn't it?"

    Esther looks at me with no reply, almost with a quizzical, "am I supposed to reply to that?" look on her face. I sigh internally and get straight to business.

    Missing its traditional gullwing doors, opening the Hatsune Miku car up and getting into her was customarily painful and difficult for a GT3 racing machine, as I weave and groan through webs of restraints and roll cages. God I'm old. All is immediately forgiven however, the moment you press the engine start button. If nature gave birth to mechanical, fuel powered bears... then this is undoubtedly what they would sound like. It is a sound that immediately commands attention and respect, even before travelling a centimetre in it.

    I'll be honest: I've never driven a Mercedes. Ever. Not even in a simulator. A GT3 racing car is probably the only thing from the company could interest me, someone who's looking more for driver exhilaration than status symbols, and it's exactly what I'm popping my Merc cherry with today. The first, and pretty much the only thing I know about them as a stranger is that the three letters, "AMG" might as well be a diagnosis. An admission of lunacy, of no self restraint, of violent tendencies, and then somehow dignifying and excusing that behaviour via marketing. I'm quietly hoping the racing car shows a lot more finesse than that today. Though, if anything, the engine start already has me fully locked into full confirmation bias mode.

    I ease the AMG out of the pits, letting the tyre and fluids get up to temperature before attacking the course, which gave me time to appreciate how weird the world currently is. The usually bustling Nürburgring, dream destination all year round for people all over the globe, is now completely barren and devoid of life, stands empty and roller coasters at a standstill. The track itself was quiet enough to hear birds chirping away before the AMG rolled by. As the cherry on the cake, someone with only one win to his name in an FIA race in a low split amateur lobby, me, is suddenly tasked to drive cars on said desolate tracks for reviews.

    Even at low revs, the AMG is already burbling and cackling like it was some mad witch cooking up a storm in her lair, and here at Nürb GP, that last statement might be more literal than it sounds, as the HTP car this is based on finished 2nd in the 24 Hour race. When everything is up in running condition, I began to attack the GP Layout of the Green Hell. Nürb GP is an almost spitefully technical track, with arguably the most dangerous T1 still used on F1, back when they were still racing the real cars. Track limits here change with the marshals from race to race, and you'll barely find a braking zone that's straight. The technical track does open up in Sector 3, as it has a sizable back straight to let power inclined cars stretch their legs, albeit with a bit of a kink in the middle. The well balanced mix of technicality and power makes this an exceptional track to test cars on.

    Pictured: Perfectly legal and normal.

    It was great fun to drive a derestricted GT3 car for once, as the Gran Turismo Championships usually cripple cars via Balance of Performance, to either make them slower, or faster but more difficult to drive. With its original character on full display once you really wring it, the AMG handles starkly neutral, with nary a complaint from the car. It's a car that largely does what its told with the obedience, immediacy, and efficiency of a highly experienced butler. Over the course of the ten or so laps I spent attacking Nürb GP, I struggled to come up with any real criticism towards it. The front end perhaps has a bit too much suspension travel for my tastes, but I can understand its softness, given it's setup to do the full Nordschleife on worn tyres, which is a lot bumpier than the paved F1 racetrack that is the GP course.

    Make no mistake, for all my trivial complaints against the car, this is a properly solid racing car. Not only is it fast, it might just be the easiest GT3 car to drive, as well, seeing as it's front-mid engined instead of rear-mid engined. It also lacks any turbocharging, which separates it from the shockingly vast majority of FR GT3 cars in Gran Turismo sanctioned events, meaning the engine won't suddenly punch you in the guts and swing the rear out on you as and when it pleases. It seemed almost only natural that Mercedes-Benz won two World Tour events in a row, given the sheer brilliance of the AMG GT3. With Kaminori Samauchi's consistent blessing, the AMG is still one of the faster cars in a straight line even with BoP applied to this day, as Gr. 3 looks to slow down more and more with the nerfing of the well known missiles like the Supra, GT-R, and my long time Manufacturer Series weapon, the erstwhile Atenza.

    Competitive merits aside, the AMG is a hell of a hoot to drive! The NA V8 engine is seemingly never out of breath wherever and whenever you ask it for power; even when scraping 3.5k rpm in 2nd in the penny pinching tight T1, the M159 engine gets up and goes with all the grace and speed of an athlete kipping up, barely missing a step, so natural you'd never guess it wasn't meant to happen. There was never a moment where I didn't have enough power to break out the Racing Hard shod rears of the car if I wanted to. Fully revved out, the high pitched transmission whine perfectly contrasts the low pitched growl and scream of the V8. This car is simply endless theatrics, as each gear change, up and down, sound so disgustingly and satisfyingly violent, like cocking a gun with exaggerated cartoon violence, and the "gunshots" are the endless cackles and burbles of the exhaust as the car trail brakes into the corner. This is truly a car that will never stop shouting, never stop entertaining, and never stops being a cartoon character. The smile on my face when I drive this thing would have to be surgically removed in order to not narrow my tiny Asian eyes more and obstruct my view out and over the long bonnet of the car.

    In a highly regulated, often adjusted for balance field that is Gr. 3, the AMG GT3 is consistently a very clear cut above its competition in terms of refinement, ease of use, and even fun factor. And that I think is the highest praise I can give to a racing car. So Mercedes CAN build proper sports cars when they want to! Or was the suspension done by HTP Motorsport?

    After ten or so laps flat out, I eased the AMG back into the pits, a tail of burbles and crackles following close behind. I'd be offended if these sounds aren't stock sound effects in Vocaloid. Taking extreme liberties with track limits, particularly in the entirety of Sector 1 and in the last chicane as per drunk Gran Turismo marshals officiating, I set a lap time of 1:58.377, after ten or so laps of going flat out. Maybe I could've shaved off a tenth or two more if I really dedicated more time to it, or if I let the fuel levels drop more, but I figure with the inane track limits and lacklustre skills, bleeding edge lap times weren't what they hired me for. I'm not the fastest driver in COTW; I'm the cheapest. Apparently.

    Esther the editor was in the pit garage when I backed the AMG in. "Are you done?!", she tries to shout over the idling of the racing engine blaring behind me. Her business suit is usually a perfect fit for her quiet and undisclosed personality, letting her blend into the background of previous settings in our meetings unnoticed, belying her rather cute appearance if one were to spend any time looking at her specifically. Here in the pits however, with her hands over her ears propping up locks of hair in a frayed mess on either side of her head, trying to shout over a racing spec 6.2L V8 engine, she couldn't be more out of place if she tried.

    "Yeah, I should have enough material for a review!", I shout back after killing the engine, finding it hard to modulate and judge an appropriate volume after having spent a solid 20 or so minutes at full tilt in a racing car, ears still ringing in a now dead silent garage.

    "Good! I'll let my colleagues know you're ready to take the Zonda...", she, too, continues to shout, before awkwardly trailing off in volume as her sentence continued, realisation hitting her how loud she was unintentionally being. Her face was quickly hidden by her adjusting her specs again, she quickly looked away in embarrassment and started to scuttle away as fast as her bandage skirt and high heels would let her.

    "The WHAT?!", I shout as I clumsily fling the door open, this time half intentionally as she was already putting distance between me and herself, and half unintentionally because I REALLY couldn't hear what she just said. The ringing in my ears and the vibration still reverberating through my body made it sound like she said a Honda or something. I wasn't aware of any plans for oil leaks today.

    Too late. She was gone. I know she heard me. What a flipping butt hole!

    Helmet and gloves off, racing suit partially torn down to slacks, I sat down with a bottle of water, going through the photos of me on the track on the laptop and trying to formulate my thoughts and align them into a cohesive direction for the review. Esther returned from the door which she hastily disappeared through, now back to her calm, composed, unshakable strides. With an introductory push of her spectacles once again, she begins in her all too familiar, devoid of feeling voice. "Mr. Lee, may I know what are you doing?"

    Looking up at her, now hunched over my head, I try to reciprocate the coldness in effort to hide a blush. "Huh? Oh, just making sure I've enough shots for the review, to see if I need photos of anything else before hitting the showers. Why?"

    "The showers? Oh, no, that won't be necessary. This week's car is ready."
    "...huh? I just drove it. I hav-"

    On her politely outstretched hand is a key that looked as vintage as it was plain. A silver, metallic round head with 6 circles on it, with an unassuming key sticking out of it. It looked like the key to a pre-WWII beater Honda. While consciously puzzled, subconsciously I reached out in a daze in response and took the key. "What am I supposed to do with this?"

    "Drive it for a review. It's just next door."
    "Two cars this week?"
    "Not technically, no. But it's a special request."
    "Am I getting paid for two cars?"
    "That depends on you."

    She leads me around to the garage next door, and as I rounded the divider wall, my jaw dropped to the floor.

    Sweet mother of baby Christ on a bike...

    Cloaked by its own bare carbon shell in the darkness of the unlit pits was a figure that was... exquisite, would be the first world that comes to mind. Distinct, would be the second. Crazy, third. And after that, any amount of adjectives you could feasibly throw at it seemingly gets drowned out by the insanity of it all. Such is the sensory overload you get with this thing, even as barely more than a silhouette as I'm seeing it right now. This is a car with a presence, if I could say that without losing my job as a writer for making the understatement of the century.

    It was a Pagani Zonda. A 1.8 MILLION USD, 1 of 15 ever made, top of the line, Zonda R.

    Now I see where this week's budget went.

    "So, ah... I'm... supposed, to drive this?"
    "For a review"
    "And I can complain about it"

    I asked those questions and I got direct answers, yet what I was trying to ask was, "what am I doing here? What is this? Why am I here, doing this? What have I done in my life to deserve this? Is my life insurance up to date? Did my secondary school crush really hate me?" And I didn't get an answer to any of that.

    "You'll need your earplugs", she said, before leaving.

    I just stood there, dumbstruck, even after the initial shock and realisation of getting to drive a Pagani wore off. The Zonda R is an exquisitely beautiful car, with a booming, undeniable presence in any setting it appears in. No car has arrested my eyes with the same immediacy and firmness as the Zonda before. And perhaps it's not even fair to call it "just" a Zonda, because the R looks so vastly different from the few pictures of the road going Zondas I've seen. I'm hard pressed to find any panels they share in common. The door looks the same, and... that's... it I think. Every other panel, in naked carbon fibre, has had holes engraved into them with artistic and painstaking flair, in the name of performance, or has had other aero parts drilled into them. The fragile looking, leaf like, flowing side mirrors now sit atop turbulent air extractors on the front quarter panels. The bonnet has twin alcoves digging into where a Roadster's roof would stow. It has air intakes on its roof and sides leading to its rear mid mounted V12, reminiscent of LMP1 cars not just in scoops, but in dimensions and stance as well. It sits at a shadow scraping 75mm and 90mm ride height front and rear, and in a dark room like the one I'm standing in right now, you'd almost think the Zonda was a huge road hump with how visually tightly it hugs the road, even at a standstill. And to top it all off, the exquisite, stretched out, graceful, and aggressive exterior is pinned down by huge, towering aero parts, most prominent of which is of course the rear wing that spans the entire width and height of the car. And it's a car that never lets your eyes go once it has them; the more you look at it, the more intricacies you find. The winglets on this Airbus worthy wing are actually drilled to the body, forming a complete seal, and are thus almost wing stands in themselves. There are actually two wing blades, and each look to be adjustable. And out the back, a copious length of what looks to be white-hot quad exhausts can be traced back through the playfully teasing, wide open grille, snaking into an engine bay that I'm not able to open up by myself.

    I'll admit, I have a weakness for bare carbon fibre cars. I'll also admit that I didn't know I had said weakness until I saw a Zonda R. While minimal, I love what decals this car has. I'm especially a fan of how the metallic gold wheels and stripes perfectly accentuate and break up the car, giving viewers a real sense of proportion when looking at it. This is a car that, if I were to own, I would absolutely refuse to "decorate" with liveries or decals; it's perfect as it is. So perfect. Too perfect. Anything else on it would be uncouth and vulgar, and would only serve desecrate this art piece. Once someone puts their signature on something, you just don't touch it. You just don't. I done? With this review? With this life? The Zonda R is almost a car you could appreciate and get your fill of by just... sitting and staring at it. Quietly. Alone. Any place this car ends up in immediately becomes an art gallery, a museum. No, no you don't eat chips in a museum. No you don't go running around in an art gallery. No you don't speak to someone else in a museum. You stop, you stare, and you admire. That is what you're supposed to do when a Zonda R is in the same room as you.

    ...I'm not done with this review, am I?

    Fully suited up, helmets, gloves, earplugs, and everything again, I got into the not-at-all road legal Zonda, and it wasn't much easier than getting into the AMG GT3 earlier, given this thing's high and wide door sills that could have their own zip codes. I know carbon fibre is light and strong, but this thing feels so much like an art display I'm constantly nervous about breaking something, as art pieces tend to be fragile. Once I'm in, the whole admiration process begins again, except this time, I'm... part of the display now. I began to realise that this isn't something you put up on display and promptly leave be; this is something that's built, for you, the driver, to be in. This piece of art isn't complete without a driver the design is so centred around. Yet, in this cocoon of carbon weaves, it still gives you that same, satisfactory feeling as you did as when you were looking at it from the outside. I'm fine with never pushing the engine start button. I'm fine with never going anywhere in this thing. This, as it is, is good enough for me. It can be just as attention grabbing and intricate as any driving experience can be. This can be enough if you so choose. And this sense of entitlement, this sense of power of choice, this sensory overload, this indulgence, finally made me understand, if only a little, what it must mean and feel like to be rich and powerful. No other car, luxury or otherwise, has given me this sensation before.

    "This is a job, this is a job", I told myself, as I gingerly slot the key in and push the engine start button. And then, for just a split second, I could've sworn the entire pit garage shook apart from the SOUND of this thing starting. While I mentioned earlier the proportions of this car reminds me of a LMP1, the sound this engine makes is more akin to a late 80s Group C monster.

    Going for the same warm up laps, it was immediately clear to me that this thing is a racecar, even if not advertised as one. It has a Mercedes sourced 6L V12 sitting aft my right ear. It has the same straight cut gearbox whine and associated violence in the shifts as the AMG I drove earlier. You still need a racing suit and proper ear protection to drive. The racing slicks its on do need to be warmed before you can fully exploit them. It has NO rear view save for side mirrors. It has deep buckets with 5 point harnesses. It has an engine killswitch and extinguisher as per regulations a race car would have to adhere to. The analogue tach in the centre of the wheel tells me more that this car has no airbags than the engine's revs. And, more prominently than any of the visually observable racing car chops, the ride of this thing is rock solid. There is no perceptible give and sway from the driver seat in the suspension when you accelerate, when you brake, when you turn. I used to think all track only, not road legal toys are stupid wannabe things, but this, this, is a proper racecar, seemingly built for a category not yet devised. It feels that legit.

    Once the car is properly warmed up, and once I finally worked up the balls to, I began to explore the limits of the R on the track, and that's where the differences between it and the AMG from earlier starts to show. While the 6.2L V8 in the AMG sounds very "German", with its low grumble and heapings of torque over a comparatively low rev range, the 6.0L V12 in this is a high pitched screamer that makes its magic only when the digital tachometer is at least half full. This engine is more Italian than some Italian supercar offerings I don't want to sully this review with by mentioning. It's amazing to think that the same German company is responsible for both of these vastly different, yet each equally beautiful and enjoyable powerplants.

    I want to preface my comments about the handling of this car by first saying this: this is a 750PS 6.0L V12 sitting in a car that has a curb mass of 1,070kg. It is absurdly, mind bendingly, needlessly, and irresponsibly fast. Nobody will be able to say that the R is easy to drive, no matter how skilled they are, no matter what they've driven, and no matter what their yard sticks are set to in terms of ease of driving. But, for what it is, I find it surprisingly easy to drive. Thanks to its aero, bespoke Pirelli racing rubber, and long wheelbase, coupled with its zero give suspension and chassis, it's not as wild and twitchy as one might fear, and minor mishaps can feasibly be caught and corrected in the hands of an experienced racing driver. I'm very happy to report that, for all its seemingly impossible accolades and celebrity status, this car absolutely has adequate tools to contain itself. This is a car that, honestly, is as scary as you want it to be. If you're driving it sane and reasonable, it won't suddenly decide to bite your head off, chew it up, and spit it at a wall, even if it sounds like it can, will, and wants to.

    The car is very well composed and controlled in just about every situation, except for corner exits out of the slower corners, when you have too much gear and not enough aero. This is where the "it's as scary as you want it to be" part comes in: you could downshift into 2nd, but do you really want to? Think about your wife. Think about your kids. Think about your career, your rep as a racing driver. Your sponsors, your fans, and everyone in your life that has gotten you to this very moment here, sitting in a Zonda R. Think about the fact that this is only 1 of 15 Rs in the world. Do you want to be "that guy" that wrecked a 1 in 15 car, costing someone billions of dollars? Are you willing to put all that at risk, just to accelerate out of this corner in 2nd instead of 3rd? Is that tenth of a second out of this one corner worth risking all that for? Because for all the praises I sing this car, for how laser focused with the state-of-the-art manufacturing and materials in it, for all the non road legal slick tyres and rock solid suspension, nothing we currently have can reign in 750PS in 2nd gear. The R is like a very patient god only barely tolerating your BS; take too many liberties with it, place too much faith in your own abilities, step out of line just a bit too much, and it will gladly kill you, no ifs, no buts, no hesitation. And, no. No you don't get to blame the car if you crash. With road cars, you can blame the suspension, you can blame the tyres. You can blame the aero, the chassis, the turbo... anything, because they're all compromised products. In this? Everything is sharp, precise, proportionate, and immediate. It does what you tell it to. There is no delay, there is no compromise, there is no excuse. You have all the information at all times. The car is always communicating. If you die in this, it's because you told the car to kill you when your judgment erred, or unseen road hazards. It's really that simple. And if the threat of death or permanent injury isn't enough to make you respect this car, then surely the shame of being "that guy" that crashed an R would, because you had no excuses.

    And, you know what? It doesn't even have to care. It has no rules to follow. It doesn't have to cap its own power to fit into any category of racing cars, nor does it have to swallow ballast to appease its competition. It doesn't need any handicap to its own aero or dimensions to restrict its cornering speeds to be safe enough for the sponsors. It doesn't need to clear a speed bump, nor does it need to pass any emissions test. It's proudly insane, and you buy it because of its undiluted, unhindered, uncompromising lunacy.

    As I've said before, this is a legitimate racing car. It might be more racecar than most race cars are racecars. In fact, this thing might be too racecar; it's suspension I find is set WAY too stiff, even for a paved racetrack. On my first flying lap of Nürb GP, the car hopped and I caught some air on the inside of the right hander of Schumacher S. It was a proper code brown moment, as for all my time I spent on that circuit, I've NEVER even felt a bump there. The rumble strip felt flush with the road. However, the R was set up so stiff that something bona fide racing cars plow right over sent the R hopping. I survived physically without a scratch, but mentally, every "small" moment like that is a scarring one. Yes, I'm man enough to admit it. I'm scared in the Zonda R. I'm terrified. Petrified.

    This week on Paranormal Activity, we attempt to find out what caused this phenomenon of a lift on Schumacher S.

    Despite the hop, my first flying lap with the R I'm told was a 1:57, already beating out the AMG GT3. Given that even invisible humps can hop the R, I avoided cutting the final chicane of Nürb GP as much as I would any other racing car. I eventually settled for a time of 1:55.343, more than three seconds faster than a derestricted GT3 car, which I was very surprised by, to be honest. Yes it has way more power. Yes its a bona fide racing car. But three whole seconds? With less corner cutting than the AMG? I wasn't even using the outside rumble strip of the last turn, because I didn't want to bottom out the car. The R I also felt lacked a lot of the finesse and willingness, a lot of the "chuckability" of the GT3 race car, no doubt because of its longer wheelbase, and also because of its not legally, but morally obligated hand holding understeer for stability. The R was also missing the last 10 or so percent more downforce and braking performance I personally want out of it. I'm sure the aero bits can be adjusted to make more downforce for a technical track like Nürb GP, but I felt it unnecessary as I think it's already made its point loud and clear: it's bloody fast and it has my respect. And because I didn't want to wash out any more stains from the interior of the car.

    Gingerly lapping it round before going back into the pits, I actively avoided any dry leaves on the track and hoped this car doesn't trip over its own shadow, lest I set a new Guinness World Record for number of times a car flips. I was told over the radio to simply drive the car into the truck as it was to be sent to Spa later today. With the car properly lined up on the AMT truck, I stumbled out of the car with the grace and splendor of a drunk duck. I was drained physically, emotionally, and bowelly.

    Given that neither of those cars came with license plates, we moseyed over to our next destination in a rental Mazda Demio. 2 hours away by car is the best racetrack in the world in my opinion, Spa. Given that I was on public roads with other drivers, and the fact that I had a passenger with me, I was nowhere near the limits of the Demio. It thoroughly impressed me nonetheless, because it felt super light even in city and highway driving, with perhaps a way overboosted power steering. I'm floored by the fact that this rental was even a manual, when most cars don't even come with manuals anymore, and I don't get to drive many diesels. I jokingly brought up the possibility of reviewing a Demio, but Esther very grimly and seriously warned me not to bring it up in the presence of the other COTW folk, because apparently the last person that suggested a Japanese FF car was tied to a stake and shot in the presence of their loved ones.

    We had one day at Spa to test the cars, but as I've read online about the climate of the area, it is often marred by storms and fog. Such was the case came review day, and we waited and waited to see if conditions would improve. At around 1100, we gave up all hope of the possibility of a dry track, as the rain wasn't showing signs of letting up, and the track would take a long while to dry even the skies did stop pouring.

    Pirelli had supplied us with deeply grooved Heavy Wet tyres for the Zonda R, for just such an occasion, and had even helpfully replicated the stock "Zonda R" stickers on the tyres. And while I was apprehensive, I also have to admit... I'm curious. Very, curious.

    As usual, a warm up lap started the session, this time more necessary than the last, to get a feel for the track conditions, and how much grip these Heavy Wets would offer. As I crested over the final left kink of Raidillon Eau Rouge however, the car acted up, lost control of itself, and very, very nearly spat me into a wall. Thank FRICK I was going slowly when it happened!

    I can't freaking believe this car! It actually lost itself over the rumble strips of Raidillon! I've raced the worst of cars in the worst of conditions at Spa, and I have NEVER had a car mind the rumble strips that much before!

    On the next lap, I went over Raidillon, this time much, much slower, but still taking the same line. I made it past the rumble strips on the inside of the turn this time, but then promptly lost it on the paved part of the track, this time ending up much, much closer to the wall than the last time.

    Editor's note #1: not the photo of the actual scene being described.

    And that, ladies and gentlemen, is how I learned that the road surface of the final left hander of Raidillon Eau Rouge has a very slight dip and adverse camber on the outside half of the paved track. And that perfectly puts into context just how ludicrously stiff the suspension, and also the chassis, of this thing is. In the wet, it really did feel like you were attempting to slide a 2D plane across a 3D track. There is NO give in the suspension at all. Even microscopic undulations you never knew were there would cause the car to lose itself. In that sense, driving this car in the wet was akin to brushing your bare fingers across the track to get a feel for it, because you really feel every single bit of it. I have never had this sense of fidelity in road feel before, and I'd perhaps enjoy it more if I wasn't nearly about to die every time I learn something new.

    Driving the R in the wet is well and truly the most difficult feat of driving I've ever attempted. It took hours upon hours of failed runs before I could string together three incident free laps. I realise it's my job as a reviewer to describe the experience, but I find it so overwhelmingly stupid and dangerous, so complicated that words would never do it justice. I'm just going to sum it up with: "don't try it". The skills required to just keep it pointed in roughly the correct direction is too immense for me, let alone setting a fast time.

    But it was a very eye opening and humbling experience. I think I'm a better person for having experienced it, and I realise how contradictory it sounds for me to not recommend anyone try it.

    If I were theoretically given an opportunity to own a Zonda R, would I? Probably not, to be honest. Yes, it's a very, very beautiful thing. I respect the hell out of it. For me personally, it's hard to fall in love with, because it's just... too much, for my old man glands. It's hard to love someone or something when you fear and respect them too much. It offered the rawest, purest driving I ever had the privilege of experiencing, but it really is just too much for me. I know I usually harp on sports cars for not being raw and sporty enough. Well, this is me getting what I wished for. This here is my comeuppance. This here is my limit of what I can take.

    Beater or Sleeper? I think neither term applies to the AMG GT3. It is a largely successful racing car both in its original application and when adapted for Gran Turismo racing. The Zonda R transcends both terms. It can't possibly be a beater because it has so much performance, it blew me away. Yet, it can't be a sleeper either, because of just how loud it is, figuratively and literally. It is exactly what it says on the tin. It is more racecar than most racecars are racecars. It is the sort of thing dreams are made of. And if the Zonda R came in a tin with all that labelled, that too would no doubt be bare carbon fibre.
    Editor's note #2: not enough complaints for strong conclusion sell your cynical character more pls fix asap submit by 28th.

    The wipers are pretty sheet. This is the lowest it goes, and I can't see the road because of that.

    Did anyone test drive this in the wet wow how can they sell something so dangerous it's disgusting. Can't believe they put rain lights on these things to mislead people into thinking it's driveable in the rain. -2/10 not for mortals' consumption.

    Editor's note #3: Ted from Technical wants you to know you should've used traction control. Says you're an idiot.

    Editor's note #4: My name isn't Esther.

    My first attempt at a narrative/ storytelling style of review. I thought I'd try it reading previous COTW reviews in GT6. I don't think I'm very good at it to be honest. It's very difficult to tell a compelling story while staying focused on the car review. It also takes a lot of time. Don't think I'll attempt this again, but it was fun nonetheless!
    ProjectF, ZGBox, Racer283 and 5 others like this.
  4. The_Nagger187


    If you guys hadn't guessed, I am in fact, an old man... lol
  5. Nismonath5


    New Zealand
    I usually take my own pics, but not this time. Because reasons.

    Ah, the Zonda R. One of those cars you wish was a flawless, perfectly balanced driver's dream, but instead it's brutal.

    Paganis have always been beautiful cars, the Zonda F is a personal favourite but the R is beautiful and focused. It has one purpose, and one purpose alone. Lap records. No McDonald's runs, no school pickups, and CERTAINLY no nights out with the boys. It takes only a single glance at it to understand. This is art. Quite possibly the world's fastest mobile art piece, but also the world's most terrifying!

    But that's not to say it performs like a dream. A sad truth, but despite boasting a weight of just over a ton thanks to an extensive use of carbon, it still feels reluctant under brakes. In the race meet, I noticed that mid and low speed corners were almost a weak spot for it, especially slow corners. It lacks turn in without all that aero grip, though it is still criminally quick in a straight line. Once it's in the direction you want to go, simply drop the hammer and before you know it you'll be back on the brakes in a panic, desperately trying to pull up in time for the next corner.

    Another problem with the R, though less performance oriented, the sound is underwhelming. You see on places like Facebook and Youtube, videos of Zondas and FXXKs and the like starting up, revving, firing down Eau Rouge, and they sound ANGRY!!! They sound fierce! They sound unforgiving to both man and environment. The GT Sport rendition just doesn't capture that. It's quite bland in comparison.

    Honestly, it's not a car that I think I'd use all that often, but it seems to pop up in the occasional Nations Cup race, and it is a good looker. It's not a beater. It's not a sleeper. It falls into that middle zone.
  6. TonyJZX


    The Zonda is underwhelming because PD's rendition of the car is underwhelming. I too notice the indecision on low to medium speed turn ins... this would mean the car suits the more power tracks like Spa Monza Le Mans. The turn in coupled with the power coming out means its cornering is hardcore.

    I didnt find much issue with the brakes. It does have that same kind of fidgetting which is like a subset of the woes that beset the LaFerrari but in that case, the bad behaviour is power related... in the Zonda its just the light chassis, poor aero at low speeds and what feels like too light steering.

    If you have a car around a ton and 750-900hp then this is what you get. Requires your utmost concentration and precision when driving. Its like an LMP car that isnt anywhere near as refined in a way that only $100 mil. budget can fix. Also Gr.X which kind of limits its appeal. You should own it as a trophy.
  7. Racer283


    United States
    This week we are testing an old iconic Super GT car. We are taking a look at the Super GT Honda NSX '08. This weeks car is chosen by @MisterWaffles.

  8. XSquareStickIt


    Seriously, this was a car I was seriously considering picking the next time I got to pick. Thanks Waffles!
    Soyuz 77, The_Nagger187 and Alex p. like this.
  9. RobboGTAddict


  10. XSquareStickIt


    "That was really reckless of you, Mr. Lee", Esther the editor condescendingly remarks as I once again fall out of the Zonda R, having just completed a run in the wet at Spa. It's amazing: I accomplish the hardest feat of driving I've ever attempted, and the first thing anyone says to me is that. Wow.

    "We've gone through the proper procedures...", I begin.

    "I know", she immediately cuts me off. "Whatever. Do as you please. Next week's car is ready for you to thrash around and die in if you're eager".

    Instincts beget asking, "What is it?" But it's only as the words were leaving my mouth did I remember her unhelpfulness with car descriptions.

    "See for yourself next door. It arrived from your residence when you were splashing about out there risking millions of dollars. The engineers are prepping it as we speak."

    As I rounded the pit divider wall, I was greeted by an all too familiar sight. Familiar not only because it was a shape I've seen ever since I was a kid in all its jagged polygon glory of the PS1 days, but familiar also because I've raced this exact car here before. In fact, it's mine. Bathed in Championship White paint, with portions of exposed carbon fibre outside and in that would make a painted Pagani sit up and take notice, it has few decals on it to pay tribute to the RA272. No one else could design a car to look as boring as me and yet be so proud of it at the same time. But, with a car as naturally beautiful as the NA NSX, I think it speaks for itself without a livery. It's like a girl that's just naturally beautiful, no need for makeup, no need for flashy clothes. I love it for that.

    "My baby... what... why- How?", I voice out my confusion as my brain fails to process anything.
    "As I've said, it's this week's car. It just arrived from your residence."
    "Yeah, but how did you-"
    "You didn't read the fine print when signing up for COTW, did you?"
    "...fine print? There was fine print?"
    "We have access to your house and all the cars you own."
    "Seeing as this is your car, you're free to do what you will with it."

    As if it wasn't already clear from this being my car, I love this car to bits. I think it's one of the best sounding, best looking race cars I've ever had the opportunity to drive in the last 2 or so years. Though, being totally spent from my previous stint, I elected not to take it out into the rain just yet.

    "That's quite surprising. I hear you're quite fond of this car", Esther remarks.
    "Ahh, you read the review in my résumé?"
    "It's my job to, yes."
    "Well, what do you think?"
    "Of the car?"
    "It's fine."


    "Can I sit in it?", Esther suddenly breaks the awkward silence in the garage with more awkwardness.
    "Uh... sure...?", my words fumbled out my mouth in bewilderment before I could even think.
    "Thank you."
    "There's no seat on that side."

    I walked up to the right side door and slot my still gloved hand into the horizontal cubby hole to lift the latch. The door of the NSX opened with the immediacy, familiarity, and muffled clacking of an old, problematic joint cracking in an old man's body. Missing a road car's mechanisms in its joints to hold an open door in place, the ultra lightweight, carbon side door topped with perforated resin windows would flop about aimlessly without me holding it in place for Esther as she gingerly twists herself into a pretzel getting into the GT500 machine. The seat had to be swept clean of the TAKATA restraints before she could sit on the raked side of the bucket seat, slide backwards into the seat itself, and then her closed legs rotated into the footwell. She drapes the harnesses over herself, but with a bandage skirt, there was no securing the crotch belt of the 5 point system.
    "Tell me about this car", she continues, as though oblivious to the awkwardness that's almost gassing me.
    "I thought you read the review."
    "I don't remember the details."

    "Uhm... well... this is a replica of the NSX that Nakajima Racing, sponsored by Epson, competed with in Super GT in GT500 class back in 2008. Mechanically identical to that car in fact, since Gran Turismo organisers are spitefully strict with what you can or cannot modify on the car. Even though this car is useless in their nonsensical 'Group 2' category of GT, I keep it compliant for reference purposes. That means I don't even get to fix the constantly flickering rear camera screen, or even bring it closer to the driver side. Or the tachometer that's reading a whole thousand revs higher than what the engine is actually doing. You can even see the original number of the car on the 'passenger' side of the car: Number 32. There's a lot wrong with this car I wish I could fix."

    Esther's eyes follow my description of the car as I point out the interior flaws in the not yet started car, not saying a word.

    "I miss when GT500 cars were actually based on the production models, though. Starting in, what was it, 2014? All GT500 cars were made identical under the skin, with only their exterior differing between the competing manufacturers and teams; what they call 'silhouette cars'. That's just so lame to me. Saps all meaning from the racing, and the wins and losses for me. This 2008 car, doesn't just resemble an NSX; it IS an NSX. It sounds very close to the road going Type R I have at home, has the same colour, shares a few strengths and weaknesses. The cars it competed with were different from it, each with their own strengths and weaknesses. As a spectator sport, that's just so much more fulfilling to watch; you could see, hear, bits and pieces of your car, and even those of your friends', on the racetrack. There was an emotional stake to it. You could relate to what was happening on the screen. This is a dinosaur, granddad of a car, this. Not only because of the racing regulations that changed, but also because Honda doesn't make brilliant sports cars like this anymore. I especially love the roof snorkel of this thing, I don't know why. It just gets me. The fact that Honda had to sell 5 NSX-R GTs just so these race cars could have them is just SUPER cool to me!"

    Before I knew it, I was already rambling on and on about the car, oblivious to whether someone was actually listening or not. Maybe this is why I have so few friends.

    "It's insane; back then, GT500 cars actually made around 500PS of power; this one makes 517, though, looking at the power curves, I'm sure this thing could've made slightly more than that. Nowadays even GT3 cars are making around 600PS, and GT500 cars aren't far off. Though, honestly, the chassis is just about tearing itself apart with 517PS. It'd take a madman to think it should have more power. But, lo and behold, the committee at Gran Turismo championships decided to bump it up to 122% at one point to get it to 'compete' with the 2016 cars. I don't even know how I survived racing this thing, to be entirely honest with you."

    Esther grabs the shoulder straps laid over her, as she looked for a moment to get out of the car, but was effectively immobolised by both her formal wear and the deep seats. "W-why would you race such a dangerous car?"

    "I love it. This car is flipping magic, I tell you. There was a time when I was really down, when I had a lot of doubts about my ability as a racing driver. Racing was becoming super dry at best and frustrating at worst. I still quit formal racing anyway, but had it not been for a drive in this car, I might've quit more than that. It pries a smile from me each and every time I drive it. I ADORE the sound this thing makes. I love how stupid fast you can corner in this thing with its aero. It has a lot of character, this car. As a race car, it's of course fast and planted, but it also has a nasty side that keeps you on your toes and makes sure you never fall into complacency. It's such a unique blend of reliability and suspense nothing else has given me. It really spoils you with how it drives; it makes even the nimblest of GT3 cars feel like understeery pigs, and I have trouble adapting to GT3 cars after being in this thing. I love that the sequential shifter on this is a stick shift. Really makes you feel like you're grabbing more speed towards you when accelerating, and pushing speed away from you when you brake. And the SOUND when you downshift... oohh... I love the fact that it's right hand drive too. Makes it feel that much closer to home for me."

    "Is this the 'shifter?'"
    "Can I try pulling it?"
    "Go ahead. It's not on."

    She pushes and pulls the bare carbon knobbed sequential shifter a few times gingerly, yet even with such gentle and indecisive movements, the stick clicks with conviction at the same point each and every time. It also gave me the time to really admire the exposed linkages, cables, and mechanisms linked to the shifter, as it's not something I've ever thought to look at.

    "I might never understand you guys", she says in what sounds like a downtrodden tone.
    "That's fine."
    "Even though I'm an editor for the automotive press?"
    "This is a stupid sport, really."
    "I see."

    The next day was just as wet and gloomy as the last, but that just conveniently means that I get to compare my NSX against the Zonda R more directly. Only one model year separates the two, and both are non street legal track toys (in my hands, anyway). The Honda doesn't even have three quarters of the power of the Zonda, but it has the braking performance and the aero that I wanted out of the R, not to mention a suspension setup that actually involves springs rather than what felt like solid bricks (of bare carbon fibre) that was fitted on the R.

    Even on my warm-up lap, it was immediately clear to me that the NSX is a much easier car to drive in the wet. I think even my first flying lap was already faster than my fastest ever in a R. When it was all said and done, my fastest lap in the dinosaur car was a 2:38.799, more than NINE SECONDS faster than the Zonda. I know my run in the Zonda wasn't the cleanest, but NINE SECONDS is a lifetime in the world of motorsports.

    However, even though it's faster and easier to drive fast, the NSX is every bit as dangerous to drive as the Zonda, if not more. While the Zonda is scary because everything has only a hair width's margin, requiring your immediate and precise controls, the NSX with its weak chassis is liable to simply give up on you mid corner, entry or exit, even in the wet. It especially despises road imperfections and having its balance upset, such as rumble strips, for example. It's a car you never want to tilt too much mid corner, as the car seemingly breaks into two unrelated, not communicating halves, or even four quarters, the moment its balance is upset and too much force goes through the body. And when it happens, there is very little, if anything you can do from the driver seat to correct the car. In the Zonda, the only component that can fail is the driver. In the NSX, it's both car and driver. And the fact that the NSX is easier to drive in spite of that I think speaks volumes to the capabilities of a GT500 machine, and the purity, the unforgiving, beautiful nature of the Zonda R.

    Maybe in the dry, the Zonda's power would overwhelm the GT500 machine at a high speed track like Spa. But, circumstances presenting, that's a test that would have to wait for another day, at best.


    Race Photos!


    MustangLover2015 was giving me grief nearly the whole race!

    Meanwhile, Vic be chillin' behind us both, popcorn in one hand while getting used to the car...

    Yamagiwa, with its long, sweeping, fifth gear corners, is an exhilarating test for high downforce cars, but a nightmare to follow others round in. This furthers my opinion that these cars are awful to race with, but are amazing to drive on their own.

    Get him offa me, Vic! (...wait, do I really want Vic hounding me instead?)

    HOLY WOW I didn't save the replay for the Fuji race... Vic was in a really amusing split livery GT-R 2016, with handicaps to power and mass to match our NSXes. As Vic himself noted, the car was not competitive like that, even if it's currently the go-to for Gr. 2, and the 2008 NSX, the worst in the class.​

    a.k.a. the one race Vic actually bothered to qualify for, and ran away with the lead. Look, I'm awful in dirty air, okay? I have bad lungs!
    "YOU GET OUT OF THE WAY THEN!" - MustangLover2015 (does he gave a GTP account?)

    "Go back to your retirement home, OLD MAN!" - MustangLover2015 (Citation needed)

    A very strikingly pleasing livery rocked by Nismo. There are so many iconic GT500 NSX liveries, and it's always such a joy to see a replica. Nostalgia pandering makes me sick, but I can't help but to be a sucker for nostalgia all the same.

    Racer in a standard livery car to supply some contrast!

    A stranger showed up in a Mobil 1 NSX. As difficult as it is for me to pick a colour for the road car, I'm almost willing to say that GT500 NSXes wear white best, even though the overly powerful sun in these noon settings make white cars EXPLODE in photos. Also, those are some SICKENINGLY convincing side intakes!

    Vic ran away with this one again, so enjoy the, what, two photos of him actually in the company of the rest of us before he sped off into the sunset.

    Still, the race at Seaside I think was the most fun one for me, as it came down to a 3 way duel for third between me, Nismo, and Mustang! Nismo swiftly NOPE-d out of the 2008 NSX and got right in the 2016 NSX, similarly handicapped in power and mass to match our 2008 NSXes.

    "You gave me quite a scare! You were 0.9 seconds behind one moment and RIGHT THERE the next!"

    While we were squabbling (without contact!) at the first chicane of Seaside...

    A wild Mustang appeared!

    Don't forget where that livery came from, you fat disgrace to our family's honour!

    Mustang is taking no prisoners that day! He's going right for Nismo!

    Red Bull Ring

    Working the stick sequential on a pass!

    Rob spreading wisdom every week.

    Meanwhile, on the end of lap 2...

    Yeap, this thing is an inconsolable beast at this stage. The car makes you THINK it's not beyond saving, but it is.

    For all my experience in this car, this still happens to me. Not only am I slow, I'm stupid as well. Go, me!
    Final Lap, Turn 1...

    Vic: You're next, Pickle Rick! You *bleep*!

    Pickle: You *bleep*...! Vic!

    Vic: Ho ho, you're approaching me? Instead of running away, you're approaching this Vic you see before you?! Even your grandfather, who told you the secret of my -REDACTED-
    Pickle: If I don't get close to you, I won't be able to overtake you.
    Vic: Ho ho! Then come as close as is necessary...

    Pickle: ORA ORA ORA ORA!

    Vic: Useless Useless Useless Useless!
    Pickle had gotten quite proficient at taming the NSX in the 4 races prior, but ultimately, it wasn't enough to hold off Vic. It was still really impressive to see just how much he improved as the races piled on, though. Usually, I taper off instead of getting better, eheh.


    The crash at Red Bull Ring was race ending for me, but thankfully, the car was reasonably slowed before impacting the soft tyre barrier, meaning the car suffered damages that can mostly be beaten out of the panels. Me, I got a hairline fracture on my right thumb from holding the wheel too tightly, which landed me in the hospital for about a day after.

    I had a surprise visitor: Esther. She popped by in a casual white dress to check in on me. It's rare to see her in casual wear, for once.

    "How's your hand?"
    "I'll live, but the review's going to have to wait."
    "About that..."
    "Have your opinions on the car changed?"
    "Even though it put you in a hospital?"
    "But why?"
    "You can love something even if it's flawed, you know? Does it make me a bad person?"

    There was a long, excruciating silence as she looked at me dead on, almost with frustration, almost with sadness. I couldn't quite make out what it was.

    "", was her final reply.

    "You're all the same", she follows up with, looking away.

    It was my turn to look at her quizzically.

    "Never mind. Anyway, I come bearing a message from Nismo. He says, 'One sided relationships don't work out'"

    "...thanks. I know."

    "Then get it together."

    Is there really any value in a racing car that doesn't win? Or a racing driver that doesn't win?

    Editor's note #1: So much for not writing stories again.
    Editor's note #2: Technically he died at Seaside Lap 1, but canonically it'd make more sense if he died only at the last race.
    Last edited: Jul 4, 2020 at 6:29 PM
    Racer283, Alex p. and Vic Reign93 like this.
  11. OnlyOne07


    When do you guys usually do these races? I'd love to jump in if it's at a reasonable time considering I'm in Spain.
  12. Alex p.

    Alex p.

    Good luck getting up at 4.45 am to play at 5am (or is it 4am after all). :tup:

    You have way too much time on your hands. :lol: (says the one uploading 2 videos a week :p).
    Seriously though, the quality/production value of your posts is insane. :cheers:
    XSquareStickIt likes this.
  13. OnlyOne07


    I’m having trouble waking up at 7am already:lol:.

    I’ll have a free summer like next week so maybe I’ll be able to make one of these if I have enough will to wake up.
    Alex p. likes this.
  14. Alex p.

    Alex p.

    This should be your reaction when waking up for the races:

    tenor (13).gif

    This will be the felt reality:


    (I'm speaking out of experience btw. :p)
    XSquareStickIt and OnlyOne07 like this.