Porsche 918 Spyder - record drive on the Nürburgring Nordschleife in 2013 41 Photos Zoom

Records on the Nürburgring Nordschleife: Dangerous hunt for new best times

In stead of meaningful racing, the hunt for best times in production cars is raging on the Nordschleife - as a marketing boost for new models Which of the road-approved production vehicles are the fastest on the 20.832 kilometre track and what tricks do they have up their sleeves?

Almost monthly, the car manufacturers boast of having pulverised the existing best times with their road-approved vehicles and of having set new best times. Under seven minutes here, new best time for a front-wheel-drive car there. Even heavyweight SUVs such as the Porsche Cayenne Turbo S or Range Rover Sport SVR cannot escape their developer's desire for best times.

Records good for marketing

But why all the fuss? Why are numerous car manufacturers longing for records? The hunt for record times is good for the PR battle. Nürburgring Nordschleife - this has long been a seal of approval, a label certifying sporty performance. What's more, manufacturers take to the Eifel circuit to try out their new models anyway. The 20.8-kilometre track is well suited as a course on which to put prototypes through their paces on account of the fact that it features a combination of fast and slow stretches. To set a new best time while you're at it- this is the perfect marketing tool and polishes up the corporate image. And as an ego boost, naturally.

However, the hunt for best times faces one obstacle in comparison to straightforward racing: the record laps are for the most part timed by the manufacturer's themselves, with no independent authority invited to be present. The only checks are performed by means of YouTube videos. This also applies for the condition of the car. Who knows when a manufacturer opens up a screw to give its own vehicle that extra kick?

The Honda Civic Type R is the fastest front-wheeler

Colourful flowers drive the hunt for records, especially among the front-wheelers. In March 2014 Seat, with the Leon Cupra 280, stole the record for production vehicles with front-wheel drive from the competition from Renault. The time for the Seat Leon Cupra 280 with the Performance Pack: 7:58.44 minutes. The French manufacturers countered three months later with their Mégane R.S. 275 Trophy-R. The front-wheeler rounded the Nordschleife in 7:54.36 minutes – so just over four seconds faster.

What only became known nine months later: these best times would have never been best times. Because Honda messed things up. A prototype of the Honda Civic Type R is said to have carved out a time of 7:50.63 minutes on the Nordschleife asphalt during test runs in May 2014. The 2.0-litre four-cylinder turbo, drive chain, suspension, brakes and aerodynamic configuration are said to have matched the production version that was unveiled at the 2015 Geneva Motor Show.

However, the Honda Civic Type R did not comply entirely with the standard production vehicle. The Japanese engineers installed a roll cage. According to a statement, with a view to increasing safety. And not to improve rigidity. For weight compensation reasons, Honda did away with the passenger seat, air conditioning system and audio accessories. Honda has already announced that they would like to make another record attempt at the end of the year in a series-produced Type R.

Porsche Cayenne Turbo S steals the show from Range Rover

Among the big fish, the Porsche Cayenne Turbo S with its 562 HP is the fastest on the Nordschleife. According to Porsche, the SUV is said to have completed the Eifel circuit in under eight minutes (7:59.74 Min.). As such, the Porsche Cayenne Turbo S knocked around 15 seconds off the time of its rival, the Range Rover Sport SVR. It's that quick: the British SUV had only set a new best time in August 2014.

According to its own reports, BMW M GmbH no longer wishes to be involved in the hunt for records. They forewent the opportunity to publish a Nordschleife time for their new powerhouse, the X6M. All they said was this: the 567 HP colossus is said to have easily undercut the Range Rover Sport SVR. Whether it did enough to beat the Cayenne? Probably not. A time of just over eight minutes is being circulated for the BMW X6 M. Perhaps BMW therefore elected to conceal the time of the power SUV beneath a cloak of silence.

6:57 minutes for the Porsche 918 Spyder

The King of the Ring for road-approved production vehicles is the Porsche 918 Spyder. In September 2013 the hybrid supercar was the first road car to break through the seven minute barrier. Porsche factory driver Marc Lieb burned a time of 6:57 minutes onto the asphalt. Hold on a minute, Nordschleife fanatics are sure to say: both the Radical SR8 (6:55 mins) and the Radical SR8 LM (6:48 mins) have already done it faster. Correct. But: the sports cars only have british approval for specific use and are therefore excluded.

McLaren also let its hybrid supercar, the P1, loose on the Nordschleife. According to McLaren, the 903 HP sports car mastered the course in under seven minutes. However, there is no official time for the McLaren P1. Therefore it can only be speculated whether the McLaren P1 beat the Porsche 918, or had to join the queue behind it. Mclaren also say that the conditions were not ideal. The asphalt is said to have been too cold. The climatic conditions play an important role on the race track. Higher temperatures mean more grip. But they cannot be too high. Otherwise the tyres begin to lubricate. The driver is also an important factor. A good driver – such as Lieb for example – can knock off those last few seconds.

Camaro or Mustang?

In 2012,the Audi R8 e-tron prided itself on its title as "the fastes electric car on the Nürburgring Nordschleife" (8:09.099 minutes). The problem: the R8 e-tron has not yet reached series production. The Mercedes SLS AMG Electric Drive managed better one year later. The neon yellow E-racer devoured the Nordschleife in 7:56.234 minutes. Mercedes even had the time officially certified.

In January 2015 the media circulated a lap time of 7:32.19 minutes for the Ford Shelby GT350R. This would make it the fastest muscle car on the Nordschleife and five seconds faster than the Chevrolet Camaro Z/28, which made its attempt back in 2013. However, it was reported at the time that this was in semi-humid conditions.

The 592 HP Nissan GT-R Nismo holds the record for the fastest production vehicle with a turbo engine under the hood. Godzilla consumed the Nordschleife in 7:08.679 minutes.

The most recent Nordschleife times come from the Porsche Cayman GT4. According to the manufacturers, the Zuffenhausen-based hardcore sports car rounded the 20.8-kilometre track in 7.40 minutes. We have made a note of this time. Why? Because in future we want to keep up to speed with all (reported) lap times. Whether a record or not.

In our image gallery we present to you the records and record attempts made by road-approved production cars on the Nordschleife.





9 July 2015
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