Any real driving enthusiast knows that you don’t need an expensive car to go fast. Driver talent obviously plays the biggest part, but Nürburgring lap times are – beyond brand bragging – a great leveller between the cost of a sportscar and the lap time it extracts.
Many think that vehicles tuned for the Burger Ring must be agonisingly hard to drive on the road, but the pimpled surfacing and plunging parts of the track can actually be a great test of suspension’s compliance and control. Volkswagen even picked the softer of its electronic damper tunes to nail a 7min 49.21sec lap in its three-door, not-for-Oz Golf Clubsport S.
But it’s not yet used enough to lower in price, which means the 201kW/360Nm 2.0-litre turbo four Renault Sport Megane RS275 Trophy-R as a former hot hatch record holder becomes our benchmark buy here – at $35K for a 7min 54.36sec lap. This Frenchie is an epic steer in terms of agility and driver feedback, not just finding fine digits.
Track Heroes: Megane Trophy-R v 911 GT3
But beyond the Renault and Honda, in terms of price-versus-lap a used car buyer will need a 2009 Nissan GT-R at around $90,000 used with 50,000km to beat it. Back in the day a stock Godzilla – with its 357kW/588Nm 3.8-litre twin-turbocharged V6 spinning four tyres – clocked a 7min 29.03sec blast. That’s a fifteen second leap ahead for three times the cash.
Meanwhile, to beat that time by a scant 1.15sec an owner will need two-and-a-half times the cash for a near-new BMW M4 GTS that rounded up the 20.8km-long Nordschleife in 7min 27.88sec.
Classic MOTOR: R32 v R33 v R34 v R35
But hang on, because this 368kW/600Nm 3.0-litre twin-turbo six limited edition – of which only 25 came here – cost $295,000 plus on-road costs new two years ago. Now, with only 1500km showing, a buyer can nab this hardcore two-seat weapon for $225K.
There is a stellar inbetweener here, though, something that slides in between the GT-R and M4 GTS both in terms of price, practicality and performance on the famed Green Hell. That is of course the Alfa Romeo Giulia Quadrifoglio sedan which – we hate to say it for the Italian’s sake, but it’s true – is following past poor resale trends by asking just $99,500 for a year-old, 26,000km example of the 375kW/600Nm 2.9-litre twin-turbo V6 four-door sedan. But hey, with a 7min 32sec lap time, it can chop up a racetrack then do the school run...
And to put the above trio into perspective, all three can nail a sub-4.0sec 0-100km/h time.
Showing the cost of progress, though, a still-$300K Nissan GT-R NISMO clocked a 7min 08.68sec lap five years ago, while the new top lap record holder is the current Porsche 911 GT2 RS with a 6min 47.25sec sprint – all yours for a heady $645,700 plus (many) options.