The stupendous news of the new Honda Civic Type R’s domination of the Nürburgring lap-time battle in the fwd class got us contemplating this latest craze. A 'Ring record is now the performance staple for manufacturers, as the limits of tyre technology and a famine of suitable locations leave acceleration and top speed numbers either at a plateau or teetering on antiquity.
APR 25th 2017
Four of the weirdest 'Ring record‑holders
Such is the volatility of this unofficial industry-wide contest, that Honda will be lucky if their hard-won record stands for six months. Renault Sport et al are circling with their new offerings in the sector, so we’ll see what the future holds. How have times changed though, ay? Can you imagine Peugeot throwing a 205 GTi at the Nordschleife with such conviction in 1984? After all, hot hatches are, ostensibly, tarted-up family cars. It all sounds so much crazier when you remember that the Civic Type R is a family car that can go sub-7:45 at the 'Ring – the sort of time that was not so long ago the conserve of the world's greatest supercars.
The hot hatch isn’t the only breed of sporty road car to have caught the bug. Indeed, there are cars that are even more incongruous in their pursuit of glory at the Green Hell than the humble hatchback.
Fastest commercial vehicle – Holden SS-V Redline
The beloved but soon-to-be deceased GM Ute became quite the monster in its waning years, kicking out near-on 600bhp from its supercharged 6.2-litre LSA engine. This is a pickup truck that could be registered in the UK as a commercial vehicle. If you haven’t already seen where this is going, behold, the fastest commercial vehicle in the world. There’s room for improvement though, as the car that took the commercial vehicle ‘Ring record is a non-HSV SS-V Redline packing a “mere” 6.0-litre naturally-aspirated V8, which helped the SS-V yield a still-impressive 8 minutes 19-second lap. Beating its own record would be a lovely self-given goodbye present, we reckon…
Fastest Van – Revo Volkswagen T5
Taking the commercial vehicle vibe to a whole new extreme is the Revo-tuned Volkswagen T5 Transporter van. This is a long way from the muscle-bound Holden, packing a heady 220bhp from its tuned 2.0-litre twin-turbo diesel engine. Any "man with a van" running this has absolutely no excuse for being late to your house move… A lap time of 9 minutes 57 seconds is fairly respectable for what it is, beating the famous Sabine Schmitz 10:08 crack at a sub-10 minute run in a Transit on Top Gear in 2005.
Fastest SUV – Porsche Cayenne Turbo S
Yes, that’s right, with a brave pill and some serious pedalling skill, you can get your Chelsea tractor around the Green Hell in under 8 minutes. In what world did such an achievement become important for such a car? The one where Land Rover gave a Range Rover 550bhp, a serious chassis tune, took the record for itself and essentially shouted “come get us” to the competition. So here we are with the record residing 15 seconds ahead, back in the hands of the company that invented the high-performance SUV 15 years ago. Bravo Porsche, we suppose?
Fastest MPV – Opel Zafira OPC
When you’ve got parents' evening at 5, but an entry in the VLN at 6. Yes, Opel (Vauxhall here in the UK) thought it a good idea to stick a turbocharged-out-of-the-eyeballs four-pot into its Zafira, so naturally, someone else thought that reason enough to send it round the most infamous toll road-come-racetrack on earth. Eight minutes and fifty-four seconds, in case you were wondering. Whether they were seven-up with a four-legged friend chucking up in the boot at the time is another matter.
Any more Nordschleife-conquering oddities we forgot? Feel free to let us know!
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