The Nürburgring may be the darling of every automotive PR flack in the business, but there's more to the world than some old German toll road. Here are the ten best places to test a car that aren't the 'Ring, as chosen by Jalopnik readers.
Welcome back to Answers of the Day — our daily Jalopnik feature where we take the best ten responses from the previous day's Question of the Day and shine it up to show off. It's by you and for you, the Jalopnik readers. Enjoy!
Photo Credit: fisico_6403
10.) Portimão Circuit, Portugal
Suggested By: freds4hb
Why it's better: The Autódromo Internacional do Algarve is a world class race track with some $250 million behind it and all the five star restaurants your celebrity test driver demands. More oysters, Mr. Röhl? Certainly.
It was also built like tracks of yore, with plenty of speed and elevation change. On top of all that, what we might love most about a good test track is how many nice photos we can get of secret prototypes in testing, and the Algarve circuit has a massively exposed bridge right over the track before turn one. The shots photographers get there are epic.
Photo Credit: Autódromo Internacional Algarve
9.) Targa Tasmania
Suggested By: Bonhomme7h
Why it's better: Tasmania might not be quite as accessible as the Nürburgring, but it has a road course that's hard to beat. The Targa Tasmania tracks the length and breadth of the whole island, testing what we really want in a car – great handling on the road.
Photo Credit: Mark Horsburgh/ALLSPORT
8.) Isle of Man Snaefell Mountain Course
Suggested By: BtheD19
Why it's better: It's like the Targa Tasmania, only it's made up of nearly completely open roads and it's got the kind of prestige to match its German rival. We imagine it would be a serious challenge for automotive engineers to get the precise data that is so vital to honing a car's setup at this track.Only focus on numbers, though, and you leave out the intangibles that are so evident in testing cars day-in, day-out on one of the wildest stretches of road in the world. Intangibles like, how a car feels when you're panic braking down a blind crest because surprise! There's a sheep in the road.
Photo Credit: Dan Kitwood/Getty Images
7.) Pikes Peak
Suggested By: $kaycog
Why it's better: The problem with the Nürburgring being the gearhead's Mecca is that it's far away. The trackday Hajj would be so much easier if we all just went to Colorado, where we find the hillclimb to end all hillclimbs. It's gorgeous so carmakers get great photos, it's a race to the clouds, so they can test at high altitude, and did I mention that it's the hillclimb to end all hillclimbs? Just race back down when you get to the top and gather your data when you get back to the bottom. I know I don't see anything wrong with it.
Photo Credit: Alan Stark
6.) Gotland Ring
Suggested By: KeyserSöze
Why it's better: Judging by its trackdays, the Gotland Ring, way out on an island off Sweden, is absolutely awesome. We want all tracks to have this kind of mind-numbing, twisting, turning madness to them. This is just the two-mile Northern Loop; there are some fifteen more miles of track under construction. In addition to rivaling the Ascari Circuit for sheer single-minded billionaire ridiculouslness, Alec Arho Havrén's Gotland Ring also has all the options open for cold weather testing, too. Perfect set up, no?
Photo Credit: Alec Arho Havrén/Gotland Ring
5.) Laguna Seca
Suggested By: waveridin1959
Why it's better: As reader waveridin1959 explains it, there's really only one reason to test at Laguna Seca. "Because corkscrew." America's currently most celebrated track deserves a spot on the testing calendar, not only for its you have to walk-it-to-believe-it turn, but also for its prime location in beautiful central California. Why everyone isn't testing at Laguna Seca is beyond me, but at least some people at Ford have caught on to the Golden State sunshine.
Photo Credit: John Hietter
4.) Charade Circuit, Clermont-Ferrand
Suggested By: Scrogzilla crushes Tokyo aka Mister Scroggs
Why it's better: If you thought the Nürburgring was a twisty track, prepare to have your mind blown. This French track was so fast, winding, and narrow that in the four years that Formula One visited the track, the drivers chose to wear open-face helmets. Because they were afraid they'd get motion sickness and vomit. Yeah, it was that intense. It's not so much a race track as it is a torture chamber. I want my next car to be tuned at Clermont-Ferrand.
3.) Admiral Wilson Blvd. in Camden, New Jersey
Suggested By: Jstas
Why it's better: What we actually want is for our cars to be tuned where it counts – not at a smooth racetrack that rewards punitively harsh suspension, but something that can handle the potholes and other dramas of real road driving. And what dramas they are, as described by reader Jstas. Plenty of people singled out the fine state of New Jersey as a great place to find typical urban and suburban roads, but Jstas had one better:
From the crack addled hookers lining the street and the meth zombies wandering in to traffic, you can get some seriously surprising, come-from-nowhere kind of obstacles! Then there are the ones you don't see like the rogue gunfire or the clouds of noxious fumes from the scrapyards (they prefer to be called metal recyclers). It's like Grand Theft Auto in real life! Actually, no, more like "Crazy Taxi".
Race track tuning can make a car capable of handling the evasive maneuvers. However, with up to 8 lanes of traffic, traveling at 70 mph in a 45 zone, less than a car length off of each others bumpers, there isn't always time or space to dodge the next pothole looking to rip your lower control arms out and have them for lunch. My grandfather's old Buick soaked up that road without a problem and it was a menace in rush hour traffic asserting its weight and size at will. Something a Nissan GT-R could never do on that road.
Photo Credit: Google Maps
2.) Mt. Panorama
Suggested By: SennaMP4
Why it's better: There are plenty of reasons why taking your car to Bathurst for testing is the right thing to do, but in brief summary let me say: THIS IS A GEOLOGICAL ODDITY! From the monstrous elevation change to the confidence-proving turns, this is the place to test a car in the most dramatic style.
Photo Credit: Robert Cianflone/Getty Images
1.) Paul Ricard High Tech Test Track
Suggested By: ∞Gîmmî∞Sagaŋ∞ðm∞Drakeŋ∞
Why it's better: ∞Gîmmî∞Sagaŋ∞ðm∞Drakeŋ∞ knows a thing or two about testing cars, having worked in that madcap motorsports circus of Formula One. When he says that this may be the most advanced test track in the world, I put my general distaste for its owner, Mr. Bernie Ecclestone, to the side and bask in the other-worldy beauty of its high-traction paint striping. As car enthusiasts, we want to see more cars framed by these hypnotizing bands, and if the circuit makes life easy for you, you engineers, well, I guess that's a bonus.
Photo Credit: Gilles LEFEUVRE