Germany’s famed Nurburgring Nordschleife is one of the most technical and dangerous race tracks in the world, so naturally it’s the place where the world’s automotive brands come to develop their upcoming models – as well as competing for the title of ‘fastest around the ‘Ring’.
In recent years it seems Nurburgring lap times have almost been as important as releasing new models, as manufacturers fight for bragging rights around the ‘Green Hell’.
This week, a new record was announced, set by the new Porsche Panamera Turbo – due to be revealed in full at the end of the month – which lapped the ‘Ring in 7:29.81 minutes at the end of July, making it the fastest ‘executive car’ around the German circuit.
The big Porsche narrowly eclipsed the previous record set by the Mercedes-AMG GT 63 S 4-Door in 2018, which set a benchmark time of 7:30.11 minutes.
Here’s a list of the current Nurburgring production car record holders from the race track’s official website:
- Compact Cars: Renault Megane RS Trophy-R – 7:45.39 minutes (2019, video here)
- Mid-range Cars: Jaguar XE SV Project 8 – 7:23.164 minutes (2019, video here)
- Executive Cars: Porsche Panamera Turbo – 7:29.81 minutes (2020)
- SUVs, off-road vehicles, vans, pick-ups: Audi RSQ8 – 7:42.253 minutes (2019, video here)
- Sports Cars: Porsche 911 GT2 RS MR – 6:44.749 minutes (2018, video here)
There’s also a ‘Prototypes’ category for non-production models like race cars and pre-production concepts, here’s three benchmark times set by three very different prototype vehicles:
- Porsche 919 Hybrid Evo (all-time record) – 5:19.546 minutes (2018, video here)
- Volkswagen ID.R (electric record) – 6:05.336 minutes (2019, video here)
- Lynk & Co 03 Cyan concept (FWD + four-door record) – 7:20.143 (2019, video here)
Given the extremely competitive nature of these lap times, Nurburgring record attempts don’t come without their controversies.
It’s common practice for manufacturers to fit vehicles with racing seats and track-focused tyres on record-attempting vehicles, leading many to question the validity of lap times especially if the model isn’t available to the public with similar specifications.
Possibly one of the biggest media storms of late came in 2017 when Lamborghini Huracan Performante claimed to be the fastest production car around the ‘Ring, though naysayers accused the Raging Bull of cropping its on-board video of the record-breaking lap at the time, which was 6:51.01 minutes.
Last year’s production car record set by the Porsche 911 GT2 RS MR also came under fire, as the modifications over the ‘standard’ GT2 RS were done by Manthey Racing, meaning the record-holding car isn’t wholly an in-house job by Porsche.
Regardless, there’s no doubt we’ll continue to see manufacturers shave previous seconds off these Nurburgring lap times in the years to come. With cars continually getting faster and more aerodynamic, perhaps we might see production cars crack the six-minute barrier sooner than we think.