Forza PI Pairings // 50 // M3 vs. Type R: Multi-Game Special - #blogpost
You have reached the end of this line!
It has taken many cars, good and bad, to get here. I tested lots, hated some, loved most and enjoyed 95% of it. It was great to do the Forza PI Pairings but things need to come to an end. The why has been explained in a separate post (This one!) so I do not have to waste time doing that again. We have some cars to test. If I am honest they are not the most exiting couple but that is no bad thing since today the test locations are the special bit. I have arranged five locations in five different Forza games. So not only do we get a duel between a BMW and a Honda but also a comparison between Forza handling models over the years. The selected games are:
- Forza Horizon 4
- Forza Motorsport 7
- Forza Horizon 3
- Forza Horizon 1
- Forza Motorsport 4
So now I think we should be getting on with the tests because I cannot wait. So turn on your engines because we are doing it again.
One! Last! Time!
Here is what we are doing:
The idea is to find two cars from different eras, surfaces or simply countries and comparing them through timed laps. The only thing they have in common is their PI rating (PI = Performance Index). Forza gives them a rating to determine how various vehicles compare. Stats like top speed, handling and braking are mixed together to put out a number (In this case it is 621-620). Those numbers are then used to put cars into classes (D, C, B, A, S1, S2, X). In this instance I will stick to the classes C, B, A and S1 because others lack the variety I am looking for here. Exceptions prove the rule, though. All cars are not modified and driven with ABS and an automatic transmission. For drag races all assists are turned off and manual with clutch is used.
All previous episodes can be found through the #ForzaPIPairings hashtag.
If you would ask me what the best ever M3 might be then I would probably not answer for a week and then say M3 E30. Why?
Well out of all of them it was the only one with the intention of not only being driven by overly-confident road rowdies. This was a homologation special first and foremost and because of this there are also three versions. This is the Evolution 1, complete with a new splitter at the front and the flap on the spoiler. Neatly enough all Forza games feature the same body kits from BMW (the old-gen games also have a Rieger-kit) so I put them on for the tests too. If they affect performance then it is fair across all games.
Compared to the Honda it has more power (a rocking 2 hp more) and RWD which might come in handy on the dirt/snow. Other than that it has a higher top speed and a broader power band. Will this make a noticeable difference? Well I had similar cars before and they were always different to drive so I assume that it will be the same here.
You meet the nicest people on a Honda!
What is true for small Honda scooters does not necessarily have to translate to Honda motorcars. Most of these, as we know, are driven by youths in hoodies with big stereo systems in the boot. No cliché at all.
If you can look past that then you are rewarded with one of the best hot hatches ever built. I do not need to see the results of the tests today for a statement like this because not many other cars can claim to rev to 9000 rpm (there or thereabouts). Add to that great suspension and not too much weight and you have a superb backroads machine that is sadly written off to the history books. I highly doubt we will ever get a proper new Type R with a high-revving engine like this one.
But is it better than one of the best (if not the best) BMW M3 ever built?
Also: did you know that the EP3 Civic has forward-facing brakelights?
Conditions: Morning/Wet Road (7 Laps) (Fall)
Firstly we obviously start with Horizon 4, as this is the game I know the handling model best. It will be a good indicator of how these cars compare to each other. Also since every game is represented by only one circuit each this had to be one of the best and for Horizon 4 my choice is pretty obvious. We are on the Ambleside North Circuit for test number one. The Honda goes first!
I expected many great things from the EP3 but not so much understeer, I have to say. It could be because of the banked corners on here but still I am not that happy about it. You can throw it in but as soon as you touch the gas it gets pulled in the other direction. This makes it very maneuverable and easy to save if a line was wrong but also inconsistent if it was not. The gearing was also a bit off or to be more specific I was never really where the power was on corner exits. This should not be a problem, especially with an engine as high-revving as the K20.
After the Honda put down a good benchmark it was time for the BMW to show what RWD is capable of.
It could have beaten the Civic easily but sadly it was way too distracted drifting around. I do not think that I have driven a stock car with a power output as sensible as that was more oversteery than the E30. It might as well be a BRZ or a Hellcat with the angles it gets through simply turning in. After getting used to this laryness I could string a few good laps together but it was still not enough. I had to wait so long before putting the power down and be so careful with my racing line that the Beemer lost heaps of time. I am sure it could be as fast as the Type R, if not faster, but in these conditions that is simply not going to happen.
Conditions: Dry (5 Laps)
Next up is Forza Motorsport 7. I have not played this game for a long time (last I drove a stock VW camper van around the Nordschleife) and scrolling through the menus reminded me immediately as to why that was. Some of them are so slow that you wonder if it would run faster on the Xbox 360 while others are so fast that you flick past the thing you wanted and then have to wait since loading times in Forzas were never great. This game is a big mess with some really good ideas thrown in for good measure. One example? If you want to sort your car list by PI rating then the game drags you out of the car you had selected (BMW E30) and puts you into the highest PI vehicle in the garage (Indycar). So in order to find the Civic it is faster to just scroll through the manufacturer list then to use the search option.
Progress my friends. That is progress.
But back to the testing. I selected Laguna Seca because how could you not. It offers everything you could want from a track (apart from an occasional snow storm). First up is the BMW.
The big difference between FM7 and Horizon 4 is that the cars seem to turn very slowly. Now this is to allow smoother driving inputs with a controller and cleaner racing lines but that is easily counteracted by the weird suspension geometry of the cars. Under braking the E30 weaves more than a trophy truck in Horizon does and changing directions feels like sitting in the back seat of a 2CV. The car also only reluctantly changes course but likes to step out of line way quicker, making overcorrections easily done. The M3 also feels slow and numb without any sort of connection to the road. Brakes are rubbish too.
To only thing about these facts is that I do not think they are entirely the Bavarian’s fault.
Only the Honda can tell us if the M3 is crap or if the driving model should be to blame. As I quickly find out it is about 60/40 to the handling model. The Honda does not wobble as much as the Evo did but it still does and the brakes feel numb too. Out of corners it once again feels like the front does not want to cooperate with the rear. The engine drags it out wide while the rear tries its best to offer trail-braking opportunities. Sadly this makes the car very weird to drive. It feels as if not even the Honda knows the best way it should be driven. In terms of lap time I think it has more cornering grip but the BMW pulls nicer up the hill (Rahal straight?). The lack of understeer in the M3 made taking the corkscrew much easier too.
Conditions: Midday/Clear (5 Laps)
For test number three we head to Australia, which is brought to you by Forza Horizon 3. I chose Blizzard Mountain because I see it as the stand-out feature of the whole game but now, after the test I think that it was not my best idea since it stopped me from comparing FH3 to FH4 in terms of handling.
No matter since we have lots of snow to play with and unlike FH4’s winter this is properly challenging to drive.
I chose the Summit Circuit because I once got into the Top 1000 on the leaderboard there. With a Bentley Continental! So obviously I know the track well.
The Honda is not the best around here because FWD on snow and ice means heaps and heaps of understeer but luckily the Civic had a trick up its sleeve. The lively rear end I mentioned earlier now offers the perfect way out of the understeer-dilemma. If you do a Scandinavian flick before corners then the Type R can be turned in enough to just remain straight for the rest of the corner. Since FWD offers lots of grip on ice if you go in a straight line this is brilliant. It also means that I can be violent with the brakes and fast as well.
Like race drifting! I love it!
The BMW may be less suited to this surface, especially as it was quite slidy before even on dry tarmac, but that is not going to stop me from trying. The worst that could happen is me sliding a rare BMW around a snowy hilltop rallycross course. There are worse things to spend your weekends I would say.
Nevertheless the M3 was also much faster than I had expected (it beat the AI field even though I waited 40 sec on the start.) which is probably because you can drive it very smoothly. If you can carry momentum across the hairy bits then traction is not that much of an issue. As you can see from the times though it is nowhere near as fast as the Civic.
印象的なホンダ (Inshō-tekina Honda)
Conditions: Morning/Dry (3 Runs)
Moving onto the Xbox 360 we start with Forza Horizon 1. Now you might have noticed that I left out Horizon 2 even though I own it. Sadly the one I have is the 360 version and I simply could not be bothered. I swear I will never play this heap of #%$€ again.
Anyways, to the original Horizon game. I selected the Red Rock sprint that descents from the top of the mountain range and ends at the rest point (right side of the picture above). It is in my mind the best track the game offers since it if flowing and also naturally enclosed. You cannot cut any corners apart from the first one and that is more like jumping over a big curb.
Compared to newer games you can feel and even see that this handling model is more arcade-oriented. Cars have lots of grip and brakes are very powerful. Now this is not a criticism because it is great fun but you feel that these games are based upon a different structure than FH3 for example. The game also has, as it turns out, a massive rubber band effect. In order to drive my cars I had to find a race that would allow all cars from a certain class, since all races in FH1 only allow a selected group of vehicles to enter (for example US-cars before 1980). If it is open for A-class though I can still race my C-class Civic. That was how I got around the problem. So all I had to do was race S-class Lambos and Ferraris in a C-class Civic. There I noticed that even though the field was quickly gone from the starting line they never broke line of sight. Now I do think that the Type R is quick but not Aventador-quick. In the last run I even managed to overtake the last-of-the-pack RUF Yellowbird. With a stock Civic!
Needless to say then that I was very fast. Both cars have little power but thanks to the handling model I could carry lots of corner speed. The Civic was almost flat-out down the course. I only had to brake twice down the mountain. It was great fun!
BMW was properly quick here too. It was even less understeery and it showed no signs of oversteer. It drove like I had imagined. So did the Civic for that matter. Maybe I imagine them the way I do because I drove them in this game for the first time years ago. Sadly I cannot say much more about both of them since the track had proven to be a little too fast for them. Of the two I would rather drive the M3 again though.
1. - 02:43,132 - BMW M3 E30 Evolution 1 (PI: 338)
2. - 02:44,332 - Honda Civic Type R (EP3) (PI: 342)
Conditions: Midday/Clear (5 Laps)
Last but definitely not least is Forza Motorsport 4. Although I did not play as much of this game as many others seemed to have done it is still one of the all-time greatest racing games. I chose Silverstone over stuff like Fujimi Kaido, Iberan and the Nordschleife because this is the old layout before the rebuild of the track. So for old F1 time sake we are racing around the Grand prix Layout for this one. It also allows the cars to stretch their legs a bit.
Annoyingly you need Xbox Live Gold if you want to upload screenshots from Horizon 1 and FM4 so I had to improvise. Luckily Horizon 1 has been sort-of remastered so I can take photos there but this does not help for Forza 4 so I cannot show you how sick my Warsteiner M3 looks. I had that livery for both 360 games. I believe I actually made it from scratch on Horizon too.
To the tests then. Both cars should feel underpowered around here but somehow they do not. It is a joy to push the BMW around the slower parts of Silverstone and many corners could be taken with much more speed than my Assetto Corsa-directed mind wanted to accept. That said the M3 had good brakes and also a sweet balance between being neutral and slightly oversteery. It felt as if the car was everything I wanted from it exactly when I wanted it. Racing across the curbs was also lots of fun. Back in 2011 you could really get up on two wheels (or even roll in case of Failrace) if you were too greedy. I want this anti-cheating technology back! It is much more entertaining and less annoying than getting a slowed down. At least then your opponents have something to laugh about.
The Honda felt less composed but I managed to string a few corners together a bit better and with the M3 so it could gain quite a bit of time. Also because I did the testing in the Rivals mode it showed me the ghost of the M3. This might have been a bit cheating because if you see your earlier lap you just need to brake a little later every corner and you have a better result. So let’s just say that the Civic was slightly quicker accelerating than the BMW but the M3 had better top end pull. It also offers greater stopping performance. It also looks heaps better on the track.
1. - 02:21,177 - Honda Civic Type R (EP3) (PI: 377)
2. - 02:22,275 - BMW M3 E30 Evolution 1 (PI: 358)
So what does this leave us with? Well the Honda won three rounds and the BMW only two so the Civic Type R is the superior performance car across five Forzas and nine years of racing games. In Horizon 4 I would choose the Civic for racing and the BMW for fooling around. So much about that.
What I found much more interesting about this comparison is for example how much the PI differed between the cars and the games. Horizon 4 rates the Civic as low B-class but Forza 7 only gives it 364 PI. That is just above halfway through D-class. Granted the Motorsport games have E-class and the Horizon ones do not but still.
I also find it fascinating that in Horizon 4 and 3 the Beemer is very lary but in others it behaves itself. The Civic on the other hand sounded better and better the older the game I drove it in got.
One thing that also struck me playing so many different Forzas in such a short time span was how slow the menus are in Horizon 4. Sure the customization shop has a sleepy camera in Horizon 3 but other than that it was amazing how much faster you could flick through the menus in older games. Except Forza 7 obviously. That one was just crap.
Horizon 3 also has the best paint shop. You do not need to wait a minute for the designs to load and then the pictures are big enough for you to see without having to slide all the way forward to your TV. That made it much easier to find the Evo 1 paint job.
Overall FH3 had lots of good bits that struck me. Things FH4 does not offer anymore. From a faster and better looking menu to less laggy car selection, better racing AI and less synthetic sounding engines. Arguably we have taken a step forward with FH4 but also at least 1.5 back.
And with that I want to close the series of Forza PI Pairings. Except for the post next week of course.
The last one.
There will not be a 51. What I can say though is that I want to do a sum-up post about all the cars I tested in 50 episodes of this. So keep an eye out for that. It will not feature any sort of testing though.
Release date is next Saturday at 18 o’clock/18:00/6pm (UTC+1h). Maybe earlier too. We will see.
See you later,