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Forza PI Pairings // 49 // Top Gear California Special - #blogpost

Not the prettiest picture ever but the Viper has the most pronounced grille for the middle bit
Not the prettiest picture ever but the Viper has the most pronounced grille for the middle bit

The first one at the border wins!

Seeing the three cars I have today and the colors I chose to paint them in makes it easy to guess that indeed this is pairing inspired by Top Gear. Precisely it is from Series 19, Episode 2, in which they drove from the Valley of Fire in Nevada to the border town of Calexico. Clarkson chose the Lexus LFA, while May went for the Aston martin Vanquish and Hammond drove the mighty Viper. All three cars are excellent and the winner at the end of this test will deserve it no doubt.

I tried to make the tests resemble the challenges the cars had to face but sadly I do not have access to light aircrafts for the airborne Lasertag bit. But it will be great anyway!

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.

526 PI: Aston Martin Vanquish

Post-apocalyptic beauty
Post-apocalyptic beauty

The Aston Martin Vanquish is in my eyes the prettiest thing they designed for the last 30 years.

Apart from the Cygnet obviously.

The Rapide and later the DB9 are more beautiful but the Vanquish has the thin red taillights and they are just better than the clear fat ones. It also looks good in many colors. You could go for a bright one like the blue here or a subtle dark green if you want to be understated. Even greys and blacks fit it.

For this test it should be noted that originally the Vanquish has 502 PI but in order for it to be competitive I had to throw some upgrades onto it. It has sports weight reduction, a race exhaust and sport cams. This adds about 70 hp and loses 100 kg of weight but I could not do it any other way. The Vanquish Zagato would have fitted better in the PI spectrum but I wanted to keep the Top gear theme.

So because the Aston is not stock it might be a lot better than the competition. Upgraded cars tend to be better than stock cars (even at the same PI) in Forza so we will have to wait and see. If the Vanquish dominates then you know why.

531 PI: Dodge SRT Viper GTS

Serial Killer
Serial Killer

The Viper. The car every Horizon Youtuber seems to hate for its sound. And it does sound very unusual.

The thing is…I like the noises it makes. It would be better if it had the obvious Viper V10 sound since it is so iconic but the Forza soundtrack is quite cool too. As if it was gurgling with nails. Also since the developers showed a video in one of their livestreams which proved that the Viper they used (first gen model) did indeed make those dirty noises I am fine with it. At lower RPMs though it seems a bit broken.

This should not matter too much today since the Viper has the most amount of power and weighs the least. So even if it handles like I think it is going to then there will be speed to be found below that loooong hood.

(I am also going to be using the model without bananas in the side pipes)

526 PI: Lexus LFA

Dead planet
Dead planet

We are in the presence of greatness here folks. The mighty LFA is upon us.

I never thought that I will see/hear this car howl through the virtual British countryside. This is a fantastic thing to have back in Forza and it makes me happy that the devs did not stop at Toyota products alone. I am still hoping for Daihatsus and the new Supra after all.

The curious thing about the LFA in Horizon 4 is that I think the sound file is overmodulated. Once you get close to 8500-9000 rpm the noise actually feels like it hurts your ears. I much rather drive this thing from inside.

That said the sound is actually very close to the real ones I heard in several videos. Some even call this the best sounding car in Horizon 4. I would disagree and rather nominate either the R8 V10 plus or the old Colombo V12s (Ferrari 250 GTO and others).

Of the three cars today the LFA is by far the most expensive but also the fanciest with the most modern tech. So can it win?

1st test: Horizon Festival Quarter Mile Drags

Forza PI Pairings // 49 // Top Gear California Special - #blogpost - Gaming

Conditions: Midnight/Soggy Road (3 Runs)

We start, predictably, with a drag race. Not at Las Vegas Motor Speedway but the Horizon Festival. Like the one in the episode though I will be doing it over a quarter of a mile. Because that is a proper distance and I suspect that certain cars (Viper) today need proper tests in order to shine.

As always with drag racing every car gets three runs in a race against AI. Should they get in the way then so be it. For drag racing I am turning all assist off and the shifting will be done manually with clutch. This makes it more challenging for me and helps vary the results, which is needed since Forza likes to give you the same times run after run if you have an easy car to drive.

Forza PI Pairings // 49 // Top Gear California Special - #blogpost - Gaming

I start with the Viper. It gets off the line with quite a bit of wheelspin but once that is dealt with the thing just goes. The gears are spread perfectly, not as short as they are in the Aston and not too long for it to gasp for rpm. Third gear also ends right at the finish line. Told you it would be good on the quarter!

For run two I tried shifting up earlier from first into second but that did not really help. The last time I just floored it from the start and shifted as late as I could but that did not change anything either.

Forza PI Pairings // 49 // Top Gear California Special - #blogpost - Gaming

Next up: Japan. The LFA has less power but about the same weight as the SRT, so with a good launch things look bright. Sadly on the first run the start is everything but neither smooth or without wheelspin. I drift away from the starting line, miss two gears and then get blocked by an AI.


Run two goes much better with no interference by others and a smoother start. This time I tried the gentle approach and it worked. The third time around I use a bit more throttle and, as you can see from the times, that did not help one bit.

The margins are tiny but there is not much to get wrong with the LFA it seems. It just does what it is capable of and you either beat the opposition with it or not.

Forza PI Pairings // 49 // Top Gear California Special - #blogpost - Gaming

Apart from traction through weight the Aston is definitely the least suited car here. First and second gear are way too short to get any traction and third is badly laid out so I have to change up into fourth. The Vanquish is the only one of the three where this was necessary. I guess drag racing was not on the agenda at Aston when they built it. The only thing I could do here was minimize the wheelspin and as you can see that helped but not much.

Finishing order:

  1. (00:11,645) — Dodge Viper GTS
  2. (00:11,945) — Aston Martin Vanquish
  3. (00:11,979) — Lexus LFA

2st test: Falcon Speedway Infield

Forza PI Pairings // 49 // Top Gear California Special - #blogpost - Gaming

Conditions: Sunrise/Clear (4 Laps)

After losing to many of the AIs at the drag strip I head to Willow Spri…uhm…the Falcon Speedway. As I mentioned before I cannot fly in Italian fighter planes but the track is there so we might as well see who is fastest.

The Aston has no reason for being as fast as it is but weirdly the big GT handles like a Ferrari. This might have something to do with the necessary upgrades but the balance is sooo much better than what the others can offer. It has little understeer, only a little bit of oversteer and power is adequate too. It does not overpower the chassis or tires but it also does not feel slow. Maybe the weight loss and extra power did the Aston more good than I had originally thought. It certainly hangs with the LFA for balance and agility now.

Forza PI Pairings // 49 // Top Gear California Special - #blogpost - Gaming

Speaking of the Lexus we might as well get to that too. It feels light, poised and ready to throw down brilliant laps but it also wants to play with me. A little drift here, a bit of squirming on the brakes there and a glorious noise to overwhelm me completely. This car is way too much fun to just go lapping in it. It wants to be drifted, to be cruised around and to be nailed right up to the rev limiter.

There is much more fun to be had with a country lane drive rather than a track day where you simply go as fast as it will take you.

Can the Viper be as dominant here as it was at the drag racing? Well it is more suited to the track than the LFA but compared to the other two it feels like either a truck or a 500hp FWD hot hatch. There is grip to be found but it hides behind slow turn-in, limited brake bite and a massively differing tire size front to back. Overall the Viper feels badly setup but I think that you just need a different driver than me to tame the beast. At least it did not spit me out a corner backwards…

Forza PI Pairings // 49 // Top Gear California Special - #blogpost - Gaming

Conditions: Dawn/Cloudy (3 Laps)

With that bloodbath over the last challenge of the day awaits us. For the Top gear hosts it would be the race from Palm Springs to Calexico but since we lack a certain Mexico in Britain I settled for a race through the narrow streets of Edinburgh.

In the Lexus I felt more suited here than I did on the race track. Many of the turns are 90° and so an agile car can be more advantageous than pure grip alone. The LFA is also good on the brakes and even better when it comes to handling. You can use the full assortment of driving techniques with this car. Trail-braking, drifting, braking to reduce understeer…everything works and well at that. This makes the Lexus incredibly agile and prepared for every corner the city can throw at it. Here all pieces link together and you simply dance through the streets.

Forza PI Pairings // 49 // Top Gear California Special - #blogpost - Gaming

The Viper on the other hand is not a ballet dancer but rather more a wild horse that needs to be tamed. If you can control it there is speed to be found but once again I am not the one to do that. Here I struggled with understeer and numb brakes. The LFA feels like it wants to stop immediately but the Dodge is wigglier. You can turn in with the brakes but the rear really does not want to follow. So you end up going around turns sort of in control but then the car decided it wants to stop for a tea and you spin.

A true beast indeed.

The Aston proved to be a bit of an in-between kind of a deal. It is not as telepathic as the Lexus but more obedient than the Viper. It also sounded best in the city streets between rows upon rows of houses. What it also did better than the others was breaking lose. I sear this thing wants to be a drift car. Maybe it wants to impress the Ferrari 599 that competes in Formula Drift but it was way to lary around here. On lap three I kind of managed to keep it under control but then it was too late to get a clean and fast lap.

Still…better than the Viper.

Triple Conclusion

Angel in the dust
Angel in the dust

Should I do four tests maybe? Just in case every car wins one?

Nah, it will be fine.

Fail. Now I have to go with “at the end of the day we are all winners”. Fine! At the end of the day there was no real conclusion on Top Gear as well. All three cars are very unique and I would be happy with either one, be it the beasty Viper, the elegant Aston or the howling Lexus.

Of all three though I enjoyed the Japanese science lab the most. The amount of different driving styles it seems to accept is mind-boggling. You can go about it like me, drifting and wildly sideways most of the time, but also like a racing driver, hunting apexes and keeping the rear in line. It will support both and also every rally driver’s trick ever. Adding to that the engine and you have a truly magical combination. I see no disadvantages to taking the Lexus. Besides the price.

But isn’t the prize always right if you are willing to spend it?

Bonebreaker Valley
Bonebreaker Valley

The Viper certainly proved to me that most of today’s supercars (McLaren 720S, Porsche 911, Lambos) are very good at making you faster than you could go on your own. They have enough expertise and computing power to pretty much drive on their own. This brute here is not like that. It demands you to drive it properly. If you get the shifts right, can manage over- and understeer at the same time and still have enough skill to keep it on the racing line for a smooth exit then it will reward you with monumental speed. Should you not have what it takes then you are not welcome to drive it.

In that respect the sound is the most fitting I ever found in a car.

Whale in the desert
Whale in the desert

The Aston was a bit out of place here. I only let it into this test because of the Top gear original. It is also the only car that I ever upgraded so that it would fit within the PI region set by the other cars. Normally the Zagato Coupe or something else entirely would have been a better choice.

The problem with it is that it feels dull to drive and I think that has to do with the upgrading. The last time I felt this way was with the modified RX-7s. They were also pretty boring, even though they were lightweight, powerful and made good noises.

Of the three the Aston is the car I would most likely buy in real life (should I ever get that kind of money together) but in a game the LFA is a much better choice.

But then again I do not test fuel tank size and how good the seat belts fit a Jeremy right?

Hunting the prey...
Hunting the prey...

Since episode 50 is going to be my last one of this series it will absolutely be a special. I have planned something with just two cars but it will certainly be special. If I can get it to work that is. Should I not then I will be using the episode to look back on the cars and track I used and choose a few favorites.

New Episodes will be published every Saturday at around 18 o’clock/18:00/6pm (UTC+1h). I changed it to the weekend so that work does not get in the way. If you have any suggestions for further PI Pairings you can leave them below!

See you later,