The famed Nurburgring, in Germany, is generally regarded as the most challenging stretch of road on the planet.
Dubbed the ‘Ring’ by enthusiasts across the globe, this daunting 20.8km track is technically a toll road (it costs 27 euro per lap) but is also regarded as the Holy Grail of all things motoring, as well as home to the annual Nurburgring 24 Hour endurance race.
But these days it’s mostly used by most of the world’s major car manufacturers as the ultimate proving ground, such are the demands of the circuit known as the Green Hell, a title bestowed upon it by former Scottish Formula One legend, Jackie Stewart.
It can be raining cats and dogs at one end of the track, while sunny and clear at the other. There’s also plenty of elevation and speeds can exceed 300km/h. Worse still, if you get it wrong, there’s absolutely no runoff, so accidents are generally big ones
In the rain, it can be deadly. Racing cars and other high-performance cars leave plenty of rubber on the tarmac, which is made up of up to 40 different compounds. Water and rubber make for a very slippery surface providing next to no grip in some sections.
On any given day you’ll find spectators lining the track at well-known vantage points hoping to see the next generation of production cars (often with a camouflage wrap) going flat out around the Nordschleife (the Northern loop as opposed to the adjoining Grand Prix track), testing everything from transmissions to tyres.
It’s also become the go-to place when it comes to setting lap times for the high-performance segment, with carmakers eager to promote rival-beating performances as a key asset in their arsenal of marketing initiatives.
CarAdvice was in at the Ring recently and was lucky enough to witness a feast of hotly anticipated upcoming models like the Alfa Romeo Giulia Quadrifoglio, Honda NSX, Mercedes-AMG GT Black Series, Jaguar F-Type SVO, Lamborghini Huracan Superleggera, 2016 Porsche 911 and Chevrolet Camaro ZR1.
This particular day we were provided with a treat. First out on the Ring - Alfa’s all-new Giulia Quadrifolglio, a car that will spearhead the Italian brand’s global comeback commencing 2016.
It’s a seriously powerful four-door sports sedan that packs a 380kW/600Nm 2.9-litre turbocharged six-cylinder petrol engine with Ferrari technology and expertise. Available in rear-wheel drive and all-wheel drive, the Giulia claims 3.9 seconds from 0-100km/h.
It’s appearance on the Nordschlieife is particularly relevant, given its recently recorded lap time of 7:39 – nine seconds quicker than a BMW M4 - making it the quickest production sedan to lap the Nurburgring to date.
Aggressively styled, this range-topping variant of the upcoming Giulia range also sounds the business, producing a deep growl as it flew past us at a section of the track known as Eschbach, at around the 15km mark.
Australia is expected to see the right-hand drive Giulia on our shores late 2016 or early 2017.
Also captured on the Ring was a more track-focused version of Mercedes-AMG’s GT sports/supercar.
With a more aggressive aero package including deeper front splitter and fixed rear spoiler, think of this as a road-legal GT3-style version much like the Porsche 911 GT3 and Aston Martin GT12 (renamed after Porsche claimed legal right over the GT3 badge).
From what we witnessed on track, expect the faster AMG GT to get more power from its 4.0-litre twin-turbocharged V8 with an increase in boost, as well as quicker shift times and sharper handling.
Assume the latest hard-core variant to get a bigger wheel/tyre package, larger brakes, stiffer springs and sharper steering.
The engine note sounded even more aggressive than the more powerful GT S, and turn-in looked to be razor sharp. Certainly, it seemed to be one of the quickest cars (we counted three of these prototypes) on the Ring this particular day.
Equally exciting, was what could only have been a more track-focused Jaguar F-Type – perhaps an F-Type SVR by Jaguar Land Rover’s new Special Vehicles Operation (SVO) following the release of the Range Rover Sport SVR earlier this year.
The giveaway signs are the fixed rear-wing, diffuser, massive carbon-ceramic brakes and significantly larger front air intakes – all of which point to a more potent model that will assume the top spot in the F-Type range.
The current F-Type R already produces 404kW and 680Nm of torque from its 5.0-litre supercharged V8, so expect even more from an SVR version.
It also looks to have a new exhaust system, as it was even louder than the AMG GT we saw – deafening to the ear.
Honda also made an appearance with their eagerly anticipated NSX supercar, which has seen the launch of the car delayed from late 2015 to second quarter 2016.
Originally conceived with a naturally aspirated engine, the car seen here is powered by a bespoke twin-turbocharged V6 hybrid engine, with the block and heads made by British engine specialist, Cosworth.
Around 47 computers control the new NSX’s multiple functions, including the complex hybrid drivetrain, which adds an electric motor for the rear axle, a nine-speed dual-clutch transmission, and an electric motor for each of the front wheels.
Honda is yet to release any power and torque details, though the NSX has been confirmed for Australia, but timing hasn’t been announced. The price tag could be as high as $250,000 due to the high-tech nature of the car.
Lamborghini was also on show, with what could only have been a lightweight Huracan Superleggera, with mild styling changes and more power from its 5.2-litre V10 engine.
The standard Huracan already gets 448kW and 560Nm – good enough for a 0-100km/h sprint in 3.2 seconds and a top speed of 325km/h, slightly less than the latest Audi R8 Sport Plus (330km/h).
Lamborghini bosses have already admitted that there will be more variants of the Huracan, including a Spyder, and a new rear-wheel drive version.
US brand Chevrolet was also out in force with what looked like the all-new Camaro ZL1.
The current version packs a 6.2-litre V8 engine, good for 433kW and 735Nm of torque, so expect the more focused version seen here to pack even more punch – it certainly sounded like it had more grunt from our trackside position.
Also on track was the new Porsche 911, which gets turbo power in the Carrera and Carrera S models from a twin-turbo 3.0-litre flat-six – the first of a new family of blown boxer engines.
Peak outputs are said to be 272kW and 309kW respectively, from 6500rpm and a red-lining at 7500rpm. Porsche claims the PDK version can cover 0-100km/h in 3.9 seconds, and is 10 per cent more efficient.
Standard models get four exhaust pipes, but order the Sports exhaust, and you get two large centrally mounted pipes, instead.
Watch the video clip montage of all the cars mentioned in the article - and load up the volume, especially for the Jaguar, AMG GT and Camaro.