This week's been quite a good one for Forza Horizon. Our preview videos have gone up on our YouTube channel, we've just found out that there'll be a post-launch DLC and Expansion Pack programme in a similar vein to what Forza Motorsport 4 had/has to offer and, to top it all off, we've got another 'Car Reveal Round-Up' for you all.
We daringly said that the previous week was the best for new car announcements with regards to Horizon's vehicle roster so far, so can the latest entry in our 'series' match the previous one? Read on to find out…
Looking back in hindsight, it appears the 1990s were the 'Golden Years' for Japanese performance cars. In that tiny moment in human history, motoring icons such as the Subaru Impreza STi, the 4th-gen Toyota Supra, the Honda NSX and, of course, the Mazda RX-7 'Mk. 3'.
Mazda had been making sports cars with clever rotary engines since the Seventies, but it's the last generation that really stands out as the best of the breed. And whilst this particular version isn't an ultra-desirable Spirit R or Type A, it's still got all the makings of a great driver's car: light weight, a manual transmission, rear-wheel drive and a revvy yet punchy turbocharged 'Wankell' motor with 261bhp.
Mate that with what the Turn 10 and Playground Games people say are 'amongst the best driving roads in the world', and it certainly bodes well for the RX-7's long-term popularity once all the events and such are completed. Prepare to see quite a few of them on the canyon passes!
Fiat 500 Abarth esseesse
By all means, the Fiat 500 Abarth is a pretty nippy car – after all, what do you expect when you bolt a 130bhp turbocharged four-pot to what is essentially a designer handbag on wheels!. But it seems the Forza developers didn't think it was quick enough, as the even more potent 'esseesse' (pronouned 'SS') model has found its way into Horizon.
An optional 'go-faster kit' for people who buy the car in real life (which is delivered to the customer in a wooden crate, no less!), the 'esseesse' package does nudge the Abarth's performance up a notch. Power is increased to 160bhp, whilst the more powerful brakes and stiffer suspension mean you can take corners faster and brake later. Which is always handy.
And, being a road-legal pocket rocket, the Abarth promises to be an absolute hoot, especially on tight and twisty roads. Push it to the car's limits there – right up to the point where there's lift-off oversteer – and we're certain you'll have just as much fun in the Fiat as you would have had in a Focus RS500, or even a Ferrari!
BMW 1 Series M
With the BMW range constantly getting bigger and bigger with each new generation, the one-time 'baby' in the range – the M3 – isn't actually that small. But that's where the catchily named (NOT!!!!) '1 Series M Coupe' comes in.
Yes, the "1M" is the baby in the range, but don't let that lull you into believing it's the M-Division's chicken korma – nestled under those blistered wheel arches is the same rear axle from the M3, whilst up front is a turbocharged straight-six with 335bhp and tons of torque.
In fact, the combination of a low kerb weight and a mountain of torque to play with means that, unless the roads favour power over handling, you shouldn't find it difficult to keep up with the 1M's bigger brothers.
Just keep an eye on your throttle control – with the car shrouding a much shorter wheelbase than what we're accustomed to, it can get a bit…erm…'twitchy' if you're not careful!
As soon as we move on from one entry-level performance car, we've now got another. And, like the BMW 1M, the Ferrari California shouldn't be underestimated – yes, 458 Italias are like Usain Bolt in comparison with the Cali, but, if you'll pardon the pun, it's still one red hot chilli pepper!
After all, it's got a 450hp 4.3 V8 with an 8,000rpm redline, that's mated to a seven-speed paddleshift gearbox and a sublime rear-wheel drive chassis, so the performance is worthy of something that lists 'Maranello' as its place of birth and passed the Pista di Fiorano finishing school with flying colours.
And, with a folding-metal roof, it's also as flashy as a Ferrari should be as well, especially when you retract or put up the mechanism on the move. That is, if that's possible – the real car's roof can only be raised or lowered when stationary, so it'll be interesting to see if this is the case in Horizon.
Still, whether or not the roof can be operated when you're driving, it should be ace. It is a Ferrari, after all!
Volkswagen Golf GTI Mk.2 16v
When you've got to follow up something like the original Volkswagen Golf GTI, there's always that niggling suspicion that, despite all the money and time and effort spent on its replacement, you just can't improve on perfection. However, it seemed VW did with the Golf GTI Mk.2.
Not only was the new GTI more powerful and faster – the one included in Horizon has the 16 valve 1.8 four-banger with 137bhp, could crack the sprint to 60mph in just over 8 seconds and would go on to a top speed of 128mph, which was considered fairly brisk in its day – but the Mk.2's kerb weight was also rated at roughly a tonne.
Couple that with the uprated brakes and suspension over the original Golf GTI, and you've got a car that's just as good to drive as – or even better than – its iconic predecessor. Which, when it comes to front-wheel drive performance hatchbacks, is about as high as praise gets.
Chevrolet Corvette Stingray 427
Despite their flaws, there's no denying that the various Corvettes that have been made over the years are all deserving of a brief mention in the automotive equivalent of the Encyclopædia Britannica. However, one in particular has generated such a following that it deserves an entire chapter dedicated to it: the Corvette Stingray.
Whilst the one being included in Horizon isn't the one everyone would love to cruise about in Colorado in, the ultra-rare coupe with the divided rear window, we reckon one of these later models is a more than worthy supplement. Mainly because it's got a 7.0 V8 with 435bhp and a thunderous exhaust note.
Sure, it won't be as nice to drive as the latest Corvettes, but when the C2 Corvette Stingray looks this cool, do you really care if it can't go around a corner that well?
Audi RS4 (B7)
There is plenty to like about the RS4: the flared wheel arches and subtly aggressive bodykit, the 414hp 4.2 V8, the grip of the all-wheel drive system and (if the motoring press is anything to go by) handling and road holding that'd give its rivals from BMW and Mercedes-Benz something to seriously worry about.
Oh, and as its most famous appearance on British television was in a Top Gear race against rock climbers in a French gorge, we're anticipating an event in Forza Horizon down Colorado's canyon roads that's incredibly similar to what we saw on the silver screen a few years ago…
Aston Martin V12 Zagato (Villa d'Este)
Aston Martin has had a very healthy relationship with the Italian design studio Zagato over the years, having collaborated on many greats like the DB4 GT Zagato and the DB AR1. And one of the latest products to come out of this long partnership is this: the V12 Zagato concept car.
Being based on the V12 Vantage, the Zagato version is mostly identical under the skin – it's got the same 510hp from the same 5.9 V12, with the power being transmitted to the rear wheels via the same six-speed manual gearbox. In fact, the only big changes are the rear spoiler, the bespoke bodywork and the larger fuel tank.
Not that the last bit is going to be of use in the game.
Still, at least it's a V12 Vantage at heart, so it has all the potential of being one of the best Aston Martins in the game. Oh, and with that evocative V12 bellow, we can imagine quite a few players will be searching for the nearest tunnel when they get their mits on it!
Gran Turismo 5 may be bragging about how it now has the Toyota GT86/Subaru BRZ/Scion FR-S trio, but that doesn't mean the Forza franchise has been well and truly trumped by its arch rival. After all, the Scion was featured in the August 'Playseat Car Pack' for Forza 4, and now it'll be included as standard in Forza Horizon.
The stats of this car and its siblings have been recited to death, so we won't repeat them all here as you're most likely sick of hearing them as well. We will, though, say that its maker set out for the FR-S and its sisters to not only mark the return of the affordable sports car, but also bring about a truly world class driver's car.
Which, if the DLC car and the various road tests are anything to go by, is exactly what the Toyota and Subaru engineers have done.
Sure, it's not the most powerful car in the game, nor does it have the most grip or the lowest weight. But its finely judged handling and performance characteristics mean that, on the twistier roads in Forza Horizon, the Scion FR-S has the potential to offer the best bangs for your in-game bucks of any car in this new 'open-road racer'.
The new BMW M5 is all good and such, but some people may be put off by the fact it's only available as a saloon. However, if you want the same running gear in a more 'glamorous' body, then the BMW M6 could very well be the car for you.
Being essentially identical underneath to its famous four-door brother, the M6 packs the ferocious punch of a 4.4 twin-turbo V8, with its 552bhp being sent through the rear wheels. Which, when coupled with the sublime chassis, means it should be fab to drive, and even better when you kick the back end out and start indulging in some lairy drifting.
The only problem is that the M6 will most likely end up being a bit more expensive than the M5. However, if it's as easy to gain credits in Forza Horizon as it was in FM4, we doubt that'll be much of a problem!
Maserati MC12 Corsa
Whilst the Forza franchise has had quite a few nice Maseratis over the years, we've yet to see the MC12 supercar in any entry in Microsoft's ever-popular game series. Still, at least we have the track-only version that's based on the MC12 to play with, eh?
With less weight to lug around (1,149kg vs 1,335kg) and noticeably more power (755hp vs 620hp), it's of no surprise that this homologation special is a mightily quick car. Heck, when the racing variant was able to dominate various FIA championships over the years, it was bound to be amazingly fast!
And now, not only will you be able to unleash the beast on roads that are littered with traffic and such, but you'll also have the oppurtunity of taking on other circuit-based supercars like the Pagani Zonda R.
Who'll emerge victorious? We'll let you find out the answer to that question…
Subaru Impreza STi 22B
Over the years, there have been plenty of special edition Imprezas – to name but a few, there's been the P1, the RB320, the 340R, the WRX1, the RB5 and so on. One that stands head and shoulders above the rest, though – especially if you're a die-hard Scooby fan – is the 22B.
Whilst the on-paper statistics weren't radically different to the rest in the range – it still had a 1,270kg curb weight and 276hp flat-four 'Boxer' nestled under that prominent bonnet scoop – but it's the number of doors this car had which makes it special: it was the only first-gen Impreza STi to be available in a two-door bodystyle.
Not that many were ever made either, so 22B Imprezas often trade hands for quite a bit of money. Thankfully, in Forza Horizon, getting your hands on one won't be as difficult and, thanks to Colorado's dirt stages and twisty tarmac sections, you'll be able to thrash the Scooby down the roads it was made for.
Audi TT RS
Us here at Team VVV are pretty chuffed that the Audi Sport Quattro is in the game- after all, it did spawn one of the greatest rally cars of all time – but, let's be honest, it's a bit old and slow by modern standards, isn't it? If only we could have an all-wheel drive Audi with a turbocharged five-cylinder engine…
Oh wait, we do! It's the Audi TT RS!
But whilst it does share the same basic mechanical template as the Quattro, the TT RS is a noticeably different machine. Mainly because, with its 335bhp power-output, it's faster. Much faster.
However, we'd recommend adding a few off-road bits and bobs to the TT RS before you consider taking on the Quattro down Forza Horizon's dirt trails. The daddy may be old, but it can still show the new boy a thing or two on its home turf!
Honda Civic Type-R (EP3)
Most of the greatest hot hatchbacks of all time have originated from France, and most of them have been Renaults. However, non-Gallic car companies have also had a go at building world-class practical performance cars, with perhaps the prime example being the second-gen Honda Civic Type-R (which is confusingly known internally as the 'EP3').
Thankfully, the rest is pure and simple, just as a good hot hatch should be – there's a slick six-speed manual gearbox, light and darty steering and a 200hp V-TEC four-banger with a simply stratospheric 7,900rpm redline.
Sure, there are bound to be faster hot hatchbacks in the game – after all, the 350bhp Ford Focus RS500 is also going to be in Forza Horizon – but, if you're the sort of person who prioritises precision over power, you may find the Civic Type-R to be a very appealing addition to your in-game garage.
Though you wouldn't think of it now, Jaguar does actually have quite a succesful hit rate at the 24 Hours of Le Mans. Though the Coventry-based firm last won in 1988 with the XJR-9, Jaguar had dominated the famous race in the 1950s, with the most succesful of all of Jag's Le Mans winners being the iconic D-Type.
Though this 1956 model didn't go on to win that year's race (that accolade belongs to the privately entered Ecurie Ecosse car, which is something Jaguar doesn't tend to admit that much in its press releases…), it's stilla mighty piece of kit. With a blend of disc brakes, a lightweight, aerodynamic shape and a punchy 3.8 'XK' straight-six, it certainly has a lot going for it.
And the best bit is that, unlike most of the other racing cars in the game, this one actually performance that can actually be used (mostly) on the roads. So, whilst it may be more thrilling, trying to tame all that power of the aforementioned Maserati, we reckon the Jaguar D-Type will be the far more pleasant car to drive!
Dodge Challenger SRT8 392
The current crop of muscle cars may be getting better and better – motors such as the Ford Mustang Boss 302 and the Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 have all been described as amongst the best high-performance coupes to emerge from America. However, if you want something a bit more 'Olde Schoole', then there's always the Dodge Challenger SRT8 392.
In fact, the flagship Challenger does actually have quite a lot in common with the original from the Seventies: lurking behind that retro front grille is a huge 6.4 Hemi V8 with 470bhp and 470lb/ft of torque, and the car itself is pretty much optimised for the drag strip.
Sadly, there most likely won't be that many drag strips in Forza Horizon, and the motoring press haven't exactly praised the Challenger for its dynamic prowess. That said, when you've got a car that looks this cool, is great to cruise about in and has a wonderful, throaty burble, this might just be the perfect car to cruise about Colorado in once the Horizon festival events have all been completed.
Mazda RX-8 Mazdaspeed
Before it was rebranded as 'MPS', Mazda's in-house performance division was Mazdaspeed, and over the years had fettled with various hatchbacks and saloons. And, as expected from an automotive skunk works, the Mazdaspeed engineers also tinkered with the rotary engined RX-8, with the end result being this.
Most of the changes were just cosmetic, with various Mazdaspeed parts and trim littering the car's interior and exterior. Thankfully, there is more to this car than just some flashy bolt-on bits, as a tweaked ECU means the tiny 1.3 engine now produces 250bhp.
Which, if you ask us, is plenty enough for what is a lightweight, rear-wheel drive and focused sports car. And, if the reviews of the real-life car are anything to go by, it has the potential to be quite a good car to tackle tight and twisty roads in, in proper 'Tokyo Drift' touge style.
Ferrari F50 GT
When it comes to racing car makers, few are quite as established as Ferrari. So, it's rather apt that a high-performance track special that's wearing the Prancing Horse badge on the bonnet has found its way into the game. Especially as the said car is the F50 GT.
Of course, being an uber-exclusive Fezza, it's got plenty of lovely statistics to its name. For instance, only three F50 GTs were ever made (with one being the development prototype), and it only weighs 910kg or so. Oh, and it has a F1-derived 4.7 V12 with 750bhp on tap.
As a result, it's flipping fast – how does a 0-60mph time of 2.9 seconds and a 235mph top speed sound to you? Perhaps a bit too fast for the game's extensive road network, but at least it's something to rival the MC12 Corsa and Zonda R with, and it almost perfectly encapsulates the spirt of the Horizon festival.
Cadillac CTS-V Coupe
Though General Motors may have, until recently at least, been in a bit of financial bother, it didn't stop them from selling cars that had a very niche place in the market. Take the Cadillac CTS-V Coupe as a prime example – it's a gargantuan luxury two-door with the same 6.2 supercharged V8 from the Corvette ZR1.
Okay, so it doesn't have the same 640bhp, but it's not like the 556bhp the Cadillac does have is by any means shabby – yes, it's a nigh-on two tonne car, but it can crack the sprint to 60mph in 3.9 seconds and can monster its way to 198mph.
Couple that with a chassis that can cope with that monster power (yes, this is that rarest of things: an American performance car that actually handles), and you've got a machine that's more than a match for the BMW M6 we mentioned earlier. Which, when you consider how dynamically capable the M6 is, is mighty fine praise for the CTS-V indeed!
Chevrolet Camaro SS Coupe
It seems that Playground Games and Turn 10 are being quite generous with FM4's 'Unicorn Cars' – first we find out that the NSX-R GT will be in Forza Horizon, and now the Camaro SS Coupe is in the upcoming game as well!
Those who were lucky enough to nab one in Forza Motorsport 4 will know the ins and outs of this classic Camaro Coupe, but for those who don't, here's a little run-through of what makes it a pretty cool car: as you can tell, it looks ace as a coupe and, being an SS model, it comes with a 375bhp 6.5 V8.
Of course, being a former Unicorn car in FM4 that I never got the chance to have a got in one in the game, I have no idea what it'll be like to drive! At least we'll now find out for certain in the next few weeks, eh?
And that's Pt. 6 of our weekly round-up for you! Be sure to tune back to the Team VVV site next week for even more Forza Horizon cars, and let us know what you think of the selection here in the comments below and on our Facebook page.