Last updated: September 6th, 2023
I’m pretty much only using iRacing for the majority of my sim racing time, and because time is a little short I’ve got a list of go-to cars in iRacing that (in my humble opinion) are the best: easy to jump into and get racing, without too many adjustments to driving style.
So in no particular order here are the best cars in iRacing (according to me!)
Table of contents: what are the best cars in iRacing?
- Mazda MX-5
- Ferrari 488 GT3 EVO 2020
- Formula Vee
- Formula iR-04
- Porsche 911 GT3
- Dallara P217
- Mercedes AMG GT3
What can I say about the Global Mazda MX-5 Cup – until the Formula Vee and iR-04 came along, this was the go-to iRacing machine for beginners and high iR drivers alike. It’s still a great little car, and, it’s free! Recent updates have refined the tyre model and physics to what I would say is a better racing car than the real-life version (of which I have experience) as it actually drives like a proper racing car! Real Mazda MX-5s are so compromised and difficult to set up properly. This by comparison is a dream.
I learned to heel and toe in the simulator for my own racing campaign in real life. Setups can make a massive difference to pace as can fuel levels for qualifying, although I’ve always preferred fixed setup racing in the MX5s anyway.
The racing is tough – as it’s very much a rookie class car and championship, unfortunately, you do get a lot of bad drivers in the series. But if you can progress to 1700+ iR you’re soon out of the woods and surrounded by more genuine drivers who want to hone their racecraft and develop their licence class and iR.
This is one of the only racing classes that I’ve had truly brilliant, wheel-to-wheel races lap after lap and friendly exchanges afterwards. I’ve even raced Fernando Alonso in one of these!
The car will bite you if you overdrive it, and if you overheat the tyres in a slide you can guarantee you’re going to have a bad time for the next few corners. With that said it does teach you an incredibly important factor in real-life racing – smooth is fast, carry the speed through the corners and use all of the available circuit width.
Ferrari 488 GT3 EVO 2020
When the 2020 EVO was released, it was quite a game-changer in iRacing. So easy to drive! It wasn’t a free issue, but it was worth the money. A vast improvement on the admittedly faster GTE bigger brother variant.
The fixed setup series for the EVO is very aggressive and hard racing. Unfortunately, if you get in with a bad pack you’re going to have a miserable time and bleed iRating quickly. But once you get used to the way it turns with a light touch on the brakes you won’t look back.
For reasons I can’t understand this isn’t the favourite for the higher echelons of GT3 class racing. It simply doesn’t have quite the same pace on most circuits as the BMW, for example. But the BMW is boring to drive whereas with the EVO you can really hustle it. Road America is a great circuit for it, soften off all the dampers so it can ride the kerbs and you can be extremely competitive.
Despite the marginal pace handicap, I still very much enjoy this car because it’s fun, easy to drive and you learn important lessons quickly in the fixed setup series!
The Vee is about as fast as a London taxi cab but that takes none of the fun away. If you really want to learn the art of car handling, this is such an excellent car.
Firstly, it handles like a well-balanced racing car should, straight out of the box. Secondly, the racing is ultra-competitive. If you lose a tenth or make the smallest mistake, you’ll be punished. But it’s also a great tool for learning a circuit before you get into a faster car – try using it to learn a track. You’ve got time to investigate every tiny detail of a circuit, the cambers, the bumps and the kerbs. I think Formula Vee should be required reading!
This is my favourite car to drive in all of iRacing. The physics are just perfect. It isn’t the fastest thing in the world but there’s plenty of pace to learn, have a lot of fun and improve at arguably a faster rate than a faster Formula car.
This of course makes the racing competitive, but you find your groove very quickly and it’s a lot of fun. It’s difficult to break away from the 1700+ iR, I always find myself winning a few races here and then you bin a few races and have to start again. It teaches the technique to extract the last second of pace you really have to drive smoothly and get the tyres working underneath you.
Porsche 911 GT3 R
I have a bit of a love/hate relationship with the GTE RSR variant of the 911, so the 911 GT3 R just brings things a bit more down to earth. It’s fast and highly technical. You definitely need to adapt your technique to get the most out of it. Trail braking is the key, brake earlier and lighter to keep enough grip on the nose to stop it from understeering and be gentle getting back on the power.
If you can master the technique in the GT3, it makes the RSR a lot more accessible. It’s definitely not to everyone’s tastes but I appreciate the 911s for the need to learn discipline and consistency in your technique. A small mistake will bite you, but the best drivers simply don’t make mistakes! You feel like you’re on a bit of a knife edge for most of the lap but you never get bored.
The P217 is simply: high speed and high downforce. It’s a remarkably easy car to get in and drive, you feel very confident in it quite quickly. It’s great for one of those days when you just feel like a blast around Silverstone GP, great in high-speed corners, turn first then lift because of the aero. It’s really the only aero car on the list because it’s the most popular and eligible for a lot of different flavours of racing, sprints and endurance racing.
Be warned though: it’s very easy to get into a mess in the first corner even in the higher iR-rated events. And then it’s game over! To extract the last two seconds of ultimate pace is also quite a fine art, as fun as it is to drive it can frustrate you if you can’t find the additional time.
Mercedes AMG GT3
Big and heavy, but predictable and easy to catch a slide. It’s a bit of a boring car but sometimes you just want to have an easier time with it. That’s what the AMG GT3 is, predictable, easy to manipulate and it’s very much on the pace in the GT3 classes.
It’s certainly not on a knife edge like the Porsches, so if you want to move forwards a little more quickly without feeling too much frustration, the AMG GT3 is a fun thing to jump into and easy to drive.
Like what you see? Go ahead and give them a try. All images are courtesy of Trading Paints, which we strongly recommend you install if you’re new to iRacing. And, on that note, if you’d like more iRacing tips, check out our beginner’s setup guide to iRacing here.