Best 7 cars in iRacing in 2023: Which Cars To Buy First
With over 100 cars available in iRacing, it can be hard to find the best cars to buy first. In this guide, I'll show you the 7 best cars in iRacing along with our recommendations on which cars to buy first.
With so many cars available to drive and buy in iRacing, it can be tricky to decide which ones to buy first. With an iRacing subscription, you get access to 18 cars. These are designed to get you through the rookie license class, and some can continue to be used in other series to help you progress your license further.
In this guide, we’ve collated the seven cars that we think are among the very best available in iRacing. These cars have all made this list for a variety of reasons. Some perform incredibly well within their class, while others offer great value by appearing in multiple series.
Hopefully, this guide to the best cars to buy in iRacing will help you decide on your next step once you progress out of the Rookie license class.
How big is the iRacing car list?
Before we delve into exactly which cars we would recommend, it’s worth noting just how large iRacing’s current roster of cars has grown. Each season, (there are 4 seasons each year) iRacing adds new cars and tracks to the sim, building on an already impressive car list.
Currently, the list of cars in iRacing is well over 100+. This includes 18 cars which are included in your iRacing subscription. All other cars have to be purchased to be used. Or you can test drive any car that you do not own during maintenance downtime using iRacing’s test server.
The 7 best cars in iRacing
So now let’s jump into the 7 cars that we would recommend people consider buying as they progress through their iRacing journey.
Don’t forget, that there is no rush to buy these cars. The cars that are included in an iRacing subscription can be raced in multiple series, keeping you busy for multiple seasons. We’d recommend looking at buying these cars when you feel ready to progress away from those cars.
Ferrari 488 GT3 Evo 2020
The first car that we would recommend has to be the Ferrari 488 GT3 Evo 2020. This is the second iteration of the Ferrari 488 GT3 that has been included in iRacing, with the original car moving into legacy status (legacy means the car is no longer raced in any active series).
The new 2020 Evo iteration of the Ferrari 488 is an updated variant of the car, and it has to be one of the best value cars that you can buy in iRacing. When we say best value, we don’t mean that it is well priced, as all active cars in iRacing carry the same price tag. We say this car represents value as it is one of the cars that are available to race in more series than most others.
The Ferrari 488 GT3 Evo 2020 is available to be raced in 6 different series across 3 different license classes. There is the Ferrari GT3 Challenge series available in D class. This means you can jump straight out of the Rookie class, and into this competitive GT3 series.
If you’re looking to race alongside other GT3 cars, and not just other Ferrari cars, you can move to the GT Endurance VRS Series which is a C class series, or the GT3 Fanatec Challenge, which is a B class series. As you can see, this GT3 car is incredibly versatile in how you can use it in iRacing. And it’s a car that you can jump into once you get a D class license, and you can stay in the 488 Evo all the way through C and B class.
It also helps that the Ferrari 488 GT3 Evo 2020 is one of the most beginner-friendly GT3 cars in iRacing. Yes, it can be tricky to handle if you push it too far, but being mid-engined, it is very agile with a hint of understeer. Get the most out of this Ferrari 488 GT3 Evo with one of our optimised Ferrari car setups for iRacing.
Mercedes-AMG F1 W13
Moving away from the GT3 powerhouse that is the Ferrari 488 GT3 Evo 2020, I wanted to touch on one of the most recent additions to iRacing’s lineup. The Mercedes-AMG W13 Formula 1 car was added to iRacing in at the end of 2022, making it the only racing sim other than the official F1 22 game where you could take the mighty 2022 Mercedes F1 car out on track.
We made a comparison video of just how the Mercedes W13 in iRacing compares to the car found in F1 22, which you can watch below. It is safe to say, that iRacing provides a much better representation of the W13 thanks to its highly realistic physics and tyre model.
If you are a Formula 1 or Mercedes fan, having this car present in iRacing is a dream. It is one of the fastest cars on the iRacing grid, and it appears in two series.
We would recommend racing in the Formula A Grand Prix series which is available with an A class license. This series allows you to race around some of the most famous tracks that have appeared on the Formula 1 calendar over the years including Hockenheimring, Suzuka, Red Bull Ring, Silverstone and more.
Each race is around 30 laps in duration, making it around 40-50% of a real Grand Prix distance, and there are a total of 12 tracks that make up the series. If you fancied shorter race distances, you can also look to enter the Formula A fixed series. This series runs alongside the Formula A series but features shorter 13-18 lap sprint races.
Whichever series you opt for, the sheer performance on offer from the Mercedes-AMG W13 Formula 1 car makes it one of the most thrilling that is available in iRacing. And its unique blend of pure performance and high aerodynamic performance makes it one of the standout cars in iRacing.
Mercedes-AMG GT3 2020
Sticking with Mercedes-powered cars, I’m going to move back into the GT3 category with our next recommendation. The Mercedes-AMG GT3 2020 is one of the most competitive GT3 cars in iRacing, despite being a completely different car to drive than the Ferrari 488 that we recommended earlier.
The Mercedes-AMG GT3 is a slightly heavier car, with a large 6.3-litre V8 naturally aspirated engine positioned towards the front of the car. This puts a lot more weight over the front axle, completely changing how it drives compared to the mid-engined Ferrari.
The Mercedes-AMG GT3 2020 is much more understeer focused, requiring a more methodical driving style compared to the lively Ferrari or Porsche 911. This comes with the benefit of making this GT3 car much more stable than some other cars that compete in the same series.
It can be a great car to jump into when transitioning to GT3 cars in iRacing. However, it only really becomes useful once you achieve a C class license, as there isn’t any D class series that this Mercedes is eligible for. Check out one of the most optimised car setups for the Mercedes-AMG GT3 in iRacing.
Porsche 911 GT3 R
I’m sticking with the GT3 theme for this next recommendation, and I’m moving from the stable and relatively easy to drive Merecedes-AMG GT3 car to one of the most notoriously difficult GT3 cars in iRacing.
The Porsche 911 GT3 R is one of the quickest GT3 cars that you can drive, but only once you’ve mastered its unique driving tendencies. The 911 GT3 R, like most Porsche race cars has the engine sticking out over the rear axle, putting a lot of weight balance towards the rear of the car. This gives the car a tendency to oversteer, especially when lifting off the power and turning into a corner.
The engine in this 911 GT3 R is a mighty 4-litre flat-six producing over 550bhp. As you become more custom to the unique way that this 911 GT3 R drives, you can be blisteringly fast. The performance ceiling for this car is incredibly high, making it one of the most competitive within the GT3 field.
It is available to be driven in the same series as the Mercedes-AMG GT3 above, allowing it to span across both C and B classes. It is certainly a car that can benefit from a good car setup. We’d highly recommend checking out the best Porsche 911 GT3 R car setups for iRacing available here.
BMW M4 GT3
The final GT3 car on this list, has been included due in part to its recent inclusion, along with its heavy link with sim racing and just how great it is to drive. The BMW M4 GT3 is the newest GT3 car to be added to iRacing, and it has a strong link to sim racing.
The BMW M4 GT3 is the first car to feature a steering wheel that has been designed for both sim racing and real-world race cars. BMW worked closely with Fanatec to produce the steering wheel that found its way into the M4 GT3 car.
The steering wheel was designed with both the sim, and the real race track in mind. The exact same steering wheel can be used in the real-world BMW M4 GT3 car, and then taken over to your sim rig, and used in iRacing. (Although, not many of us will ever get close to a real-world BMW M4 GT3 car to test this out in person!)
Moving away from the steering wheel, the BMW M4 GT3 is a very stable car right out of the gates. It features a front-mounted inline 6, turbocharged 3-litre engine capable of producing 590bhp. The almost 50-50 weight balance of the BMW M4 GT3 allows for an incredibly stable car, making it ideal for those new to GT3 racing.
Moving back to open wheel cars, the next car I wanted to recommend buying in iRacing is the perfect car if you enjoyed the Rookie Formula Vee series.
The Dallara F3 featured for years in the popular Formula 3 series, one of the ladders on the way towards Formula 1. Many Formula 1 drivers progressed through the Formula 3 series, and would have driven the Dallara F3 car.
This open wheel car packs 220bhp thanks to its 2-litre inline 4-cylinder naturally aspirated engine. That may not sound like a lot of power, but when it’s paired with the lightweight chassis, it is capable of reaching a speed of 170mph.
Series that features the Dallara F3 can be incredibly tight and fun making for some of the best racing action in iRacing. Due to the open wheel nature, drivers will often give each other enough room to race competitively without making contact, as unlike road cars, you cannot make contact with other F3 cars without it ending badly.
This combination of risk and competitiveness makes the Formula 3 series one of the most enjoyable. If you’re looking for optimised Dallara F3 car setups, Coach Dave has optimsed car setups as part of their iRacing subscription.
Porsche 718 Cayman GT4
The final car that makes our top 7 cars to buy in iRacing list goes to the Porsche 718 Cayman GT4 car. There aren’t too many GT4 cars available in iRacing, but among the few that are available, the 718 Cayman is without a doubt one of the most competitive and enjoyable to drive.
Unlike its bigger brother, the 911 GT3 R, this 718 Cayman features a mid-engine configuration, allowing it to be much more forgiving to drive. The engine itself is a 3.8-litre flat-6 capable of producing 425bhp. This is paired with a 6-speed automatic gearbox and the usual combination of ABS, TC and ESC available.
For those who are progressing out of the Global Mazda MX-5 Cup Rookie series, this GT4 car makes the perfect step up the GT ladder. Overall lap times will be slower than in a GT3 series, and the cars are slightly easier to drive. This makes it a brilliant stepping stone if GT3 cars feel too much of a jump.
The Porsche 718 Cayman is available to race across 3 different series including a fixed D class series, which is where we would recommend you start. This series features 15 minute long races across a range of Grand Prix circuits.
Honourable mention – Global Mazda MX-5 Cup
Before we conclude this best cars in iRacing guide, we have to give an honourable mention to the Global Mazda MX-5 Cup car. This car is available right away as soon as you subscribe to iRacing, meaning you don’t have to purchase it like you do with all of the other cars on this list.
For most sim racers who prefers road courses to ovals or dirt, the MX-5 Cup car is where they’ll start their iRacing journey. There is a Rookie series featuring the MX-5 Cup car, but there are also D and C class series available.
The Rookie series in iRacing can be an unpredictable place given that you’re often sharing the track with sim racers just starting their journies. Once you do progress out of the Global Mazda MX-5 Fanatec Cup, you can stay in the MX-5 and move up to the Production Car Sim-Lab Challenge. Being a D class series, the competition will be much tougher, and the racers less chaotic (in theory).
This progression from Rookie through the D class Production Car Challenge and into the C Class Advanced Mazda MX-5 Cup Series is the perfect progression path for sim racers who want to really master the nuances of sim racing before moving up to faster cars.
I can’t recommend racing the MX-5 Cup car as your first car in iRacing, and it’s a car that I often jump back into when I’m after some close wheel-to-wheel racing. It really does deserve an honourable mention in this guide, despite not making our official top 7 cars in iRacing list.
How buying cars in iRacing works
Finally, before I round out this guide, I wanted to quickly touch on how to buy cars in iRacing. If there are cars outside of the 18 that are included in your subscription that you fancy racing in iRacing, you will have to buy them. Each car has a set price, but this can be reduced using bulk discounts.
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