It’s finally here! Two weeks on from the initial teaser trailer, Kunos Simulazioni has released its new Challengers Pack DLC to Assetto Corsa Competizione on PC, and it’s available now for £9.99/€10.99.
Thanks to an invitation to the Challengers Pack DLC Live Premiere Event last night (22nd March), our very own John Munro got the chance to sample four of the cars against some of the quickest and most popular ACC streamers around the world.
And despite only a few laps of practice, John was close to the pace of the frontrunners, sharing some of his thoughts on the new content mid-race.
After a coffee and tea-fuelled early morning debrief, we’ve collated some of our opinions on all five of the new cars – the Porsche 911 GT3 Cup (992), the Ferrari 488 Challenge Evo, the BMW M2 CS Racing, Lamborghini Huracán Super Trofeo EVO2 and the Audi R8 LMS GT3 EVO II.
The question is, how do they feel to drive, and are they worthy additions to the game?
BMW M2 CS Racing
After only a few corners, the BMW feels like it’s a beginner-friendly car well suited to close pack racing. It may well have 350bhp, but the feedback is neutral on turn-in and has masses of torque – meaning you can short-shift out of turns to reduce wheelspin and minimise time loss.
If you have a heavy right foot it can still be a wild ride, but the car generally tends towards understeer – unsurprising, given it weighs over 1600kg. In many ways, the M2 is akin to a GT4 car, something initially designed for the road adapted for track use.
It rides kerbs extremely well and has masses of inertia, meaning it takes a lot of provocation to make it move aggressively.
However, once the Bavarian beast has been poked with a stick, it bites back, thanks to its lack of downforce in high-speed turns. John very aptly described it as “plug and play motorsport” during the broadcast.
The Challengers Pack is off to a solid start then, but the M2 is too slow to match other cars in the game, and it runs in its own TCX category, based on the American TC championship that supports GTWC America races. Perhaps an indicator of future DLC content to arrive with the already-teased Circuit of the Americas track?
Lamborghini Huracán Super Trofeo EVO2
Our first impressions of the Lamborghini are that it’s brutal and aggressive-looking, with a gloriously angry soundtrack. Early laps indicate that the default setup tends towards understeer and that the car is surprisingly pliant on the limit, featuring softer-than-expected suspension.
The Huracán Super Trofeo and its older sibling are now part of a separate Super Trofeo (ST) class in-game, one of four new car categories coming with the Challengers Pack update.
At the Hungaroring, the Lamborghini struggled slightly over the larger kerbs, but this is a common weak spot for low-riding mid-engined supercars within the game anyway, an impression amplified by jumping straight from the soft-riding BMW at the same track.
The EVO2 Huracán definitely feels squishier than the existing GT3 cars within the platform, and this sometimes translates to a slightly vague feeling during the corner turn-in phase.
With an engine producing over 600bhp, it’s undoubtedly a quick car, but maybe not quite as precise as the sharp looks may suggest when it comes to cornering.
Ferrari 488 Challenge Evo
Next up is the slightly surprising Ferrari 488 Challenge Evo. Why surprising? Well, we expected a tame single-make series car suitable for amateur drivers to race in the various worldwide Ferrari Challenge series – a Prancing Horse, if you will.
But what we got was an absolute rampaging stallion of a car.
In fact, I had an impromptu drag race against a GT3 machine and the 488 blew it away. Astonishing speed.
The 488 Challenge Evo is a part of the newly-created Challenge class (CHL) in Assetto Corsa Competizione. With good reason too, as thanks to 670bhp, this is the most powerful car in the entire game, and the way it delivers its power is infectiously fun.
Seven gears mean you’ll be shifting a lot more than normal, with third gear seemingly the ideal ratio to find traction off slow corners, owing to the car struggling to contain its power in first and second.
Electronically controlled brake bias means it can be a little inconsistent when braking, with a near 50/50 brake balance split by default. Being fairly heavy – dry weight is 1340kg – the car overheats its tyres quickly. A tidy driving technique is important to prevent excessive wear and eventual grip loss.
Considering all of the above, and in terms of controlling the 488 Challenge through setup and driving techniques, we believe it’ll take more effort to tame the Ferrari compared to the other Challengers Pack cars. Its sheer brutality is so much fun, however.
Also, the turbo chatter sound deserves bonus marks for Group A rally vibes!
Porsche 911 GT3 Cup (992)
After just a couple of laps we feel the 992 version of Porsche’s 911 GT3 Cup car is the highlight of the Challengers Pack DLC. It handles kerbs incredibly well, its turn-in is responsive and precise, and as result, it’s so much fun to chuck around. Its engine sounds – internal and external – are aggressively visceral too.
However, it doesn’t have Traction Control (TC), so requires a soft right foot to prevent wheelspin exiting tight corners. The Porsche has incredible traction anyway, but the threat of a pirouette is ever present for the unwary, especially when applying power while the car bounces through a kerbed chicane.
The Porsche has less power than the Ferrari and Lamborghini, but you don’t notice it thanks to the way it remains planted under braking and in the turns allowing you to carry significant speed. But, it may prove to be a stiff challenge to Assetto Corsa Competizione rookies.
For veterans after a pure racing experience, however, it proves to be a hugely-rewarding car on the limit.
As an aside, the 992 and existing 991 variants have been added to a separate Cup class (CUP) on the platform.
Battling against human opponents, seeing their TC-less cars scrabbling for traction, is such a nice change for the sim that we feel racing these in a league would be an amazingly satisfying experience.
We like it. A lot.
Audi R8 LMS GT3 EVO II
The Audi is the third generation of GT3 R8 to join Kunos Simulazioni’s GT-racing opus, and as expected it provides a small leap in performance over its Evo I predecessor.
Like previous Audis, it lacks a certain urgency upon corner entry and needs some setup work to get it properly flying, but the V10 soundtrack makes the hard graft worthwhile.
As its name suggests, the EVO II is a small evolution of the Audi R8 GT3 formula, so don’t expect anything drastically different from older generations of the car.
The real-world focus has been on improving the racing experience for amateur drivers, with improvements to the air conditioning, traction control and aero, but in-game high-speed snappiness remains for the uninitiated.
For the 2022 GT World Challenge Europe season, MotoGP legend Valentino Rossi announced his participation, and his WRT Audi’s livery is already in-game along with the other Audi competitors – including the British GT livery of Adam Carrol and Shaun Balfe.
This makes us think the rest of the GTWC Europe and British GT grid’s paint schemes might not be too far behind. Here’s hoping…
Overall then, for £9.99 the Challengers Pack update offers great value for five very distinct and enjoyable cars. The highlight for us was undoubtedly the Porsche – it offers a challenge to ACC veterans while remaining utterly compelling to drive, giving you that ‘just one more lap’ feeling.
The Ferrari surprised us with its unhinged brutality, but when tamed it becomes a very capable racing machine with a lovely turbo chirrup sound, despite a slightly flat exhaust note.
The BMW is an excellent car for door-handle-to-door-handle touring car-style racing and should be a popular choice for online racing leagues. It’s easy to jump in and drive too, so ideal for beginners.
Finally, the Lamborghini and Audi were perhaps the most underwhelming of the five Challengers Pack cars. They still possess solid driving dynamics, but it’s more a case of they being overshadowed by three truly brilliant additions in the same pack.
The good news is, despite four new classes being added to the sim, all are available for multiclass grids. For online use, they will be combined together in a separate GTC class, so it will be interesting to see how well Kunos can balance their performance.
Do you have a favourite car from the Challengers Pack? What are your thoughts on it? Let us know in the comments below.
Assetto Corsa Competizione Challengers Pack release date
The Challengers pack DLC releases on Wednesday 23rd March 2022 for PC. There is no confirmation yet on a console release.
Assetto Corsa Competizione Challengers Pack price
The Challengers Pack for Assetto Corsa Competizione is available to buy right now on PC for £9.99/€10.99.
Along with the Challengers Pack DLC, Kunos updated the game to v1.8.12, and included significant re-balancing tweaks to the McLaren 720S GT3, Lamborghini Huracán GT3, BMW M4 GT3 and Honda NSX GT3 Evo.
Also, Kunos has undertaken a fairly major overhaul of suspension modelling, with adjustments to toe versus camber angle forces, bump stops, dampers and tyre heat generation. Fairly major stuff that’s been hidden somewhat by the new DLC.
Full changelog below.
Assetto Corsa Competizione v1.8.12 Changelog
- Added Audi R8 LMS GT3 evo II as DLC content.
- Added BMW M2 CS Racing as DLC content.
- Added Ferrari 488 GT3 Challenge Evo as DLC content.
- Added Lamborghini Huracán Super Trofeo EVO2 as DLC content.
- Added Porsche 911 GT3 Cup (Type 992) as DLC content.
- Added UI and gameplay and Multiplayer support for new car groups introduced in the DLC.
Grid mixing is now compatible with all car groups.
- Next lap invalidation added for a number of tracks when extending the final corner.
- Fixed a game crash in full-season 2021 championship when selecting a specific AMG entry.
- Fixed an issue with the automatic setup feature erroneously compensating for water film.
- Fixed an erroneous behaviour in bumpstop simulation.
- Fixed reversed fast bump damper slider and new fast damping values for all cars.
- Improved steering axis and relative FFB forces and tweaks in all cars FFB values.
(might need slight adjustments from the user, we also remind that you can change FFB gain while driving with numerical pad keys 8 and 2)
- Tweaks in camber gain and toe angle influence on tyre forces.
- Tweaks in tyres rolling resistance.
- Tweaks in tyre heating generation.
Balancing tweaks for the following cars and track categories:
- BMW M4 GT3 – all track groups.
- McLaren 720S GT3 – all track groups.
- Honda NSX GT3 Evo – all track groups.
- Lamborghini Huracan GT3 EVO – all track groups.
- Fixed Ferrari 488 GT3 offset body shadow.
- Fixed Nissan GT-R GT3 rear light emitter clipping with bodywork.