ByOliver S. Douglas, writer at
History student at King's College London. Technology and gaming fanatic. Feed me geek things! Twitter @GentlemanOrc
Oliver S. Douglas

DiRT 4 is the definitive mass-appeal rally game of the generation. Blending simulation and arcade styles seamlessly, it has the capacity to excite not just hardcore fans, but gamers who have never touched rallying before. Never was there a better time to get into motorsport.

Codemasters has a history of including a thrilling roster of cars in their games, and DiRT 4 is no exception. On day one, DiRT 4 offers over fifty vehicles (admittedly some are the same model with different configurations) for the player to drive. This roster is stuffed full of icons, as well as hidden gems you may not have heard of. Here are five rallying legends in DiRT 4 that you absolutely have to love.

1. 1972 Lancia Fulvia HF

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[Creative Commons license]

Not the best known historical rally car, but nevertheless a legend. While it isn't the most intimidating vehicle, comparatively gentle next to contemporaries such as the Porsche 911 S, the Fulvia dominated in almost every championship it competed in, winning every Italian Rally Championship between 1965 and 1973, with the sole exception of 1970. The early Fulvia HF was equipped with an all-new 115bhp engine which, while delicate compared to modern cars, propelled this car at impressive speeds down rally stages, including the iconic Monte Carlo competitions.

In DiRT 4, the Fulvia competes in the H1 class of cars, in the historical rally discipline. Its only contemporary is the Austin Mini Cooper which, while also legendary, isn't the hidden champion that is the Lancia. I have won every championship I've competed in with this Italian masterpiece.

2. 1974 Lancia Stratos

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[Creative Commons license]

Yep, it's another Lancia. The Stratos is probably one of the most iconic rally cars in history. Looking more at home on Silverstone, this specially designed rally vehicle was notoriously fast and failure prone. While it suffered frequent transmission failure, the raw power and ground-up rally design led it to win the World Rally Championship title in 1974, 1975 and 1976, assuring its place in motorsport history. It was the direct successor to the Fulvia, and such a huge success from the manufacturer so soon afterwards made Lancia the ultimate rallying manufacturer of the late 1960s and 1970s.

As far as its performance in DiRT 4 is concerned, its reputation is certainly justified. The Stratos is fast, really fast. You need to be disciplined to handle it, though. Its powerful engine combined rear-wheel-drive makes it prone to excessive oversteer, so tapping those breaks or the accelerator a bit too hard will send you careering into a tree. Tame this beast, though, and you'll remain firmly at the top of the leaderboard.

3. 1986 MG Metro 6R4

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[Creative Commons license]

The Metro was a major competitor in the golden-era of rallying. The Group B era of 1982 to 1986 was one of raw power, and saw some of the most dramatic improvements to automobile technology ever. In just five years, engine horsepower doubled, with restrictions lifted on high-tech materials and engine boosting. While a legendary era of motorsport, the Group B era was notorious for accidents, some of them fatal. After the deaths of Henri Toivonen and his co-driver Sergio Cresto in 1986, the class was discontinued. While some cars, including the Metro, continued to compete into the '90s, it signaled an end to one of the most iconic collections of cars ever seen in rally.

If you are to look at the car the MG Metro was based on, the Austin Metro, you'd be surprised at the transition. The Metro was your grandmother's car. It was boxy, slow and ugly. Yet, beyond a slight superficial resemblance, the MG version was a completely different beast. This mid-engined, four-wheel-drive hatchback was powered by a 410 bhp engine in its later models. While not the champion that the Lancia Delta was, or the engine on wheels that was the Audi Quattro, the Metro 6R4 was an icon of the Group B era, showing what was possible when you tore up the rule-book.

In DiRT 4, the Metro 6R4 is as deadly as it was in real life. Its lightweight chassis and powerful engine makes it hard to tame. This car is all about building a good rhythm, as its sheer power leaves little room for errors. With drive on all wheels, you can permanently lay down power, but if you're not careful you will realize exactly why this class of car was banned by the FIA.

4. 1993 Ford Escort RS Cosworth

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[Creative Commons license]

The Escort Cosworth was designed to do one thing, and one thing only, which was win the World Rally Championship. Ironically, it never did, but nonetheless proved itself an extremely competent rally car. As a Group A car, it won eight events between 1993 and 1996, and three more in the guise of a World Rally Car between 1997 and 1998, before it was replaced by the Focus WRC, a car once driven by the DiRT series' original namesake, Colin McRae.

The Cosworth was iconic partly due to its ridiculous 'whale tail' rear spoiler, which certainly ruled out the model as a good car to show up to a date in. However, the car had an impressive 227 bhp engine, and was renowned for its excellent handling, making it well suited to competing on windy rally stages. Interestingly, the Escort Cosworth was the first mass production car to produce down-force at both the front and rear, as it was equipped with a splitter, as well as the huge rear spoiler.

If this is your car of choice in DiRT 4, expect classic 4WD handling. This is a solid rally car and, while not the best in its class, is extremely competitive and will post excellent times in the hands of a competent player.

5. 1995 Subaru Impreza

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[Creative Commons license]

Is there a more iconic rally car than the Subaru Impreza? A contemporary of the Escort RS, this was the model driven by the late, great Colin McRae. If any car had to feature on this list, it was this. The DiRT series exists because of him. Even as far back as the original Colin McRae Rally, Codemasters has borne the legacy of one of Britain's driving legends. The moniker may have been dropped, but few have forgotten the origins of the series.

Subaru's Impreza was the successor to their previous car, the Legacy. The Subaru rally team recognized they needed a smaller, nimbler car to better compete with other Group A production-derived vehicles. Notably smaller than the Legacy, with a more balanced weight ratio between the front and rear, the Impreza was the first rally car to feature electronic 'active differentials'. McRae and Subaru comfortably won the 1995 World Rally Championship, taking both the drivers' and manufacturers' titles, granting both car and driver their grand status for years to come.

One of three Subarus in DiRT 4, the 1995 edition is a world class rally car. Once tuned correctly, a skilled driver can chain together beautiful slides across stages. The Impreza is nimble, fast and has as much or as little grip as you could wish for. It's a great introduction to modern 4WD rally cars, being much more tame than the notorious Group B cars, but that makes it no less exciting to drive.

Do you have an all-time favorite rally car? Do you have a particular affinity for one vehicle in the DiRT games? Sound off in the comments below!


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