@Ironside Not played PGR in a long time, but from what I remember it doesn't handle the same as that game. I do not believe the damage affects the car in anyway (unless there is a setting I didn't have enabled). You can pause the game.
The game is a lot of fun. I got the free plus edition when they released that and then bought the season pass full price. I more than got my moneys worth out of it. There is so much to do. Note that 2 of the DLC packs are held under the Driveclub Bikes trophy list. So if you care about trophies then playing those packs would mean you end up with the bikes list on your trophy list. Those 2 are separate from the season pass.