Tried but it's not ZIP nor RAR, don't have 7zip here now.
If only but because they rarely are I prefer to do manual path with as you wrote:
First thing I notice is messed up car selection. Textures would take more time to notice.
Me neither. I removed the restarter some long time ago and made a copy before manual patch. So I can safely roll back what is needed when I know what to copy back. I would not say it's 100% safe that the autoupdate won't overwrite other things as well.
Yep 7zip will extract it now, it seems to have turned to some extract any exe thingy.
Don't care about rest of the files I think, mostly language files and other things.