Get ready for a solid week of action
It’s the most wonderful time of the year. Forget Christmas in July. This is Christmas for car enthusiasts. It’s the one time of year price tags and cupholders and fuel economy don’t matter. It’s all about amazing cars, amazing roads, and the euphoria you feel when you combine the two.
Best Driver’s Car isn’t about numbers, but we collect them because they tell their own stories and give us a basis for comparison. Every contender is subjected to our standard test regimen to measure acceleration, braking, and road holding in a controlled environment first. Then, it’s off to southern Monterey County and California Route 198, an undulating ribbon of asphalt that cuts across ranches and minor mountain ranges. To keep our impressions directly comparable from car to car, we close a 4.5-mile (7.2-km) stretch of hill climb east of Route 25 to create a 9-mile (14.5-km) up-and-back real-world test track. Not just twisty, it’s bumpy, worn, and, in early July, hot as hell. Not just your average handling course, it’s a torture test that separates the trailer queens from the all-around performers.
We do this not (just) because it’s fun, but because cars spend most of their lives in the real world on real roads, not on tracks. Making a car go around a perfectly maintained track quickly is hard, but making that car go fast up a canyon road and still feel fun and rewarding is harder. A Best Driver’s Car has to be at home on your favorite road and your favorite track.
A driver’s car is the one kind most likely to see a track day, so from 198 it’s up to Monterey proper and WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca where pro racer Randy Pobst will find out what each car is really made of. As with the test track, the numbers tell us how any car stacks up against others of the same class, price, or power. Like our test team, though, Randy isn’t just a number generator. His insights, along with the test team’s impressions, all factor into our final decision.
This year, 12 cars from 12 manufacturers representing six countries on three continents went through hell just for the chance to be named our 2018 Best Driver’s Car. The contenders, in alphabetical order, are:
Alfa Romeo Stelvio Quadrifoglio
Audi TT RS
Aston Martin Vantage
Chevrolet Corvette ZR1
Ford Mustang GT Performance Pack 2
Honda Civic Type R
Kia Stinger GT
Lamborghini Huracan Performante
Mazda MX-5 Miata Club
Porsche 911 GT2 RS
Wait, isn’t one of those an SUV? You bet. High-performance SUVs are a new breed, and we want to know if they can compete with sports cars. To find out, we pitted five of the best head to head and invited the winner to Best Driver’s Car to carry the torch for the big and tall team.
Their individual results will be chosen at random and posted four at a time through Wednesday, with this year’s Best Driver’s Car revealed Thursday. We didn’t forget the best part: World’s Greatest Drag Race 8 goes live Friday, and there might even be a special surprise for Motor Trend On Demand subscribers.
Check in all week at MotorTrend.com/bdc for 2018 Best Driver’s Car stories, photos, and videos you won’t find anywhere else.