A dozen definitions of the Best Driver's Car ... but only one winner
Patron saint of literary cool Joan Didion—who stalked the steamy, smoggy canyons of Los Angeles in a Daytona Yellow 1969 Corvette Stingray—once said, “Rationality, reasonableness bewilder me.”
If only Didion were along for this year’s Best Driver’s Car competition.
There is nothing rational or reasonable about holding the keys to $1.9 million USD worth of the world’s dreamiest sports cars, exotics, grand tourers, and supercars.
It’s one thing to parse the packaging of family-friendly compact SUVs. That’s our day job. Best Driver’s Car is about the way a car makes you feel. It’s about the bees in your belly as you clip an apex, the giggles induced by the slingshot launch of barely restrained acceleration, and the sense of satisfaction that comes from the melding of man and machine. Where’s the cupholder for my latte in the McLaren? Can you fit anyone in that back seat of a 911? How much does that Ferrari 488 really cost? Don’t know. Don’t care.
Our Highway Patrol–assisted closure of California State Route 198 and subsequent invasion of Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca are the highlights of this event. But the Best Driver’s Car format actually began two weeks prior at Auto Club Speedway, when our testing trio of Kim Reynolds, Chris Walton, and Erick Ayapana took their first crack at our contenders with our battery of standardized instrumented testing.
To earn the title of Best Driver’s Car, a vehicle must deliver a balance of usable performance, intuitive handling, and driver-friendly design. The winner should be a vehicle with a multidimensional personality, a car that will delight and reward the enthusiast driver on any road at any time, regardless of weather and traffic conditions.
We had quite the field this year, with representation from Italy, Germany, Japan, England, and the V-8 thunder of American freedom. But as the test team crunched the test results, there was no clear leader. A storm was brewing.
Highway 198 Revisited
A four-hour drive along I-5’s trackless wastes brings us to our hotel in King City, California. Most of the other judges had convoyed up together around noon. But with most of California tucked into bed, associate editor Scott Evans and I made great time in the Aston Martin and Corvette. We rolled into the King City Days Inn a tick past midnight.
We were the last to arrive, but our hotel clerk couldn’t have been happier. It isn’t every day you get to meet a YouTube hero, a certain “Mr. Lieberman,” who earlier had given an impromptu car show to our host. His fan club is everywhere.
Highway 198 is a magical place, an undulating public two-lane roadway filled with tight switchbacks, sweeping curves, midcorner bumps, long straights, and panoramic views. It’s a gorgeous 4.2-mile (7-km) stretch of roadway that climbs about 1,000 feet, allowing Motor Trend judges to test each contender at its (and their own) limits. Any shortcomings of either car or driver will be quickly identified on this passage. It is the mill that grinds the grist.
Just past daybreak, the ground fog still clearing, we pulled to the side of the road to set up camp, clean cars, and wait for the California Highway Patrol’s black and white Ford Explorers to close the road so we could begin.
After a team meeting, we fired up all 86 cylinders and commenced our first runs up the beckoning hills—each of us starting in the familiar car we had driven from L.A.
That meant the Chevrolet Corvette Grand Sport, intimidating in looks and sound, for me.
The ’Vette is really a sweetheart once set up properly—Driver Mode Select in Sport and the steering wheel set to Tour. In those modes, the throttle response is linear and quick, and the suspension is dialed in to maximize the car’s speed around corners. The steering is light and direct, though you need to make a conscious effort to slow yourself down because turn-in is still very quick. That doesn’t mean there isn’t room for improvement. “Needs 100 extra horsepower! Felt slow!” Jonny shouted after his turn behind the wheel. Also, the crowded seven-speed manual gearbox has rubbery, ropey throws and doesn’t like to be rushed, and the gear ratios felt too tall for the track-oriented Grand Sport. Said executive editor Mark Rechtin: “It seems like there was a big gap between the powerbands in third and fourth gear.”
Chevy used to sandbag the Camaro to avoid stepping on the Corvette’s toes, but those days are gone. The Camaro ZL1 1LE is an uncaged race car. As he pulled into our makeshift pit lane, Jonny could be heard screaming, “Yeaaaah!” and clapping his hands.
You’d think power would be why the Camaro works so well, but it’s actually grip that’s the key to this muscle car. Those steamroller-wide, superglue-sticky Goodyear tires work hand in hand with the DSSV dampers and the added aero aids to ensure that the Camaro can use each and every one of its 650 horses. “You quickly learn you can trust the tires as you unleash the power,” Detroit editor Alisa Priddle said. Scott added: “There’s a lot of vertical movement in the cabin, but the car never jumps sideways a foot when it hits a midcorner bump; it never moves around laterally at all.”
The downside to the Camaro’s grip is its ride quality—basically there is none. “I’ve encountered smoother paint mixers,” guest judge Derek Powell said. “The bouncing was so bad that I found myself reacting to that instead of focusing on the sheer act of driving.
The nuclear-waste green Mercedes-AMG GT R provoked whoops and hollers from all of the drivers. A brutal supercar that rewards fortitude, the AMG needs to be driven flat out in order to properly enjoy it. Dig deep into the 577-hp twin-turbo V-8, and you’re compensated by a violent surge of power and the soundtrack “of a small arms factory exploding behind your hips every time you come off the throttle,” as Jonny put it. “Let it rip,” Alisa added. “The AMG has the power to get unruly, but it holds the road incredibly well.”
Although the Mercedes’ nose bites with ferocity—only fighting back once you approach its limits—the rear end wasn’t as well behaved even at sane speeds. “There were several times when the rear would hop side to side or even produce drop-throttle oversteer or on-power oversteer,” Chris said.
Unlike the Merc, it’s hard to get into trouble in the Mazda Miata RF. Like any good naturally aspirated engine, the Miata is happy to rev its way to redline, growling sweetly as you stab the clutch and flick the six-speed manual into its next gear. The Miata is not fast, but it rewards a driver’s skill.
Entering corners, the Miata RF is surprisingly tail-happy. Mazda rehashed the ragtop’s suspension for 2017, but the RF is unsettled. “It’s always dancing on the top of its springs and edge of its tires,” Scott said. With traction control on, the Mazda’s electronic systems are constantly grabbing at the brakes to keep the Miata’s tail in line—sapping the little power the RF has to give.
A better beginner sports car to explore one’s limits might be the Porsche 718 Cayman S. “The chassis is so beautifully balanced, the handling so predictable,” Derek said. “Each movement is connected directly to the brain’s synapses.” Scott agreed, adding: “Steering is among the best here—talkative and light, quick enough but not too much. I wish the Miata handled like this.”
The 718’s 350-hp mid-mounted turbo flat-four is a good match for the platform, too–even if some of our judges wish it sounded less like a garbage disposal eating a fork. Alisa silenced those critics: “There are those who miss the sound of the old throaty engine, but the trade-off for a nice, wide powerband is worth it.”
There isn’t much room for improvement in the 718, but the Aston Martin DB11 could use some help in the braking department. Its 600-hp V-12 is more than capable of getting its nearly 4,200 pounds (1,905 kg) of British aluminium going (and quickly at that), but it lacks the brakes or suspension to handle that heft on a twisty road.
The DB11 has three suspension settings, but all feel inadequate for spirited performance. Its body control was subpar, the car displaying a tendency to porpoise through corners and over bumps. “It’s a wonderful GT car and is happy at high speeds, as long as the road doesn’t twist too much,” Scott said. Upsides: The V-12 provides epic thrust, and the steering is beautifully weighted, light, and linear—just as a British GT car should be.
As the Aston’s counterpoint in the grand touring department, the Lexus LC 500 was a revelation, having done its homework on chassis and suspension tuning. “The fundamentals are all there,” Jonny said. Scott provided further details: “Weight transfer is nicely handled, and the car sits in a turn nicely.” The Lexus provides light, progressive feedback from the wheel, and its four-wheel-steering system helps make the LC feel smaller than it is.
The LC’s 5.0-liter V-8 makes a good match for the 10-speed auto, though the gearbox was frustrating for its abundance of overdrive gears. “How can this car have 10 gears and never, ever be in the right one?” Chris asked. “There were at least a dozen rejected downshifts.”
You’d expect the lone four-door sedan in our group to be soft, but it’s clear the Alfa Romeo Giulia Quadrifoglio “is a sports car regardless of how many doors it has,” Derek said. The Alfa’s sportiness is baked into its chassis; it’s a car that rewards smooth inputs yet begs to be driven hard. “This might be the best-handling sedan I have driven in 25 years of automotive journalism,” Mark said. “And yes, that includes the W124 and E39.” The 2.9-liter twin-turbo V-6 is laggy down low, but it hits you in the face with a sledgehammer once you’re above 2,000 rpm. Its eight-speed auto rattles off shifts as if it were a dual-clutch transmission.
Complaints? A few. The engine, for all its power, doesn’t communicate what it’s doing at redline, making shifting by ear difficult. Some also found the Alfa’s Italian electrics a little buggy, with inconsistent brake-by-wire feel and a seemingly overeager overheat protection mode that would impose a 5,000-rpm rev limiter on the engine and limit torque vectoring at the rear axle.
The other Italian in our group, the Ferrari 488 GTB, delivered thrills on an epiphanic level.
After piling out of the Ferrari babbling a red-mist rant, Mark calmed down enough to say, “This delivers every teenager’s fantasy when they think of Ferrari.”
The Ferrari 488 is one of those rare cars that makes you feel immediately at home despite its exotic appearance. The cabin is open and airy with a driver-focused interface. There are no distractions. Your hands hold a flat-bottomed, carbon-fiber and leather steering wheel, and all the needed controls are a finger’s reach away.
Not only does the 488 GTB feel magical merely sitting still, but it’s also glorious to drive. The Ferrari’s small twin-turbocharged engine makes 661 horsepower. “It’s a force of nature, like being picked up by a tornado,” Scott said. The 488 also carries tenacious grip “with a flat attitude and fingertip control while cornering at speeds 10 to 15 mph (16 to 24 km/h) faster than other vehicles—with the same if not greater confidence heading down 198 as up,” editor-in-chief Ed Loh said. The Achilles’ heel for the Ferrari is its brakes—the carbon ceramics have a slightly wooden feel and squeak like the midnight subway to Coney Island.
If on the emotional scale the Ferrari is an embrace from a Victoria’s Secret model, the McLaren 570GT is a polite but firm handshake from gritty Bruce himself. Last year’s winning 570S was a highly rewarding and technical car, but in softening the 570 for grand touring duty, McLaren seemed to scrape away some of the special sauce. “It’s not what I would have expected,” Chris said. “This one feels far more ass-happy and less balanced and composed.” The 570GT feels stuck between sledgehammer and rubber mallet—it no longer drives like a supercar, but it’s not soft enough to drive like a proper GT.
The issue is especially apparent if you’ve forgotten to press the “Active” button. Turn on the Active Panel, and dig into the 30-some-odd possible drivetrain configurations, and that sharpens steering and throttle response. But then the handling becomes unpredictable. “There were times when I’d exit a corner and the engine and transmission would be ready for it, and I’d rocket out onto the straight at full boost,” Derek said. “Other times it felt like I caught the car unaware.” When the McLaren is awake, there’s a hint of that 570S magic in its fingertip-light steering, supple ride, and peaky but powerful little engine, but the 570GT’s inconsistency hurt its credibility.
If you want instant confidence bordering on immortality, the Porsche 911 Turbo S is your machine. Despite the PDK seven-speed dual-clutch doing the shifting, despite the torque-vectoring all-wheel-drive system constantly shuffling around the twin-turbo flat-six’s 580 hp, and despite the four-wheel steering making the 911 feel smaller than it is, the Porsche makes its driver feel responsible for it all. “Right out of the box, the 911 Turbo S lets you drive as fast as you dare, brake as hard as you can, and turn as much as you wish,” Derek said. “It doesn’t just inspire confidence. It inspires a relationship with the driver.”
Still, some, like Jonny, thought the 911 made things too easy. “This thing is weaponized speed,” he said. “It’s maniacally capable but not the most engaging car, let alone 911, I’ve ever driven.” Added Ed: “It is a focused tool intended for one purpose: going very fast. Really hard to find a flaw here; if I’m being really critical, it’s a bit anodyne.” He quickly followed with: “I take it back about it being boring.”
Now eight years since it made its debut, the latest Nissan GT-R NISMO still remains very proficient at hauling ass. Defined by what should be physically impossible levels of grip, it’s a car that you chuck into corners, mash the gas, and let the all-wheel-drive system sort things out. Godzilla’s 3.8-liter twin-turbo V-6 is indeed a monster worthy of the name—boost hits strong, and the power keeps coming. “This engine pulls and surges effortlessly,” Erick said. Ed said it was “noticeably sharper, like they ran the GT-R over a Japanese whetstone.”
But some things don’t change. The programming on the GT-R’s six-speed dual-clutch is lacking, making manual shifting a must for performance driving. The ride is literally a sore spot. And then there’s the steering—it broke. Nearly every judge had a bizarre issue after hitting a midcorner bump, where the steering wheel would go cockeyed at a 20-degree angle, yet the car would be going straight down the road. Then the steering wheel would correct itself as if nothing had happened. Chris had it happen multiple times, with GT-R chief engineer Hiroshi Tamura riding shotgun. “It was an unusual electro-mechanical anomaly,” Chris said. “Tamura-san was as curious about it as I was.”
As Motor Trend en Español editor Miguel Cortina nursed the NISMO back to our makeshift Highway 198 paddock, he handed the keys to Tamura-san and the Nissan team for repairs. The question as we pointed our field north toward Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca was whether the GT-R would be fixed in time for our staff champion racer Randy Pobst’s hot laps around the track.
Hot Shoes, Cool Fog
Monterey, let alone Mazda Raceway, has its own microclimate. Monterey proper was warm and clear, but the track was cool and foggy. It would be lousy for visibility but great for the turbocharged cars that Randy would run that day.
After a quick sighting lap in our long-term Honda Civic to scout the conditions, Randy, Ed, and the test team determined which six cars to run on day one.
718. Corvette. Ferrari. McLaren. Camaro. 911. The assembled teams scrambled off to start prepping the cars. Meanwhile, a local Nissan dealer was attempting to bandage Godzilla.
The Cayman was ready first. Randy hopped in, fired up the rumbly little four-pot, and set off for his hot laps. Not long after—1:40.22 to be exact—Randy pulled the ticking 718 into the pit with a huge smile on his face:
“People! Marry this car! This is not like the crazy, scary girlfriend who will give you the time of your life and then boil your rabbit in the morning. The Cayman S has such beautiful balance; it’s so good that I felt like I could push it harder and harder.”
Not long after, Randy set out in the red, white, and blue Corvette. But when he came back, Randy’s smile had been replaced with a scowl:
“It wasn’t until the second timed lap that the tires started to get some temperature, but the car still wanted to power oversteer at throttle tip in. The front is ready to turn full blast, and the rear isn’t. Or the rear is ready to accelerate, and the front’s not too happy.”
Going out in the Ferrari 488 GTB seemed to cheer Randy up before he was flagged for breaking Monterey’s punitive noise regulations:
“I talked about marrying the Cayman, but this car is your mistress! This car accelerates so quickly that I needed to apex a lot later. The turbos on that Ferrari V-8 give it a big, fat torque curve. The transmission is such a beautiful match for that engine.” He did caution that the brakes did not provide a solid initial bite and that pedal pressure and brake force were not in cahoots.
And like that, Randy was off in the McLaren 570GT, choosing to leave the stability control on because it felt fairly easy to break the rear end loose.
“Track mode gets into a nice place where it allows some drift,” Randy said. “But it’s controlling the throttle a bit for me, and it’s less satisfying because I’m not the one driving. I could even feel the stability control activating significantly in Turn 1. The McLaren is fast enough that we’re arriving there at over 140 mph (225 km/h), and the car gets light and a bit oversteery.”
You’d think the Camaro ZL1 1LE that Randy lapped next would be as oversteery as the Brit, but its claws stuck into the track. “This thing handles so well,” he said. “For a front-engine, rear-drive car with 650 horsepower, the traction was incredible. It put power down extremely well. Stability controls aren’t necessary for the average good driver.”
The same rules applied for Randy’s last car of the day, the 911 Turbo S.
“I don’t want to get out,” he said. “This car is the one you married, and it’s your mistress. It’s the whole package. I’m so utterly blown away by its capability. It was incredibly rewarding to drive. I was driving that car hard because I could.”
As we wound down for the day, the Nissan GT-R arrived—but after a quick spin, Chris and Tamura-san quickly shut it down. Not ready. Nissan PR called for an identical white GT-R NISMO to be shuttled up from L.A. the next morning. It needed to arrive before the track went cold at 5:30 p.m.
The Final Countdown
As the clock started ticking for the NISMO on day two, we turned our attention to the remaining cars’ hot laps. Or warm laps in the case of the Miata RF.
Its lap around its namesake track is not surprisingly the slowest of our 12, but it’s probably one of the most fun. “The MX-5 makes every trip to the grocery store feel like a Grand Prix at 34 mph (55 km/h),” Randy said. “I have to really slow my hands down because it leans over a lot. I like to trail-brake into a corner, and the Miata does not like that. But you can go around screaming at redline all day and not end up in jail.”
By comparison, the Mercedes-AMG GT R is a go-directly-to-jail card. “This AMG really has personality in its engine,” Randy said. “It’s satisfying to pull all the way to redline. The fat torque curve makes it easier to drive, too, because it’s more controllable.” But the brakes started exhibiting signs of heat soak by the time Randy was on his final lap.
Although the Lexus LC 500 might not spring to mind as a track car, Randy found it to be a delightful experience. But he also had some caution. “When attacking the corners, the Lexus is reluctant to change direction,” he said. “But once it finally comes down the apex and I go back to power, it’s beautiful from then on.”
Randy was pleasantly surprised with the other front-engine GT car in our group, the Aston Martin DB11: “My expectations were low. I thought it would be a boat, but I was wrong. Well behaved on the track. Surprisingly good handler. Responsive and well damped in the Sport Plus suspension setting.” But the Aston’s brakes were shot midway through its second hot lap.
With still no sign of our missing NISMO, Randy hit the track in the Giulia Quadrifoglio, returning with queries about cornering inconsistency: “I think there are electronic variations with the torque-vectoring differential. When I started at a quick pace, small steering changes really brought the car into the corner. Then when I go flat out, I get a lot of understeer in the middle of the corner under some circumstances but not others. I noticed the brake pedal doing something similar, too. It’s a lot of fun, it’s fast, it’s quick handing, but I’m not a fan of variation.”
The Return of Godzilla
All available cars having run, there was still no NISMO. Ed called a meeting; the manufacturers who wanted another lap would get one. Porsche wanted the Cayman to run again, citing the fog on day one. Ferrari wanted a run with flushed brake lines and new calipers and pads. The Corvette would run in Sport mode. And why not? The AMG GT R and McLaren 570GT could rerun, too.
But if the GT-R showed up, bonus laps would cease. The Cayman, Corvette, McLaren, and Ferrari improved their times—the Italian by nearly a full second, leading some to suspect Ferrari’s mechanics did far more than change the brakes. But the AMG was actually 0.2 second slower.
With 45 minutes on the clock, our replacement NISMO rolled into the paddock.
The garage buzzed around the NISMO. The test team hooked up our data-logging gear, replaced wheels and tires, torqued lug nuts, and checked pressures. Video mounted and prepped cameras. Sound strapped down microphones. Everyone else stayed the hell out of the way. Some Formula 1 pit crews aren’t this in sync.
At 5:15, Randy hopped in the GT-R and blazed a 1:35.01 lap. “The GT-R has been around for a long time,” he said. “It has gotten better and better, and the NISMO is the best version, but after it brakes pretty well once or twice, it starts getting hot. And when you first tip into this thing, it gives you full power and throws the car completely off balance. All-wheel drive or not, it suddenly makes the car run wide.”
It was 5:30 on the dot. Time to hash out the winner.
When you have such a closely contested field, it is almost harder to pick the last-place car than the winner. Someone has to come last even if we really truly love our cellar dweller. And love, love we do, the 12th-place Aston Martin DB11. The DB11 is a great car to drive, but it’s not a good driver’s car. It’s a little too heavy, a little soft. There’s still plenty to like, though. “It’s beautiful inside and out,” Miguel said. It has a killer engine, too. Derek described the sound of the starter as “God Himself wound a pull cord around the flywheel and gave it a wondrous yank.”
Coming in 11th place is a car that was minutes away from earning a DNF: the Nissan GT-R NISMO. Mechanical issues aside, the Nissan’s 11th-place finish is a testament to how competitive this year’s field was. Yeah, it’s a bit heavy and a bit vague through corners, and it isn’t as fast as some of the new kids on the block. “It’s impressive that there are still improvements to be made,” Ed said. Godzilla might be old, but he sure as hell can still breathe fire.
Tenth place goes to the Mazda MX-5 Miata RF Club. Miatas are the go-to for entry-level racers, and that ain’t just because of its price point—it’s because it is an exceptionally well-composed sports car with approachable, unintimidating limits. But although the Miata ragtop finished in third a few years back, the package isn’t improved by adding 125 pounds (57 kg) worth of complicated hardtop, which doesn’t accommodate a helmeted driver. Also, Mazda’s suspension tweaks fell out of favor of our judges.
Oh how the mighty have fallen. After winning it all with the 570S last year, McLaren comes in ninth place this year. The 570GT is unsure of its place on the road. There are moments of brilliance in the delicacy of its steering, its surgical precision, and its tremendous brake feel, but the 570GT never gives you the confidence to go for more. “Somehow the magic of the 570S didn’t translate into the 570GT,” Chris said. “It’s a brilliant car, but it’s no winner.”
Jonny had argued against bringing the Lexus LC 500 because it’s so big and heavy. But chastened, following its respectable eighth-place finish, he said: “Folks, we have an athlete on our hands.” We were all impressed with the Lexus’ sonorous V-8, quick-shifting automatic, and crisp steering feel—even if the LC was too eager to default to understeer at its limit. “Tighten this thing up, cut some weight, add some power, and you’ve got a really good GT car here,” Scott said.
It seems that the Chevrolet Corvette is always this close to perfection, and that remains the folly of the seventh-place Corvette Grand Sport Z07. First the good: Its 6.2-liter V-8 is fantastic. It’s got a big, meaty powerband, and although it could probably benefit from an extra 100 horsepower, it’s tremendously rewarding to drive. The Corvette’s biggest issue is its transmission—its gearbox doesn’t like to be rushed, and its gear ratios are ultimately too tall and too widely spaced for performance driving.
Sixth place goes to the Alfa Romeo Giulia Quadrifoglio. The Alfa is high strung, but that’s part of the fun—the engine is laggy down low and peaky up high, and the steering is so quick off-center that you’re liable to drive off the road if you so much as sneeze. “LOL-fast steering, short gearing mixed with a turbo-tickled powertrain,” Ed said.
This is where things get real close; any of our top five could have justifiably won the whole shebang. Finishing a few points shy of fourth place, the Mercedes-AMG GT R is a helluva car. “The harder you drive this thing, the better it gets,” Erick said. But it needs to be driven at ten-tenths to get the most enjoyment out of it. Wring it out for all it’s worth, and it rewards you with endless grip and lightning-quick shifts. But it isn’t as gratifying at five-tenths as it is flat-out.
The Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 1LE’s fourth-place finish was a contentious one. We could agree on power and grip. The fact that all 650 of the Camaro’s horsepower is usable without instantly vaporizing the rear rubber is an engineering feat. But some of us maintained that a car couldn’t win Best Driver’s Car if you didn’t want to drive it every day. “I’ve probably lost all my fillings, and my kidneys are bruised,” Derek lamented, to which Jonny retorted: “Some judges thought the ride was too harsh on their way to Pilates class, but who cares? Finishing fourth is a failure of democracy.”
One vote is all that separates our second- and third-place finishers. One. Earning the bronze is the technological tour de force that is the 911 Turbo S. It never seems to run out of grip, power, or brakes. “The 911 Turbo S is so amazingly competent on every level—without having any visible compromises—that it’s easy to forget how high its limits are,” Derek said. “Some might be tempted to punish the Porsche for its unflappable greatness. Big mistake.”
Life’s funny. The Porsche 718 Cayman S wasn’t supposed to be here. We didn’t invite it until a last-second dropout had us scrambling to fill a hole in our lineup. Now the 718 Cayman S is tootling away with a silver medal. “There is something really spirited and sweet about this car,” Alisa said. “It’s so well balanced and smooth, so seamless in its power delivery and responsive to the slightest steering input.” Mark agreed: “It’s an exacting corner-carving machine that entices you to push your limits even more.” Erick, who did his best to hog the Cayman most of the week, called it “lovely,” adding that it “felt impossible to do wrong in this car.” Simply put, the 718 is a phenom.
Deus ex Machina
You’d think a mid-engine supercar would be a one-trick pony, but our 2017 Best Driver’s Car proves that wrong. First place goes to the Ferrari 488 GTB. This Ferrari makes you your best self behind the wheel. It grabs your attention, it focuses you, and it helps you improve. The 488 GTB lets you know when you screw up and pushes and prods you to do better next time around.
The Ferrari 488 GTB’s powertrain is an endless assault on your senses, with wave after wave of devastating power. The engine pulls all the way to 8,000 rpm and then, bam, the seven-speed gearbox upshifts, and the engine digs deep for more. The powertrain is happy lugging around, too.
“This car is amazing even loafing along I-5,” Mark said. Derek agreed about its cruising manners: “Very little engine noise makes it into the cabin despite it being inches away from the back of my head.”
Chassis, steering, and suspension tuning are equally impressive. “The steering is very lively and requires constant attention—this car needs me,” Chris said.
The 488 GTB does it all. “The Ferrari fulfills the complete list of needs, from extreme exotic to dauntless touring car,” Mark said. It’s memorable, too.
“This is one of those cars, one of those drives, one of those moments that will forever be seared into my synapses as an epic moment,” Chris said, “a true deus ex machina experience in my life.”
Joan Didion once described driving in Los Angeles as requiring “a concentration so intense as to seem a kind of narcosis, a rapture-of-the-freeway. The mind goes clean. The rhythm takes over.”
The Ferrari 488 GTB is that rapture. It is that rhythm. It is our 2017 Best Driver’s Car.
Read more about 2017 Best Driver’s Car contenders:
- Ferrari 488 GTB
- Porsche 911 Turbo S
- Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 1LE
- Porsche 718 Cayman S
- Lexus LC 500
- Mercedes-AMG GT R
- Alfa Romeo Giulia Quadrifoglio
- Chevrolet Corvette Grand Sport
- Aston Martin DB11
- Nissan GT-R NISMO
- Mazda MX-5 Miata RF
- McLaren 570GT