By on September 7, 2014

PCOTY-BestOf07-lg

You’re never as well-known as you think you are. When I helped the nice people at Road&Track select the C7 Corvette as their 2013 Performance Car Of The Year award, I had the amusing experience of being told that I was “on GM’s payroll” and a “shill for GM” by hundreds of people who were disappointed by our choice. In a perfect world, I could put all those people on a Staten Island ferry, put all the TTAC readers who claim I’m unfairly persecuting GM on another Staten Island ferry, and give each group a trigger that would blow the other boat up. Original idea, huh?

Anyway, it’s time for 2014’s PCOTY which means that I’ll be spending the next four days living my childhood dream of driving brilliant cars for free and possibly getting the magazine to pick up my Ketel One tab at dinner. Click the jump to get the list of all fifteen contenders, along with my early thoughts on each.

1. BMW M3. I drove the new M3 during photography for this article and I was impressed by the massive shove from the turbo six. The M3’s never been more like a Trans Am for the snob set, and I mean this in a very loving way. But the Trans Am rarely won driver’s-car comparisons.

2. Alfa Romeo 4C.. Probably the most eagerly awaited car of the past year, the American version of the 4C has added a few hundred pounds. Will the resulting power-to-weight ratio prove to be the Alfa’s Achilles heel?

3. Viper TA. Lightly revised for this year, the Viper TA was my favorite car in R&T’s “Z/28 Vs. The World” test. In fact, the Viper is pretty much my favorite car, period. Since my vote is just one vote out of fifteen drivers, however, the outcome of PCOTY 2014 probably won’t be up to me.

4. BMW M235i. Some people have higher hopes for this car than they do for the M3. It’s arguably closer to the classic idea of a performance Bimmer, in size and power. More satisfying? Maybe. But how long would you be satisfied waving the bigger car by on every back straight?

5. Subaru WRX STi. Ooh, this is one I have not driven — but my drive of a TTACer’s 2015 WRX has me feeling quite hopeful. Certain to get smoked at the Motown Mile track, but very likely to display depth of talent on the roads.

6. Camaro Z/28. It’s the STi on Opposite Day! But if any ponycar can win the thing, this is probably the one to do it…

7. Jaguar F-Type Coupe R. …unless the Jag is the ponycar to win it. Some of my fellow editors object to my calling the F-Type a ponycar. Duh, it sooooo obviously is.

8. Ferrari 458 Speciale. I thought the Ferrari F12berlinetta more or less ran away with the track portion of the comparison last year. Unfortunately, it didn’t hold up on the road. This eight-cylinder Ferrari is the other kind of Maranello sled. My grandfather would have identified it as a Dino. I’ll be curious to see how it compares to the Viper around the Motown Mile.

9. Dodge SRT Challenger Hellcat. My love for the Hellcat is already on the record. I think it might prove superior to the Z/28 and F-Type as a road-going proposition.

10. Ford Mustang GT. The unknown factor in the mix for sure, the 2015 Mustang won’t have the power of the Camaro but it’s a full development cycle ahead so on Ohio roads it might just shine the brightest of all.

11. MINI Cooper S. The Cooper JCW Works didn’t capture our hearts last year — the Fiesta ST was just more fun to drive for less than two-thirds of the cost. This year the MINI’s new from the ground up and the early reports are very encouraging. Remember that PCOTY is a subjective thing and that it’s not just a time trial.

12. Nissan GT-R NISMO. Can it smoke the Viper and the exotics around the Motown Mile? You’d be a fool to bet against it. My experience driving Switzer GT-Rs at full chat on twisty roads suggests that the NISMO might also have a chance off the track, as well. I’ve enjoyed each revision of the R35 more than its predecessor so this could be a contender.

13. Lexus RC-F. Our own Alex Dykes rated the IS350 pretty highly, an opinion shared by my son as well. The RC-F is the two-door version of that car with a 467-horsepower five-liter Toyota V8. This will be better than anyone expects, I think, and if it can’t match cars like the Z/28 around the track you just know it’s going to be better on the long freeway hauls.

14. Volkswagen GTI. Derek loves it! I love it! Great car! And, don’t forget, driving a slow car fast is better than driving a fast car slow. The question is whether driving a GTI at the ragged edge is better than driving a Viper at the ragged edge. Assuming you can get to either nowadays; today’s GTI would give the first-gen Viper RT/10 a hard time on some racetracks.

15. Porsche 911 GT3. If you must have a 991-generation Porsche, this is surely the one to have. Some editors already think it will crack the road-and-track, pun intended, equation better than the Ferrari or the Viper. I’ve already been warned that I’m allowed to “whine about the *&%#$ing Metzger motor thing” exactly once during the entire test, said whining being confined to my hotel room while I’m alone.

We’re not allowed to pick a winner until we’ve driven them all — but you, the reader, are under no such constraint. Place your bets below. The first three readers to accurately predict the winner will receive a TTAC Racing shirt in size XL, because that’s all I have left!

Get the latest TTAC e-Newsletter!

134 Comments on “The Insider Handicapper’s Guide To 2014’s Performance Car Of The Year...”


  • avatar
    thelaine

    This is the stuff that always makes me feel like a kid again. Live the dream and report back. Can’t wait.

  • avatar
    carguy

    I hate to sound cynical but in these comparos the newest car (i.e. the one with the most available marketing and advertising budget) usually wins.

    • 0 avatar
      Jack Baruth

      All the cars are new for 2015 model year, so that won’t apply. And if you look through R&T you’ll see that GM didn’t advertise much with the magazine last year before or after the Corvette win.

      • 0 avatar
        golden2husky

        Anybody who thinks that GM needed anybody on the payroll to get the C7 to score a win has never spent any time behind the wheel of one. The car is phenomenal pure and simple. I love my C7…and this is the first new GM car I’ve ever bought.

        • 0 avatar
          mikey

          @golden2husky…..I’m so glad you like it. whenever somebody here buys a GM, I’m thinking ” please don’t let this car be a F.U.”

          • 0 avatar
            golden2husky

            Far from a FU, Mikey. This car is a winner, and frankly, it what GM can produce when the engineers are in control not the beancounters. When your worst complaint is that the AC condensate drips onto the exhaust system, I’d say a success! And my buddy’s 2012 SS Camaro has been 100% trouble free to date…

        • 0 avatar
          28-Cars-Later

          By every account I’ve read or heard, Corvette is one of the few products left they do correctly year after year. I wish you good tidings with it, and hope one day Rencen pulls their heads out of their asses and builds more product like it.

      • 0 avatar
        carguy

        I would like to believe you but there is no escaping the dance of dependence between the car magazines who need revenue and need press cars and the OEMs who need positive publicity.

        1. The Nissan is hardly new and thus will have zero chance of winning this match up. Neither will the warmed over Viper.

        2. The very inclusion of the Mini and the Golf on this list is already very nice free publicity for Mini and VW as neither of them are performance cars. Don’t forget to use phrases like “punching above their weight” to soften the blow of them also not winning.

        3. What kind of conditions Ferrari puts on the loaning of a 458 Speciale press car would also be interesting to know. But we won’t as there is most likely an NDA.

        This will most likely come down to the imaginative choices of the M3, the GT3, the 458 or the Hellcat or possibly the Mustang as Ford would be very grateful if that never ending launch would keep its momentum.

    • 0 avatar
      mnm4ever

      That’s why although almost all of the cars on this list are amazing machines with a good chance of winning, my bet goes to the 2015 Mustang. It has the most hype and Ford will be pushing it as much as they can. And dollar for dollar it could be a legitimate win.

      But it will be interesting to hear from Jack on just how “real” these tests are. There has always been speculation on the legitimacy of comparison tests, but now we have an inside man to give us the real scoop.

  • avatar
    Big Al from Oz

    I’m really disappointed there isn’t a Chev SS, actually bitterly disappointed. If the M3 is there and that pregnant US Alfa……..Mini Cooper S (I do hope it’s an original one when Morris ran the shop)……..Lexus??? a hairdresser wagon.

    Really if a Mustang is amongst this lot, is it possible to put it up against the Chev SS.

    How hard is this, aren’t you a GM shill;) That’s a supposed to be funny.

    Well, I suppose the GTR will have to be my favourite.

    Maybe Jack could do a “Biggest Bang for Your Buck”. This should cover each segment. I’ll allow 2 door vehicles to combine with sedans and hatches, even wagons.

  • avatar
    hubcap

    Please comment further on what you like about the Viper (and don’t like) and what you think FCA could do to stimulate sales.

    • 0 avatar
      Jack Baruth

      What I like about the Viper: Everything.

      What I don’t like about it: Burns your legs on hot days.

      What FCA could do to stimulate sales: Reduce the amount of urinated birth-control estrogen that men are being forced to drink in public water supplies, thus increasing normal male Viper desire.

      • 0 avatar
        28-Cars-Later

        +1,000,000. Distilled water FTW.

      • 0 avatar
        kvndoom

        I am thankful everyday for being with a woman who wants me to have the things I enjoy in life (so long as they don’t put us in the poorhouse) and doesn’t mind driving stick.

        • 0 avatar
          zamoti

          The reality is that if you live in Ohio as some of us do and your water supply is near farmland, you are probably getting a good healthy dose of atrazine regularly as it is used as a pesticide. This chemical has been proven to alter the secondary sexual characteristics of amphibians so drastically, it can turn a male frog into a female frog.
          There isn’t quite a lot of research about what it does to male mammals, but I’m going to bet that it’s probably not very good for us. Tin foil hat alert: get yourself a nice GAC/KDF filter for your drinking water. While you may not grow a new set, it may perhaps prevent you from growing the wrong set.
          You’re welcome.

      • 0 avatar
        ellomdian

        Or stop pretending the car is a Luxury GT, and drop the price $20k. IE, make the Viper a Viper again.

        Or build one with the Hellcat V8, and drop the price $30k. IE, make the Copperhead, and actually fight the Corvette.

        Or figure out a way to supercharge the V10 to 800+ hp, charge $15k more, and make people sign a waver at purchase. IE, make the Viper ‘special’ again.

        Or threaten to stop building them again, and see how many of those Viper Club assholes show up to put money where their mouths are.

  • avatar
    Fred

    The only cars I’ve driven and can afford are the Mustang V6 and the GTI. The GTI is overall a better car and I think more fun. Money no object and not being embarrassed on the track then the Porsche GT3

  • avatar

    Mezger block whines I can understand. What I don’t understand is why they wouldn’t offer a track-oriented car with a manual.

    C’mon, Porsche. We thought you knew us better than this.

  • avatar
    turboprius

    Probably the Hellcat. Yes, I personally believe it was overhyped, but 707 HP and nearly matching up to this hype should earn it a spot.

    (Not saying I will, but if I end up winning, please keep the shirt. XL is my size, but I don’t want y’all knowing my address and having random (to my parents) packages showing up at the front door. Sorry).

    • 0 avatar
      Mandalorian

      I agree with Hellcat. It’s a bargain basement American Underdog with a heart of gold compared to Ferrari and GT3. What other company would have the audacity to build such a car?

      • 0 avatar
        akatsuki

        Anyone who didn’t want to spend real engineering dollars on a true sports car like the C7.

        • 0 avatar
          nickoo

          Mopar already has the viper. Although it’s always been “the world’s best kit car” as they’ve never had the money to do it properly as they would like to do it. If they had the same budget the corvette had, and had not designed the current gen in secret to convince Sergio to build it, AND were able to raid the parts bin from Italy, I’m sure we wouldn’t even be disputing the king of American Supercars.

          Either way, the Viper is probably going away and with the new ZO6 coming out, it’s not going to be pretty for the Viper. I hate to say it, but they need to do a few things to sell more in order to make a business case for it.

          1. Redesign the car’s 3d framing to accept the modern hemi, fix the exhaust routing so it doesn’t heat up the cabin/door sill, fix the driver’s foot well, frame needs to accept a ZF automatic.

          2. Give upon the v10, as awesome as it is, it will not meet the next round of emissions cuts without a miracle and the hemi outclasses it.

          3. Put an aluminum block hemi in the viper, offer the 6.4L NA as the base motor and the 6.2L hellcat as the performance motor.

          4. Get the 8 speed auto in it as the old man option.

          5. Lower the starting price by about $30,000.

          6. Get better tires on it.

          • 0 avatar
            87 Morgan

            I concur. Every time in see a Viper in a showroom I ask myself why would I take this car over a new C7?

            C7 is 2/3 the price and most likely a better car to drive day in and day out. I have driven neither so I use the term most likely.

          • 0 avatar
            Jack Baruth

            A Viper will rip the bonnet off a C7 around a racetrack. It’s not even close.

          • 0 avatar
            akatsuki

            The Z06 will probably beat the Viper or be close enough not to matter.

          • 0 avatar
            golden2husky

            C7 will not stand up the Viper on the track, but the Viper is more of a narrow focus vehicle whereas the C7 is way more competent in a wide variety of areas. Still, as auto enthusiasts, we should be happy to see the success of cars like Viper. There will always be appliance vehicles but cars to lust after will likely be in short supply in the future. And while the HEMI might make sense, the V10 is part of what makes a Viper what it is.

          • 0 avatar

            Golden2Husky, the Viper should not try to compete with the C7. I agree with all you say, except for the last part. Get rid of the V10, throw in a new engine, not necessarily a Hemi, get it to handle, add finesse and it could be a world class competitor like top Corvettes have come close to being. I think things must evolve, the V10 is a throw back.

          • 0 avatar
            Pch101

            The Viper is a pure halo car that sells attitude in a way that only Mopar can in this day and age. It doesn’t need to make a dime in profit in order to justify itself.

            The Corvette is a halo, too, but it needs to turn a profit. Hence, the obligation to turn it into a global sports car; US sales alone are no longer sufficient to cut it, and the Vette needs to compete against the 911 and other performance cars.

          • 0 avatar

            “A Viper will rip the bonnet off a C7 around a racetrack. It’s not even close.”

            FWIW, in an Edmunds test the C7 out-braked, out-handled and easily held it’s own. Viper won the 0-60 shootout but the C7 was an all around better track car. C7 lap times are more consistent and the brakes won’t go south after the first lap. A Z06 will be in a different league though I am still pi$$ed at Chevy for not using the ls7.

          • 0 avatar
            VenomV12

            That’s what I am thinking, the Z06 will be amazing, as good, probably better than the Viper on the track and still cost an entire base C7 cheaper than the Viper. I can’t for the life of me find a reason why anyone would buy the Viper.

        • 0 avatar
          raph

          The Hellcat isn’t a sports car unless you subscribe to the notion that anything with fancy stripes, a set of touring tires or better and a big wing constitutes a “sports car”.

    • 0 avatar

      Among this crowd the Hellcat is a one trick pony. Maybe if they were at a drag strip it’s have a chance.

  • avatar
    VoGo

    I believe the new Lambo would rock this group like a Huracan. (sorry)

    Why was it excluded?

  • avatar
    KG37

    Tons of great choices, but I’m going to bet that the car with the best on and off track performance will be the M3.

  • avatar
    DenverMike

    Mustang GT. Most livable for everyday life. 2+2. Easy entry/exit. Descent visibility. Regular unleaded. Beat on it to death, it asks for more. Suspension damage quickly, cheaply fixed. Unbeatable aftermarket.

    • 0 avatar
      Big Al from Oz

      2 door most liveable???

      Hmmm……I would have thought for day to day life a sedan is much better.

      Where would you park it with all of them trucks outside of your government subsidised Winnipeg apartment.

      • 0 avatar
        DenverMike

        As far as performance cars go, a 2+2 is a decent compromise. Besides better ins rates, haul your kids, nephews, or adults in a pinch.

        But I like the SS. Best compromise between a performance car and a Silverado.

        • 0 avatar
          Big Al from Oz

          @DiM
          You’ve obviously never had sex. Have you ever tried putting kids in the back seat of a two door??? Gosh, really.

          It’s even worse putting tiny tots into their capsules, let alone kids in their child restraints.

          I do know the US has these laws, but they aren’t as harsh as ours.

          http://www.mynrma.com.au/motoring-services/nsw-child-restraint-laws.htm

          • 0 avatar
            DenverMike

            No, I’ve never put kids in the back seat of a Mustang. Just mates sometimes 200+ lbs. Perfect for petite women. But never a big deal for short trips and the front seats inched up.

            Normally you forget the seats are back there. Like an extra cab pickup.

          • 0 avatar
            Big Al from Oz

            @Quite DiM,
            Your comment;
            “As far as performance cars go, a 2+2 is a decent compromise. Besides better ins rates, haul your kids, nephews, or adults in a pinch.”

            They you state, immediately afterwards;
            “No, I’ve never put kids in the back seat of a Mustang. Just mates sometimes 200+ lbs. Perfect for petite women. But never a big deal for short trips and the front seats inched up.

            Normally you forget the seats are back there. Like an extra cab pickup.”

            Wow…….WTF??????????DiM?????????

            Can you lie straight in bed???

            Also, the word mates???? Canadian?? Amercian?? or British……Aussie?? Why??

          • 0 avatar
            DenverMike

            Relax yourself, BAFO – Some or many consumers might need to occasionally, or always transport young kids. Not my problem so far. So it might be a big consideration for many Americans, where as a 2-seater is completely out of the questions.

            I’ll occasionally pickup my nephews, but no infants + child seats allowed in anything I own, if I can help it. That’s their parent’s problem.

          • 0 avatar
            Chris FOM

            I’ll tell you DenverMike, as the parent of three kids under the age of 5, that given the current car seat laws 4 doors is not optional if you’re moving kids. Even loading them into the third row of my wife’s Flex is hassle enough, but trying to manhandle the second row of a 2-door is miserable.

          • 0 avatar
            DenverMike

            @Chris FOM — I’ll take your word for it, 2+2 sports cars and young kids aren’t a good mix. But they’ve gotta be better than 2-seaters, no? At least you’d have an excuse not to take the babies along, lright?

  • avatar
    87 Morgan

    Tough groupings here. You have cars that span the performance index if you will. High line exotics down to daily beasts.

    If…the measurements are both on track AND on road manners (drivability) I would think the STI may prove to be the winner. Wow, that is a fast car, is affordable for the Everyman, or person, usable 12 months a year in all climes.

    The Hellcat I would think is a handful on the street, unless you had the red key in use.

    Either way, I eagerly await more…..

  • avatar
    Big Al from Oz

    @Jack Baruth,
    Can you please give us a run down on how you will assess and score these vehicles?

    Will you have and area based on performance, ie, skid pan stuff or race track times? Oh, including braking, acceleration.

    Will you also devise a fair ‘bang for your buck’ score that is weighted to make an equitable outcome?

    Will you assess the vehicles for fit and finish, ie, panel gaps, quality of ergonomics, quality of interior and materials?

    Since we live in such an environmentally conscious world can we have CO2, NOx, etc and FE, both under load and ‘normal’ driving in an urban/highway setting.

    Include fuel types in octanes.

    I do know I’m asking for a lot.

    And wait for this one I nearly forgot tow rating. This will be interesting to see which vehicles can actually tow and what.

    • 0 avatar
      nickoo

      My money is on the Viper in towing. The Viper would dominate the towing as the v10 was originally a truck motor and it has the most NA torque of any of them, meaning it probably isn’t going to overheat as easily as a high strung forced induction motor.

      • 0 avatar
        johnny_5.0

        Hahahaha. I actually think the Challenger might win a towing category. You risk heat soak, but the frame/suspension/etc. would probably deal with the weight better (’cause it’s already fat!).

        • 0 avatar
          thelaine

          I wouldn’t buy one unless you could also mount a winch on the front. Leaning toward the Ferrari with the 4×4 off road and towing package. They are surprisingly Rubicon – capable once u put a lift, big tires, and some lockers on them.

    • 0 avatar
      VenomV12

      Before today I would have laughed at the towing comment as ridiculous, however I ran into an old gentleman today looking at cars when I was looking at them and he was legitimately wondering if the bought a new CTS coupe if he would be able to put on a trailer hitch and how much he would be able to tow with it.

  • avatar
    RHD

    I’ll guess the Porsche 911 GT3, pretty much picked at random, since I have personal experience driving exactly none of the candidates. They’ve only been refining the same car for about half a century. What the heck, one out of fifteen isn’t bad odds, and XL is my T-shirt size. (Actually, the Lexus would be my first choice, what with the new V8, but I’m assuming it will only be a available with a slushbox.)
    This should be an interesting horse race.

  • avatar
    omer333

    “Living the dream” has never been more appropriate.

    Good on ya mate.

  • avatar
    kvndoom

    “In a perfect world, I could put all those people on a Staten Island ferry, put all the TTAC readers who claim I’m unfairly persecuting GM on another Staten Island ferry, and give each group a trigger that would blow the other boat up.”

    You… complete me.

  • avatar
    jerseydevil

    Was gonna comment on the story, then an ad’s audio started by itself, three times actually, every time i moved around the site. It is extremely annoying, and i wont be back till u stop them.

    Signed,

    Been reading from the begining.

  • avatar
    dougjp

    Porsche 911 GT3. Why? I need free new clothes (those T-Shirts ARE new aren’t they)? Not ex track weekend used I hope!:D

  • avatar
    BreakMyWallet

    I’d like to see the Jag f-type coupe R pull out ahead. Seeing how I haven’t driven anything on the list, my preference comes down to sights/sounds. Oh yeah, and it’s nice to see a 911 contender. :)

  • avatar

    BMW M3 – Despite being an unreliable, overpriced dentists wife toy, I almost gave the nod to the M3. As the world goes from dinosaur chomping V8’s to svelte V6’s, you have to admit that this is one sweet rendition of a V6.

    The Alfa – Oh how we cry for the Alfa of old. But this porker will end up being an old f*rt’s compromise.

    Viper – probably not enough Alpha males in the jury to pull this one off

    The lesser Beemer – enough said

    The Subie – Seriously? it stands as much chance of winning if you put a ten foot spoiler on the back. Which is how most folks think of these

    The Z28 – tough call. But cannot see any V8’S taking the honors

    The Jag – if this wins I shall buy shares in my local Jag repair shop

    The Prancing horse – which gallops on the track, but is a tethered down, caged, bitchy mare on main street.

    Mustang – must be there for the fan boyz or perhaps the thought of facing their wrath was too much, so they give the GT token entry

    Mini Cooper S – A dark horse, no idea on this one. However the Mini and it’s 10,000 variations have been done to death.

    The Lexus – deserves consideration if it was not a V8

    The GTI – My choice. A really well executed car, a joy to drive. Not fast like the competition? Does that really matter, this is more of an every man’s car, obtainable and gives a nudge to where us plebs will define driving/hooning pleasure.

    The Porsche – betting there will not be enough dentists in the jury to push it in front.

    • 0 avatar
      DenverMike

      I don’t see what the big difference is between the M3 and Mustang GT. What they’re based on come from Polar opposite ends of the market, but end up with the same concept.

      • 0 avatar
        Big Al from Oz

        @DiM,
        Here’s an interesting link from Jalopnik.

        It explains how the US manufacturers are using Euro performance and prestige vehicles as benchmarks.

        This would seem the Mustang is sort of a ‘wannabe’ performance vehicle, a Walmart interpretation of a performance vehicle.

        It will do well, I don’t deny it, but it is playing catch up.

        The biggest difference is a BMW is a true prestige vehicle, not a bling up 1/4 mile traffic light dragster.

        Ford has finally realised the advantage of IRS. The trucklike suspensions of the past are hopefully gone forever.

        But, let’s see how a V6 Mustang performs against the M3. I do think it should be horses for courses.

        http://jalopnik.com/ford-benchmarked-the-porsche-911-and-bmw-m3-for-the-201-1477141274

        • 0 avatar

          Hey Big Al,

          Interesting article indeed, though one only has to look around to see that is already happening (Cadillacs, US Fords the same as Euro Fords) and has been going on for a long time. THe floaty, big American sedan is dead (300 not withstanding) and over time behavior will be more and more similar). Now, it seems Ford does indeed intend to make the Mustang a global car, so handle it must. And I’m sure it will. Whatever you think about the rest of the car, handling and suspension systems is something Ford excels at, at least in their Euro offering. A Mondeo has “always” given BMWs a run for their money. I think a Mustang will take that a step further. I haven’t driven one, but I think this Mustang probably has all it takes to make it really world class (something the Hellca and even Viper still lack).

          • 0 avatar
            Big Al from Oz

            Marcelo,
            What the Jalopnik article alludes to regarding the Camaro isn’t quite accurate.

            The reason is GMH/Holden hired some BMW engineers that designed the 5 Series.

            The platform the Camaro sits on, is essentially the Holden Commodore.

            I read an article where the Commodore’s actual chassis dimensions are within millimetres of what the 5 Series sits on.

            So, the Camaro chassis even though it’s older is quite a good chassis.

            That’s why the Chev SS gets a very good review for it’s handling characteristics, it is normally compared to a German prestige/performance car.

            Ford will do a great job with this Mustang. I do hope the 2.3 Eco Boost is an option as I would think this would be a blast to drive rather than having a heavy Coyote over the front axle.

            Well, the US still has some build quality issues in materials and fit and finish.

            But since the GFC the US manufactured vehicles have advanced leaps and bounds.

            Cheap is sometimes a word that can be used.

            It’s a pity there as some on this site who can’t fathom what it’s like to drive cars that handle, straight from the showroom floor.

            In the US the idea of suspension tuning is akin to fast food. Not very good.

            This will change as well, like much of the US vehicle industry, it’s looking overseas for ideas, then building on them.

        • 0 avatar
          DenverMike

          Yeah right there BAFO. The M3 now uses the BOSS 302 as the Bench Mark. It’s gone now, but the new GT will pickup where it left off.

          • 0 avatar

            DenverMike, the Boss had all sorts of power advantages and add ons and so on that made it competitive with the M3, but that was a very ham fisted approach (not to mention the interior). So it competed, was faster, and depending on track could hold its own, but lacked the finesse necessary. Being the new Mustang much more Euro, it will surely now compete and really hit the M3 hard.

          • 0 avatar
            DenverMike

            Marcelo – What the M3 lacked in power, it made up in gearing. Hence its 4X4 F-150 Crew cab like mpg. It ran identical 1/4 mile ETs as the Mustang GT.

            If by “finesse” you mean loads of understeer and numbness, you’re correct. Surely not as fun as a Boss Mustang.

            But nothing was add on to the Boss 302 that the Mustang GT shouldn’t come with anyways (but didn’t). Nothing exotic either. Just upgraded shocks, bushing, sways, etc. Same things we’ve been doing to stock Mustangs, since there’s been Mustangs.

            But I don’t see why any track should favour the Mustang and not the M3. Laguna Seca is about the most technical in North America, if not the world.

            The M3 lost because it’s grown lax. Asleep at the wheel. Its DVD ROM Navigation says it all.

            And supple plastics are overrated. What about Recaro seats?

            Never mind reliability.

            But we’re talking sports cars, no? And the joy of a tossing it into an off-camber, decreasing radius and exiting on a 4-wheel drift!

          • 0 avatar

            DenverMike, I won’t get into fight with you, I know you have the stamina for 50+ comments, I don’t. That being said, the Boss has the fun advantage I’m sure, but only for the best drivers. Drivers not that good will find its limits first before they find the M3s. I agree the M3s of today are not the same as the past, that being said it is still a more accomplished car, better integrated. Now compare the Boss with just about any other 3 and the difference is amazing. Now, imagine Ford is able to do that with the old Mustang as was. Imagine the new Mustang as is. Outside of badge snob-ness, of which I have none, the M3’s claim to fame is seriously challenged, if not overcome in some ways. I still think, from what I’ve read (and sometines reading between the lines and deciphering the journalist’s speech, as no I have not driven a Boss or a current M3), the Boss lacks. As to add ons, we are talking the same thing. It’s is not that that makes a car, it is the original platform and chassis. There, I blieve, the BMW holds an undeniable advantage over Boss and its brothers. The new Mustang though has evolved greatly from predecessors. This is what i called ham fisted engineering and add ons, taking a “cheaper” and less evolved platform and adding on to your delight until it competes with what is inherently superior.

            Make no bones about it, I see little value in “superior” German engineering, but that they are more evolved than mainstream is pretty clear. What has happened is that mainstream makers have vastly upgrade their bones in recent year, while lux makers have not. So adding on better parts is bringing mainstream offerings into the same range, sometimes better, than even the hallowed lux offerings of old.

          • 0 avatar
            DenverMike

            @Marcelo – Lower relative speeds canyon carving, can be enough to detect subtle differences in M3 or Boss 302 handling characteristics . At least by me. Definitely by JB of RT.

            But there’s nothing magical about the 3-series, you’ll agree. So the M3 won’t exactly set the world on fire with a long list of upgrades. Except nothing in the pony car class has ever come close to threatening the M3, stock for stock.

            However, mildly modded Mustangs have been embarrassing M3s at the track and auto-X, since there’s been M3s. It doesn’t take much. There’s not much you can do to an M3. Mustangs are just absolutely crude in stock form. Mushy bushings all around. Pathetic shocks, etc. Awesome for the aftermarket.

            Part of the modded Mustang’s (or Boss’s 302s) secret weapon has been its live axle. Superior for keeping maximum tire “contact patch”. IRS gives you weird geometry when pushed too hard. That’s the dirty secret of IRS. Super wide and very low profile tires just compounds it exponentially.

            All the Boss 302 did was capitalize on what we already knew. Which is M3s are overrated. And it didn’t just beat the M3. It beat it ugly.

          • 0 avatar

            Hey DenverMike! We’ll agree to partly agree! ANd you can very well guess what part I agree, what parts I don’t. That’s fine. No one has to agree with anybody else all the time. Not even with JB.

          • 0 avatar
            DenverMike

            Hey Marcelo! The M3 has long been hailed the Holy Grail of Pony Cars, even though the snob set will flip out when it’s given the Pony Car designation.

            But it doesn’t matter what category they try to separate them by. Or if they consider the M3 in a Class of its own.

            The M3 has long been overrated because nothing has really challenged its Crown, on its own turf. That’s changed now. Even though elitist enthusiasts won’t hear of it, and pretend it never happened, it is what it is.

          • 0 avatar

            Oh! Now I agree. It many ways it has. And I think no car is ever really in a category all its own. There have been some M3s, in different moments in different times in lieu of any competition that were, it’d appear that is no longer the case. Sort of like the Mustang when it first came out and invented a new segment. Like I said, I think this new Mustang appears to have what it takes.

            Let’s see what JB will bring us over the next couple of days.

    • 0 avatar

      The V6 is so sweet in the BMW it could almost be inline

    • 0 avatar
      danio3834

      Why would having a V8 underhood preclude a car from winning this? This is a driver’s car competition, not a fuel economy test.

  • avatar
    ravenchris

    I predict number 12, the drone.

  • avatar
    Mikein08

    Every time I see a comparo like this, my extreme curmudgeonliness makes
    a fast appearance.

    A statistically insignificant portion of car buyers can afford one of
    these cars. There’s NOWHERE to drive them to their full capability except on a track. So why bother? Get yourself an Accord, Camry or
    Altima V6 and be content.

    • 0 avatar
      petezeiss

      Nice try but you’re no wimp. A real wimp would’ve recommended a 4-cylinder.

      You’re just another Y-chromosome laden, toilet-missing, dog loving lump of muscle marinated in essence-of-hockey-bag.

      So just drop your act and join your bros on the Extinction Express. You disgust me.

      Christ! What happened to all the Kleenex?

      • 0 avatar
        Lou_BC

        @petezeiss – “You’re just another Y-chromosome laden, toilet-missing, dog loving lump of muscle marinated in essence-of-hockey-bag.”

        Can I use that line next time I run across an obnoxious hockey dad?

    • 0 avatar
      el scotto

      Uh not exactly; go on just about military base and you’ll find: BMW M235i, Subaru WRX STi, Camaro Z/28, Ford Mustang GT, MINI Cooper S, Volkswagen GTI. Or 6 out of 14 these cars; not by any means “A statistically insignificant portion of car buyers” but regular working Joes. Some of us aren’t content with a V6 appliance and nasty, nasty low-end is real handy to get out of bad spots.

      • 0 avatar
        28-Cars-Later

        I agree, but why is that exactly? Granted folks in the service don’t have to pay healthcare or rent, but at the same time they are not exactly “well paid” compared to, well, some of the private sector.

        • 0 avatar
          kvndoom

          When healthcare and rent can equate to over $1000 in after-tax dollars per month, you can indulge in a hell of a lot of car.

          And I agree with scotto that I see the same abnormally high number of sporty cars every time I do visit a base.

          • 0 avatar
            Dan

            Healthcare and rent are a lot more than $1,000 a month, but so is the gap between service and white collar pay scales.

            It’s not the disposable income, it’s the demographic of young men with a pair. Not a lot of Camcords in front of tattoo shops and MMA gyms either.

        • 0 avatar
          S2k Chris

          Deployment money. If you are sent away on a ship or to a desert for 4-6+ months at a time and all you can buy is the occasional magazine or snickers bar, and oh yeah, sometimes your pay is tax free (war zone), you might come back with a $25-30k wad burning a hole in your pocket.

    • 0 avatar

      I can’t buy an AMG c63. I can’t buy a Ferrari. I can buy a GTI or such.

      I’ve been lucky enough to drive a few things…ZR1, GTR, AMG, CTS-V, etc. Just cause I can’t buy it doesn’t change the desire to know the best.

      CamCord ? Really ? Turn in your TTAC card and get a lifetime subscription to Consumer Reports.

      Oh, I’d vote for M3. Last one I drove was the e90 and if the new one is better than than, then it has really been turned up to 11. I thought someone had dropped a big block into my e46. Turned off the nannies and hit ///M. Jeremy would have been proud of my Michelin to smoke conversion.

    • 0 avatar
      DenverMike

      @Mikein08 – It’s probably never a great idea to explore the limits of your sports car, even at the track. But that shouldn’t stop the average enthusiast from occasionally braking a little late into an off-ramp they’re familiar with, with no one around. Or slamming through the gears for short bursts. Getting pulled deep into seat or feeling the G loads generated is a kick. Puts a smile on your face you can’t pry off. All possible at relatively low speeds, especially if it can do it at ridiculous high speeds. And it’s at relatively low speeds that people get into trouble while hooning a Camrys, Accords and such. They’re not built for speed and will snap without warning.

    • 0 avatar
      WheelMcCoy

      “Every time I see a comparo like this, my extreme curmudgeonliness makes a fast appearance.”

      Fortunately, there’s room for both Hot Wheels and Matchbox.

  • avatar
    JGlanton

    My guess is that the Ferrari 458 Speciale wins.

    And yes, I am an XL.

  • avatar
    WheelMcCoy

    I’ll go with the Alfa Romeo 4C. It seems special in its own way… maybe because Alfas have been gone so long.

  • avatar
    Stovebolt

    The Mustang will amaze everyone, unless cost is no object.

  • avatar
    PriusV16

    “I thought the Ferrari F12berlinetta more or less ran away with the track portion of the comparison last year. Unfortunately, it didn’t hold up on the road.”

    I’ve never had the privilege of driving an F12, but what was the problem with it? Jeremy Clarkson on Top Gear pointed out in HIS F12 test that this thing was perfectly easy to drive around town and makes for a great everyday car.

    Then again, he also said the F12 had “too much power”. Go figure, I guess…. :-)

  • avatar
    OneAlpha

    It’s fascinating how no one who raves about a Ferrari (or Porsche) is ever accused of “being on Ferrari’s (or Porsche’s) payroll” or “a shill,” when the reality is actually not too far off that, in a self-censoring sort of way.

    GM will NEVER throw a pissy little tantrum and not invite you to its birthday party with all the popular kids if you say a discouraging word about it’s flagship.

    Love the line about the M3 being Brad and Buffy’s Trans Am, by the way.

  • avatar

    The Porsche will win, not sure about the other ones… But I’m sure we’ll get to read the same tired cliches about all of them.

    1. Porsche 911: Insert incessant praise about handling and transmission. Porsche has done it again! Few “criticisms” about evolutionary styling.

    Ferrari 458: Italian styling, near supercar status. Not enough performance for price, not practical enough as daily driver.

    Alfa: Gorgeous styling, but needs more power, not light enough, blame the govt.

    BMW M3: Good, but it’s lost it’s “soul”, gained too much weight. If car has auto-manual, complaints about that.

    Camaro Z28. Will have faster numbers than M3 but too many complaints about visibility and interior At least one reference to a mullet even though the only people who have mullets nowadays do it ironically.

    Hellcat: So much POWER. Same old complaints about handling, braking and weight.

    Ford Mustang: Point out all the flaws of outgoing model, gush about improvements on new one.

    Dodge Viper TA: Impressive performance, but costs too much, needs more power with Hellcat. Lost it’s hard edged “soul” compared to previous models.

    NIssan GTR: No soul, no road feel, feels like driving a computer simulation blah blah blah.

    Lexus RC F: No real manual transmission, still not up there with BMW handling. Questionable styling.

    Jag F Type: Beautiful styling, but more of a grand tourer.

    WRX: Best performance car for everyday and all seasons. Prone to understeer, motor is “old” and needs updating blah blah blah. Possible reference to “butch” styling.

    VW GTI: Still needs more HP, needs to lose some weight and be like a MK1 blah blah.

    BMW 235I: Why can’t they put the M3 engine in it? This should be the M3.

    Mini Cooper: Complaints about bloat in size, rough ride, not enough power.

    • 0 avatar
      VenomV12

      LOL, if it does not come out written exactly like that, I will eat my hat. That was just perfect.

    • 0 avatar
      Lou_BC

      I’ll be the outlier here and say that at the end of the day I’ve never been much impressed with most performance cars. The ones that impress me I can’t afford.
      That stems from spending a large part of my “younger” life riding dirt and street bikes. I recall reading a zero to 100 back to zero test and a ZX9 Kawi was at a complete stop before a large portion of the “supercars” hit 100.
      I just watched a clip of a BMW S1000RR beat a Veyron SS 2 out of 3. The same bike also beat the Veyron and an Aventador.
      In June 2012 a British rider Andy Carlile and his modified R1 Yamaha was the 13 th fastest street legal vehicle ever at the Nurburgring.

      • 0 avatar
        hubcap

        Yeah, it’s kinda hard to bet a sportbike especially when comparing smiles per dollars and if you want something exotic it’s yours for around 15k…. an Aprilia RSV4 comes to mind.

  • avatar
    Monty

    I hope the Hellcat wins, just to spite the pretentious snobs who turn their noses up at anything that isn’t from Europe.

  • avatar
    another_pleb

    With regards to the pair of BMWs, am I the only one who would prefer the smaller and less powerful one and put in better lap times through skill and nerve despite being outgunned on the engine front; and then go home with a smile on my face or my neck in a brace?

  • avatar

    THe Ferrari should win, but I think they’ll pick the Mustang.

    If it were me laying my money down I have no qualms about it, the Alfa. Because it’s an Alfa. And it’s beautiful. Of course, the lighter Euro version would be better, bt even the fat American Alfa would have my money. Because it’s an Alfa. And it’s beautiful.

  • avatar

    Well these things always come down to the Ferrari vs the Porsche. The Ferrari should win but the GT3 is better value and a more liveable every day proposition.

    The powerful but otherwise crap domestic sedans will be rejected as will the Jag. M3 almost but engine sound isn’t right and GTI the poor man’s performance car. M235i would have won ‘if only it had a limited slip diff’

  • avatar
    05lgt

    I’ll wager my 1 free bet on the Ferrari 458 Speciale. After last year they should be able to send a true ringer, and this car is supposed to be fantastic.

    If I somehow blissed into a $0 TCO any one of the above cars for 5 years I’d pick something I thought less likely to strand me, that’s annoying even if it doesn’t cost any money. Since I don’t track, it would be the Lexus.

    If I just get to drive any of the above for a week I’m picking the Alfa. Just because it’s so pretty.

  • avatar
    Scott_314

    Honestly I looked over the list and I think most of them are over-the-top, and those that aren’t are trying to be something they aren’t. And it’s fine, over the top can be great (Hellcat), but it doesn’t make the best all-round performance car.

    The best IMHO is the Jaguar F Type R. It’s a beautiful CAR. It has beautiful PERFORMANCE. And it’s available in dark purple or British Racing Green.

    Listening Jack? (birds chirping).

  • avatar
    VenomV12

    It will be between the 458 Speciale or the GT3 and I am guessing it will be the 458 in the end.

  • avatar
    Big Al from Oz

    Well, Jack prior to taking Godzilla out watch the video link.

    Nice…..

    http://www.drive.com.au/new-car-reviews/nissan-gtr-nismo-first-drive-review-20140815-104c46.html

  • avatar
    burgersandbeer

    “And, don’t forget, driving a slow car fast is better than driving a fast car slow.”

    Driving a fast car fast is even better. I don’t think the GTI is slow for a street car, but it is compared to everything in this group save the Mini and possibly the heavier NA Alfa. Now consider that every review considers the GTI the refined and mature choice among affordable performance options.

    I bet it’s an awesome daily driver, but in a PCOTY shootout it might finish dead last.

  • avatar
    tjh8402

    How much are you allowed to think about last years entries? I have to imagine that having the Fiesta ST still burned into your memories will make choosing the GTi or Cooper S tough. The one I really hope wins? the Ferrari. I think the 458 is the most brilliant product they have put out in a very very long time. I’ve seen several customers of ours at the airport who haven’t owned a new Ferrari in years (and in one case, has been a loyal without straying AMG buyer) who have gone out and bought 458s. Friends who aren’t Ferrari fans drool over the 458. Gordon Murray said it’s the purest new sports car on the road.

    Ok fanboyism aside, I think the Mustang would make a great winner. It’s the true wild card here. I don’t see the Viper, Camaro, or Alfa winning on the road, despite those being other’s I’d be ok with the Ferrari losing to. The ones I don’t want to win – either of the BMWs, especially the M3. As a certified disgruntled with the new line up older BMW owner, I’m tired of the poseur mobiles coming out of Munich. I’m sure they’ll both generate impressive numbers, but a BMW with fake engine noise and their awful EPS system does not deserve any recognition.

  • avatar
    ccd1

    Here is my case for the GT3. It more than blurs the line between a track and road car, it might also blur the line between GT and sports car as well. The degree to which is can do all 3 superlatively, track, GT and sports car, it could be a worthy winner. But it still costs too damn much!

  • avatar
    philadlj

    Not including the M4 coupe?

  • avatar
    superchan7

    Really rooting for the Alfa 4C. It brings back all of the raw sights, sounds and feelings of a motorcar. It spits in the face of refinement and engineering away the feel of a car.

    Can’t wait to try driving one–I already have 2 Italian cars in the stable (I’m borderline insane for a Chinese guy), so this will have to wait its turn. Also looking forward to the new MX-5 arriving at US Mazda dealers.

  • avatar
    ccd1

    For me the car has to do something special, it can’t be more of the same, even if it does it better. For a supercar to win, it has to point to the future (think BMW i8). Otherwise, who cares???

    This leaves four new models: 4C, M235i, F Type, RC-F and the GT3. I’d exclude the Bimmer immediately. It’s a new model, but it is really a result of the 3 Series getting bigger. The 4C reminds us of stripped down, minimalist cars but this is a minimalist car with a big price tag due to its construction. At its asking price, the 4C is not compelling for me. Minimalism shouldn’t be this expensive. The F Type is like a British muscle car but Jag has been doing this more or less for years. This is more a refinement of the concept, though a VERY good looking one. Ultimately, it does not do enough. So the prize comes down to the Lexus and the Porsche. If Lexus has introduced a new model that is credible on the track and a good cruiser, I think it should be the pick. Alternatively, I’d go with the Porsche, but only if the GT3 is substantially better as an everyday road car. Bridging the traditional gap between track and road cars would put the Porsche in the winner’s circle for me.

    • 0 avatar
      superchan7

      I would argue the GT3 does not bring anything that special to the table. Yes, it does more of everything and better, but that’s only on paper. The jury is still out on the electric steering and the 4WS system. The Lexus does even less; it’s a “me too” competitor for the M4 although Lexus has not played in this field before.

      I also note that you find the 4C too expensive, but it’s the second-cheapest car in your list–the Porsche is nearly twice as much. I personally think the 4C gives the most unique experience–in a world of computer assists, synthesised sounds and Nordschleife lap times, no other car brings out the old school like this one.

      • 0 avatar
        ccd1

        To the extent, the GT3 is just a better track car, I totally agree with you. If the car is also a good every day car then that versatility (and the fact that hardly any good track cars are tolerable as daily drivers) might put it in the winner’s circle for me. I mentioned the Lexus for its potential to have similar flexibility.

        As for the 4C. You are right. It may be expensive, but is cheaper than most of the cars on the list. But it is tough for me to give the 4C the crown for old school appeal when it lacks the option for a manual

  • avatar
    tedward

    Just curious here. Will contestants be penalized for failing to offer manual transmissions? I see a 4C, GT3 and GTR that right off the bat fail to offer a technology that improves their subjective appeal to a large number of target shoppers and readers. If one of them wins could R&T please offer a sidebar of alternative rankings perhaps for those of us who aren’t willing to compromise on the most important part of the car? Every time I read a subjective group test where an automatic wins I literally shrug and view the read as basically a waste of my time. If this was an objective track test it would be another story of course.

    In the case of the 4C in particular this lack is galling. It’s a shame I’ll never be able to recommend this car or buy one myself.

Read all comments

Back to TopLeave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.

Recent Comments

  • EBFlex: “Another thing is that I sneak up on deer all the time on my mountain bike.” No….you...
  • EBFlex: ORV is just off road vehicle. A more broad term than ATV or UTV. And again, those are not analogous. Those...
  • Kenn: When I walked by the open door of the GM’s office at a SoCal Toyota dealer, the day I took delivery of my...
  • slavuta: Before traveling to space he could take care of public transport. You should like this...
  • ToolGuy: I spend that $169/year on washer fluid and oil filters instead.

New Car Research

Get a Free Dealer Quote

Who We Are

  • Adam Tonge
  • Bozi Tatarevic
  • Corey Lewis
  • Jo Borras
  • Mark Baruth
  • Ronnie Schreiber