It's that time of the year again. We're spending this week on the roads of rural Kentucky and Tennessee, as well as two days at the National Corvette Museum's race track, to decide which of these eight cars will be crowned R&T's performance car of the year.
In order to pick the eight, we had to be pretty picky. The cars had to be significantly updated versus the year before (so no BMW M3, no Alfa 4C, no Nissan GT-R), and they also had to be at the top of the performance bracket, which means that even though it pains us so, cars like the Mazda Miata had to be left behind.
Now, you might be saying to yourself, where's the Lamborghini Huracan and McLaren 675LT? Unfortunately, those brands declined to participate in our test.
After much hemming and hawing, we got the long list of cars down to just eight. In no particular order, here are the contenders:
Mercedes-AMG GT S
The newest sports car from Mercedes has a turbo V8 good for 510 horsepower, a sweet shifting gearbox, and some of the best looks on the road.
Porsche Cayman GT4
It was a tough choice between this or the 911 GT3 RS, but we ended up going for the GT4 since it's the first time Porsche has even gotten close to allowing the Cayman to realize its full potential.
Ferrari 488 GTB
Ferrari's first turbocharged mid-engine car in 30ish years demanded our attention. And with 670 horsepower, a full 70 over the spectacular 458 Speciale that we tested last year, it promises to be quite the hoot. But will turbocharging ruin that Ferrari magic or make it even better?
Ford Mustang GT350R
How could we not include Ford's track special Mustang? With a 526 HP, 429 lb. ft 5.2 liter V8 with a FLAT PLANE CRANK that is linked only to a manual gearbox, magnetic ride suspension, sticky Michelin rubber, and carbon fiber wheels, it has all the ingredients we need.
Dodge Viper ACR
Yes, we tested the Viper T/A last year, but we felt like deserved to come to see just how good it is. There is no street car with a more aggressive aero setup than the ACR, but can its astounding track performance convert to road excellence?
Bentley Continental GT3R
Sort of an odd ball, the GT3R is a Continental GT V8 with weight taken out by the barrel full. It has a full dose of carbon fiber everywhere you look and the VW Groups monster of a V8. Dark horse pick?
Chevrolet Corvette Z06
The Z06 should need no introduction. A supercharged V8 with 650 horsepower and 650 pound feet of torque make it basically a supercar. And it's no stranger to victory lane, the Corvette won our competition in 2014.
Finally, Cadillac has a BMW M3 competitor. It has a superb chassis underneath, but the laggy powertrain has gotten some flack from us, though it is pretty damn fun on the track. No, it doesn't have the downright pace of any of the other cars, but it might just be fun enough to make a name for itself.
Our full results won't be out for a little while, but for all the photos you could possibly want from this week's activities.