It's that time of the year again, folks. Time to decide which brand new car will have the honor of being declared Road & Track's 2017 Performance Car of the Year. Next week, we'll gather 10 of the finest, newest, fastest, and performance-est cars on the market for testing on the roads of Tennessee and Kentucky and then two days on track at Bowling Green's NCM Motorsports Park.
The rules for this test are simple, really. The cars in question either need to be brand new or significantly updated in the last model year. They need to be the top of the top in terms of numbers, whether that be acceleration, handling, top speed, or other measurements. They're also the cars we dream of. That means that some on this list won't be as accessible as cars like a Miata or a Focus RS, but they are the sorts of cars that keep us up at night, wondering what life would be like if we had one in the garage.
We'll gather the evening of September 12th at the Boone Tavern in Berea, Kentucky and set out the next morning on our weeklong quest to find the finest performance car you can put in your garage. If you're in the area on the night of the 12th, stop by and check out the cars. If not, make sure to follow us on , , and our page for photos, videos, and updates from the road.
Now, in random order, here are quick notes on each of the 10 competitors we'll be testing.
That's right. After what felt like an eternity in development, the Acura NSX is in production and ready to compete against its peers. The Ohio-built supercar combines a twin-turbo 3.5 liter V6 with electric motors (making it the only hybrid we'll be testing) for 573 horsepower and 476 lb-ft of torque. We've already gotten the NSX a win in sanctioned competition, so we're looking forward to seeing how it compares.
Audi R8 V10 Plus
The second generation R8's design is more evolutionary than revolutionary, but it's been aggressively updated where it counts. The 5.2 liter V10 now pushes out 610 horsepower without any turbochargers, and it promises to be sharper and quicker than ever.
BMW M4 GTS
How do you make a faster M4? Crank the power up to 500 thanks to water injection, remove unneeded weight, and give it aero that'll make a touring car jealous. Could this be the best M car we'll ever test?
Corvette Grand Sport
What do you get when you cross the body, aero, and suspension of the Z06 with the 460 horsepower LT1 engine of the standard Corvette Stingray? You get the Grand Sport, and it could just be the best driver's Corvette yet.
McLaren's "entry level" car has 562 horsepower and gets to 60 in about three seconds. That's ballistically quick. It's also the only McLaren with a conventional suspension instead of the trick hydraulic setup that McLaren runs in every other car it makes.
Jaguar F-Type SVR coupe
The F-Type SVR is an F-Type R but with more power, more aero, and, somehow, more noise. The 5.0 V8 now has 575 horsepower and has an exhaust made of titanium and Inconel, which are exotic materials. What you need to know is that the tips turn blue when it's hot and holy hell is it loud.
Lotus Evora 400
Lotus! Remember Lotus? Lotus! The sports car maker known for lightweight specials is sending the brand new Evora 400, a car that may look familiar but now has 400 horsepower, a heavily revised tub, and, for the first time on a factory Lotus, a limited slip differential. Watch out for this one, it could be the underdog sleeper pick.
Mercedes-AMG C63 S Coupe
Last year we tested the AMG GT S, but we think that the AMG C63 S coupe might be a brilliant contender. Heavily revised from its sedan brother, the 503 horsepower C63 S might be the best AMG coupe ever. Can it beat everything else here?
Nissan GT-R NISMO
Yep, the GT-R NISMO has been heavily revised for 2017. It still makes 600 horsepower (that's nothing to sneeze at), but has been heavily revised in the handling and aero departments with a number of different tips and tricks to make it even faster.
Porsche 911 Turbo S
The 911 Turbo has been revised for 2017 like the rest of the 911 range. The big thing to note? More power. Its now pushing 580 horsepower and has a top speed of 205 mph, the first Turbo to run over 200. It also has a lot of turbo trickery and nerdery that essentially means it's quicker than ever before.
What Didn't Make It
Now, you're probably shouting at your computer asking "hey Rod & Truck, why isn't the Lamborgotti Fastarossa on this list?! Idiots!!" In anticipation of your complaints, here's a brief list of cars you might be thinking of that we should have included.
Ferrari F12tdf: It's very fast. It's also sold out and Ferrari has none available to test. We're sad because this thing is a riot.
Lamborghini Huracan LP580-2: The newest Huracan is hilarious fun in rear-wheel drive guise, but Lamborghini unfortunately elected not to participate in our group test. But we recently drove this car and will have more on it soon. Spoiler alert: It is a good car.
Ford Focus RS: While a brilliantly fun car, the RS will be fairly common compared to the other cars here. We have other plans for Ford's rally hatch that you'll see soon, though.
Camaro ZL1/1LE: We tend to only choose one car per manufacturer for this test, so the newest performance Camaros had to take a back seat to the Corvette Grand Sport. Also, the ZL1 isn't ready quite yet. Keep an eye out for tests of them in the coming weeks/months.
Dodge Viper: Well, the Viper is dead. We also had the ACR at the test last year and it hasn't gotten any major updates in the last 12 months.
LaFerrari/918/P1: Come on.