It's that special time of the year once again, friends. Time for us here at Road & Track to pick a new car to declare the 2018 Road & Track Performance Car of the Year. Like the past two years, we'll be conducting our test in Tennessee and Kentucky, with track time at NCM Motorsports Park, right outside the National Corvette Museum. Unlike the past two years, we'll have a wider breadth of cars to choose from.
This year, we've divided the cars up in classes to reflect that there are many different types of performance. The winners of each class will the face off to declare the title of R&T PCOTY 2018. So, what are the classes, you ask? Glad you did, here they are. One group will be track specials, another for supercars, one for grand tourers, and then a group for cars that we're calling spoilers.
Our rules remain the same for cars that are eligible to compete, so that means the car either needs to be new or substantially updated from the previous year. Also, we don't allow the previous year's winner to defend its crown. Our apologies to the NSX.
We'll be posting about the test , so follow along to get behind the scenes photos and videos from the test.
Now, in no particular order, here's each car in the test along with the class it's competing in.
Audi TT RS, Spoilers
This sort of car is the reason why we created the Spoiler class. The TT RS–and its 400 horsepower five-cylinder–is a legitimate contender and has shocked us with how it can shame cars that cost twice as much with brutal acceleration and sharp handling. This is one to keep your eye on.
Porsche 911 GT3, Track Specials
The 911 GT3 got a slew of updates for the 991.2 generation, including a new 4.0 liter flat-six that puts out 500 horsepower. But that's not what you care about. You care that the GT3 is once again available with a manual gearbox. And the car that we'll be testing will be equipped with that gearbox. This one should be a contender, especially considering the last GT3 won PCOTY in 2015 when it only had PDK.
Bentley Continental GT Supersports, Grand Tourers
Two years ago, Bentley sent the Continental GT3-R as its competitor for PCOTY. This year, we have another Continental, but a rather different version. The GT3-R was a stripped out homage to Bentley's GT3 racer, with a twin-turbo V8 and 592 horsepower. With 700 horsepower and a 209 mph top speed, the Continental Supersports is a Bentley that is about brute force, not finesse.
Lexus LC500, Grand Tourers
The LC500 is not going to be the number one choice for a track day. We'll fully realize this. But the 5.0 liter, 471 horsepower, V8 powered LC500 has captured our hearts in more ways than one. First, it's gorgeous. Second, it sounds amazing. Third, it's gorgeous. Fourth, it drives surprisingly well. Fifth, and I don't think we've mentioned this, it's gorgeous.
McLaren 720S, Supercars
With the 720S, McLaren has built a supercar unlike any we've ever seen. It has, as you may have guessed, 720 horsepower, but it's about so much more than that. The aero work is on another level, with those eyesocket headlights and fake doorskins hiding air intakes. The instrument panel slides to a stealth mode to allow greater visibility. Nearly the entire cockpit is glass. It's a spaceship pretending to be a car.
Alfa Romeo Giulia Quadrifoglio, Spoilers
The Giulia is the first rear-wheel drive Alfa sports sedan in a generation. The Quadrifoglio, which was created by a skunkworks of Ferrari engineers, is brilliant to drive. Absolutely brilliant. But it has also been plagued by a number of mechanical issues. Will the Alfa be able to beat everything else to win the test?
Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 1LE, Track Specials
With a big wing, aero flicks up front, Goodyear Supercar tires, 650 horsepower, six-speed manual, Multimatic DSSV Dampers, adjustable camber plates, and more, the ZL1 1LE is the successor to the Gen V Camaro Z/28. We know this wild machine will impress on the track, but how will it be on the road?
Honda Civic Type R, Spoilers
The least powerful, cheapest, and only front-wheel drive car in the lineup, the Civic Type R is definitely an underdog pick for the win. But the 306 horsepower Type R is a little bulldog with a giant wing and should prove to give the other cars in the test a hard time.
Lamborghini Huracan Performante, Supercars
Last year, Lamborghini had a scheduling issue and couldn't send a Huracan to PCOTY. Or perhaps they were just waiting for this year and the Nurburgring-record holding Huracan Performante. With 631 horsepower and innovative active aero, this Lamborghini has a true shot at being the all-out quickest on the track and will likely just hold its own on the road too.
Mercedes-AMG GT R, Track Specials
Two years ago, Mercedes sent the AMG GT S, its newest sports car meant to take the Porsche 911 to task. But where the GT S was distinctly tuned for on-road comfort,the GT R is a nutty track machine. After all, its nickname is "Beast of the Green Hell." Its 4.0 liter V8 now has 577 horsepower, the body is wider, the rubber is stickier, and it has a trick nine-way traction control. This one should be interesting.
What Didn't Make It
As usual, there's likely a large swathe of you complaining that the car you wanted to see win didn't make the cut. There are reasons for this! Good reasons!
Aston Martin DB11 - Last year, the DB11 was too new and not yet available on our shores. This year, it's another timing issue; there are just no DB11s–V8 or V12–available for us to test. We're sorry?
Ford GT - We'd have loved to test the GT, but they're hard to come by and Ford doesn't have one to loan us for the test, sadly.
Ferrari 812 Superfast - Another one where timing is an issue, there just isn't a Superfast for us to test right now.
Lotus Evora Sport 410 - The newest version of last year's PCOTY runner-up is a bit lighter and quicker, but not new enough to qualify for entry in the competition, unfortunately.
Bugatti Chiron - Did you actually expect a Chiron?
Nissan GT-R Track Edition - We had a GT-R Nismo last year and the GT-R Track isn't really an evolution of that car.