• Aug 20, 2009
In a truly heroic effort that's not only daunting in scope but utterly jealousy-inducing in execution, the hot shoes at Motor Trend have once again teamed up with pro-racer and 24 Hours of Daytona winner Randy Pobst to put ten of the hottest performance cars currently on sale up against each other at Laguna Seca to determine which is best. Last year, the winner was given the title of "Best Handling Car," though this year they are switching the name to "Best Driver's Car." That works.

Without getting too much into the metrics they used (it's an eighteen page article), MT went with a combination of outright speed, braking performance, lateral acceleration data and subjective seat of the pants driving impressions (plus Pobst's excellent feedback) to rank all ten cars in order. Without giving away the winner, we will say that we enthusiastically agree with their findings.

Cases in point: Chevy Camaro SS is dead last. The BMW 135i is second to dead last. The world-beating Corvette ZR1 ends up one place behind the truly superlative Shelby GT500 and the uber 'Stang isn't even the top American car. Meanwhile, the plucky little Mazda MX-5 Miata finishes higher up than all the cars we just mentioned -- including the mystery Yank tank. In fact, the only gripe we have is that last year's third place car -- the Mazda RX-8 R3 – wasn't brought back for a second go round. No one's perfect. That said, you should consider this article a must read. We have, twice.

[Source: Motor Trend]


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  • 74 Comments
      • 5 Years Ago
      stupid comment system

      that's supposed to go under 2004m3driver
      • 5 Years Ago
      I like how they are implying that the GT-R is not a drivers car. You just sit in it and it takes you around the ring like a roller coaster right? Thats what I heard on the street.
        • 5 Years Ago
        "Why do so many journalists write off the GT-R as highly competent but ultimately soulless?

        Besides not driving it hard enough, here's another explanation:

        knee-jerk reactionary nostalgia."

        -Jonny Lieberman
      • 5 Years Ago
      WTF where's the ACR?

      Oh yeah that's right, Motor Trend and Road & Track are cupholder yuppies. How could I forget that.

      Still it's 2/8th awesome cars and the other 6/8th's are just bleh cars. What happened to the Motor Trend of yesterday when they compared a bunch of really awesome, high-performance cars that we all liked? Remember those, when you saw a car you were like 'gotta ride in that one'? The days when EA was just releasing Need for Speed for the first playstation and all the cars made you go OMGWTFBBQ? I don't get excited for cars in magazines anymore, seriously WTF is going on.

      --RS
      • 5 Years Ago
      Great thing is a couple of years down the line the 135i will be affordable for me 2nd hand. It making no. 9 for me is more than enough. I couldn't afford an R8, Porsche etc (the latter hardly devalues in South Africa at all compared to a BMW) and some of the muscle cars I could really do without. Oooh, how I wish time would fly! Love to read the article, maybe it will surface on the net sometime...?!
      • 5 Years Ago
      the 911 is missing from a driver's car camparo! which is cheaper than R8 and ZR1
      but hell, if the cayman s can top this, that pretty much tell us where the 911 would be....
        • 5 Years Ago
        I think the 911 has been heading more towards GT vs. sportscar over the last couple of generations. True the regular 997 and 997S are still more credible track/sportscars than any BMW or Benz (including M/AMG). And of course the GT3 is magical and the Turbo insane. But most of them sold nowadays are 4S Cabriolets for dentist's wives. They've gotten a little softer. I agree with the poster above that the 997S probably would have been 3rd or 4th.
        • 5 Years Ago
        (cayman's better than 911)
        • 5 Years Ago
        Mid-engine will beat rear-engine every time from a driver's perspective. My intuition is that a 911 in their rough price range (probably a Carrera S) would have finished third, behind the Cayman and R8.

        I don't understand why they bothered with the Camaro. It's not a track car like the Corvette. It's a boulevard and dragstrip showboat.
        • 5 Years Ago
        The 911 is a larger, more plush car, with more down low power. It's a better daily driver and has usable back seats.

        I ended up purchasing a used 997 4S over a new Cayman last year and those were the reasons why.

        You can really take a weekend trip in the 911. The Cayman isn't as comfortable.

        Unless you're really rich, people usually buy a car for more than one reason. In my case, I wanted a performance car, that could also be a nice cruiser as well as a daily driver. Add the prestige that goes along with the name and there you have it.

        If I was looking for a dedicated tearing up the road car for my mountain weekends, I would definately choose the Cayman, but in real life, I needed more than just a car for that. And the C4S almost just as good, but with the extra room and creature comforts.
        • 5 Years Ago
        lewlz
        too bad i have never driven a coxster or 911 so i can't say anything really
      • 5 Years Ago
      The ZR1 has more torque than the R8 and Cayman....combined. It's the car you drive when you've had 3 Red Bulls and just watched Crank.
      Christopher
      • 5 Years Ago
      hmmm.. i thought that the audi R8 and nismo 370Z were top shelf imports. granted they didn't use the GT-R but i still think the Z has always been the more pure sports car, whereas at least in the new version the GT-R is more of a techno tour de force and less a pure drivers car. but i will grant that the bmw should have been the M3 or at the very least the 335 or the new Z4 and not the 135. the Corvette Zr1 and CTS-V both belong, as does the jag XFR as a direct competitior to the CTS-V . the Camaro and Mustang both are sweet pony cars and would likely do well in any bang for the buck test but in this test at least one of these should have been replaced with the lotus Evora and the other one with perhaps the mitsu Lancer Evo X or the subaru Imprezza WRX STI. also the mazda MX-5 Miata should have been replaced with the RX-8 R3, and i think maybe the jag could have been the XK R coupe instead of the XFR sedan.
      • 5 Years Ago
      Randy Pobst is a great guy. I was at Laguna Seca two years ago in the Mazda tent during the AMLS races. I was checking out the then new CX-9 and this guy gets in the back seat and says "What do you think of this thing, I'm thinking about getting one for the wife." I said "Well i'd say it would be a good buy, especially if you enjoy a better handling SUV." He said with a smile "I'd say I do, plus I work for Mazda so I can get a discount." I thought great, I was just talking to a Mazda salesman, whatever. I get out of the car and my uncle say "So what did Randy Pobst have to say? All those years watching him race, I never really knew what he looked like.
      • 5 Years Ago
      I can't imagine an MX-5 and a Cayman Beating a ZR1 in any comparo (unlesss you are talking about price). Something sounds funny about that. And they forgot a few true driver's cars (coughferrari)
      • 5 Years Ago
      Where is the Camry? Oh wait, that is COTY.



        • 5 Years Ago
        I get the tongue-in-cheek, but in fair defense, the Camry is a good car. Its just not an 'enthusiast' drivers car. Drive a Camry during the week and have a real car for weekends...
        • 5 Years Ago
        Transportation Appliance of the year.

        this is for cars that enthusiasts WANT.

        List is well done. Wish the CTS-V was higher but really this is about straight driver's car and I would rate the CTS-V higher only because it seats 4 and does so well, so awesome time for those involved, I'm sure
      • 5 Years Ago
      no GT-R? At least they got the NISMO 370Z.
      • 5 Years Ago
      by your logic the ZR-1 should win as it was the most involving car to drive, I mean you had better get it right or get ready for the crash

      I mena basically what they're saying is the Miata's puny power is so low you just can't get in trouble with it, so you can drive relaxed and enjoy it
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