We've already watched the 2012 Best Driver's Car competition from Motor Trend numerous times, and like us, apparently many M/T viewers had questions about the week-long, nine-car comparison. Not wanting to disappoint its audience, the crew got together to enjoy a few pints while reflecting on the experience and respond to viewer questions during an episode of The Downshift.

It sounds like one of the most frequent questions asked was why some cars made the list and others were left out in the cold. First and foremost, the editors wanted to assemble a group of the newest (or significantly updated) most fun-to-drive cars available, but had to do so within the constraints of the automakers' test vehicle fleets. This explains why, for instance, the Subaru BRZ made it in to the final group of nine, while no Ferrari did.

M/T also addressed the age-old question of how and why a non-manual transmission car could be considered a top driver's car. Editors were quick to point out that, with the great automated manual gearboxes used on the Porsche 911, Nissan GT-R and Mercedes-Benz C63 AMG Black Series Coupe, all that the cars were really missing was a clutch pedal.

Some of the more interesting bits of the conversation included a breakdown of tire and brake replacements required during this massive comparison. We were amazed to find out that only four sets of tires were shredded, but the "surprising amount of brakes" that required replacement definitely made sense for a competition like this at a track like Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca. Another thing that caught our attention was the amount of negative feedback in regards to the Lamborghini Aventador (which finished dead last) – from the failed brakes to Autoblog-alumnus Jonny Lieberman stating that "it had no business on a racetrack."

From Jonny's praise of the PDK transmission to former Editor-in-chief Angus Mackenzie's vibrant description of the 911's handling, it's easy to see why the Porsche was named M/T's Best Driver's Car for 2012.

As for the list of cars being considered for the 2013 Best Driver's Car, check out the 13-minute video below to see some of the predictions for next year's lineup.



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  • 59 Comments
      welinder
      • 2 Years Ago
      y u no review lotus evora s/evora ips?
      ghetto2315
      • 2 Years Ago
      To Carlos and the MotorTrend Team.  The reason why the 6.3 badge is on the AMG despite the 6.2L engine displacement is due in part to Benz paying tribute to the original 300SEL 6.3 engine which came out in 1968.  It's about heritage. This is also evident by AMG's new 5.5L displacement engines but still retain the 63 moniker.
        vashster
        • 2 Years Ago
        @ghetto2315
        You're a true enthusiast, thanks for pointing that out. The guys in the video should have known that. Its a question that gets asked too often an no one tries to explain.
        KY
        • 2 Years Ago
        @ghetto2315
        Good guy. I was listening to that video while scrolling down to read the comments and when I heard they say about the 6.2l engine, I was like "no it's not, they have a 6.3l engine in it before that's why they keep that badge." Just when I finish that thought, I saw your comment which prove me right.
        Shanti
        • 2 Years Ago
        @ghetto2315
        Motor Trend does know that. You're right that it's about heritage (though I would argue it's just as much about marketing and masking the trend of downsizing engines), but that doesn't make their statement untrue. It's just a simpler, incomplete way of explaining it without getting into the back story. However you spin it--the fact is the engineers don't name the cars, and if they did, it would probably say 6.2 on the front fenders.
      maradine
      • 2 Years Ago
      My S5 is a 6SP manual. My E350 was a slushbox, but that was a weird time for me and shouldn't be considered to be representative. My 330i was a 6SP manual. My Jetta Wolfy was a 5SP manual. My perpetually broken Saab 9000 turbo was a 5SP manual. The '89 Miata I learned to drive on was a 5SP manual. The point of this litany is that I love driving manual cars, and consider a clutch pedal to be paramount in the driving experience when making a purchasing selection. Until I spent a hot 30 minutes in a well-broken-in dealer demo 991 Carrera S PDK. I love rowing gears, but I've never had such a neck-snappingly good time in a car before. Fully engaged is an understatement. Would I miss the third pedal? Yeah. Would I get made fun of in auto enthusiast forums? Probably. Would I get the 7SP manual? Gods, no. My 2 cents from both sides of the line. If anyone would like to send me the buck twenty necessary to put one in my garage, operators are standing by.
      Malou H
      • 2 Years Ago
      Lamborghini always gets the same argument Its not violent enough OR Its too violent.
      Malou H
      • 2 Years Ago
      I like the way they said in the original video in regards to the ZL1 "drove great!!!! but anything with that much weight cant be the best drivers car" as opposed to how it drove...
      Rampant
      • 2 Years Ago
      Whatever film school dropout planned out the camera shots and did the editing needs to give it up. I almost got motion sick watching their faces from the fake bobbing and weaving shots, and unnecessary panning shots that supposedly make it more dramatic and add motion. You suck at your job video editor!
        sick of stupidity
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Rampant
        Why does Martin Scoresese always show up here and complain? So many negative people on the intertubes...
      EcoBooster
      • 2 Years Ago
      The fact that people don't understand the importance of the manual transmission, is quite sad. I take it if you don't drive a manual, probably NEVER HAVE then you just don't understand how it works. Driving stick is one of the most involving, intimate experiences you can have when controlling a car. YOU, the driver, tells the car what to do, demonstrating SKILL of "being the car", controlling gear changes, RPM level, speed, steering, etc. This especially applies to TRACK DAYS. The manual transmission is also a great anti-theft device against people who don't know how to drive stick. There is no "skill" in driving an automatic. Pushing down the accelerator pedal does not demonstrate skill. It demonstrates your ability to move your foot. The moral majority of regular car commuters (tweenage drivers, tourists, van drivers, grandma drivers) all drive automatic because they lack (or neglect) the choice to learn/drive stick. Yes, some can argue it's for convenience, comfort, or just practicality. Driving automatic is fun because you just drive, and not worry about anything else. But if you are up for the challenge, driving stick returns more smiles-per-miles because it's just so involving that once you drive stick, you never go back.
        TopGun
        • 2 Years Ago
        @EcoBooster
        Well said. I am so confused. Double-speak and more double-speak. So an automatic-whateveryouwannacall is part of a great driver's car because it makes you go faster...wouldn't that be called Fastest Car? If guys like these have absolutely no issue with removing TWO of the only FIVE ways you sense and control inputs into the car (steering wheel, gas, brake, shifter and clutch)....then I'm left speechless and saddened. And on the cup tires and the Z06 last year...I'm with TwoFace...and how ironic that Angus' comment is again a complete two face. But that's an American car and not a german car...so again..."that's different".
        wtvlol
        • 2 Years Ago
        @EcoBooster
        Very well said
        Peter_G
        • 2 Years Ago
        @EcoBooster
        I recall two stories about the manual being a theft deterrent. One the guy gave up and the other forced the owner to drive him where he wanted to go (at gun point I believe). But to the other statement "YOU, the driver, tells the car what to do, demonstrating SKILL of "being the car", controlling gear changes, RPM level, speed, steering, etc. This especially applies to TRACK DAYS." This only applies if you are driving an actual automatic that the vendor has added "paddles" to. The car will still upshift at redline and prevent you from downshifting or attempting a throttle matched down-shift. As said before, everything else you listed can be done in a "clutchless manuals" like the SMG in the E60 M5 and the PDK/DCT in newer cars do exactly what you tell them to do, when you tell them to do it. Agreed that in drag racing, there is no skill required to take off in a traditional automatic, but real racing is more than just shifting gears.
      wooootles
      • 2 Years Ago
      Nevermind the automatics, but something like the Nissan GT-R shouldn't even be there. Fast as it is, it does half of the driving for you with all the nannies.
        TrueDat
        • 2 Years Ago
        @wooootles
        +1 I love how they pick on the McLaren for all of it's electronic nannies, but they forget the only way to make the GTR go as fast as it does is to let computers drive the car. Not saying it's a bad thing, it's quite the accomplishment actually. But lets at least be real...
          Shanti
          • 2 Years Ago
          @TrueDat
          Eh, I have to play devil's advocate on this one for a couple of reasons. First, the McLaren was faster than the GTR around Leguna Seca, as it should be, electronic nannies being equal, the McLaren is a superior car (in terms of power-to-weight ratio). Given the evidence (or lack there of), if they all say driving the McLaren feels more artificial than driving the GTR, I would tend to give them the benefit of the doubt--at least until I've driven BOTH myself. Second, Motor Trend isn't the only magazine that picks on the McLaren for feeling too removed. Keep in mind that electric nannies aren't all created equal in terms of driving feel, even if they're doing the same thing. Electric steering is a perfect example. Some feel more artificial than others--that's not the same thing as saying one has more electric assist than another.
          Hammad
          • 2 Years Ago
          @TrueDat
          I'm a GTR owner and your statement about the car driving itself couldn't be further from the truth. A GTR will bite you just like any other car will. It just takes a bigger idiot to get bitten by virtue of its really high limits.
          Richard
          • 2 Years Ago
          @TrueDat
          You people have not clue what you are talking about in regards to the GT-R and more than likely never even driven one. Your claim are completely laughable and you end up sounds like internet trolls, seriously.
          TrueDat
          • 2 Years Ago
          @TrueDat
          @ Richard you're right... 3800 lbs cars can run the Nurburgring in under 7:30 without computers, no prob. just really good struts will do the trick, i'm sure...
          QCRamAir
          • 2 Years Ago
          @TrueDat
          @ Richard: The truth hurts. Obviously a soft spot was hit. You work for Nissan? You a GT-R owner?
      mitytitywhitey
      • 2 Years Ago
      What are the odds that every single manual driver in the US is on this thread, up voting BS about manuals and down voting the truth. Every person on that video 'knows how' to drive a manual. On the track even. Even Lieberman, who seems to be everyone on this thread's favorite guy to hate. I know at least 20 guys that have driven manuals on the track... and switched to double clutch. I agree manuals are fun, but seriously guys, you can't defend manuals with lies. It has nothing to do with 'knowing how' to drive one. Some people just don't agree with you that driving a manual is the only point to driving. I know I'm talking to a wall here. Looking at the votes for Ecobooster's post, this is not a crowd that wants to embrace the truth about 'knowledge' versus PREFERENCE.
        benjammin172
        • 2 Years Ago
        @mitytitywhitey
        I'm sorry, but I just don't understand how you could think that driving a car with paddles is as much fun as rowing your own gears with a standard gearbox. How is it anywhere near as much fun to shift down with a paddle and let the car and the car's computers figure out how many revs you should be given and how fast you should be going? I would much rather figure out my own gears, heel-toe and match revs, and operate MY car on MY own without a computer dictating how I drive. But then again, I actually enjoy driving AND going fast, not just the latter.
        mitytitywhitey
        • 2 Years Ago
        @mitytitywhitey
        And yes, I've driven a manual. Laughable argument, but the one most likely to be taken by my critics. I once said I'd never drive anything but a manual.
      Jonathan Wayne
      • 2 Years Ago
      Driven manuals and driven paddle shifters and there is no way I would pick a paddle shift over a manual if I had the option for a sports car. Honestly the experience is night and day. The only reason in my opinion that you would dislike a manual if you had the choice is you either don't know how to drive one, or you don't know how to drive one well.
        Sean
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Jonathan Wayne
        You've driven "paddle shifters", would you care to explain what those shifters were connected to? A Kia Rio has paddle shifters, that doesn't mean it has any comparison to the wet clutch auto in an AMG, or the best of the double clutches like Porsche's PDK, BMW's DKG, and Ferrari's DCT. Even automated manuals, like the SMGs in the outgoing M5/M6, were enjoyable to use in my opinion. Got to use them on a track and they provided enough control and satisfaction to suffice. The 6spd traditional auto in my 335i could be better, but it's still a milestone leap ahead of the "slush boxes" of yore. I occasionally regret not having a manual instead. Having said that, most performance cars' automated manuals are exceptionally well made, and there's no loss of control, since most will shift at an instant from response within the operable rev range, plus many of them hold gears to redline without auto up shifting. *I've had plenty of experience driving manuals. Learned on a pair of 300Z/300ZXs, Mustangs, Jettas, Civics, etc. It's not hard to operate a manual, nor are you a race at driver if you know how to execute a simple heel-and-toe. It's time to get rid of that mindset.
      Alphaforce5
      • 2 Years Ago
      how is it that every word these guys say makes me not want to read their magazine anymore?
        EcoBooster
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Alphaforce5
        There's always CarandDriver...but they probably will give you the same words you don't want to hear.
      benjammin172
      • 2 Years Ago
      The fact that they say "all these cars were missing was a clutch pedal" further validates the fact that this test is absolute garbage. I don't care how many nano-seconds the new 911 changes gears in. Without a proper manual, it isn't a proper driver's car. I fully understand that the new manumatic gearboxes shift gears incredibly quickly, and that they are much quicker than a standard gearbox. That's fine, and maybe it's even ideal for the track. But pushing a paddle and rowing rowing your own gears are nowhere near the same thing. As a driving enthusiast, I would much prefer to change gears with a proper manual and to match revs myself instead of letting a computer do all of the work for me. It's boring, it's uninspired, and it's nowhere near as much fun even if it is much, much faster.
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