12 Best Sportscars We've Driven This Year
We're starting a new tradition. Instead of waiting until the end of the year to tell you which car was the best in each segment, we're going to give it to you in real time. We're driven a ton of incredible sportscars (whether humble front-drivers or full-bore supercars) so far this year.
We've ranked them in order of how far they blew our socks off. When we drive something new, we'll update the rankings and tell you why. But for Winter 2018, this is how they stack up.
2017 Aston Martin V12 Vantage S
It's getting old, and there are plenty of cars that beat it in the paper numbers game. But the 2017 Aston Martin V12 Vantage S offers something that nothing else out there does right now: a big ol' V12 up front, and a manual transmission. Other than a few foibles, it's as brawny-chested a thing as you can get.
Moreover, that V12 has our heart. Automakers will keep making techno-savvy cars like the McLaren that you'll see later on this list, but the analog, naturalistic V12 Vantage S is almost certainly the last of its kind. While it's at last place on our list, being simply outmuscled by newer and greater things, don't think for a minute it's worth ignoring.
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2017 Honda Civic Si Coupe
Not every sportscar has to have more than 400 horsepower, although that seems to be increasingly the norm. The Civic Si has always occupied the attainable and affordable end of the spectrum. Basically, a commuter car with a kick.
The new Civic has been very well received, and the Si, for the most part, lives up to its sportier billing. It's a tad underpowered, otherwise its equipment and price point might have bumped it higher in the ranks. That being said, it's definitely the easiest car to live with, and put in your driveway, on this list.
First Drive: 2017 Honda Civic Si Coupe
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2017 Mercedes-AMG GT C
When we drove this brash convertible, the word we used over and over to describe it was "vicious". That's a double-edged sword, obviously. We'd love a less vicious ride, meaning a comfort setting closer to the non-C variant. And the ultra-hard seats provided great support, but they were also ultra-hard.
On the plus side, acceleration is vicious thanks to 550 horsepower and 502 pound-feet of torque. And it's way less unruly than its predecessor, the SLS. While it's an excellent AMG, more like a barely-tamed GT R than a souped-up GT, it doesn't quite have the pizzaz to move higher up on the list. That's more credit to tough competition than a real failing on the GT C's part, to be fair.
First Drive: 2017 Mercedes-AMG GT C
2018 Ferrari 812 Superfast
Don't get us wrong: this Ferrari is a fantastic beast. It's lightning quick, and still sports one of the greatest naturally-aspirated V12s of all time. But as the front-engined Ferrari has evolved, it's become a little less lovely. The styling is rife with slats and vents – purposeful, handsome, but not beautiful. And there has been some progress in terms of equipment. EPS, deemed too unsatisfying for the 488, is needed here to reign in the 789 horsepower, working with the traction and stability control and dampers to keep things pointed the right way.
The fastest regular-production Ferrari in history isn't subpar in any regard, but it's a bit too complicated to be as pure an experience as we'd like.
First Drive: 2018 Ferrari 812 Superfast
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2017 Honda Civic Type R
Whereas the Si is just enough fun to justify its existence, the 2017 Civic Type R is on another level. It's still a Honda, so in sane drive mode it's comfortable with a healthy dash of sporty. Pop it in +R mode, and the turbocharged Type R's 306 horsepower and 295 pound-feet of torque demolishes any nags about the Civic Si's power. The Type R pulls quickly and smoothly up to its 7,000-rpm redline, with turbo lag and torque steer almost imperceptible.
The steering is sharp and direct, the seats are supportive and comfy, and it sounds burly as all get-out. It's a proper Type R, a bit of formerly-forbidden fruit we're happy to savor. And at $34,775, it's even attainable.
First Drive: 2017 Honda Civic Type R
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2018 Bentley Continental Supersports
In case you hadn't noticed, the Bentley Continental is getting old enough that some gray is starting to show up in its temples. There's a brand-new Conti on the way for '19, but that doesn't mean we don't still love the old one. The Supersports' 6.0-liter W12 engine produces an even 700 horsepower, and 750 lb-ft of torque. That makes this the most powerful and fastest Bentley ever made. Sixty miles per hour is dispatched in 3.4 seconds on the way to a maximum velocity of 209 mph.
We compare its rocket-like acceleration to the space shuttle. And yes, we include plenty of spacial puns and jokes. Like this one: "Like a solid booster rocket, which can be lit, but not extinguished, the Supersports features a preternatural and uncanny capacity for thrust."
Quick Spin: Bentley Continental Supersports
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Callaway Corvette SC757 AeroWagen
It's the 200-mph grand tourer that can haul three golf bags around. It's the near-supercar wagon you never dreamed would actually exist. It's a perfect marriage of a classic British bodystyle with the most American of vehicles. Yup, this isn't your typical C7 Corvette: it's a Callaway Corvette SC757 AeroWagen.
And did we mention it has 757 horsepower?
The fit and finish is excellent, and while this particular build isn't cheap, the hatch (and installation) are about $14k alone. It adds some uniqueness to a fantastic platform, and we were addicted to the sheer violence of this SC757's power, too. It entertained enough to put it this high on the list.
First Drive: Callaway Corvette SC757 AeroWagen
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2018 Porsche 911 GT3
The last GT3 was great, discounting the unfortunate engine fires and the lack of a manual gearbox. Porsche fixed the former and the latter is sort of academic on the track, if we're being honest. The PDK is a wonderful gearbox, and it's still available in the GT3, of course. But now there's a six-speed manual, and Porsche refined and massaged and sharpened the new GT3 into a weapons-grade track monster.
The naturally-aspirated, 4.0-liter engine makes 500 horsepower and absolutely screams up to its redline. There's a compelling duality here: typical 911 comfort and ergonomics with a wailing banshee punting the thing down the road or track. As turbocharging takes over, the pureness of the GT3's power delivery is a rare treat. It's only some exceptional company that keeps it from moving higher on our list.
First Drive: 2018 Porsche 911 GT3
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2017 Bugatti Chiron
Crank the venerable Veyron up to 11, and that's pretty much the Chiron. It's raw pull bends the mind and pushes the back into the comfy seats. That's what 1,479 horsepower does for you. But is it a great sportscar?
Our reviewer kept reaching for airplane metaphors when describing the impossible amounts of power on tap. It's impossible to drive this thing slowly. It's also heavy and punishingly expensive, so think of this more like a rocket-powered tourer than a curvy-road carver. There's nothing faster around, though, that's undeniable.
First Drive: 2017 Bugatti Chiron
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2018 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 1LE
The 1LE ranks so highly here partly because it's so audacious – physics be damned, this brick is fast! – and partly because of how monumental the objective performance is. The 1LE isn't the low-key track assassin that, say, the GT3 is. It's dramatic. Motions are big, sound is intense, grip is tremendous.
Picture a vintage Trans-Am car that isn't trying to kill you, that'll actually idle. It's entertaining, not just because the limits are huge, but because the danger zone as you work up to the limit is as fat as those ultra-sticky Goodyears. That's what makes it a great driver's cars, and also one of the best sportscars we've driven so far in 2017.
First Drive: 2018 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 1LE
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2017 Ford GT
Big shoes to fill, and all that. The GT has two predecessors that are legends in their own right: the original GT40, which needs no introduction, and the later GT that packed a blown V8. This one's a twin-turbo V6, and the bottom line is that it's a legend in its own time.
In a world where Ferrari, Lamborghini, McLaren, and yes, the specter of an impending mid-engine Chevy Corvette all exist, Ford has carved its own competitive perch. Not many will ever drive this new GT, but those who do will likely agree: it's true to its original promise and fulfills Ford's potential as a legitimate supercar maker. The ambition, and the execution, are why the GT sits where it does. It's truly a special thing.
First Drive: 2017 Ford GT
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2017 McLaren 720S
And here's number one: the 2017 McLaren 720S. It is, we agree, the best sportscar we've driven all year, all things considered. And it wasn't a level playing field, featuring cars of all different performance capabilities, price points, and target demographics. But this McLaren, like most since the company rebooted a while back, is a true all-rounder. Comfortable, quick, good-handling, and unabashedly futuristic.
But here's the real reason it's the top dog (at this point in time): this McLaren reminds you that rewards come with skill, not just speed, which is weird for a car this fast. You can't just point the steering wheel, mash the gas and let the electronics sort everything out. You have to, you know, actually drive, paying close attention to weight transfer and smooth inputs. That also sounds weird, but it's rare these days. In our world of point-and-shoot supercars, McLaren made the 720S a true driver's car.
First Drive: 2017 McLaren 720S