European Car of the Year
In this category we have four true supercars and a couple of great driving sports cars. Choosing between this lot is no easy task, but someone has to do it.
Ferrari 488 GTB
The Ferrari 458 was such a wonderful mid-engines V8 powered car that it is hard to image something rivaling it. At least until the Italian sports car maker decided to add twin-turbocharged to a V8 engine for an even more powerful car. While the 488 GTB feels more modern that the F40 it feels like it has the same soul when driving it. As is the trend in the automotive industry (largely because of government regulations) the 488 has a smaller displacement engine than the 458 at 3.9-liters. It is a faster car that makes good use of its 661 horsepower to help make it 0.5 seconds quicker than the 458 Speciale at Ferrari’s test track and has an identical lap time as the F12 Berlonetta. Needless to say, this is quite a machine.
Mercedes-AMG GT S
The Mercedes-AMG GT S is a powerful GT car. It features a twin-turbocharged V8 that offers 510 horsepower under its long front hood. 0-60 mph takes just 3.7 seconds, so it is plenty quick. It is also perfect for eating away miles on a weekend trip. The styling harkens to that of the Mercedes-AMG SLS but without the gullwing doors.
Porsche 911 GT3 RS
The Porsche 911 GT3 RS is a race car for the street. The high performance machine offers 500 horsepower from a naturally aspirated flat-six power plant. Porsche always does a bit more with its horsepower than other manufactures and this 911 is no different. The result is a car that can launch from 0-60 mph in just 3.1 seconds and keep going all the way until it hits 193 mph. The GT3 RS may be street legal, but it is on the track that one can truly enjoy all that it has to offer.
Porsche Cayman GT4
The Porsche Cayman GT4 is one of the most anticipated cars of the year. Normally the Cayman (and Boxster) have to make sure not to step on the 911s toes, but the GT4 is different. It gets plenty of suspension parts from the GT3 and a 385 horsepower flat-six engine sources from the 911 Carrera S. The result is an incredible driver’s car. Equipped with a six-speed manual transmission is the only way it comes and for what it is, it makes it brilliant. While the 911 GT3 will still be much fast than the GT4, it is about as good as it gets in a road car. The limits are still high, but you can get a taste of what it can do even at legal speeds. With its price and performance it makes it a smarter buy (if you can get your hands on one) than most 911s, except the more powerful GT3, GTS and Turbo variants.
Lamborghini Aventador SV
The Lamborghini Aventador SV is a true V12 supercar. It pumps out 740 horsepower and can rocket from 0-62 mph in just 2.8 seconds. The top speed is what you would expect in a car wearing the raging bull at 217 mph. Beyond the high straight-line performance it handles very well on the track, something that not all past Lamborghinis did.
The McLaren 570S is the first more affordable road going McLarens to be made. Now affordable is a matter of perspective as the 570S starts at $184,900 which is way out of reach of most folks. For that money you get a twin-turbocharged V8 engine that offers 562 horsepower. That’s enough to propel the McLaren from 0-60 mph in 3.1 seconds and it can hit a top speed of 204 mph.
And The Winner Is…
The Porsche Cayman GT4 may be the least expensive car in this list, but for the driving most of us do it is the best. The handling starts with what is already very good in the standard Cayman and takes it to the next level. Add this with the 911 sourced power plant plus the manual transmission and you get a near perfect driving experience. It just begs you to find a curvy back road or to get some track time.
Because of this the GT4 is our European Car of the Year. As the winner of the category it will go against the victors of the other categories for our fourth annual Performance Car of the Year.