Sports cars are built to maximize performance, sure, but the reason people pay the super high premiums for them is for the sheer enjoyment. And that’s not something you can pick out on paper.
The only fair and proper – and legal – way to fully enjoy a sports car at its limit is in a track setting. Motor Trend’s “Best Driver’s Car” annual experience drops the year’s best sports cars into Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca in Monterey, Ca., and has at it with its features team. But atypical to the norm, it’s not a race there.
The track test is half the battle for the best driver’s car, just ask the 5th place-winning Dodge Viper ACR. The car that slaughtered track records across the world walked away in impressive fashion, posting a lap time just a few seconds off this track’s record – which it already owns from a different session. That’s great and all, but only put it slightly ahead of 50% of the field in the overall competition.
The reason for the ranking is the cumulative package, not a strictly racing setting nor an everyday setting. What makes a near-perfect sports car is the balance of daily usability with dedicated performance at its disposal as well. The Motor Trend driving team came to the conclusion that the best total package, all things considered, was the McLaren 570S.
McLaren is no stranger to the competition, and the first-place finish is a big improvement over the MP4-12C’s fifth-place finish in its debut in the contest. Over those four years, through cars like the 650S and P1, McLaren has dialed in something that is successful if not formulaic. But the slight deviations from the formula are what is making the 570S more engaging than its competition.
The lack of active suspension and aerodynamics make the Sports Series halo an invitation for misbehavior. Its true driver connection through what seems like telepathy enhances a driving experience beyond what computer systems can deliver. It’s 1:34.58 best lap didn’t top the leaderboard, but it was probably a heck of a lot of fun minute-and-a-half.
The genesis of the McLaren Sports Series came with the intention to make the everyday journey one unlike anything else available. It’s fair to say that the track isn’t even the strong suit of the 570S, so that goes to show just how well that driving feel translates to the real world, on real roads that customers will frequent. It was built with drivers in mind more so than every ounce of performance it can muster, which translates to an utterly satisfying product worthy of number one on a list such as “Best Driver’s Car.”