Our eight judges each ranked the 12 cars in order of merit, with their combined scores being used to determine the ultimate pecking order in Britain’s Best Driver’s Car 2014
15 October 2014

We feared for the Alfa Romeo 4C when we planned this feature, but not all of our testers had driven one and there was a chance, we’d heard, that the geometry had been knocked out on the last one we drove. So it got another chance but didn’t take it.

We thought that Jaguar’s F-type R coupé would fare rather better. But Castle Combe is a testing circuit, to which the Jaguar’s front wheels were better tethered than its rears. We like an oversteering car, but when that’s inadvertently in a straight line at 100mph, it’s less amusing.

Also less amusing than it could be is BMW’s M4, whose trick of going as sideways, and only on demand, is combined with too few other abilities to lift it clear of Vauxhall’s VXR8. That its daytime job is being a large saloon means equal ninth is more dignified for it than it is for the BMW.

BMW’s i8 is not a sports car and its handling changes dependent on the state of its batteries. It’s also quite charming, hence a respectable eighth-place finish, just behind the Renault Mégane 275, which we all liked a lot, and the Corvette Stingray, which some of us loved more than others. A better road performance would have placed the ’Vette higher still.

The top five were much harder to separate. McLaren has extracted so much from the 650S’s mechanical layout that it’s difficult to imagine it being better, so engaging is it. It finished a whisker behind the Porsche Cayman GTS, which would have fared better still, we suspect, were this a road-only contest.

Which leaves the top three. Last year’s winner, Porsche’s 911 GT3, occupies the bottom step on the podium. On the road, it feels utterly focused. On a circuit, it feels like motorsport. But even it couldn’t match the Ariel Atom 3.5R, which was unlike anything else on the track but whose unforgiving road nature prevented a few of our testers from placing it high enough to snatch first.

Which leaves the Ferrari 458 Speciale, which, by dint of three judges placing it first and no judge lower than third, takes a very narrow victory. Come the final reckoning, none of us felt it was undeserved.

The final scores:

1. Ferrari 458 Speciale – 16 points

2. Ariel Atom 3.5R – 19

3. Porsche 911 GT3 – 27

4. Porsche Cayman GTS – 33

5. McLaren 650S – 39

6. Chevrolet Corvette Stingray – 43

7. Renault Mégane RS 275 Trophy 54

8. BMW i8 – 64

9=. BMW M4 – 78

9=. Vauxhall VXR8 GTS – 78

11. Jaguar F-type R coupé – 80

12. Alfa Romeo 4C – 93

Britain's Best Driver's Car 2014

Click on the links below to read each section of Britain's Best Driver's Car 2014.

The supercars – Ferrari 458 Speciale vs McLaren 650S vs Porsche 911 GT3

The sports coupés – BMW i8 vs Porsche Cayman GTS vs BMW M4

The V8 muscle cars – Chevrolet Corvette Stingray vs Jaguar F-type R coupé vs Vauxhall VXR8 GTS

The misfits – Alfa Romeo 4C vs Ariel Atom 3.5R vs Renault Mégane RS 275 Trophy

Get the latest car news, reviews and galleries from Autocar direct to your inbox every week. Enter your email address below:

Our Verdict

Ferrari 458 Speciale
The 458 Speciale is lighter and faster than the standard Italia

Ferrari's last-word 458 brings unparalleled poise and purpose

Join the debate

Comments
11

15 October 2014

I think the winner was quite predictable but the Vauxhall impresses me more than any other car here. This is a genuine 5 seater and apart from the Megane the only realistic everyday car if you have a family. To come 9th was fantastic.
Really dissapointed with the result of the 4C who I expected to come nearer the top.

15 October 2014

I would think the GT3 is the one.The Ferrari and the 650S cost at least twice as much. The Ariel is not something for everyday/inclement weather. I can only envy those who can get one (or more) of the top group.

GeToD

 

15 October 2014

Whilst I agree with the results I find the choice of the F-Type R in this test an unusual one. Given it's a handling test, surely the lighter, better balanced 'S' would be the one to pick? And while I'm on the subject of choices, the i8 is very much in the limelight, but its appearance here would seem to be Lotus' loss.

15 October 2014

It most certainly is not a car!

15 October 2014

Would have been embarrassing for Porsche had the Cayman beat the 911. Out of that whole list it's the Cayman I'd want on my drive. Also, well done to the Corvette. For years we have sniggered at the Americans for knocking out cars that only perform well in a straight line. The Corvette has come a long way.

15 October 2014

Who would have believed that it was Made in America.

Well done C7. From USD 54,000 (That's only 39,306 pounds).
Time for a holiday in the States and to pick up that new car.

Car prices in Britain have always been a rip off.

Malo Mori Quam Foedari

15 October 2014

The 4C? Best Driver's Car? ----
1) Cramped interior;
2) Wicked turbo lag;
3) Flat spot in the torque curve;
4) No manual transmission;
5) Poor rear outward visibility;
6) Underpowered engine;
7) Unreasonably high price (for this size and category);
8) Questionable reliability.

Please. I would think the Jag or BMW M4 would have blown it away in general overall "driver-ness"....including convenience; dealer support; ride on poor roads; interior spaciousness and accommodation and ergonomics for driver and passenger(s).
======================

16 October 2014
NMGOM wrote:

The 4C? Best Driver's Car? ----
1) Cramped interior;
2) Wicked turbo lag;
3) Flat spot in the torque curve;
4) No manual transmission;
5) Poor rear outward visibility;
6) Underpowered engine;
7) Unreasonably high price (for this size and category);
8) Questionable reliability.

Please. I would think the Jag or BMW M4 would have blown it away in general overall "driver-ness"....including convenience; dealer support; ride on poor roads; interior spaciousness and accommodation and ergonomics for driver and passenger(s).
======================

You are aware it came last, aren't you?
Or are you questioning the inclusion of the 4C in this test?

16 October 2014

I have not missed purchasing "Britains Best Drivers Car" magazine since 1998. Sadly every year its getting more and more pridicatable (apart from Mazda MX5). Its almost always Porsche or Ferrari. We all luv these cars and yes they are awesome however its so one dimentional. I think they should be tested in the Wet & Dry, City driving, Country Driving etc as most people need to handle a car not on its limit but everyday. If you are doing a test on the limits it should also be done on wet track. Yes it takes longer and may cost Autocar more but its a much more interesting result. When are you going to Oulton Park next for "Britains Best Drivers Car" . Now thats great circuit! I look forward to 2015 now.

21 October 2014

Get back to testing cars in the real world! One with massive pot-holes in the road, rough surfaces, cyclists and horses - children, lorries coming the other way...... Then work out which is the 'best car' this test proves how good all of these cars are on a race-track and nothing else...

Pages

Add your comment

Log in or register to post comments

Find an Autocar car review

Driven this week

  • Car review
    23 September 2016
    Aston kicks off its ‘second century plan’ with an all-new turbo V12 grand tourer
  • Ford Ka+ 1.2 Ti-VCT 85
    First Drive
    22 September 2016
    A rounded, refined and well-sorted bargain supermini – once you’re used to the confusing role redefinition imposed on the once-cheeky Ka
  •  Maserati Ghibli Diesel
    First Drive
    22 September 2016
    Maserati releases another range of updates for its range best seller, the Ghibli. We've driven the diesel version, but there's little improvement on before
  • Tipo Front
    First Drive
    21 September 2016
    New Fiat Tipo offers impressive space and practicality for a reasonable price. We try the 1.6 diesel on the demanding roads of North Wales
  • Seat Ateca 1.4 TSI 150
    First Drive
    20 September 2016
    The Seat Ateca 1.4 TSI 150 makes perfect sense: it's spacious, tidy to drive for an SUV and cheap to run