We tend to crow a bit about the history of Autocar’s annual Britain’s Best Driver’s Car super test. Well, sorry-not-sorry; we’re proud of it.
When the very first one was convened in 1989, pulling a large field of the most exceptional performance cars of the year together in one place, driving them all back to back, and then getting a number of expert judges to democratically aggregate their subjective impressions in order to be sure which really was the finest of the lot was a novel concept.
It’s been copied a fair bit since. But the original is still special; perhaps the very best thing that Autocar does, and one of the most important as far as keen drivers may be concerned. And, in the thirty-three runnings of the exercise that we’ve had, only three other cars have done what the current Porsche 911 GT3 did at Anglesey last November: successfully defend a ‘Handling Day’ title.
We’ve had plenty of double winners; more still if you’re willing to tot up the numbers across model generations. Lotus Elises have won twice; Mazda MX5s ditto. The Porsche 911 ‘997’ bagged a couple of titles in the noughties, across different derivative versions (Carrera S and GT3 RS). And the 911 ‘991’ did similarly a decade later (GT3 & 911 R).
But to win BBDC one year, to come back the next in precisely the same guise as the reigning champ, and then to defy the weight of expectation and a field full of fresher rivals and win a second time; that takes a very special car. The Honda NSX managed it; the Ferrari 550 Maranello also; the Ariel Atom 4 did, not so long ago. But the very first Porsche to do it is our 2022 champ - the formidable ‘992’ GT3.
It probably helped that the weight of expectation last November was at least partly elsewhere. Among the GT3’s rivals were several cars that might have had shorter bookies’ odds: the Ferrari 296 GTB, McLaren Artura, even Porsche’s own Cayman GT4 RS. All were expected to contend; and all did.
But, while every one of the GT3’s opponents dazzled in its own element and particular way, none had quite as complete an array of qualities as the ‘the other Porsche’. The one none of us saw coming, but that every one of us should have.
The ‘992’ GT3 has such a broadly based brilliance that it seems to have its opponents entirely surrounded. You can drive it in a pretty disinterested style, on a nondescript road, and just enjoy the character of that firecracker atmo engine now and again, if you like.
You can probe a little bit more, and marvel at how that tactile steering feel combines with the car’s actively steered rear axle to make it so easy and intuitive to place. Then, you can begin to explore what the farther reaches of that eye-popping 9000rpm rev range sound and feel like; better still, how many different ways there are to enjoy the car on the track.