We’ll have our cake and eat it, please. Here’s our recipe for the perfect car of 2014

The Autocar road tester is, by his or her nature, a demanding and dissatisfied sort.

We're the lucky ones, given the access to the most desired metal in the world, and the conditions in which to judge them. What could be better? Well, even in a year that's given us the P1, 918, i8, Golf R, Speciale, Wraith and more, it's not enough: we want more. We want perfection.

Specifically, we want the finest traits and ingredients of every recent addition to our motoring culture fused into the most sensational driving machine one can contemplate.

So, the end of the year being a good time to contemplate such things, we've collected our thoughts on what those traits and ingredients might be. And all this in order that the wider world can know what it's like to be paralysed by the automotive sublime, of the kind that can strike any road tester at any given moment – but often when eating baked goods on a blustery Welsh hillside.

Alright, we know we've described an impossible car here, but frankly, so what? This is pure flight of fantasy stuff. Feel free to join in. But the next time the opportunity arises, think before you ask us what our favourite car is. The answer may be more than you bargained for.

Brakes – Iron ones with plenty of feel and cooling. The 345mm discs from the Corvette Stingray will do. Good pedal feel and no fade problems. But they must be the ‘Z51’ brakes which come as standard on European cars, not the regular brakes fitted to US-spec cars.

Steering – From a Porsche 918 Spyder. Heavy, with plenty of feedback even at town speeds, and no obvious friction at all. For the wheel itself, it’s a toss-up between the 918's and that of a McLaren 650S. Both look and feel delicious.

Noise – No sound symposers or ‘frequency augmentation’ here, just authentic engine noise. Needs definition and character as well as volume. Jaguar F-type R arguably over the top; Chevrolet Corvette and Mercedes-AMG GT S are just about perfect. 

Driving environment – The Rolls-Royce Wraith when you sit in the back of the car and a McLaren P1 (albeit with Renault Mégane RS Trophy-R seats) when you sit in the front.

Engine – From the Ferrari Speciale, no question, with 600bhp at 9000rpm, sabre-sharp response and a nicely building sense of drama about the delivery. Incredible. And throw in the electric front axle from the BMW i8 to add some extra mid-range urge.

Materials – The CFRP tub from the i8 should be a better compromise of stiffness and cost than an all-carbonfibre one. Making a styling feature of it is a good idea, too. Lightweight aluminium or CFRP body preferred to plastic, because nobody likes a wobbly panel. 

Usability – Nothing else comes close on this score: a Ford Grand Tourneo Connect has absolutely everything sewn up. And then wrapped. And boxed. Packaging all that into a combination of an i8’s CFRP tub and a Caterham’s chassis could prove tricky, though.

Chassis – That of a Caterham Seven 160, only with hints of other things. Like a limited-slip diff and the ability to hang its tail like a Vauxhall VXR8 or BMW M4. Or the P1’s unearthly, Surrey-installed talent for turning terrifying output into go-kart flippancy. 

Transmission – Six-speed manual from the Porsche Cayman GTS. Weighty, perfectly defined shift; well matched clutch pedal weight with a long, progressive travel. Will need a longer final drive to suit the engine. But will it handle the torque?

That's our recipe for the perfect car, but what's yours? Let us know below

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Our Verdict

McLaren P1

The stakes couldn't be higher, so has the P1 risen to the challenge?

Join the debate


26 December 2014
I'm concerned that there is no mention of a tow bar. How can such a car be classed as a great all rounder if it can't tow my 4 berth caravan?

26 December 2014
well you have some good technical thoughts but you know damn well that even thinking of putting that lot together is a no brainer because at the first sleeping policeman or better still 2 cm of snow (which hopefully you will have outside your front door this morning - join the club) this thing goes nowhere - not even with your Ford Tranny crapmobile which you had the stupidity to throw in the list - must have been too much brandy on the xmas pud

what's life without imagination

26 December 2014
I'm not sure the back end would pass EU, crash tests. I'd fit Goodyear tyres as standard, as well.



26 December 2014
... given how needs and requirements vary, and moreover what's needed for different requirements frequently clashes. Which means you have to compromise your requirements in order to arrive at a vehicle which isn't just an extrapolation of your own ego.

27 December 2014
How could you leave out the two most important items: the occupant of the front seat and room for your dog.

16 February 2015
No even in the chassis department?





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