This year our quest to determine the most entertaining and capable machine, on road and track, is one of the most closely fought ever
Matt Prior
16 October 2014

The line-up for Britain’s Best Driver’s Car usually assembles itself. There’s a big name, a must-have, which everything else falls easily around.

But not this year. Not since Lamborghini declined, wisely perhaps, to allow any publication to compare a Huracán alongside any other car. So we mulled over a long list of what we thought we should gather for what we informally know as Handling Day.

Usually, we’d then cut that list down to 10 plus last year’s winner. But we realised that the 12-car list was one of the most stonkingly strong line-ups in the competition’s 25-year history, so we left it entirely as it was.

Handling Day is actually three days of testing, photography and video on the road and on a circuit. This year we based ourselves at Castle Combe, Chippenham, within easy reach of decent roads in Wiltshire and surrounding counties. And by decent, we of course mean poorly surfaced and badly cambered as only the finest British roads can be.

The track itself? It has been developed from the perimeter road of a wartime airbase so is fast and mostly right-handed, with a few chicanes to provide a fine test of traction and braking stability.

But although it is quick (the fastest cars exceed 150mph along the start-finish straight), it’s so bumpy and cambered that it’s a surprisingly good test of a road car. Even a modestly powered hot hatchback feels in its element around here. You’ll find one listed below, alongside the 11 other competitors.

The cars: 

Alfa Romeo 4C – deserves its chance to show what it can do here.

Ariel Atom 3.5R – most-focused version of the latest Atom. 

BMW i8 – more GT than sports car but a must-have for BBDC.

BMW M4 – a 3-series-based M coupé is usually a front-runner. 

Chevrolet Corvette Stingray – it’s already impressed us.

Ferrari 458 Speciale – a five-star road test car, but BBDC is full of surprises.

Jaguar F-type R coupé – hardcore V8 coupé with plenty of fans here.

McLaren 650S – a grower, we think, and a force to be reckoned with.

Porsche 911 GT3 – last year’s winner earns itself an automatic recall.

Porsche Cayman GTS – dubbed the best sports car in the world. Let’s see.

Renault Mégane RS 275 Trophy – hot hatchback heaven.

Vauxhall VXR8 GTS – provides the brawny, large-capacity kicks.

The judges:

Richard Bremner (senior contributing editor), Nic Cackett (road tester), Andrew Frankel (senior contributing writer), Lewis Kingston (deputy digital editor), Matt Prior (road test editor), Matt Saunders (deputy road test editor), Steve Sutcliffe (editor-at-large), Mark Tisshaw (deputy editor)

The results:

Click on the links below to read each section of Britain's Best Driver's Car 2014, followed by the crowning of this year's overall champion as decided by our eight judges.

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

The verdict – Britain's Best Driver's Car 2014 is crowned

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Our Verdict

McLaren 650S

The latest addition to McLaren's line-up may be based on the 12C, but this is a whole new ball-game

15 October 2014
I wonder if the Cayman GTS is nice to drive pottering about in town traffic and on the motorway as well. I keep dreaming about saving up for one, but feel it might ultimately prove disappointing as a day to day car. I've found the best daily drivers and cars I actually buy are generally those deemed by Autocar to be competent but bland and characterless.

In fact, I wonder if any of these cars could be a decent daily driver?

15 October 2014
winniethewoo wrote:

I wonder if the Cayman GTS is nice to drive pottering about in town traffic and on the motorway as well. I keep dreaming about saving up for one, but feel it might ultimately prove disappointing as a day to day car. I've found the best daily drivers and cars I actually buy are generally those deemed by Autocar to be competent but bland and characterless.

In fact, I wonder if any of these cars could be a decent daily driver?

From previous reviews, tests etc I suspect that the F Type and 650S are the only cars here that could genuinely be used everyday. They both display exceptional handling and are real driver's cars, but they dont' display many compromises elsewhere, both featuring excellent ride, comfort and refinement. Even the saloons/hatches here are too compromising such as the M4 and Megane. Their ride for example is harsh which would wind you up after a short while. If anything, thhis just typfies further what a superb job Jaguar and McLaren have done with their cars.

15 October 2014
F -type has an unusable boot and very loud exhaust all the time (even with the valve button off), i drove one recently, its an ok car for occasional use, but i wouldn't drive that everyday, will need a second car!!!

15 October 2014
I like driving but these cars are so far removed from reality that it is a pointless exercise. I used to have a Boxster S and the only time I could use more than 50% of its capability was on a track day. To try and do so on public roads is just plain stupid.

15 October 2014
Surely there are three big badges missing? 918,La Ferrari & P1 anyone?

17 October 2014
For me, the best driver's car is the Cayman GTS: it's usable everyday, it's a nice coupé with enough confort to go at job or to the nearest circuit. Its overhall balance is just perfect with a central engine, an excellent braking system and a low consumtion at road legal speed.

The Megane RS is a pretty good driver's car but as they said: she's front drived so far more efficient on tortuous tracks that at Castle Comb (too fast) with its power, but a must have for B-roads.

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