The winner is... The Porsche 911 R.
And so, after the toughest podium fight anyone could remember, what must have been the tightest margin of victory of any Britain’s Best Driver’s Car shootout was decided.
In a change to the usual scoring format intended to allow a fairer distribution of credit, our judges had up to 50 points to award to each car – 25 for a car’s showing on the road and 25 for the track. There was no restriction preventing them from awarding the same score to more than one car, but the total number of points on offer was intended to mitigate that possibility and to make a tie for any given place in the final rankings less likely.
Not as consistently, however, as this year’s BBDC champion: the brilliant 911 R. Nobody saw fit to deny the 911 more than three points of a perfect 25 for either its road or track performance, and it was the only car to score full marks from a judge.
With an astonishing array of talents, the 911 R’s driver appeal is at once multi-faceted and totally convincing. More tactile and communicative than the Ferrari, more theatrical and enigmatic than the McLaren, and wanting for absolutely nothing on dynamic composure or playful adjustability, the 911 R also builds on the qualities that have made 911s so popular for so long. Compact and confidence-inspiring on a narrow lane, it also has the track purpose and poise to mix it with the supercar set and the combustive sound and fury to live with almost any pace. The Porsche 911 R is this year’s bit of perfection for keen drivers everywhere, and our one regret is that only 991 owners will get to enjoy it.
Outright lap speed doesn’t win a Britain’s Best Driver’s Car contender any credit in our overall scores. How fast a car takes you tends to be a much better indicator of engine and braking power and of outright grip level than of how much fun may be available while you’re driving it. And yet the fact that the higher-rated cars in our scoring table were also the quicker ones around a 2.1-mile circuit does tend to confirm that the pace, grip, balance and precision that make a car fast also tend to make it exciting.
We leave it to manufacturers to decide on which particular tyre their cars are supplied, insisting that the rubber is either standard or optional fit. But, for the record, a good Cup tyre was probably worth 1-2sec a lap here — and the 675LT, 570S, 911 R, M4 GTS and Vantage GT8 all had ’em.
McLaren 675LT Spider 1min 35.7sec
Ferrari 488 GTB 1min 36.9sec
McLaren 570S 1min 37.9sec
BMW M4 GTS 1min 40.4sec
Porsche 718 Cayman S 1min 41.2sec
Jaguar F-Type SVR 1min 41.2sec
Honda NSX 1min 41.7sec
Aston Martin Vantage GT8 1min 42.9sec
BMW M2 1min 44.4sec
Ford Focus RS 1min 46.3sec