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Tue, 03 Apr 2018 15:30:03 +0000
2018 AUTOMOBILE All-Star: 2018 Honda Accord 2.0T Sport

What, you might ask, is a $31,200 (as tested) family sedan doing among these $100,000 to $300,000 stunners? Kicking their butts, mostly. The Honda Accord is a legend among the car-buying public and automotive writers alike, and for good reason. It’s consistently one of the best vehicles on the road, often not because it excels...

The post 2018 AUTOMOBILE All-Star: 2018 Honda Accord 2.0T Sport appeared first on Automobile Magazine.

When the Lexus LF-LC concept—the car that would become the LC 500—rolled onto the floor of the 2012 North American International Auto Show, the buzz was louder than a beehive after being whacked like a pi


Wed, 21 Mar 2018 21:00:52 +0000
2018 AUTOMOBILE All-Star: 2018 Lexus LC 500

When the Lexus LF-LC concept—the car that would become the LC 500—rolled onto the floor of the 2012 North American International Auto Show, the buzz was louder than a beehive after being whacked like a pi


Sun, 18 Mar 2018 00:00:34 +0000
2018 AUTOMOBILE All-Star: 2018 Mercedes-AMG GT R

I tested a Mercedes-AMG GT3 race car about a year ago and excitedly anticipated the chance to drive the street version, the AMG GT R, ever since then. Somehow, I managed to not drive it on the road before our All-Stars track day at Speedvegas. So when the track opened, I was strapped in and...

The post 2018 AUTOMOBILE All-Star: 2018 Mercedes-AMG GT R appeared first on Automobile Magazine.

Supercars, sports cars, and crossovers with plenty of cool. Even a wagon made an appearance. Our 2018 All-Stars evaluation was arguably the most stellar constellation of vehicles this publication has ever assembled in one place. Of the 26 on hand, this year we landed on eight to represent the best the market has to offer, the All-Stars. You can take it all in beginning on here.

In the run up to our annual All-Stars event, we scan every major automaker’s roster and identify the all-new, significantly revised, or otherwise interesting variants of vehicles on sale or about to be in the 12 months preceding our test each December. Then we cull our exclusive list of invitees from there. While we aim to get every last car we’d like to evaluate and think you’d enjoy knowing more about, sometimes we aren’t able to do so. For example, Dodge couldn’t pry loose a Demon, Porsche wasn’t able to score us the 911 we wanted, and we couldn’t get our grubby hands on a Tesla Model 3. Bummer. Some cars hit the market just after our test, so we endeavor to have them along the following year, with the Alfa Romeo Giulia’s inclusion this year being one of the latest examples.

In the spirit of the founders of Automobile, our All-Stars test is as representative as possible. So there are no rules about prices and no complicated and convoluted criteria. Our only goals are to give every vehicle on hand an honest and thorough evaluation and have a little fun—because almost every one of them is an absolute blast to drive, and they’re all special in their own ways. Simply put, the ones that move us the most are the ones that make the podium after our vote, with 19 judges submitting ballots for 2018.

Since I’ve been in this position, one of my greatest satisfactions has been working with our crack squad of staffers and contributors as we continue to develop our signature event. Each year we add more information on every car we bring for evaluation, more video components, more social media, and more photography. Our top flight creative team is evolving the All-Stars branding, and we’ve partnered for the second consecutive year with the Amelia Island Concours d’Elegance for our awards presentation. Indeed, we’re always thinking of new opportunities, new ways of bringing the All-Stars to you.

This year was one of those star-aligning times car-wise, with some of the most impressive high-performance machines in the world available to us. From the McLaren 720s to the Audi TT RS, the Ferrari GTC4Lusso T to the Honda Civic Type R, there were superstar offerings in almost every price range. Interestingly, and going against the grain of what’s happening in the marketplace, no crossovers made the final cut, but the Volvo XC60 and Range Rover Velar might have made it through had they not been in this batch of vehicles. It’s also probably one of the last years where an all-electric vehicle won’t be in the mix. The Bolt EV was a 2017 All-Star. There are more to come, with the Jaguar I-Pace headed into showrooms possibly as early as this year.

Despite the march toward electrification and the doom and gloom surrounding what many believe to be a future where we’ll be autonomously chauffeured around in shapeless, electric-powered pods, things still look bright for people like us who love to drive cars and want to learn more about everything from a Honda Accord Sport to exotic unobtanium like the astonishing Ford GT.

Next year’s All-Stars list is already shaping up quite nicely. We’ll be all over the monstrous Chevy Corvette ZR1, and just maybe Porsche will bestow a dazzling 911 GT2 RS upon us. The new BMW M5 and 8 Series, Ferrari Portofino, Aston Martin Vantage, Audi RS 5, Mercedes-AMG GT sedan, and Mercedes-Benz CLS-Class are some of the other performance-oriented machines also on the way. Buick is bringing a new Regal GS to showrooms, and the Volkswagen Arteon is set to spice up the German manufacturer’s lineup. Hyundai is rolling out a hot-looking N-performance-branded version of its Veloster hatch, and Genesis will show off its all-new G70 sedan.

More compact crossovers are coming, of course, including the Jaguar E-Pace, Volvo XC40, and BMW X2. The new Jeep Wrangler is headed for the trails, and the Mercedes G-Class, though capable enough to hang off-road with the Wrangler, will do most of its work preening in fashionable locales and fancy mall parking lots.

No matter what vehicles show up in succeeding years, there’s one thing you can be sure of: We’ll keep grinding away, keep building, and keep the focus on bringing you the best All-Stars presentation possible

The post Surveying the Superstars, Present and Future appeared first on Automobile Magazine.


Fri, 16 Mar 2018 21:00:01 +0000
Surveying the Superstars, Present and Future

Supercars, sports cars, and crossovers with plenty of cool. Even a wagon made an appearance. Our 2018 All-Stars evaluation was arguably the most stellar constellation of vehicles this publication has ever assembled in one place. Of the 26 on hand, this year we landed on eight to represent the best the market has to offer,...

The post Surveying the Superstars, Present and Future appeared first on Automobile Magazine.

The 2018 Honda Civic Type R sets an astonishingly high benchmark in the performance-per-dollar category, and it easily stole many hearts and minds at this year’s All-Stars shootout.

In my experience coming from the racing side of the automotive business, it is not normal to find a gaggle of journalists waxing lyrical about a vehicle that costs less than $35,000, especially when they have access to a bucket full of supercar keys and the green light on a racetrack. Proving the point: Out of the 26 vehicles at this year’s All-Stars event, the Type R was the only one picked by every single contributor as part of their top-10 list. St. Antoine confirmed, “Hands-down the No. 1 All-Star at this contest.” Online editor Ed Tahaney added, “A real-deal, six-speed pocket rocket and a serious bargain.”

No surprise, the Type R’s styling inspires people to passionately join warring camps. Design guru Cumberford critiqued it as “the perfect daily driver for an enthusiast, a truly excellent, pleasingly fast, good-handling car spoiled by its exterior.” Rehbock countered, “You’ll forget about the goofy looks, which I’ve come to love, the minute you step on the pedal, bang through the excellent manual transmission, or tear through a corner.” A pragmatic retort from Tahaney said, “Total All-Star! Get over the looks already.” From my perspective, I don’t hear many negative opinions expressed about the arguably silly-for-the-street, winged appearance of a Porsche 911 GT3 RS or a Mercedes-AMG GT R. Apparently the Type R’s World Touring Car looks don’t rate highly. Maybe if Honda charged $150,000 for it, some folks might like it better.

Move past that debate, though, and there was universal agreement about anything associated with the Type R’s performance. The Honda-developed seats are very comfortable and supportive for everyday street driving and track use. The steering wheel and pedals are well-placed, providing excellent usability. Seat adjustment is manual; we had no issues finding a perfect driving position.

The engine pulls hard enough to make you think this Civic has more than 306 horsepower. Amazingly, it exhibits zero torque steer under full acceleration, thanks to its brilliant dual-axis strut suspension up front. The engine/induction/turbo sound inside the cabin is most pleasing in Race mode, but even then it’s still pretty quiet and not as racy-sounding as, say, the Ford Focus RS.

The brakes are superb and exhibited no fade while lapping at full-tilt speeds in the process of trying (and managing) to lose a well-driven 603-horsepower Mercedes-AMG E63 S. Talk about an overachiever. The Type R’s handling is so well-sorted that I’m not sure I’ve ever driven a better-handling street car on a track right out of the box, not counting far more exotic models that usually have a starting price four to five times greater than the Honda’s.

The six-speed manual gearbox is brilliant. The shift gates are spaced perfectly, and it’s easy to shift ridiculously fast. I only heard praises for this wonderful transmission from our judges at All-Stars, and not a single grind was heard on street or track.

I used the most comfortable settings most of the time while driving on the road. This nicely softens the suspension and the throttle response, effectively turning the R into a compliant and economical daily commuter. (I saw better than 34 mpg during one 90-minute run.) Wasef summed it up best, praising “a delightfully revvy powerplant, nimble handling that belies its front-drive configuration, and a driver-focused demeanor that begs for apex hunting.”

When it comes to real-world performance on today’s roads, the Type R delivers about as much fun as we would ever want or can reasonably use. On a track, the R will ably punch above its weight, and it’s no stretch to put it in the same driver-satisfaction category as the Porsche 718 Cayman S, a major compliment. The Honda Civic Type R is a practical rocket ship, an incredible value, and a most worthy All-Star.

2018 Honda Civic Type R Specifications

PRICE$34,775/$34,775 (base/as tested)
ENGINE2.0L DOHC 16-valve turbo I-4/306 hp @ 6,500 rpm, 295 lb-ft @ 2,500 rpm
TRANSMISSION6-speed manual
LAYOUT4-door, 4-passenger, front-engine, FWD hatchback
EPA MILEAGE22/28 mpg (city/hwy)
L x W x H179.4 x 73.9 x 56.5 in
WHEELBASE106.3 in
WEIGHT3,106 lb
0-60 MPH5.4 sec
TOP SPEED170 mph

The post 2018 AUTOMOBILE All-Star: 2018 Honda Civic Type R appeared first on Automobile Magazine.


Wed, 14 Mar 2018 16:50:55 +0000
2018 AUTOMOBILE All-Star: 2018 Honda Civic Type R

The 2018 Honda Civic Type R sets an astonishingly high benchmark in the performance-per-dollar category, and it easily stole many hearts and minds at this year’s All-Stars shootout. In my experience coming from the racing side of the automotive business, it is not normal to find a gaggle of journalists waxing lyrical about a vehicle...

The post 2018 AUTOMOBILE All-Star: 2018 Honda Civic Type R appeared first on Automobile Magazine.

The amusing thing is, we didn’t plan to invite the 2017 Porsche 911 Carrera GTS to this year’s edition of All-Stars. We wanted the latest GT3 and believed we had it locked in. But a ripple in Porsche’s test-vehicle pool meant the car originally earmarked for our evaluation was sent packing back to the mother ship in Germany, leaving us empty-handed.

“But wait,” Porsche Cars North America inquired. “Would you like us to send the new GTS?” We looked at each other for a brief moment, huddled together, and reviewed this 911’s case for attending. We remembered how we laughed last year when we realized this 450-horsepower, turbocharged, rear-drive Carrera is much faster than the turbocharged, rear-drive 993 GT2 of the 1990s, a car that collectors have recently paid millions for. We considered the fact Porsche positions the GTS between the standard Carrera and the “real” 911 Turbo without being as hard-edged as the GT3. “You know,” one of our staffers whispered, “this might be the best 911 Porsche builds right now. Possibly?” Hmmmm. So we picked up the phone and dialed PCNA in Atlanta. “About that GTS … ”

Another funny thing: Halfway through our All-Stars program, you would have thought no one was paying attention to this white coupe. The GTS uses larger turbochargers and a little more boost than the Carrera S, giving it an additional 30 horsepower and 37 lb-ft of torque in comparison. It comes standard with Sport Chrono and the different drive settings the package includes. Dual-clutch-equipped versions such as this one also feature Porsche’s Sport Response “push-to-pass” instant-power button on the steering wheel. Then there is a sport exhaust combined with less sound deadening to turn up the volume, plus those cool center-lock wheels. Not to mention a lower sport suspension setup (optional on Carrera S) and the mean-looking wide-body shell everyone loves on the Carrera 4; this and the GT3 are the only rear-drive 911s to receive it. Additionally, this test car came well-equipped to the fight, carrying both the optional carbon-ceramic brake and rear-wheel-steering packages, as well as Porsche’s active anti-roll bar setup.

Yet for the first day or two, little was said about the GTS as our drivers ran it up and down Mount Charleston. The same proved true at Speedvegas. For some bizarre, unspoken reason, our drivers appeared to have struck a deal to keep whatever excellence they found in the GTS to themselves. Yet when the final discussions and voting for this year’s All-Stars began, the floodgate of positivity burst open.

“This car cannot be faulted and may in fact be the best-value, all-around street-oriented 911 sports car option,” pro racer Andy Pilgrim declared. “Sick brakes, too.” OK, no one ever rolls up to another car at a stoplight, looks over, and challenges, “I bet I can outbrake you,” but his point was well taken: The GTS does everything well. Some felt the active anti-roll bars were overkill, perhaps diluting some of the chassis feel, but more members of our team could not have cared less. “This is some of the best steering on the planet, a chassis that’s hardwired to your backside, brakes that never say ‘uncle,’ and speed you literally have to see on the speedo to believe,” editor-at-large Arthur St. Antoine said. “And the thing just reeks of quality. Probably the best all-around 911 ever.”

Amazingly for our group of wags, those sentiments were almost unanimous, making the GTS a clear All-Star. Everything about this Carrera whispers balance, the kind that makes it a joy to drive even moderately fast. “Porsche’s decades of refinements come through perhaps most clearly in this model, which provides just enough edge without abusing or overstaying its welcome,” contributor Basem Wasef concluded. “Short jaunt or long road trip, the GTS is equally adept at either.” No one was compelled to argue with him.

Does that make it the best new 911 available? With no less than 23 911s to choose from, a formula for almost anyone’s taste, it’s impossible to unequivocally hand the Carrera GTS that title. But we’ll be hard-pressed to debate for long with anyone who reaches such a conclusion. As for why our crew kept its praise to itself until the end of our All-Stars event? The only explanation we’ve come up with says that after countless combined years behind the wheel of 911s, no one expected anything less.

2017 Porsche 911 Carrera GTS Specifications

PRICE $120,050/$151,995
ENGINE 3.0L twin-turbo DOHC 24-valve flat-6/450 hp@ 6,500 rpm, 405 lb-ft @ 2,150-5,000 rpm
TRANSMISSION 7-speed dual-clutch automatic
LAYOUT 2-door, 4-passenger, rear-engine, RWD coupe
EPA MILEAGE 20/26 mpg (city/hwy)
L x W x H 178.3 x 77.9 x 51.0 in
WHEELBASE 96.5 in
WEIGHT 3,241 lb
0-60 MPH 3.5 sec
TOP SPEED 192 mph

The post 2018 AUTOMOBILE All-Star: 2017 Porsche 911 Carrera GTS appeared first on Automobile Magazine.


Tue, 13 Mar 2018 16:25:25 +0000
2018 AUTOMOBILE All-Star: 2017 Porsche 911 Carrera GTS

The amusing thing is, we didn’t plan to invite the 2017 Porsche 911 Carrera GTS to this year’s edition of All-Stars. We wanted the latest GT3 and believed we had it locked in. But a ripple in Porsche’s test-vehicle pool meant the car originally earmarked for our evaluation was sent packing back to the mother...

The post 2018 AUTOMOBILE All-Star: 2017 Porsche 911 Carrera GTS appeared first on Automobile Magazine.

Road racing’s popularity in the United States is a long way removed from its all-time high decades ago, and that’s a real shame in our collective opinion. It’s also a bit bizarre when you consider how many sports cars and supercars this country’s affluent purchasers snap up annually—cars that produce their astounding performance thanks to technologies and engineering lessons learned on racetracks around the globe. Regardless of whether you’re a race fan, the good news for enthusiasts is that manufacturers continue to push the motorsports envelope, leading to ever more impressive offerings for the street.

Make no mistake, Ford’s latest GT is a modern homologation special created first and foremost to win the 24 Hours of Le Mans, a feat it accomplished in 2016. Its competition-bred roots are apparent immediately in the road-going version—but not everyone appreciates them right away. Some of our staff even initially declared the car a bit of a disappointment, relatively speaking, on the street, as the dual-clutch gearbox isn’t as slick and smooth as some others on the market. And although the twin-turbo EcoBoost’s 647 horsepower and 550 lb-ft of torque are nothing to mock, neither do they make the GT as brain-bendingly quick as something like the McLaren 720S. Of course, that really says more about the amazing state of the performance car world when a machine capable of running from 0 to 60 mph in a tick less than three seconds is no longer automatically considered mind-blowing in the acceleration department.

The car’s carbon-fiber monocoque construction is a piece of race-proven hardware, but simultaneously the no-frills cockpit’s motorsports-influenced design and trim give you a bit of that old kit-car feeling. But we knew from our experience driving the GT last year that initial impressions don’t tell anywhere close to the full story. As contributor Marc Noordeloos noted while making it clear the GT didn’t blow him away on the street, “It feels like it’s dying to go to the track.”

Some of us smiled knowingly, as once the GT hit the Speedvegas road course, any lingering doubts about it disintegrated within the first lap or two. Suddenly the engine that sounded a bit agricultural at low rpms on the street began to spit and hiss all manner of turbo and induction sounds, snorting, popping, and screaming its way through corners faster than anything else on site as its monster midrange torque proved massively impressive. Previous grumbles from taller drivers about a lack of headroom disappeared as they suddenly and happily found a way to shoehorn their helmet-clad skulls into the left seat, grinning the entire time. The GT’s steering, braking, and suspension setup are all phenomenal, allowing you to attack apex curbs with an aggressive I-will-own-you style that seemingly rewards drivers more the harder they push.

On top of all the mechanical goodness, the more experienced and skilled drivers among us repeatedly mentioned the GT’s aerodynamic performance. “Without doubt it has the most downforce and generates the most lateral g’s on the track, especially when using the suspension in the ultra-low Track mode,” pro racer Andy Pilgrim said. “It’s definitely the best-handling car in the field.” Indeed, where other cars required a throttle lift to make it through certain sections of the circuit, the GT dug in and rocketed itself off of corners with no issues. The chassis balance and grip it provided in Speedvegas’s quicker turns—none of which qualify as truly high-speed—and the corresponding confidence it inspired had several of us dreaming about running the car somewhere more wide open, like Road America or Road Atlanta or Spa-Francorchamps.

So then, the 2017 Ford GT, proved itself as one of the best, most track-capable production cars of all time, which led to our stable of drivers rethinking its character on the road as well. It won’t feel familiar to drivers of Porsches and Ferraris and Lamborghinis, as its overall design philosophy is far more results-based than comfort- and luxury-oriented. In other words, exactly what Ford Performance intended from the outset. As a group, we were wholly unprepared for this 2018 Automobile All-Star‘s capabilities. It’s a zero-compromises speed master, and if you drive it, you don’t have to give two cents of a care about road racing—but you’ll understand instantly why it still matters. This is easily one of the most intriguing cars of the past decade and then some. After all, almost no one builds them like this anymore.

2017 Ford GT Specifications

PRICE$450,000 (base)
ENGINE3.5L twin-turbo DOHC 24-valve V-6/647 hp @ 6,250 rpm, 550 lb-ft @ 5,900 rpm
TRANSMISSION7-speed dual-clutch automatic
LAYOUT2-door, 2-passenger, mid-engine, RWD coupe
EPA MILEAGE11/18 mpg (city/hwy)
L x W x H187.5 x 78.9 x 43.7 in (41.7 in low mode)
WHEELBASE106.7 in
WEIGHT3,354 lb
0-60 MPH2.9 sec (est)
TOP SPEED216 mph

The post 2018 AUTOMOBILE All-Star: 2017 Ford GT appeared first on Automobile Magazine.


Mon, 12 Mar 2018 14:40:02 +0000
2018 AUTOMOBILE All-Star: 2017 Ford GT

Road racing’s popularity in the United States is a long way removed from its all-time high decades ago, and that’s a real shame in our collective opinion. It’s also a bit bizarre when you consider how many sports cars and supercars this country’s affluent purchasers snap up annually—cars that produce their astounding performance thanks to...

The post 2018 AUTOMOBILE All-Star: 2017 Ford GT appeared first on Automobile Magazine.

A single-seat race car for the road—that’s the takeaway a lot of us shared after exiting this sizzling McLaren’s form-fitting driver’s seat. Once we were able to catch our collective breath, that is. More than any other car in this year’s formidable All-Stars field, the 720S left everyone who drove it gobsmacked, speed-struck, and, frankly, in need of a little quiet time.

“From 100 to 160 mph, it made the Lambo and the Ford GT feel positively wheezy,” gushed our resident hot shoe, Andy Pilgrim, after lapping the Speedvegas circuit. Contributor Marc Noordeloos agreed: “I can’t remember the last time I drove a car this fast. Wow.” Let it be noted that both of those guys spend a lot of time in seriously quick machinery. Then again, such is the giddiness that erupts when you drive a vehicle that can sprint to 60 mph in just 2.5 seconds and blitz to a top end of 212 mph. (Fittingly, this track-day predator wears bodywork inspired by the beautifully menacing shape of the great white shark.)

One of the most successful Formula 1 teams of all time, McLaren has notched 12 world drivers’ championships and eight constructors’ titles since its first F1 race in 1966. The company knows a thing or three about speed. That’s evident the moment you slide behind the wheel of the 720S: That same race-bred character is evident in its every molecule, integral to its visceral, purebred purpose. The tub, the windshield surround, and much of the greenhouse are crafted in lightweight, super-rigid carbon fiber. (McLaren claims the new structure—dubbed Monocage II—cuts 40 pounds off the outgoing 650S’ monocoque.) The cockpit is a pilot-focused workspace of premium leather, deep racing buckets, and minimal controls. The view to the front, enhanced by notably thin A-pillars, is nothing short of breathtaking—like riding in the nose turret of a B-17 or, yes, in the open cockpit of a Grand Prix car.

The engine lies right behind you, and what a monumental piece of work it is. Twin turbos and 32 valves feeding 4.0 liters of V-8 displacement, all tweaked and tuned to produce 710 horsepower at a screaming 7,500 rpm. Mind you, that’s 79 horsepower more than the already volcanic Lamborghini Hurac


Sat, 10 Mar 2018 20:00:27 +0000
2018 AUTOMOBILE All-Star: 2018 McLaren 720S

A single-seat race car for the road—that’s the takeaway a lot of us shared after exiting this sizzling McLaren’s form-fitting driver’s seat. Once we were able to catch our collective breath, that is. More than any other car in this year’s formidable All-Stars field, the 720S left everyone who drove it gobsmacked, speed-struck, and, frankly,...

The post 2018 AUTOMOBILE All-Star: 2018 McLaren 720S appeared first on Automobile Magazine.

I’ve been a judge in annual “best car” competitions, with various magazines, for decades now, and I won’t deny the obvious: For a car enthusiast, taking part in such a contest is the equivalent of a sugar junkie running amok in the Reese’s Pieces factory. There you are, surrounded by row after row of the sweetest new rides of the year, and somebody is actually insisting you sample every single one of them. People have asked me, “Don’t you get tired of driving around in cars after all these years?” Oh, sure—and Hugh Hefner once said, “I think I’m done here.”

Then again, there are candy makers, and then there is Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory. And Automobile’s yearly All-Stars competition, the centerpiece of this issue, is that wondrous, fanciful land of vehicular Oompa-Loompas and Everlasting Gobstoppers. While other competitions introduce price caps or production quotas or other objective bars to entry on their annual “best of” fields (frankly, that’s way too much math for us), All-Stars is wide open to any new machine that we deem interesting. Thus, right alongside the new-for-2018 Honda Accord and 2017 Mazda CX-5, this year’s competition included such phantasmagorical four-wheeled unicorns as the Ford GT, the Lamborghini Hurac


Sat, 10 Mar 2018 16:00:07 +0000
Playing in the All-Stars Game

I’ve been a judge in annual “best car” competitions, with various magazines, for decades now, and I won’t deny the obvious: For a car enthusiast, taking part in such a contest is the equivalent of a sugar junkie running amok in the Reese’s Pieces factory. There you are, surrounded by row after row of the...

The post Playing in the All-Stars Game appeared first on Automobile Magazine.

So good was the assembly of machines at our 2018 All-Stars competition that our editors at one point stood atop Mount Charleston, soaked in the introspection-inspiring views, and mumbled something about naming every car present an official All-Star, and it wasn’t the thin mountain air talking. We can’t be more clear about this: To receive an invitation to our annual shootout, culled from an initial list of dozens more, always means a car is massively impressive and already a winner worthy of recognition. This year more than ever, there are absolutely no losers in this group.

As always, our formula is simple: no price caps, no categories, and no convoluted point-scoring rules. We pride ourselves on being this industry’s most straightforward awards shootout: The vehicles that spark the most passion, inspire the biggest grins, and deliver an experience as true to their original intent as possible inevitably walk away with an All-Stars trophy.

Is it raw speed that matters most? Physics-defying handling? World-class interior appointments? Those things all count, but this isn’t just a numbers game. It’s a soul-searching quest to identify cars that stir emotions, achievable only by driving them and, more critically, feeling them, hearing them, even smelling them. Because oftentimes the most important elements to dedicated car enthusiasts aren’t apparent on a stopwatch, a dyno, or a score sheet but only through the heart.

This year was among the most difficult evaluations in the history of our event. Compelling arguments were made for far more than the eight vehicles we ultimately chose as the 2018 All-Stars, but when the votes came in, this group stood just high enough above the rest to make the top step of the podium.

2018 McLaren 720

After Every Drive You’ll Expect a Checkered Flag

“A single-seat race car for the road.” That’s the takeaway a lot of us shared after exiting this sizzling McLaren’s form-fitting driver’s seat—once we were able to catch our collective breath, that is. More than any other car in this year’s formidable All-Stars field, the 720S left everyone who drove it gobsmacked, speed-struck, and, frankly, in need of a little quiet time.

“From 100 to 160 mph, it made the Lambo and the Ford GT feel positively wheezy,” gushed our resident hot shoe, Andy Pilgrim, after lapping the Speedvegas circuit. Contributor Marc Noordeloos agreed: “I can’t remember the last time I drove a car this fast. Wow.” Let it be noted that both of those guys spend a lot of time in seriously quick machinery. Then again, such is the giddiness that erupts when you drive a vehicle that can sprint to 60 mph in just 2.5 seconds and blitz to a top end of 212 mph. (Fittingly, this track-day predator wears bodywork inspired by the beautifully menacing shape of the great white shark.)

One of the most successful Formula 1 teams of all time, McLaren has notched 12 world drivers’ championships and eight constructors’ titles since its first F1 race in 1966. The company knows a thing or three about speed. That’s evident the moment you slide behind the wheel of the 720S: That same race-bred character is evident in its every molecule, integral to its visceral, purebred purpose. The tub, the windshield surround, and much of the greenhouse are crafted in lightweight, super-rigid carbon fiber. (McLaren claims the new structure—dubbed Monocage II—cuts 40 pounds off the outgoing 650S’ monocoque.) The cockpit is a pilot-focused workspace of premium leather, deep racing buckets, and minimal controls. The view to the front, enhanced by notably thin A-pillars, is nothing short of breathtaking—like riding in the nose turret of a B-17 or, yes, in the open cockpit of a Grand Prix car.

The engine lies right behind you, and what a monumental piece of work it is. Twin turbos and 32 valves feeding 4.0 liters of V-8 displacement, all tweaked and tuned to produce 710 horsepower at a screaming 7,500 rpm. Mind you, that’s 79 horsepower more than the already volcanic Lamborghini Hurac



2018 AUTOMOBILE All-Stars: The Winners

So good was the assembly of machines at our 2018 All-Stars competition that our editors at one point stood atop Mount Charleston, soaked in the introspection-inspiring views, and mumbled something about naming every car present an official All-Star, and it wasn’t the thin mountain air talking. We can’t be more clear about this: To receive an invitation to...

The post 2018 AUTOMOBILE All-Stars: The Winners appeared first on Automobile Magazine.


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