evo car of the year 2009

Group tests
Tuesday, December 15, 2009 - 00:00
evo car of the year 2009

This is the simply breathtaking Isle of Skye, and these are the finest drivers' cars of 2009. Now we've got three days to find out which is the best of them all

Alone among motoring magazines, we steer clear of race-tracks when it comes to assessing the best drivers’ cars of the year. Not because we don’t like circuit driving, but because it often gives a distorted picture. There’s only one place to properly assess road cars, and that’s on the road. The advantage, of course, is that we get to discover some of the greatest roads and the most inspirational locations in Europe. And this year we’ve had an absolute ball, soaring through the Scottish highlands and finishing up on the Isle of Skye. If you haven’t been there, the images in the related site sections will give you a taste of what you’re missing. And what a terrific group of cars we were able to enjoy there, from the brilliant little Clio 200 Cup to the awesome Murcielago SV. How do we choose between such extremes? Our panel of judges are looking for key features and, during the three-day test, they’ll drive all the cars before registering their scores. The top five highest scorers from the 13-car group review will then taken by the cream of our road-testing team for one final blast along those highland roads for a final comparison and to be absolutely certain of nailing the greatest drivers’ car of 2009. It will be fast, it will occasionally be furious (have you seen John Simister when he doesn’t get his own way?). But most of all it’ll be a hell of a lot of fun. Place your bets now…

This year's 'nearly cars'
It’s been a good year. With unlimited drivers, budget and time, we’d have taken at least 15 cars on the very long drive north. The major casualties, the cars that just missed out on eCoty 2009, were the Audi R8 V10 and the Nissan 370Z.

Why didn’t we take the 500bhp V10 Audi? Well, in the group test featuring the new 911 GT3, Aston Martin Vantage V12 and Corvette ZR1 (evo 133), the Audi came third. We felt that it didn’t move the game on from the original V8-engined R8, despite the extra power. Audi’s engineers sharpened up the feel of the car at the pointy end but there was no getting away from the effect of the mass of the bigger engine and the V10 felt less wieldy, less responsive. For most of us the warbly V10 is a less exciting-sounding engine, too, so we decided its place would be better occupied by one of the less expensive cars.

There’s lots that we like about the thoroughly re-worked 370Z, including its hunkier looks and the clever automatic throttle blip which lifts the revs to the exact point required for sweet downshifts and makes you sound like a heel-and-toe hero. However, the more powerful engine has gone backwards in terms of refinement, sounding quite coarse in the mid-range, and the handling is less clean and decisive. Two steps forward…

Others that just missed out include the Mercedes E63 AMG, which was bumped by the XFR, and the Ferrari 599 HGTE, which we drove prior to the test and which didn’t impress us. We are big fans of the original 599 and all reviews of the sportier-edged HGTE including our own have been very favourable, and yet on roads we know well the UK car we tried felt unsettled and did the same for its driver. Finally, there was the Volkswagen Golf GTI, which is a fine car but a little conservative. Given the option, we preferred to take the more exciting Scirocco R.

Clearly, condensing the 48-page evo Car of the Year 2009 feature from issue 138 for online use isn't a simple task. Hence, although the sub-sections, stats and potted verdicts carry a flavour of the feature, for the full read, best buy the back issue.

View the ECOTY teaser video.

Comparison

  Lotus Evora Porsche 911 GT3 Noble M600 Lamborghini Murcielago Renaultsport Clio 200 Cup Lamborghini Gallardo Aston Martin Ford Focus RS Jaguar XFR Ferrari California Mazda MX-5 Volkswagen Scirocco R Artgea GT
Layout Mid engine, rear-wheel drive Rear engine, rear-wheel drive Mid engine, rear-wheel drive Mid engine, four-wheel drive Front engine, front-wheel drive Mid engine, rear-wheel drive Front engine, rear-wheel drive Front engine, front-wheel drive Front engine, rear-wheel drive Front engine, rear-wheel drive Front engine, rear-wheel drive Front engine, front-wheel drive Mid engine, rear-wheel drive
Engine V6,3456cc Flat 6-cyl, 3797cc V8, 4439cc, twin turbo V12, 6496cc In-line 4-cyl, 1998cc V10, 5204cc V12, 5935cc In-line 5-cyl, 2521cc, turbo V8, 5000cc, supercharger V8, 4287cc In-line 4-cyl, 1999cc In-line 4-cyl, 1984cc, turbo V6, 3597cc
Max power 276bhp @ 6400rpm 429bhp @ 7600rpm 650bhp @ 6800rpm 661bhp @ 8000rpm 197bhp @ 7100rpm 542bhp @ 8000rpm 510bhp @ 6500rpm 300bhp @ 6500rpm 503bhp @ 6000rpm 453bhp @ 7750rpm 158bhp @ 7000rpm 261bhp @ 6000rpm 296bhp @ 6600rpm
Max torque 258lb ft @ 4700rpm 317lb ft @ 6250rpm 604lb ft @ 3800rpm 487lb ft @ 6500rpm 159lb ft @ 5400rpm 398lb ft @ 6500rpm 420lb ft @ 5750rpm 324lb ft @ 2300-4500rpm 461lb ft @ 2500rpm 358lb ft @ 5000rpm 139lb ft @ 5000rpm 258lb ft @ 2500-5000rpm 258lb ft @ 2400rpm
Weight 1382kg 1395kg 1250kg 1565kg 1204kg 1380kg 1680kg 1467kg 1891kg 1735kg 1173kg 1352kg 1116kg
Power-to-weight 203bhp/ton 312bhp/ton 528bhp/ton 429bhp/ton 166bhp/ton 399bhp/ton 308bhp/ton 208bhp/ton 270bhp/ton 265bhp/ton 144bhp/ton 196bhp/ton 270bhp/ton
0-60 mph 5.6sec 4.2sec 3.0sec (claimed) 3.2sec 6.6sec 3.9sec (claimed) 4.4sec 5.9sec 4.8sec 3.8sec 7.6sec (claimed) 6.3sec (claimed) 4.8sec (claimed)
Top Speed 162mph (claimed) 194mph (claimed) 225mph (claimed) 209mph (claimed) 141mph (claimed) 199mph (claimed) 190mph (claimed) 163mph (claimed) 155mph (limited) 193mph (claimed) 132mph (claimed) 155mph (limited) 168mph+ (claimed)
Basic price £47,500 £81,914 c£200,000 £270,038 £16,175 £137,900 £135,000 £26,995 £59,900 £143,320 £19,695 c£26,000 c£80,000
Ranking First Second Third Fourth Fifth Sixth Seventh Eighth Ninth Tenth Eleventh Twelve Thirteenth

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