evo Car of the Year 2020 – on sale now!
evo Car of the Year is here! We exclusively reveal all of our contenders in the year's ultimate performance car test
It’s time to reveal our final eight contenders having been whittled down from an initial 16. For our finale, our judges headed east from Anglesey, meeting on the Scottish Borders for the final reckoning.
Why the borders? Well aside from obvious travel restrictions scuppering initial plans to hold eCoty 2020 in a sunnier location, they have also since become synonymous with evo’s most intensive comparisons in recent years. Ensconced by the Kielder Forest below and the Scottish lowlands above the terrain is challenging, twisted, scarred and windswept, yet still open enough to exploit the world’s best performance cars.
These are our eight finalists, and if you thought the results might be a forgone conclusion, just wait.
evo Car of the Year 2020 finalists
Toyota GR Yaris
So after an intensive first week, did the Toyota GR Yaris live up to the hype? We’d call that a yes, as even compared to the utterly superb Honda Civic Type R, the GR’s class was obvious.
Its speed, grip and capability were never in doubt, but what really drew the judges in was its depth, and the Yaris’ uncanny ability to shine however it was driven. Get it in on the nose and power out of corners with angle? Sure thing. Keep it tidy and exit the corner on maximum attack with the smallest hint of a four-wheel drift? Not a problem. What about a cheeky scandi flick? It’s got you covered. And to think it wrapped up in a package that’s the most inexpensive of our 16.
Honda Civic Type R
Test after test the Honda Civic Type R has consistently shown its direct rivals the door, but what happened when it was pitched against the best performance cars of any derivative? Its class shone brighter than ever.
The Type R’s graduation to the final is built on its foundations of immense capability paired with a level of interaction and subtlety that continues to define the driving experience. It’s now got the arduous task of shining in the long shadows cast by our other finalists, but something tells me it won’t have any issues fading into the background.
Porsche 718 Cayman GTS 4.0
While it’s not much of a shock the GTS has made it through to part two, what has come as a surprise is how hard it had to work to get there. The package is complete, sure, but it’s almost painfully so, with our judges finding it difficult to really want to engage with the Porsche on track.
Add in the quite spectacular field this year and its infuriating gear ratios, things aren’t looking quite so rosy for the Porsche. Never one to be underestimated though, the GTS still remains a formidable performance car, and could so easily turn the tide in Scotland.
BMW M2 CS
Finally, the BMW M2’s potential has been realised at eCoty. The new CS was a complete riot on Anglesey’s coastal circuit and the roads around it, our judges smitten with its charismatic powertrain, strong brakes and thuggish demeanor.
Its manual transmission and adherence to the classic BMW M recipe might appeal to nostalgia, but the M2 CS’s success so far has been underpinned by a superb breadth of ability and involvement. However, many great BMW M cars have often proved too divisive to really prosper in eCoty, will the M2 CS follow that trend?
So McLaren’s latest LT breezed through the track-focused element of this year’s test, but it’s how the 765LT appeals on road that will be it’s stern test. With similar issues to the Turbo S and Ferrari, its capability could so easily make it a sterile and uninvolving road car, just like that Pista in 2018.
Will the 765LT triumph like its two Long Tail predecessors, or has terminal velocity for McLaren been reached?
Lamborghini Huracan Evo RWD
The Lamborghini Huracan RWD is a model that wasn’t really expected to make it to this point. That’s because over its six years on sale it’s never really graduated beyond being an entertaining, if not particularly involving supercar. That is until now.
The Huracan Evo RWD genuinely feels like a sweet spot, honed and polished over its years into a stunning supercar, while only accentuating the quite incredible powertrain it’s always had in tow. It not only completely outshadowed its R8 RWD relative, it also more than lived up to its supercar chums from McLaren and Ferrari.
Ferrari F8 Tributo
Cynics might suggest that the F8 is nothing more than a refreshed 488 Pista that disappointed in 2018, but as our judges confirmed in Wales it’s far more than that. More comfortable, prettier, cheaper and thanks to the latest developments in the F8’s electronics more exploitable too, the familiar recipe has never been more complete.
With this added layer of involvement, it makes the F8 a more exploitable and therefore interactive supercar than the Pista ever was, making it the strongest eCoty contender for Ferrari since its eCoty-winning Speciale.
Porsche 911 Turbo S
So the Turbo’s also made it through, but like the GTS it wasn’t such a clear-cut case. The 911 Turbo S has never been faster or more capable, but so too have the speeds required to enjoy it been so of the scale.
Still, as the best 911 Turbo in a generation, and the best 992-generation 911 yet, its inclusion this year comes with its own pressure - pressure to finally deliver on all that Porsche has been promising for its latest generation 911.
Make sure to tune into ITV4 on Wednesday 23 December at 8pm for part two of our evo Car of the Year special where the overall 2020 victor will be revealed
evo Car of the Year – best of the rest
Ariel Nomad R
We couldn’t not bring along something as wild and exciting as Ariel’s latest creation, even though it could be considered in some respects a performance SUV. The Nomad R blew John Barker away earlier this year bringing together a novel, yet hugely entertaining, combination of the standard Nomad’s long-travel suspension with a supercharged engine and sticky track-biased tyres.
Some unexpectedly agreeable weather this year made the open cockpit less of a soggy affair than one might reasonably expect in our test locations and as a tool for maximum smiles-per-mile, the Ariel could well be the dark horse this time out - particularly against the two other small British sports cars in this test.
Aston Martin DBX
A full-size 2.3-ton SUV in eCoty? Surely not. The DBX impressed Editor Stuart Gallagher so much that its inclusion this year is in itself a big step forward for performance SUVs. Better to drive than not just rival SUVs but some hot-rod estates too, the presence of the DBX in this year’s test is testament to https://www.evo.co.uk/review/202972/aston-martin-dbx-review-the-first-performance-suv-to-deliver-on-its-promiseAston Martin’s remarkable achievement.
The DBX isn’t a half-hearted exercise in badge engineering, earning its place at the head of the current SUV crop through the use of a brand new and bespoke chassis, an impressive mix of in-house and AMG powertrain components, plus a new factory to put it all together in. The DBX is Aston’s best car right now, because it needed to be, and therefore resolutely deserves its place within our 16.
Volkswagen Golf GTI
The Volkswagen Golf GTI. Quintessential hot hatchback, classless yet desirable, succinctly usable yet always entertaining. That’s the mantra the Golf GTI has always aimed for and continues to achieve in its latest eighth generation.
The standard GTI we’ve included this year will not be the most potent of performance Golfs, but even the entry 242bhp version impressed us enough to warrant an entry before its more serious siblings arrive next year.
Alpine got incredibly close to the outright victory the last time with its standard A110, so the faster, more focused, more capable A110 S is surely a hot favourite, right? Well, while that might usually be the case, the Alpine A110’s appeal has typically laid not in its abilities, but its communication.
Have the stiffer springs ruined the standard A110’s unmatched flow down challenging undulating roads? Has the extra power overwhelmed the delicate balance of the lightweight aluminium chassis? These are just two of the questions it’ll need to answer positively to really shine in eCoty 2020.
> Alpine A110S review
Morgan Plus 4
Morgan has once again made the cut into this year’s eCoty line up, this time with its vivacious Plus 4. Don’t mistake the Plus 4’s cylinder deficit compared to the Plus Six as a sign of reduced focus, because it’s the lighter and crucially manual Plus 4 that is actually Morgan’s more dynamically astute offering.
As a firm fan favourite, will the Plus 4 be able to impress the judges when up against its more contemporary rivals, or will Dickie burn through all the tyres before the rest of the team get to have a go?
The last RS7 never really struck a chord with us in its first iteration, but this all-new model, despite a similar silhouette and ingredients, makes a rather more impressive job of being Audi’s ultimate sports executive car. Impressing the whole team over its tenure on our Fast Fleet, the new RS7 is a more responsive, capable and, on some occasions, even playful car than ever before.
It’s full to the brim with impressive chassis hardware like four-wheel steering, massive 420mm carbon ceramic brakes and Audi’s latest torque-vectoring all-wheel drive system, all designed to make this two-ton leviathan feel smaller and more agile than it should. The RS7 is the best four-door Audi Sport model in recent memory, but how will it fare against this year’s best of the best?
Audi R8 RWD
Audi’s second entry within this year’s eCoty is a rather different sort of Audi Sport product in an admittedly similar hue. The rear-wheel drive R8 joins the RWD Huracan as a stripped back, entry-level supercar. Like the Lamborghini, the team felt its reduction in hardware was well worth the small sacrifices in driveability and performance.
The new R8 RWD’s path won’t be easy though, as it has this year’s impressive field to overcome. In a room with such big personalities it could well be that the R8, despite a naturally aspirated V10 engine and those debonair looks, will be overshadowed in our talented field. Or it could be that the subtler, friendlier and more palatable supercar its Italian cousin wishes it could be?
Bentley Continental GT V8
Bentley’s found itself within the eCoty ring this year, with what is inarguably the best-driving model in the company's recent history. Featuring a chassis derived from the Porsche Panamera and a charismatic V8 engine, the new Continental GT V8 has drawn praise with its remarkable spread of ability within a cosseting, sophisticated GT package.
With about the same mass as Aston’s DBX, this Continental GT is certainly no lightweight, but there has rarely been a Bentley with such ability on road and track, so it’ll be a fascinating exercise to see how it compares with the year’s best.
So these are our 16 contenders, and after a week on the Anglesey Circuit, we whittled our pack to just eight, returning to the roads around the Scottish Borders – from which our 2020 evo Car of the Year winner.
For the full eCoty 2020 experience, make sure to grab your copy of the new issue which is on sale now! We hope you enjoy the issue as much as we enjoyed bringing it all together.