Features

evo Track Car of the year - the cars, the stats and the winner

Everything you need to know from the best track test of 2014

evo Track Car of the year, in association with Michelin, is a chance for us to assess which of the year’s most track-focused vehicles are the quickest – and which best offer the Thrill of Driving so central to evo’s ethos.

It’s quite unlike evo’s regular Car of the Year competition, mainly because the requirements of a track car can vary wildly from those of road vehicles.

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Freed of the need for some degree of day-to-day usability, it allows up a lineup as diverse as the one you see here – where an 80bhp Caterham goes wheel-to-wheel with everything from a BTCC-supporting Clio Cup race car to a full-blown GT3-spec McLaren.

Below is a little more info on this year’s runners and riders – as well as their specifications, and lap times around the tricky Blyton Park circuit in Lincolnshire.

Ariel Atom 3.5R

With a 2.0-litre supercharged Honda engine sat between its passengers and the rear wheels, the Atom is as much of an adrenalin boost as ever.

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In this tune it develops 350bhp despite weighing just 550kg. There’s a pneumatic paddleshift transmission, a locking diff and Ohlins dampers. Only a price tag nearing £100,000 on our test car marks it down.

Lap time0:58.9
Peak speed141.8mph
EngineIn-line 4, 1998cc, supercharged
Power350bhp @ 8400rpm
Torque243lb ft @ 6100rpm
Weight (dry)550kg
Power-to-weight647bhp/ton
0-60mph2.6sec (claimed)
Top speed155mph (claimed)
Basic price£64,800

BBR MX-5 GT270

Mazda’s MX-5 has always offered thrills at sane speeds, but that isn’t to say it can’t be improved with a little more power. BBR’s turbocharged conversion extracts 268bhp from the 2.0-litre four-cylinder.

While £6900 might seem like a lot of extra money on an inexpensive car, it still represents great value in terms of performance. Marino Franchitti and Dickie Meaden both praised the BBR during the test.

Lap time1:08.95
Peak speed122.6mph
EngineIn-line 4-cyl, 1999cc, turbo
Power268bhp @ 7350rpm
Torque227lb ft @ 5100rpm
Weight1173kg
Power-to-weight232bhp/ton
0-60mph4.9sec (claimed)
Top speed150mph (claimed)
Basic price£29,995

Broadley T76

Undoubtedly the coolest car on eTcoty 2014, the Lola-inspired Broadley is eligible for historic racing classes and makes you feel like a 1960s Le Mans driver.

Marino summed up the car by saying, ‘it made me feel like Steve McQueen’ – but there’s more to it than that, as demonstrated by its lap time.

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Lap time0:58.3
Peak speed155.3mph
EngineV8, 4949cc
Power520bhp @ 7000rpm
Torque620lb ft @ 6000rpm
Weight (dry)c840kg
Power-to-weightc629bhp/ton
0-60mph3.0sec (estimated)
Top speed190mph (estimated)
Basic price£250,000

Caterham Seven 160

Comfortably the least powerful car on this year’s test, the Caterham is still a hoot. Up to a point, anyway – the point at which the lack of power and relative lack of grip from the tiny tyres leave it feeling outclassed.

The Caterham is one car that, while fun on the track, is really better suited to road use. There, its back-to-basics thrills and indeed its economy make a lot more sense.

Lap time1:17.6
Peak speed93.2mph
EngineIn-line 3-cyl, 660cc, turbo
Power80bhp @ 7000rpm
Torque79lb ft @ 3400rpm
Weight545kg
Power-to-weight166bhp/ton
0-62mph6.5sec (claimed)
Top speed100mph (claimed)
Basic price£17,995

McLaren 650S GT3

The purest race car in this year’s competition, it’s little surprise the 650S GT3 set the quickest time around Blyton. Despite producing less power than its road-going equivalent, the full slicks and wings setup makes it mighty on track.

It’s also a big improvement on its 12C GT3 predecessor, according to Marino. The chassis setup, gearbox and even the seat are all steps up from the 12C. The race-biased traction control works perfectly, too.

Lap time0:55.8
Peak speed150.1mph
EngineV8, 3799cc, twin-turbo
Power493bhp @ n/a rpm
Torquen/a
Weight1270kg
Power-to-weight394bhp/ton
0-62mphsub-3.5sec (claimed)
Top speedGeared for 168mph
Basic price£396,000

McLaren 650S Sprint

It’s not as quick as the pure-blood GT3 car, but the Sprint is still prepared with track driving and indeed racing in mind.

The engine, transmission and ProActive Chassis Control system are all largely as they are in the road car, but an aero kit, new iron (rather than ceramic) brakes and 19in centre-lock wheels are all new.

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Lap time0:57.5
Peak speed155.2mph
EngineV8, 3799cc, twin-turbo
Power592bhp+ @ n/a rpm
Torquen/a
Weight1400kg
Power-to-weight501bhp/ton
0-62mphsub-3.5sec (claimed)
Top speed195mph (claimed)
Basic price£198,000

Nissan GT-R Nismo

At £125,000 the Nismo GT-R isn’t far short of twice what the GT-R cost when it originally hit UK shores. The allure of Nissan’s motorsport brand can’t be understated however, nor can its 592bhp twin-turbocharged V6.

It’s hugely effective on track – if not quite as quick around a lap as the 911 GT3 – but also big fun and staggeringly fast.

Lap time1:02.1
Peak speed144.3mph
EngineV6, 3799cc, twin-turbo
Power592bhp @ 6800rpm
Torque481lb ft @ 3200rpm
Weight1720kg
Power-to-weight350bhp/ton
0-62mph2.6sec (estimated)
Top speed196mph (claimed)
Basic price£125,000

Porsche 911 GT3

Already enjoying its position as evo’s Car of the Year 2013, the GT3 is equally at home on track.

It’s fast and effective, but the GT3’s continuing strong points include its levels of interaction and that light-weight agility. It’s definitely one of the best cars here…

Lap time1:01.9
Peak speed145.3mph
EngineFlat-six, 3799cc
Power468bhp @ 8250rpm
Torque324lb ft @ 6250rpm
Weight1430kg
Power-to-weight322bhp/ton
0-62mph3.5sec (claimed)
Top speed196mph (claimed)
Basic price£100,540

Radical RCX Turbo

Radical is a regular at evo’s track competitions, and unsurprisingly the near-race levels of grip and speed mean it walked away from Blyton with one of the quickest lap times – if not as fast as the cheaper Ariel.

In subjective terms though, the RCX Turbo didn’t do quite as well this year, with concerns over its accessibility. On the plus side, Radical is more than adept at setup tweaks to improve it.

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Lap time1:00.4
Peak speed142.3mph
EngineV6, 3500cc, twin-turbo
Power454bhp @ 6000rpm
Torque500lb ft @ 3600rpm
Weight (dry)940kg
Power-to-weight491bhp/ton
0-62mph2.6sec (claimed)
Top speed185mph (claimed)
Basic price£129,000

Renaultsport Clio Cup

In production form the Clio 200 hasn’t gone too well at evo Towers – particularly in the company of excellent hot hatch attempts from Ford and Peugeot.

The Cup car is a different thing entirely, however. It’s basically a miniature touring car, with 220bhp, an aggressive limited-slip differential, huge grip from its slick tyres and a proper six-speed sequential gearbox. Cheaper than a Trophy-R, too…

Lap time1:04.8
Peak speed120.62mph
EngineIn-line 4-cyl, 1618cc, turbo
Power220bhp @ 6000rpm
Torque199lb ft @ 2500rpm
Weight (dry)1080kg
Power-to-weight207bhp/ton
0-62mph6.0sec (estimated)
Top speed130mph (estimated)
Basic pricec£32,600

Renaultsport Megane 275 Trophy-R

The Trophy-R achieved a high position in the regular evo Car of the Year competition, and once again it proved its worth on track too.

Even in this company it feels uncompromising, but it’s great fun – and illustrates that a car set up for the Nurburgring can work well at other tracks too...

Lap time1:07.3
Peak speed124.1mph
EngineIn-line 4-cyl, 1998cc, turbo
Power271bhp @ 5500rpm
Torque265lb ft @ 3000rpm
Weight1297kg
Power-to-weight212bhp/ton
0-62mph5.8sec (claimed)
Top speed158mph (claimed)
Basic price£36,430
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