The moment many of us have been waiting for is upon us: the 2015 evo Car of the Year video is now live.
With an eclectic mix of hot hatches, sports cars and red-blooded supercars, this year’s 11 contenders were arguably the best ever.
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If you haven’t already read our eCoty magazine feature - in association with Michelin (in evo issue 216) - deciphering which car is favourite for the win is a near impossible task. Despite being so different from one another, each car genuinely stands an equal chance at claiming victory.
The Peugeot 208 GTI by Peugeot Sport, for example, might be a substantial 535bhp down on the Lamborghini Aventador LP750-4 SV, but in limited-edition 30th Anniversary form, it’s already impressed us with supreme agility and a punchy engine.
Of course, the SV’s 740bhp punch is a fair bit harder, but accessing that performance on the road is significantly more difficult. Then again, can you ever discount a car wielding a naturally aspirated 6.5-litre V12 that sings all the way up to 8500rpm? Probably not.
Then there’s the SEAT Leon Cupra Sub8, which produces exactly half the amount of torque as fellow contender, the McLaren 675LT. But despite such a hefty disadvantage in the pound-foot department, the SEAT’s track focus and lively chassis make it a talented and entertaining steer – one very much in contention of mounting a surprise charge for the title.
Up to this point, modern McLarens have often felt too clinical to completely steal our hearts – models like the 12C and 650S were clearly more concerned with lap times than grin-factor. The 675LT appears to have changed that, however, trading ultimate pace for a refreshing dosage of dynamism. For the first time in evo’s history, the new McLaren is in with a great shout of victory.
But, there are two very capable Porsches in the mix. History says one of these cars is favourite for the win – nine of our 17 previous eCotys have been won by a product of Stuttgart – and these two cars are among the brand’s most exciting ever.
The 911 GT3 RS needs little introduction: you’ll likely already know it’s the extreme, 353bhp/ton evolution of the already fantastic 911 GT3. And the concept of the Cayman GT4 isn’t too dissimilar: it’s an extreme, manual-gearbox flaunting evolution of the already talented Cayman. The former is worth double the price of the latter, but they’re closely aligned for eCoty. Which will finish as highest ranked Porsche and can either take the win?
A car that’s received a similar amount of internet hype as the two aforementioned Porsches is the Honda Civic Type R. It might be endowed with a significantly smaller 2-litre four-cylinder engine, but the addition of a turbocharger (the first for a VTEC unit) ensures peak output is just 74bhp down on the 380bhp GT4. The Honda’s one of very few production hot hatches that can generate proper downforce from its factory-fit bodywork too. The winged Civic really could be 2015’s giant-slayer.
Also benefitting from the effects of a turbocharger for the first time is Ferrari’s new mid-engined V8 supercar, the 488 GTB. It’s arguably less characterful than its naturally aspirated predecessor, the 458, but with 661bhp and 560lb ft of torque on offer, as well as a savagely fast 0.2 second throttle response time, it’s significantly more potent. The 458 Speciale won 2014’s eCoty; can its turbocharged successor keep the crown?
Perhaps the most surprising contender in 2015’s eCoty line-up is the Chevrolet Camaro Z/28. In previous years, muscle cars have failed to capture our imagination to fight it out with the world’s best sports cars, but now, with the Z/28, we have a seriously capable offering. Under the bonnet is the biggest unit of this test, a 7-litre V8, and it drives one of the most hardcore packages on sale. Carbon-ceramic brakes, lightweight glass and semi-slick rubber ensure this 505bhp Yank-tank could be as sprightly as its European rivals.
Possibly the sprightliest of them all is the Lotus Evora 400. With excellent damping and a wonderfully balanced chassis, it stands out as a driver’s favourite, locking horns with the similarly-priced Cayman GT4. And with a 400bhp supercharged V6 driving the rear wheels, there’s more than enough grunt to keep things very interesting. But even as an evo-rated five-star car, can the plucky Brit cut it in such accomplished company?
Last but by no means least is the Mercedes-AMG GT S. It's not as focused as some of the cars above, but it’s already dispatched the likes of the Aston Martin Vantage N430, BMW i8, Nissan GT-R and almighty Porsche 911 Turbo in previous evo tests – meaning there’s little doubt as to its ability. Power comes from a twin-turbocharged 4-litre V8 and cogs are swapped by a quick-shifting dual-clutch gearbox, so it’s certainly not outgunned. Can this great all-rounder triumph on winding Scottish roads?
Watch our video above to find out. Many of our magazine readers will already know the result, but even with the final standings revealed, this video is one not to miss – even if just to experience the jaw-dropping landscape of Scotland’s North Coast 500 route.
And let us know in the comments below - is this the best evo Car of the Year ever?