wheels CotY 2017: Best sportscar

You need to be special to beat the 718 Cayman and F-Type SVR. The McLaren proved just how special it was…
By Amit Benjamin, Editor
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March 04, 2017
Photos: Malek Fayoumi, Stefan Lindeque
Photos: Malek Fayoumi, Stefan Lindeque(1/3)
Photos: Malek Fayoumi, Stefan Lindeque
Photos: Malek Fayoumi, Stefan Lindeque(2/3)
Photos: Malek Fayoumi, Stefan Lindeque
Photos: Malek Fayoumi, Stefan Lindeque(3/3)

Now, before you gleefully start pointing out that the 718 Cayman is half the price of the McLaren 540C and the Jaguar F-Type SVR, let me remind you, Captain Obvious, that the little Porsche is one heck of a sportscar. Having driven it on various occasions on both road and track, it is without a doubt one of the most sublime cars we’ve fanged all year. However, it has a problem: excitement. Or lack thereof. The 718 is like a precision instrument that slices through corners in clinical style. It’s a car you drive with a serious expression on your face, which is where it falters.

The F-Type SVR goes too far in the opposite direction. On the move it barks and roars. Lift your foot off the throttle and you’re greeted with all manner of crackles and pops. Its in-your-face aerodynamic addenda is also much more dramatic than any of the cars congregated here. So far, so good… Only it’s not.

On these vicious roads the relatively lollopy body control and fuzzy gear changes are evident. It lacks a sense of cohesiveness in the way it goes about its business. Plus, it costs nearly Dh600K, which means overall it is soundly trounced by the much cheaper Cayman.

Our winner, though, is the McLaren 540C. And there’s good reason for it. This mid-engined sportscar takes the best bits of both its foes and merges them into a harmonious whole. Dynamically, it feels a massive step-up over the Jag and Porka.

Body control is eerily precise and yet the 540 doesn’t fail to excite. The steering bucks and moves around in your hand, but never threateningly so. It seems alive, it feels like it’s working with you, rather than for you or against you, as the other two do. It’s a proper driver’s car that, despite the hoards of electronics, feels analog. It’s our Sportscar of the Year, and by a considerable distance.