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      12-30-2011, 08:12 AM   #1
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The 10 Best Handling Cars Motor Trend Tested in 2011

http://wot.motortrend.com/the-10-bes...11-148669.html

There’s never a shortage of wickedly fast cars that indulge the Motor Trend staff in any given year, even if the cars are in our care for less than a day. And there’s never been a better time to be a lover of speed, as the technological wonders that are today’s cars continue to raise the performance bar to impressive heights.

We test a lot of cars here, but the ones that inevitably stick out are the ones with the gaudy numbers. Because let’s face it: Internet denizens love flaunting these things as if their “street cred” depended on it. Straight-line acceleration is great and all, but those who really love driving know our figure eight is how we swiftly evaluate a vehicle’s handling potential, and it usually takes less than 30 seconds. So without further ado, here are the best (and record-breaking) handling cars we got our hands on in 2011.

10. 2010 Stasis Audi R8 5.2 Challenge Extreme Edition

Figure Eight: 24.2 seconds @ 0.89 g (avg)

Skidpad: 0.99 g (avg)

The 710 horsepower from the supercharged 5.2-liter V-10 means it pulls on the figure eight’s short straights. But despite its numerous suspension modifications, this highly modified R8 5.2 from Stasis Engineering isn’t as quick around our course as a stock R8 5.2 we flogged in 2010. Not that it’s slow by any means – the Stasis car’s 24.2-second run is in the company of Ferraris and Lamborghinis.

9. 2012 Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG/2012 Porsche 911 Carrera S

Figure Eight: 24.1 seconds @ 0.85 g (avg)/24.1 seconds @ 0.82 g (avg)

Skidpad: 0.99 g (avg)/1.03 g (avg)

Tied for ninth place are two German icons: one is the modern-day continuation of the classic Mercedes-Benz 300SL Gullwing, the other is the newest player in the hallowed arena where engines are mounted the “wrong way”. This particular SLS AMG that lit up the figure eight in 24.1 seconds was painted a luscious Designo Magno Monza Grey, while the 991-series Porsche 911 Carrera S is simply the beginning of an all-new wave of 911s. Expect more in 2012.

8. 2011 Porsche Boxster Spyder

Figure Eight: 24.0 seconds @ 0.82 g (avg)

Skidpad: 1.04 g (avg)

Lightweight? Yes. Fun to drive? Double yes. A driver’s car by any stretch of the imagination and reason, the Porsche Boxster Spyder doesn’t have a hardtop, air conditioning (though it’s a free option), or actual door handles. But you do experience one of the most intuitive, 24.0-second runs around the figure eight you could ever hope for.

7. 2012 Audi R8 GT


Figure Eight: 23.9 seconds @ 0.95 g (avg)

Skidpad: 1.00 g (avg)

Our 2011 Best Driver’s Car extravaganza gave us a week with the hottest handling machines around, some of which show up on this list. This includes the Audi R8 GT. With 35 more horsepower than a conventional R8 5.2 and a raft of upgrades intended to boost performance, it’s the second-fastest R8 we’ve ever tested around the figure eight. Which means it’s pretty bloody fast.

6. 2012 Chevrolet Corvette Grand Sport/2012 Lexus LFA

Figure Eight: 23.7 seconds @ 0.82 g (avg)/23.7 seconds @ 0.89 g (avg)

Skidpad: 1.09 g (avg)/1.07 g (avg)

The Lexus LFA that survived Best Driver’s Car circled the figure eight in the same time as a mint Chevrolet Corvette Grand Sport, which will undoubtedly kick-start many conversations about value, performance, and some combination thereof. We’ve explored the much-hyped, exotic Lexus in great detail during its long development. The tested Corvette Grand Sport is a hardened version of the base, 430-horsepower ‘Vette with Magnetic Selective Ride Control, and it has certainly done well for itself.

5. 2010 Ferrari 458 Italia


Figure Eight: 23.6 seconds @ 0.90 g (avg)

Skidpad: 1.06 g (avg)

After lapping Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca and savoring the company of the bright yellow Italian stallion in the real world, we named the Ferrari 458 Italia the best driver’s car you can get today. Race ace Randy Pobst loved it, we loved it, and aspiring Ferrari owners surely love it even more. It’s pretty good around the figure eight too, needing 23.6 seconds of all-around pleasurable driving to make it around.

4. 2011 Porsche 911 GT3 RS

Figure Eight: 23.4 seconds @ 0.92 g (avg)

Skidpad: 1.08 g (avg)

RS stands for rennsport, which is German for motorsport/racing, also roughly translating to “more hardcore than you.” Enter the Porsche 911 GT3 RS from Best Driver’s Car, which took the bronze medal for its race car antics and old-school feel. You can feel the illustrious marque’s racing heritage baked into the GT3 RS as it completes the figure eight in 23.4 seconds.

3. 2012 Nissan GT-R

Figure Eight: 23.3 seconds @ 0.89 g (avg)

Skidpad: 1.05 g (avg)

The Nissan GT-R that took down the Corvette Z06 and Shelby GT500 in our budget supercar comparison earlier this year is the quickest all-wheel-drive car to conquer the figure eight, out-pacing the mighty 911 Turbo by 0.2 second. Just to illustrate how volatile the vehicle testing game can be, the GT-R that finished runner-up in the 2011 Best Driver’s Car story needed 23.7 seconds around the same course.

2. 2011 Porsche 911 GT2 RS

Figure Eight: 23.2 seconds @ 0.90 g (avg)

Skidpad: 1.05 g (avg)

The star of our Science of Speed story/informational Web video is the most brutal 911 ever offered, and Porsche buffs will be quick to tell you the rear-engine sports car is supposed to be tough to handle and master. If Hurley Haywood, a respected 911 racer/driving instructor, says you have to be patient with the GT2 RS at the limit, you’d be best off heeding his advice. Respecting the GT2 RS’ 620 horsepower yields a figure-eight time of 23.2 seconds.

1. 2012 Chevrolet Corvette Z06

Figure Eight: 22.8 seconds @ 0.98 g (avg)

Skidpad: 1.13 g (avg)

This Corvette Z06 not only went for the murdered-out look but it murdered the figure-eight rankings too. The sixth-place finisher from the 2011 Best Driver’s Car feature is the current king of the figure eight, and one of only three cars ever (out of thousands of vehicles MT has tested) to break into 22-second territory. One of those three cars was a full-on race car. The C7 has big shoes to fill.
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      12-30-2011, 08:27 AM   #2
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Kind of debunks the theory that Corvettes are only for straights! It;s funny how many still believe this.
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      12-30-2011, 10:38 AM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by gthal View Post
Kind of debunks the theory that Corvettes are only for straights! It;s funny how many still believe this.
Yep, just ask Jeremy Clarkson.
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      12-30-2011, 01:42 PM   #4
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In before someone freaks out about the tires and tries to discredit everything made in America!
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      12-30-2011, 01:54 PM   #5
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Since the M3 did not make the list then it is very clear that Motortrend is just a prostitute for the other car manufacturers and is utter garbage. Now, if the M3 had been included then Motortrend would be a fierce voice of honesty in an otherwise dubious world of ad driven car mag sellouts.
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      12-30-2011, 02:54 PM   #6
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not fair they included tuner cars (Stasis)
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      12-30-2011, 03:23 PM   #7
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Gotta love the Z06 and all the people that don't think they can handle.

They are damn fast as hell on the track and one of the few street cars (ie no roll cage and r comps) to easily pass me on the track.

If I didn't need the back seats of the M3 a Z06 would have been my choice as bang for the buck second car to also bring to the track.
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      12-30-2011, 04:43 PM   #8
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Wow, don't know where to begin, corvettes have to be the new king of performance bargain. Grand Sport base price starts at 55k, sitting tied with an LFA on this list. Amazing.

z06 is certainly the new king, according to the website, base price of 75!!! I have to imagine that the z06 will be the king of the any and all tracks for the next few years.
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      12-30-2011, 04:48 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by gblansten View Post
Since the M3 did not make the list then it is very clear that Motortrend is just a prostitute for the other car manufacturers and is utter garbage. Now, if the M3 had been included then Motortrend would be a fierce voice of honesty in an otherwise dubious world of ad driven car mag sellouts.


You made me laugh in a very quiet room
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      12-30-2011, 07:00 PM   #10
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Both the Porsche's & Z-06 with Michelin DOT Race Tires...

GTR & Ferrari & GrandSport Corvette were only cars in top 6 that were on 140+ treadwear 'street' tires.

But the good thing is... I've said this for 10+ years... anyone who actually 'Auto-X's or 'Road Races' knows... that all these tests between cars are heavily weighted more on OEM tire equipment than actual vehicle performance/capability.

You're seeing 'most' top performance sedans/coupes now offering Michelin PS2's from the factory. And now... we're seeing PS2 Cup tires being offered... about the limit in a DOT race tire... Next will be 'who will offer Hoosier A6's'

Peace,
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      12-30-2011, 11:22 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SCCAForums.com View Post
Both the Porsche's & Z-06 with Michelin DOT Race Tires...

GTR & Ferrari & GrandSport Corvette were only cars in top 6 that were on 140+ treadwear 'street' tires.

But the good thing is... I've said this for 10+ years... anyone who actually 'Auto-X's or 'Road Races' knows... that all these tests between cars are heavily weighted more on OEM tire equipment than actual vehicle performance/capability.

You're seeing 'most' top performance sedans/coupes now offering Michelin PS2's from the factory. And now... we're seeing PS2 Cup tires being offered... about the limit in a DOT race tire... Next will be 'who will offer Hoosier A6's'

Peace,
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post #10! I had more time than I thought!
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      12-31-2011, 08:04 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by muskamatt View Post
post #10! I had more time than I thought!
LOL... sorry was 'working'
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      12-31-2011, 10:24 PM   #13
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kind of embarrassing for Stasis that its tuner car with "numerous suspension mods" and 710 HP performs worse than the stocker.

and Porsche actually "let" one of its Boxsters beat the 911? shocker
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      12-31-2011, 10:46 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Darth One View Post
kind of embarrassing for Stasis that its tuner car with "numerous suspension mods" and 710 HP performs worse than the stocker.

and Porsche actually "let" one of its Boxsters beat the 911? shocker

Boxers and Caymans are mid engine cars so they'll handle better than the rear engine 911. This is the same reason why Porsche will never allow Boxsters or Cayman to have the same engine as the 911.
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      01-01-2012, 04:07 PM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by socalbreeze View Post
Boxers and Caymans are mid engine cars so they'll handle better than the rear engine 911. This is the same reason why Porsche will never allow Boxsters or Cayman to have the same engine as the 911.
Agreed! If they would put the turbo and gt3 motors in the cayman, I'd own one!
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      01-02-2012, 05:49 AM   #16
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I heard new corvette will have a 10K RPM redline. Just keep getting better
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      01-03-2012, 01:27 PM   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sameh View Post
I heard new corvette will have a 10K RPM redline. Just keep getting better
Not with a smallblock they won't.


And I'm surprised that some people think tire choices are irrelevant in performance metrics that feature figure-8 time and skidpad numbers. I simply fail to see what matters more...
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      01-03-2012, 05:43 PM   #18
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I'm surprised at how many people confuse handling and grip, including motortrend apparently.
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      01-03-2012, 11:28 PM   #19
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Quote:
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And I'm surprised that some people think tire choices are irrelevant in performance metrics that feature figure-8 time and skidpad numbers. I simply fail to see what matters more...
I feel tire choices are not irrelevant, however, if a car manufacturer chooses not to equip their vehicle with a certain set of tires, well then, deal with it. All manufacturers have the option (well depending on contracts I'm sure) but to have/develop tires similar to the Cup tires and some choose not to. I think it only just goes to show that the markets, environments, and use of the vehicles is different and instead of so many people getting so upset over the fact that one car is faster than the other on a 13 mile track with a professional race car driver that 99.9% of people on this and almost all forums could never replicate, well suck it up.

I would live to drive a Z06 on those cup tires and anyone who truly enjoys driving at a high performance level would be silly not to agree.
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      01-04-2012, 12:59 PM   #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by muskamatt View Post
I feel tire choices are not irrelevant, however, if a car manufacturer chooses not to equip their vehicle with a certain set of tires, well then, deal with it.
You totally miss my point - what I mean is that the performance metrics that were used in that test hugely depend on the choice of tires. The results speak more about the tire's capabilities than the car's.

The test is mostly irrelevant to anybody who uses dedicated track wheels/tires.

Quote:
I would live to drive a Z06 on those cup tires and anyone who truly enjoys driving at a high performance level would be silly not to agree.
Actually, I wouldn't. Driving that car on the street to its limit is virtually impossible, so you'd need to take it on track.

A Z06 on cup tires can achieve stupendous speeds on many tracks and should anything go wrong at over 160mph in a street car without proper safety gear, you will most likely die.

One of the reasons I don't really want to "step up" from the M3's level of performance has to do with the speeds achievable on track.


Not to mention that to drive the Z06 around daily, you'd need to swap to regular street tires anyway...
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      01-04-2012, 03:19 PM   #21
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Quote:
Originally Posted by muskamatt View Post
I feel tire choices are not irrelevant, however, if a car manufacturer chooses not to equip their vehicle with a certain set of tires, well then, deal with it.
...
and use of the vehicles is different and instead of so many people getting so upset over the fact that one car is faster than the other on a 13 mile track with a professional race car driver that 99.9% of people on this and almost all forums could never replicate, well suck it up.
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      01-04-2012, 04:05 PM   #22
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Quote:
Originally Posted by gthal View Post
Kind of debunks the theory that Corvettes are only for straights! It;s funny how many still believe this.
I don't think that anybody who has spent any appreciable amount of time at road course/AutoX events believes that a Vette can't handle.


....but then again, this is the interwebz.
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