BEST HANDLING - McLaren 600LT
Before we award the gong for best handling it probably makes sense to define the term. Handling isn’t about outright grip or speed, it’s the connection you make to a car. How easy is it to drive the car to its limit and how does it respond when you do so? Bigger tyres and stiffer suspension can make a car quicker, but doesn’t necessarily improve handling.
Good handling is egalitarian; you can find it in a Ford Fiesta ST or a Porsche Cayman or, indeed, in a McLaren 600LT, the best-handling car we drove in the past 12 months. The mighty Mac happens to major in both categories: it can go around corners at a tremendous rate of knots, but crucially you don’t have to do so to enjoy it.
Key to this is the steering. Its biggest shortcoming is quite pronounced kickback over mid-corner bumps, but in every other circumstance you are rewarded with a beautiful stream of communication from the front tyres. This is true steering feel, the type very few cars possess these days. This provides tremendous confidence, which is paramount when trying to drive something as potent as the 441kW/620Nm, 0-100km/h in 2.9sec 600LT.
Changes over the ‘regular’ 570S are surprisingly few. The rear is elongated by 74mm (hence the Longtail moniker), the ride height dropped by 8mm, the front track increased by 10mm and Pirelli P Zero Trofeo R semi-slicks are fitted. Most importantly, up to 100kg is shed, depending on how many option boxes you tick.
This makes the 600LT very agile, while the lighter wheels and brakes not only reduce unsprung weight but provide outrageous stopping power. Again, though, it’s McLaren’s calibration of the parts rather than the parts themselves that is so impressive.
To drive this special McLaren hard is to become immersed in the process, every input answered incredibly accurately. It requires respect, as there’s a lot of power being sent through just two tyres, but the ESC is brilliantly judged in Sport, allowing you a window into what the 600LT would be like unshackled on a racetrack.
One of the true hallmarks of a great-handling car is that it provides options rather than forcing you into a particular driving style. The 600LT has more than enough front grip to be driven conventionally, yet is adjustable enough that if you have the ability and confidence to use the brakes and throttle to adjust its balance, it’s more than happy to indulge. It’s a remarkable supercar.
Best Steering - Lotus Evora 410
We don’t subscribe to the notion electric steering is inferior, but it can’t be coincidence that this category’s finalists, the McLaren 600LT and Lotus Evora 410, both retain hydraulic assistance. Both offer an exceptional connection to the road and near-perfect weighting, but the Lotus is disturbed less by road irregularities and therefore gets the nod.
Best Electronics - Porsche 992 911
The best computer chassis trickery leaves you alone and only makes its Electronic Stability Program intervention obvious when you’ve made a mistake. And even when you haven’t, it imperceptibly works in the background to augment your inputs as driver. No other system does either of these things quite as effectively, or subtly, as that of the new 992-series 911.