Best Performance Car: 2017 Digital Trends Car Awards

When going fast is the only way to go, these are the machines to do it

best performance 2017 car awards Digital Trends badgeWe’ve driven them all. Now it’s time to choose the best! The 2017 Digital Trends Car Awards pit the year’s strongest contenders in five different categories against each other, and crown an overall Car of the Year

We could drive away with any one of the cars in our performance category and never regret that decision. In their own unique ways, each represents the fact that we look at cars differently than most products. Cars don’t have to be fun, or sexy, or fast, but we ask that of them, which is why some automakers dedicate time and resources to satisfy our desire to go a little faster, push boundaries, and have a blast getting from point A to B.

The contenders

Chevrolet Corvette Grand Sport

Digital Trends car awards best performance car 2017 Chevrolet Corvette Grand Sport

The Corvette Grand Sport hits the performance sweet spot, offering the ease of use delivered by the base-model C7 with improved performance capabilities based on the track-pounding Z06. This was done by tinkering with the Stingray’s suspension and borrowing bits of the Z06’s aero package, but not its supercharger. That still leaves you with a 6.2-liter V8 that has 460 horsepower and 465 pound-feet of torque on tap, which it knows how to utilize. In short, you can take on a circuit like Lime Rock with confidence, but just as easily cruise home afterward.

Audi R8 V10 Plus

Digital Trends car awards best performance car 2017 Audi R8 V10 Plus

The Audi R8 V10 Plus also brings motorsport-ready performance to the road. In fact, the road car shares 50 percent of its components with the R8 GT LMS race car. If getting half a race car feels like a sham, don’t worry, the 610-horsepower R8 delivers more speed and control than you could ask for. It also does so with incredible ease and refinement. Couple that with class-leading in-car tech, and it becomes the supercar companion of our dreams.

McLaren 570S

Digital Trends car awards best performance car 2017 McLaren 570S

McLaren’s 570S is the gateway drug to supercar satisfaction. The Woking-based automaker makes race cars first and foremost, and its road-capable offerings like the F1 and P1 have been legendary. After toying with relative attainability with the MP4-12C, McLaren implemented a three-tier product template, with the 570S placed at entry level. Don’t think that this makes it soft, however. With a 3.8-liter twin turbo V8 loudly producing 562 horsepower, The 570S is so thinly veiled in civility, we often think it’s barely street legal.

And the winner is…

McLaren 570S

Ultimately, the McLaren 570S came out on top as our performance category winner because we loved how unique our experience with it was. The McLaren isn’t a more raucous version of a softer car, and its clear that performance came before comfort. It’s loud, it’s got crazy scissor doors, and a style you don’t see every day. When cut loose, every sense tells you you’re in a race car that’s barely contained within the limits required to make it a road car. The whole package is there: Responsive handling, heaps of power, and just enough intimidation to make skirting the line rewarding. As happy as you’d be having the other nominees in your garage, you’d still be telling your friends about the time you drove the 570S.