Car and Driver, the largest-selling automotive publication in the United States, has announced its annual best cars list. The 2017 honorees include three Chevrolet models and two Mazda vehicles.
The 34th annual is selected based on a car’s ability to “execute its mission at the highest level and deliver a driving experience somewhere between sublime and messianic.”
Contending vehicles also must cost $80,000 or less, be on sale by January of the year of the honors and be available for the experts at Car and Driver to test during the past September.
Additionally, nominees on the Car and Driver list consist of all new cars, 2016 10 Best winners, cars not available for the 2016 competition, and those with significant updates. The 34th annual Car and Driver 10Best Cars are (hyperlinked cars are reviewed on www.theweeklydriver.com)
Chevrolet Bolt – The Bolt is irrefutably a landmark car, as sensible as you’d expect an electron-powered Chevrolet to be, and welcome proof that established automakers can indeed make class-leading electric vehicles.
Chevrolet Camaro V-6/V-8 Coupes – The 1LE delivers stunningly sharp and accurate turn-in response and a level of front-end grip that belies its size. And like the other Camaro coupes, its steering is nicely weighted and precise to the degree that those unfamiliar with the newest Camaro would simply not believe.
Chevrolet Corvette Grand Sport – A dry-sump 6.2- liter unit with 460 horsepower, this pushrod engine spins to its 6600-rpm rev limiter with ferocity. It has gobs of power. Every stomp on the accelerator requires you to take in a lungful of air to counteract the shove of the V-8’s fierce torque and instant response. Celebrate it. It’s a welcome reprieve from a world turning to narcoleptic turbo fours that refuse to redline.
BMW M2/M240i – BMW drivers aren’t born, they’re made by cars like this, cars that encourage you to thrust and slash gleefully through the herds of plodding sheep. The M240i has a sporting suspension, but it won’t liberate any loose dentistry. The rigid M2 will, this extremist shaking our fillings over the rougher sections as the steering sniffed feverishly for apexes. Cars like the M2 form the radioactive core of BMW’s performance credibility, and the M240i backs off just enough to please drivers who find it a little too hot at the center.
Ford Shelby Mustang GT350/GT350R – The GT350 busts through its first two gears quickly enough that the raspy moans it makes at low revs are fleeting spine-tinglers. Running to 60 mph takes only 4.3 seconds. But rev it out in higher gears, and the engine sounds as if it’s munching on itself, ready to rocket some pistons through the hood. None of that comes through the exhaust, however. From outside, the GT350 sounds the way a Jackson Pollock painting looks. It’s a splattering of sound—fiery, shocking, angry, and somehow perfect.
Honda Accord I-4/V-6 Coupes/Sedans – Honda, with no good reason to, offers a six-speed manual in its mid-sizer that has such a perfectly balanced shifter and delicately fluid clutch pedal that you can’t help wanting to hustle it through the gears. You’ll never find these virtues on a spec panel, yet they amplify the Accord’s other sporting credentials, such as its near-perfect body control and sublime ride.
Mazda 3 Hatchback/Sedan – Even well into its product cycle, Mazda’s 3 still carries momentum in places most of its competitors can’t. Refreshed for 2017, both the sedan and hatchback subtly strengthen the 3’s third-generation design, which made its debut as a 2014 model. Two naturally aspirated four-cylinder engines—a 2.0-liter and a 2.5- liter—partner with the best chassis in the compact class to make a single point: The Mazda 3 is the driver’s choice.
Mazda MX-5 Miata/RF – The fourth-generation Miata is better than ever. While many cars use modular platforms shared across many different models, Mazda continues to engineer a rear-drive chassis specifically for the Miata. And what a chassis it is. The Miata’s balance, poise, and eagerness are simply unmatched by anything that doesn’t cost twice as much or more.
Porsche 718 Boxster/Cayman – The Boxster delivered what a sports car should, pulling 1.04 g’s on the skidpad and lapping the Nürburgring a claimed 16 seconds faster than its predecessor. For the 718, Porsche stiffened the Boxster/Cayman’s rear cross member, increasing the rigidity of the rear subframe, and then added more stiffness: firmer shocks, anti-roll bars, and springs. Porsche’s superb suspension tuning lets the wheels stroke down into potholes and chatter over lumpy pavement without transmitting commensurate displacement to the body, which bobs enough to keep the driver engaged without ever flirting with abuse.
Volkswagen Golf/Alltrack/GTI/R – There are currently five different versions of the Golf for sale in all 50 states, a sweeping armada of excellence that includes three gas engines, front- or all-wheel drive, and wagon or hatchback body styles. Attitudes range from the save-some-fuel base Golf to the kill-some-apexes Golf R. No matter which of the many Golfs in the range you might pick, you’ll never find one that feels cheapened or decontented to meet a price point.