Road & Track Dec/Jan 2020

Road & Track includes technical features on automotive subjects, wide-ranging feature stories, spectacular automotive art and standard-setting new-car photography, humor, fiction, travel stories, book reviews and the most comprehensive racing coverage offered by a monthly magazine.Bonus: iPad Interactive

United States

in this issue

3 min
performance car of the year 20 r&t pcoty

To pick a winner, we used the following criteria: • Outright speed and testing numbers are part of the package, but they don’t determine the winner. Beyond sheer pace, a car has to bring emotion to the table.• The car must embrace track duty while still being enjoyable on the road.• Technology has to be used in service of the driver, not just added speed. Feedback and sensation via complexity is great, but complexity alone doesn’t cut it.• Lastly, we ask ourselves, would any other manufacturer build it? Does the car feel uniquely of its story and brand, with a personality all its own? THIS YEAR’S TEST saw 11 cars join us for two days at Northern California’s Thunderhill Raceway Park. A staff vote at the end of our track time cut…

3 min
tell me this

What is this PCOTY thing? One of this magazine’s crown jewels: A multiday road route covering hundreds of miles. A racetrack. A king anointed among the year’s most significant new sports and exotic cars. Our priorities are emotion, engineering cohesion, relevance, and price, in that order. Plus beef jerky. (It’s a road trip. There’s always beef jerky.) Sounds expensive. It’s not cheap. While fast cars have to work in cities, they’re most effectively and safely tested in the middle of nowhere. In this case, that meant shipping employees and equipment to a remote location, then orchestrating hotels, food, support vehicles, data collection, and two photographers. (Plus we spent $5 on giant stick-on googly eyes.) Googly eyes? That was senior editor Zach Bowman. Never give a Tennessean a corporate card in a Walmart. Did you stick them…

3 min
the dossier

TRAVIS OKULSKI: R&T’s editor-in-chief, tasked with setting lap times at Thunderhill West. Runs on cold-brew coffee and yacht rock. BOB SOROKANICH: Deputy editor, snack wrangler, prone to sweeping proclamations and dubious wagers. Was once bet a dollar he couldn’t fit in the trunk of the C8. Now one dollar richer. SAM SMITH: Our traveling editor-at-large, which means we never quite know where he is. Explains a car’s nuances with unsettling hip motions, which he insists are spontaneous. ZACH BOWMAN: Senior editor, team DJ, R&T’s official Southern Man (born in North Carolina, lives in Tennessee, wears boots a lot). Can sense the presence of a diesel pickup at five miles. KYLE KINARD: Senior editor, owner of R&T’s most 1970s mustache. Also PCOTY logistics chief. Arranged the perfect itinerary, then had palpitations while the staff stomped…

2 min
out of stock

This year’s PCOTY field was one of our strongest, but as with every year, there were notable absences. The absentees generally fall into one of three categories: the car you’re thinking of wasn’t launched as a new vehicle in the year preceding PCOTY testing (and was thus ineligible), the manufacturer wouldn’t lend us one (privately owned test cars are impractical), or the car in question just isn’t any good. Here are the models that received invitations but couldn’t make the party. 2019 Aston Martin DBS Superleggera: A lightweight DB11 with 715 hp. Aston elected to not participate in the test. 2020 Audi R8: The first face-lifted R8s arrived in the U.S. a week before our test. Sadly, there wasn’t enough time to get one shipped to Thunderhill. 2020 BMW M8: The new flagship…

3 min
the story of us

2014 The inaugural PCOTY brought 13 cars to Detroit City Airport, home to a circuit of our own design: the Motown Mile. We narrowed the field to six, then hit the roads of southwest Ohio. The brand-new Corvette Stingray stole the title from two crowd favorites, the Ford Fiesta ST and the Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG Black Series. “The C7 may not have the flash of the Black Series, and it might not be as affordable as the Fiesta, but down a difficult road or around a track, it has virtually all of the former’s pace with the accessible brilliance of the latter.” 2015 For year two, we flipped the order, tackling the road first, Motown Mile second. The three finalists: Ferrari 458 Speciale, Ford Mustang GT, and Porsche 911 GT3. The Mustang’s new independent…

7 min
state of bliss

WE BASED the 2020 Performance Car of the Year test out of Willows, California, mostly for the town’s proximity to Thunderhill Raceway. The staff of this magazine spent two days there, setting lap times and evaluating the competitors in the rolling grass north of Sacramento. Two days at any track is a blessing, but turning laps is less than half of what makes a sports car compelling. Everything about a Lotus or a McLaren hints at where the machine might take you, the lines of the thing whispering how the two of you might burn a tank of fuel. Or three. We were aiming for gold country. Those mountains played stage to the 1800s boom that brought more than 300,000 people to Northern California in search of a fortune. By 1855, the…