From a stunning 12 months for performance cars, which of our 8 contenders will take the coveted eCoty crown?

It’s that time of year again when we get to grips with all the greatest new performance cars to crown as our 2022 evo Car of the Year. The last 12 months has been chock full of some very serious high performance cars, with no less than five of our eight contenders featuring a mid-engined layout, and all-but two being rear-wheel drive. This is also the first year that sees hybridisation featuring prominently, balanced against back-to-basics notions on the sports and supercars.

Our full eCoty 2022 video is now live on YouTube at the window below, and to get the full in-depth picture make sure to grab our eCoty 2022 issue (evo 305). For now, these are the contenders in one unforgettable evo Car of the Year. 

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evo car of the year

Sometimes, it takes quite a long time for a performance car’s true capability to be revealed, and our first contender is one such car. The Audi R8 might be in its last days of production, but never has the recipe been so potent in this RWD Performance guise that pairs its purest chassis setup with a potent version of its essential V10 engine.

When we recently tested it against the C8 Corvette and Porsche 718 Cayman GTS 4.0, we found it possessed a new-found sophistication and suppleness that made it the most satisfying R8 of this generation. And in the context of supercars featuring hybrid powertrains, turbochargers and active all-wheel drive, the V10 RWD Performance’s underlying simplicity continues to become ever more desirable – an ironic twist for a car that was seen as the next generation supercar when it was first launched back in 2007.

> Audi R8 review

evo car of the year

The BMW M4 CSL comes into eCoty 2022 as a red-hot favourite, being the lightest and most aggressive iteration of an M4 generation we’re really rather fond of. The standard Competition model – with both two- and four-wheel drive – has never been more capable or entertaining.

The new CSL doubles down on the standard car’s traits, while reducing weight and adding power. Not only that, BMW’s M division is coming off back-to-back wins with its M2 CS and M5 CS – could an evo-first eCoty hatrick be on the cards on BMW M’s 50th anniversary year? 

> BMW M4 CSL review

evo car of the year

Ferrari, on the other hand, comes off a tough 2021 eCoty due to a less than stellar result for its flagship SF90 supercar. Ferrari’s 2022 contender, though, has much stronger foundations, with a driving experience that’s already impressed on multiple occasions both in the UK and abroad. 

This is all underpinned by Ferrari’s spectacular new V6 engine that’s been designed specifically to function with its hybrid system. With many of the calibration quirks ironed out, and a distinctive character of its own, the 296 GTB is placed to be a real contender in 2022.  

> Ferrari 296 GTB review

evo car of the year

Ferrari isn’t the only Italian manufacturer with a new V6-powered mid-engined supercar in this year’s field as Maserati enters eCoty 2022 with its new MC20. It too is powered by a midship V6 engine with two turbochargers, but it does without the hybrid drive system of its Ferrari counterpart. 

Yet in contrast to the Ferrari’s more sophisticated powertrain, it’s the MC20’s chassis which is more advanced, utilising a carbonfibre chassis built by Dallara with aluminium subframes holding the suspension at either end. It’s already proven to be a welcome surprise in most elements – can the Italian underdog possibly have a chance for a major upset?

> Maserati MC20 review

evo car of the year

McLaren has also thrown its hat into the ring with its own mid-engined V6 supercar. After some hefty delays to its production, the Artura has finally arrived, and represents a new generation of McLaren. Like the Ferrari, it incorporates a hybrid system that’s reliant on its electric motor to operate at its strongest, with the two sharing similar battery sizes and electric motor layouts.

The difference between them is the Artura’s V6 engine, which is less potent than the Ferrari, resulting in a 120bhp-odd reduction in power. Yet the McLaren fights back with its race-derived fundamentals, namely a carbonfibre chassis, superb driving position and hydraulic steering. With a few wins on the board, and a recent podium place, will McLaren’s new era provide an early win for the British brand?

> McLaren Artura review

evo car of the year

Open-top cruisers like the Mercedes SL don’t often find themselves at the gritty end of an eCoty test, but the all-new SL isn’t like any that’s come before. That’s because the team responsible for its development has been AMG, who twinned the new SL with its upcoming GT. 

Featuring AMG’s brilliant M177 V8, an all-new aluminium intensive chassis and some much improved stiffness and performance numbers, the SL is no longer the open-top cruiser it once was – will it have a damning effect on our 2022 eCoty?

> Mercedes-AMG SL55 review

evo car of the year

The 718 Cayman GT4 RS is a car that we never thought would come about. For the first time, Porsche has fitted the full-house GT3 engine into its mid-engined sports car, with a carbonfibre intake and bespoke bodywork from the a-pillar forward pushing the package to its absolute extreme. 

The GT4 has form at eCoty too, winning our eCoty test twice in its first 981 and later 718 forms. Surely an even more focused, more capable and more exciting RS with that flat-six engine is a sure-fire contender for the win, right? We’ll have to see if Porsche’s do, in fact, always win… 

> Porsche 718 Cayman GT4 RS review

evo car of the year

While 2022 has been rife with new high-end performance cars, there’s been less action at the more affordable end of the spectrum. Honda’s new Civic Type R just missed the cut in terms of timing, but there is one notable exception from Toyota. The all-new GR86 has been released in very limited numbers, and on first association isn’t just good ‘for £30,000’, but a masterclass in calibration and fine-tuning. 

It might share lots with the previous-gen GT86, and on paper it might struggle to keep up with your average hot hatchback down a challenging road, but balance and poise isn’t something that should be the remit of high-priced sports cars, and it might just prove an antidote to the extreme and expensive contenders that make up the rest of the field. 

> Toyota GR86 review

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