These are the cars we'd want for a hot lap.
When driving a car on a race track, practical concerns like comfort and livability fade into irrelevance. At that moment, the driver cares more if the steering feels communicative, the brakes stop the car effectively, and the engine delivers plenty of acceleration out of corners than if the trunk holds a suitcase or the radio works well. The CarBuzz Track Warrior award goes to the vehicle that we'd most want the keys to for a lap of our favorite race track.
In the award's inaugural year, the McLaren 600LT narrowly beat out the Acura NSX and Shelby GT500. This year, the competition is stiff, with cars like the Honda Civic Type R, McLaren GT, and Toyota Supra all just missing the cut. The three vehicles we've chosen are all razor quick on a race track and will put a grin on the driver's face. It isn't all about which car set the quickest lap; driving enjoyment was also taken into consideration.
The 2020 Lotus Evora GT is not a daily driver sports car. It has some creature comforts tacked on, like an infotainment system that looks straight out of Radio Shack and a single cupholder mounted behind the driver's elbow. Even then, it feels like the Lotus engineers muttered under their breath about the added weight. The suspension is hard, just forgiving enough not to rattle your teeth on a California freeway.
However, when you put your foot down and throw the Lotus Evora GT into a corner, you find out why comfort wasn't a priority for engineers. The grip level is approaching absurd, the handling is sublime, and the Toyota-sourced V6 engine has been turned into a 416-horsepower supercharged monster. It's a weapon designed to be just about comfortable enough to drive to the track or find a decent back road to savage. It's also the only car on this list to offer a row-it-yourself six-speed manual transmission. At $96,950, the Evora GT feels more special than its price tag and a no-brainer finalist for the 2020 Track Weapon award.
The eighth-generation 2020 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray is unlike any of the seven models that preceded it. For the first time, the Corvette houses its V8 engine behind the driver in the middle of the car. Chevy's engineers realized that they reached the front-engine platform's performance limitations and decided to turn the C8 into a mid-engine sports car. The results are bewildering. The 6.2-liter V8's output is not outrageous at 495 horsepower, but with more grip and an eight-speed dual-clutch transmission handling the power, the C8 can lay down a 0-60 mph run in under three seconds.
It has long been a performance sports car bargain, but with the C8 generation, the Corvette leaps into supercar territory. And remember, this is just the base Stingray model; a more powerful Z06 and ZR1 are still to come. Those upcoming Vette variants will likely put the car world into a state of shock, but the Corvette Stingray is already a worthy finalist for the Track Warrior award.
As the oldest vehicle on this list, the 2020 Nissan GT-R Nismo may seem at a disadvantage compared to the Corvette and Evora. But don't ever count out Godzilla! It may be the only front-engine finalist, but the GT-R offers the most power, 600 horses to be exact, from its 3.8-liter twin-turbocharged V6. With power going to all four wheels through a six-speed dual-clutch, the Nismo-tuned Godzilla lays down the quickest 0-60 mph time of just 2.5 seconds, destroying all of your bones in the process.
It isn't just quick in a straight line; the GT-R Nismo handles with the ferocity of a touring car. There's nothing comfortable about the Nismo on the road, so it feels a bit out of place in everyday traffic. But the lack of manners means nothing on a race track, where the GT-R slays corners with unrivaled mechanical grip. The GT-R may have been mocked for feeling too digital when it first came out more than a decade ago, but today, it feels analog in how it delivers performance.