Welcome to Speed Week 2018, our annual celebration of the greatest performance cars of the year. With an eye-watering total value of £4,052,991 and a combined 48,312cc of displacement delivering a total output of 7,640bhp to 36 driven wheels, our 14 contenders represent the most competitive group we have ever assembled for our annual festival of fast and are a testament to the diversity of performance cars the automotive world has delivered in the past 12 months. They range from the sublime in the form of the £2.5m Bugatti Chiron (there on ambassadorial duties in its home nation as our, erm, pace car) to the controversial but ridiculously capable 641bhp Lamborghini Urus and everything else in between.
But such is the breadth of the field this year and the diversity of their approach to speed that it could render comparison irrelevant. How can you compare a 488 Pista with a Fiesta ST, or a G63 with an Alpine? If you take the empirical approach as many other car magazines do, cover the cars with data logging equipment and trundle wheels and bury yourself in numbers and lap times you’ll get a result, but by our reckoning you’ll miss the point.
At TopGear we believe that a true performance car isn’t just about lap times; it has to stir the soul, to engage and entertain on every journey rather than just obliterate your local track. Which is why our contenders arrived from their home nations of France, Germany, Italy and the UK at the Circuit de Charade having driven thousands of miles via the greatest roads their chosen route offered. The journeys revealed as much about the capabilities of the cars as our two days at the truly attention-grabbing circuit did.
Forty-eight hours and surprisingly little arguing later we had our final five. A set of cars that offer more than pure speed, that possess a unique quality to make every journey a special event, cars that are definitively more than a set of data and lap times.
Enjoy the issue,