THRASH­ING SIX DOWN TO TWO

CAR (UK) - - Sports Car Giant Test 2018 -

‘IF THE NÜR­BUR­GRING is num­ber one, Cir­cuit de Cha­rade is num­ber two,’ says Jackie Stew­art, who won at Cha­rade in 1969 and ’72. ‘It’s dif­fi­cult to learn, some cor­ners are very sim­i­lar, there are fast cor­ners, slow cor­ners, steep down­hill and up­hill sec­tions. You can­not make a mis­take: there’s no run-off and just off-track there was black stone, ra­zor sharp. I re­mem­ber see­ing Hel­mut Marko in hos­pi­tal af­ter he was hit and lost an eye.’

The rocks are gone now, the Cler­mont-Fer­rand cir­cuit short­ened to 2.47 miles from the five Stew­art raced, but it’s still a fear­some place: cut into a vol­canic land­scape that makes you wheeze just walk­ing over it, nar­row at nine me­tres wide, and with el­e­va­tion that plunges by up to 100 me­tres and pun­ishes short­falls in brak­ing and sta­bil­ity.

We ar­rive as sun­rise glows or­ange over de­serted grand­stands. The McLaren Senna’s di­he­dral doors are up in a Karate Kid stance, the GT2 RS rum­bles with its jack­ham­mer idle, the Fer­rari 488 Pista barks and rat­tles the floor. There’s an Aston Van­tage, a BMW M2… but both James Tay­lor and I are ea­ger to ac­cli­ma­tise in the Alpine A110. The light­est, small­est, least pow­er­ful car at Sports Car Gi­ant Test 2018, it’s a sen­si­ble way to ease in to a cir­cuit this se­ri­ous.

James goes out first, strings to­gether some neat-look­ing laps and pits with a huge grin that says it all. He loves Cha­rade’s cam­ber, the el­e­va­tion, the com­mit­ment de­manded, and he’s prop­erly clicked with the A110 al­ready. ‘It was one-di­men­sional on the road, lots of steady mild un­der­steer,’ he says. ‘It’s so much more ad­justable on track.’ He chucks me the keys, then rum­bles off in the Aston Van­tage.

The Alpine’s driv­ing po­si­tion is pure re­cum­bent bike. You sit to­wards the rear of the chas­sis, low in bucket seats with fixed backs, gen­er­ous pad­ding on the base, even on the head­rest too. The di­men­sions are so com­pact it feels you could touch each ex­trem­ity – the Alpine is 20cm shorter than a Cay­man. Try not to think of that Porsche when eye­ing the cheap plas­tics, in­fo­tain­ment by Mr Ru­bik, or re­alise that the front and rear boots are more croque-monsieur pock­ets than lug­gage com­part­ments. Be­sides, there’s alu­minium dou­ble wish­bones both ends, a be­spoke chas­sis, weight pared to 1100kg.

Drive moder­ately quickly and you’re struck by the bassy gur­gle of the turbo four, a Toy­ota GT86 with more char­ac­ter and poke, off-throt­tle crack­les like gun­pow­der tossed at a Bun­sen burner.

Quickly you sense this is a nim­ble, quick-wit­ted ma­chine of sub­lime del­i­cacy. The elec­tri­cally as­sisted steer­ing does have an ar­ti­fi­cially smooth feel, but it tele­graphs tremors from the 205-sec­tion Miche­lin Pi­lot Sport fronts as they seem to swell and bal­loon to­wards their lim­its. The nose darts ea­gerly in the di­rec­tion of ev­ery steer­ing move­ment, the sus­pen­sion soaks up kerbs just like it glosses over im­per­fec­tions on the road, but the rel­a­tively soft springs and mid-en­gined lay­out trans­late to body­roll and mass gath­er­ing over the out­side rear wheel on cor­ner-en­try, pool­ing just be­low your hips; noth­ing un­to­ward, but an early in­di­ca­tion there’ll be weight trans­fer to man­age. As you pile in to cor­ners lean­ing hard on ex­cel­lent four-pis­ton brakes, a twist of steer­ing ini­ti­ates the weight trans­fer that brings into play the over­steer and throt­tle ad­justa­bil­ity that de­fines this car, de­spite a mod­est 248bhp.

Soon all sta­bil­ity sys­tems are off, and I’m tap­ping out tunes on the ac­cel­er­a­tor like im­prov jazz, us­ing mo­men­tum to loosen the rear and po­si­tion the car for each cor­ner, then rid­ing slides on the power. I couldn’t be work­ing harder – or hav­ing more fun.

Af­ter three hard laps, only the fuzzy dual-clutch shifts earn a black mark, then power sud­denly bleeds away, and I click at the pad­dles like Ver­stap­pen curs­ing a Re­nault pow­er­train fail­ure, coast­ing to a park­ing spot. An elec­tri­cal prob­lem stops play.4

THE GT2 RS COULD PROB­A­BLY BLUFF ITS WAY ONTO A LE MANS GRID

I give James the in­ter­na­tional dis­tress sig­nal, and he self­lessly stands on the Aston’s brakes and pops open the pas­sen­ger door to shut­tle me back to the pits. De­spite the Alpine’s DNF, we’re agreed it’s sen­sa­tional when fully oper­a­tional, and note the sig­nif­i­cance of a car cost­ing a frac­tion of a su­per­car feel­ing fast and ex­cit­ing on of­fi­cially the world’s sec­ond best race­track. That it’d be so much lighter on fuel and con­sum­ables is an­other plus.

Sev­eral laps in, James says he’s warm­ing to the Van­tage too. The damp­ing, he says, is par­tic­u­larly im­pres­sive – he’s got the thing nailed in Track where I’ll later lean to­wards the ex­tra com­pli­ance of Sport Plus, but both work here. I hang in my seat­belt when he stands on the brakes, vi­car­i­ously feel­ing the body con­trol and lat­eral grip as we roll through a left-right flick, the Van­tage rid­ing the track’s curls of pos­i­tive cam­ber like we’re on a bob­sleigh run. By the time we get back to the pits, I’m itch­ing for my turn be­hind the wheel.

You’ll prob­a­bly re­mem­ber this car is a big deal – Aston’s en­try-level model, its first all-new Van­tage since 2005. The bonded alu­minium plat­form and dou­ble-wish­bone front/multi-link rear sus­pen­sion is de­rived form the larger DB11, the V8 shared with the least ex­pen­sive DB11 too, but the brief is to play the ag­gres­sive sports car to the DB’s loungier GT.

The sound­track is pure the­atre: a deep, cul­tured bur­ble in Sport, pub­lic-school pu­berty in Sport Plus, and the full vin­daloo in rau­cous Track. There’s a frac­tion of lag and you need 2400rpm to re­ally get mo­tor­ing, but mostly the power feels in­stant and re­lent­less, blend­ing a keen­ness to rev out with a torque-rich de­liv­ery that keeps on giv­ing like Geldof. The sen­sa­tion of con­stant ac­cel­er­a­tion is em­pha­sised by the auto ’box’s shifts that punch much more cleanly than a DB11’s.

On the press launch at the Por­ti­mao race­track, I re­mem­ber be­ing deeply im­pressed by the Van­tage on nearby twist­ing roads but ir­ri­tated by a lat­eral bob­bing that am­pli­fied on some of the long, fast cor­ners at the track. We found the same at Rock­ing­ham in the sum­mer. But when I tackle Cha­rade’s of­ten quicker flicks of di­rec­tion, that feel­ing is nowhere near as pro­nounced. But at 1630kg the Aston weighs 500kg more than the Alpine and comes in as the heav­i­est car here. Nat­u­rally it’s a more hulk­ing thing to hus­tle, and even though that twin-turbo V8 is snug be­hind the front axle, there’s un­der­steer to man­age as you chuck it at a cor­ner. Cool your jets on cor­ner-en­try, ac­cel­er­ate when the nose is set­tled and you’ll find sur­pris­ingly good trac­tion bal­anced with mild over­steer – a sweeter, more man­age­able bal­ance than the over-cau­tious ESP Track mode al­lows, ac­tu­ally.

Fast-paced steer­ing helps shrug off ki­los – chunkily wellde­fined at top-dead cen­tre, its speed quickly ramps up with just a few de­grees of lock. I re­peat­edly take a few nib­bles at the steer­ing4

through a sin­gle cor­ner, sug­gest­ing the ra­tio is per­haps not as in­tu­itive as it could be, but it’s good.

On the road, the damp­ing of the Van­tage can feel a lit­tle tight at low speeds even in its soft­est set­ting, and James and I both com­ment on the early brake travel be­ing a bit fussy to mod­u­late, but the stut­ters smooth with speed, and it’s clear the Van­tage makes a bet­ter road car than track car as it rips with ea­ger poise and abun­dant per­for­mance over roads that coil like care­lessly fired party stream­ers. See­ing as that’s where most will spend their time, this is im­por­tant.

That it wears a tux while the oth­ers favour Nomex is an­other con­sid­er­a­tion: the Van­tage has the most so­phis­ti­cated styling of this test. Shame the in­te­rior isn’t as con­vinc­ing – scat­ter­gun but­tons and some cheap look­ing gar­nish fall be­low ex­pec­ta­tion.

For stark con­trasts, look no fur­ther than the Aston and the Porsche 911 GT2 RS. The lat­ter’s a car that could bluff its way onto a Le Mans grid – and then put in a de­cent show­ing. Surely own­ers of a car so fo­cused would ac­cept sac­ri­fices, and yet there’s al­can­tara and leather, touch­screen in­fo­tain­ment, so­lid­ity and lux­ury in equal mea­sure. The seats are beau­ti­ful car­bon­fi­bre-backed buck­ets that drop you low in the bodyshell and em­brace you snugly, yet are still com­fort­able for mo­tor­way stints. Even the ti­ta­nium rollcage in our Weis­sach-spec car some­how gels with the up­scale ap­point­ments.

But un­der­neath, it’s very much a racer for the road. Essen­tially, it takes the GT3 RS – the Porsche road car most com­pa­ra­ble to its Le Mans rac­ers – with its ul­tra-wide bodyshell, then firms up the spring rates a lit­tle and swaps the nat­u­rally-as­pi­rated 4.0-litre flat-six for a tuned 3.8-litre Turbo en­gine. It thumps out 690bhp and 553lb ft (GT3 RS: 513bhp and 347lb ft!) help­ing it to a bonkers 6min 47sec lap of the Nür­bur­gring. That’s su­per­car ter­ri­tory… and only £23k off Fer­rari Pista money at £229k.

I take the GT2 RS on the road loop and I’m not quite con­vinced: the ride is su­per-com­pli­ant for a car so hard­core, the steer­ing and chas­sis sweetly com­mu­nica­tive, but I don’t think there’s quite the del­i­cacy of a GT3 RS, and a nag­ging sense that you’re only dip­ping into the GT2 RS’s vast re­verses of power.

But on track it’s sen­sa­tional. You need mid-threes on the rev counter for the vari­able-ge­om­e­try tur­bos to kick, but it’s not laggy like a McLaren en­gine down low, still tractable and mal­leable, and with full boost it just hun­kers over its rear axle and fire­works down the track, PDK gear­box pop­ping in changes. It doesn’t sear like a nat­u­rally-as­pi­rated GT3 – peak power comes at 7000rpm, not the GT3 RS’s 8250rpm, and more tellingly peak torque at 2500rpm not 6000rpm – and the sound­track is pure Swedish death metal – ma­chine-gun drums and parched-Sa­tan vo­cals – but some­how there’s char­ac­ter and raw ex­cite­ment here.

The steer­ing is per­fec­tion: light enough to make such a se­ri­ous car feel wieldy, tac­tile and rel­a­tively quick too. You wind on some rea­son­able lock be­fore the GT2 RS set­tles, but there’s an elas­tic, slightly springy feel as it bobs around in your hands, like you’re gen­tly lead­ing a dance part­ner by the fin­gers, pick­ing up on its nu­ances all the time, re­spond­ing to them.

But it’s the way in which a car ap­par­ently so in­tim­i­dat­ing man­ages to feel so ap­proach­able, so play­ful, that’s cap­ti­vat­ing. Go in hard on the brakes and the mer­est nudge of steer­ing makes the heavy rear end be­gin to ro­tate, the bal­ance cen­tred around your spine where the mid-en­gined stuff piv­ots about your mid­dle. This slight slide by­passes any of the 911’s in­her­ent un­der­steer, and then it just set­tles at a mild at­ti­tude, a hunk of weight press­ing over the rear wheels. It makes the GT2 RS feel solid and set­tled, so you flat­ten the throt­tle, over­steer­ing gen­tly, torque just edg­ing the tug-o-war with the 325-sec­tion 21-inch4

Miche­lin Cup 2s. All this with sta­bil­ity con­trol on! Magic.

The car­bon-ce­ramic brakes are the big­gest flaw: their stop­ping power is gen­er­ally ex­tremely good, but the pedal soft­ens af­ter sev­eral laps and there’s ex­ces­sive ABS in­ter­ven­tion, es­pe­cially on bumpier roads. I let them cool in the pits, and jump in the M2.

On a test like this, there’s of­ten one ex­cel­lent car that feels a lit­tle un­der­whelm­ing among high-cal­i­bre op­po­si­tion. This year, the BMW M2 Com­pe­ti­tion seems to be fill­ing those boots. It is our only con­tender based on un­der­pin­nings de­vel­oped for peo­ple more con­cerned by CO2 than bhp, though M divi­sion has had its way with those foun­da­tions, squeez­ing an M4 chas­sis un­der that com­pact lit­tle body. And now, up­graded to Com­pe­ti­tion sta­tus, the orig­i­nal M2’s 365bhp sin­gle-turbo six is re­placed by the 404bhp M4 twin-turbo en­gine. It’s a lot of mus­cle in a tight lit­tle T-shirt, and you also get rear seats, a de­cent boot and in­fo­tain­ment that’s easy to op­er­ate. It’s com­pa­ra­ble money to the Alpine at £52k, but you can put things and peo­ple in it and it didn’t even break when we ham­mered it.

James and I weigh pros and cons: the M2 feels porky for a com­pact car (it’s 1575kg), there’s a woolly layer be­tween the ground, the con­trols and the driver, and there’s some roll and un­der­steer to pre-empt. The seats are pretty fan­tas­tic, par­tic­u­larly the way they cup you around the ribcage, but they’re mounted so high they’d give a Wim­ble­don um­pire ver­tigo; the brakes are ef­fec­tive but mushy, the straight-six hugely po­tent but rather charm­less in the way it churns with a deep mono­tone drone – a com­plaint we’ve al­ways lev­elled at the same unit in the M3 and M4. James thinks the M2 rides well on the road; I find it a bit tightly-coiled, if just on the ac­cept­able side of the line. Strangely, I also find it the least in­tu­itive car to slide for pho­tog­ra­pher Par­don’s plea­sure; it just feels a bit clumsy, like work­ing wear­ing oven gloves.

Then I head out for faster laps and start to bond with the M2. There’s one sec­tion of track in par­tic­u­lar, where you slow at the bot­tom of a hill and coil left, then fire up and out through two rights that pro­gres­sively open onto a straight. The M2 just hooks up and pow­ers out, and you can feel the diff lock­ing and the rear tyres just start­ing to over-speed, and sud­denly you’re pow­er­ing to­wards one of the quick­est sec­tions of the track, balanc­ing this feisty lit­tle thug right on the edge of over­steer, know­ing you couldn’t give it any more. In such mo­ments the BMW’s bril­liance makes it­self known in no un­cer­tain terms.

But in this con­text, the M2 is still fall­ing to­wards the back of the pack. And if any con­text will put that into sharp re­lief, it’s the Fer­rari 488 Pista, the more driver-fo­cused ver­sion of Fer­rari’s driver-fo­cused 488 GTB. James is rolling into the pits as I’m park­ing the M2. ‘I’ve never driven a chas­sis this good,’ he beams. ‘And wow, what a gear­box.’

Essen­tially the Pista is a 488 GTB with up to 90kg less and 50bhp more power – for a peak out­put of 710bhp. Like the 911 GT2 RS, it bor­rows from mo­tor­sport: brake servo, crank and fly­wheel from its Chal­lenge one-make race­car, dif­fuser from the Le Mans GTE car. The al­ready ex­cel­lent en­gine is said to be 50 per cent new. This is no sticker spe­cial edi­tion.

The Pista weighs 1385kg to the GT2 RS’s 1430kg, but even so it feels much brisker de­spite hav­ing just a claimed 20bhp edge – floor the throt­tle and you wail down the cir­cuit so ram­pantly that, at first, it’s over­whelm­ing, the rush of speed knock­ing you back in the low-set seat, a shock­ing early punch. Red lights strobe over the crown of the steer­ing wheel as revs zing to 8000rpm, you pull the long blade of a pad­dleshifter, third gear ka-blams in – no lag, no let up, just pure, vis­ceral ac­cel­er­a­tion, but­ter­flies and ex­cite­ment swirling.

The Pista is flighty, up on its toes. Its steer­ing is far faster than the 911’s, and as you twist it the Fer­rari feels wide and low and locked down, the weight in its nose set­tling quickly into the cor­ner, 245-sec­tion front tyres bit­ing hard, arc­ing you through the apex. Lim­its are high, but you make quick, con­stant cor­rec­tions at the wheel, edg­ing just a lit­tle into un­der­steer here, lift­ing the throt­tle, tran­si­tion­ing into over­steer, then get­ting the e-diff work­ing and fling­ing down the next straight. At times, when the4

Pista rides up on the kerb­ing, the nose light, rear end writhing away and the V8 yelp­ing fe­ro­ciously, it is fab­u­lously and some­times daunt­ingly in­tense.

But there’s huge con­fi­dence to be found here, partly be­cause you can go al­most sui­ci­dally deep into a brak­ing zone on car­bon-ceram­ics that never wa­ver in their per­for­mance – no pal­pa­ble ABS, no fade, just stop­ping power like a su­per­hero fist. Partly be­cause you can chuck it into a cor­ner and the front end will grip. And partly be­cause the CT Off sta­bil­ity-con­trol mode gives you just enough rope. It makes a sur­pris­ingly pol­ished road car too: sup­ple sus­pen­sion, un­in­tim­i­dat­ing to potter about in, power de­liv­ery that’s en­joy­able at saner speeds too.

I find the Pista’s knife-edge re­sponses harder to man­age, and feel more at home with the GT2 RS’s more lan­guid ro­ta­tion and the way it set­tles into gen­tle over­steer with a chunkier, more planted feel­ing. James finds the 911 GT2 RS harder work, more un­der­steery, lack­ing on the brakes.

One more lap? He’d take the Pista.

To be hon­est, I need a nap be­fore I do one more lap in any­thing, let alone the yet faster Senna. I mum­ble about mak­ing notes, and watch as James closes the Senna’s di­he­dral door and buzzes down the pit­lane, the op­tional lower door glass giv­ing the cu­ri­ous ap­pear­ance of Damien Hirst’s formalde­hyde shark in race trim.

The Senna’s car­bon­fi­bre tub is unique in this test, if fa­mil­iar from the McLaren 720S, so too the dual-clutch gear­box and 4.0-litre twin-turbo V8, here tuned to 789bhp and 590lb ft. The rest is more spe­cialised, in­clud­ing light­weight car­bon­fi­bre pan­els that weigh just 60kg com­bined, hy­drauli­cally in­ter­con­nected sus­pen­sion that drops to the ground in the Race mode we’re run­ning, car­bon-ce­ramic brakes that shed heat four times faster than reg­u­lar ceram­ics, and ac­tive aero for as much as 800kg of downforce. McLaren bills it the ul­ti­mate road-le­gal track car, then bills each client £750k – at the very least.

Later, when we swap stints on the road, we’ll come back with dif­fer­ent takes: James adores the Senna, the naugh­ti­ness of us­ing ef­fec­tively a GTE race­car on the road, the vis­i­bil­ity, the laser-guided han­dling and out­ra­geous per­for­mance. I find the res­o­nance and the buzzing too harsh, the pow­er­train too charm­less, the steer­ing a bit too sen­si­tive to cam­bers to prop­erly set­tle. It’s fun flat out, but too much of a pain in the back­side to con­tem­plate us­ing fre­quently.

We find com­mon ground on the track, though. ‘That sec­tion at the back, where it flicks left and the cam­ber sucks you to­wards the wall?’ says James. ‘It feels like you’ll have an ac­ci­dent in ev­ery­thing else, but the Senna just mon­sters it with­out4

break­ing sweat, like it’s painted onto the road.’

Tyres like a sticky tof­fee pud­ding, it’s my turn. You buckle in the low-set seat, canted back, sur­rounded by weapons-grade lac­quer-free car­bon­fi­bre. Se­ri­ous, but the Senna calms nerves: per­fect driv­ing po­si­tion, ex­cel­lent vi­sion, a pace and rel­a­tive light­ness to the steer­ing for a nim­ble, friendly feel, a gloss to lowspeed gearshifts where a racer would huff. But there’s ab­so­lutely a race­car edge, partly due to vi­bra­tions through the body. Sod pleas­antries, it’s say­ing – let’s crack on with go­ing hard.

With 789bhp fir­ing 1309kg down a quick race­track, the Senna nat­u­rally feels crazy-fast. But it’s not out­right ac­cel­er­a­tion that sep­a­rates it from the GT2 RS and Pista, it’s the speed it car­ries into, through, and out of the cor­ners, the way it uses its Tro­feo Rs, killer brakes, adap­tive chas­sis and that mon­strous rear wing to dev­as­tat­ing ef­fect. Re­mem­ber that faster sec­tion of Cha­rade that had the M2’s rear tyres fizzing, its driver work­ing the wheel? The Senna is just flat, and you’re grip­ping the wheel, grit­ting your teeth, know­ing it’ll do it, try­ing to shut out the vi­sions of a crash-landed 747 that in­evitably creep in. It feels in­sane.

It is also sub­lime when you fi­nally brake al­most as late as the ex­cep­tional brakes al­low, leav­ing it a whisker from the gravel or the walls and yet some­how get­ting it all back un­der calm con­trol. You pour it into the turn that fol­lows with that beau­ti­fully-weighted steer­ing load­ing and a lit­tle roll build­ing to con­tex­tu­alise the lat­eral loads, Pirellis grip­ping like suc­tion cups. Go re­ally deep into a tight turn and it’ll start to stick­ily slide, and when you steel your­self to ac­cel­er­ate early the rear tyres flare on a spike of boost as you jab in steer­ing lock. In­volv­ing? Yep. Scary? That too.

The Senna isn’t per­fect: there’s safety un­der­steer in this car’s set-up that makes it push through slow turns, a trait ex­ac­er­bated by a re­luc­tance to boost south of 3500rpm. But the Senna re­mains as­ton­ish­ingly ca­pa­ble on track, a drive to re­mem­ber.

Pink with ex­haus­tion, giddy with adren­a­line, we set­tle into chairs in a pit garage to rank our six fi­nal­ists. Plac­ing the BMW M2 Com­pe­ti­tion last is pretty straight­for­ward. It’s fun and fast and the only car here that seats more than two, but we both crave more charisma and feel. Still, it’s one of the six best per­for­mance cars of the year; if you need some­thing rel­a­tively af­ford­able and prac­ti­cal, but still ex­cit­ing, buy one.

Fifth place is harder, but ul­ti­mately falls to the Van­tage. It’s a per­for­mance road car of huge ta­lent, and en­ter­tain­ing on track. As a car to do the busi­ness with­out look­ing ridicu­lous, it stacks up. But the Pista and GT2 RS are both sig­nif­i­cantly more fo­cused, while los­ing lit­tle in ei­ther prac­ti­cal­ity or ci­vil­ity.

The Alpine is fourth. You could ar­gue for the win based on its at­tain­abil­ity, ap­proach­a­bil­ity and fun fac­tor, and there are times on tighter roads where its small foot­print makes it as quick as the big hit­ters. On cir­cuit it’s also more en­joy­able than the Van­tage, and a great ‘bud­get’ sub­sti­tute for the oth­ers. But we’d be fib­bing if we said we’d grab its keys be­fore those of the far more ex­pen­sive cars we’ve placed ahead. We just wouldn’t.

On track, the Senna is mes­meric in its speed and com­po­sure – its brak­ing, ac­cel­er­a­tion and han­dling are gen­uinely awe­some, it de­mands com­mit­ment to take to its ex­treme lim­its, and yet it’s ap­proach­able for those who aren’t pro­fes­sional race driv­ers. There’s no doubt it hon­ours the Senna name.

Is the Senna a bet­ter track car than the GT2 RS and Pista? Yes. It’ll mon­ster the num­bers as much as it’ll bend your mind, but it does the sub­jec­tive stuff too: it en­ter­tains, it thrills. If you want the ul­ti­mate track car and you can ac­tu­ally find and af­ford one, you must buy a Senna. But it doesn’t make the fi­nal.

The Porsche 911 GT2 RS and Fer­rari Pista might be ul­ti­mately less ca­pa­ble on track but they’re more play­ful than the McLaren, more ap­proach­able and more than ex­cit­ing enough. You never lap the Porsche or Fer­rari and crave more, and they trans­late those thrills bet­ter to the road in a more us­able pack­age.

Over to James to set­tle it once and for all…4

PINK WITH EX­HAUS­TION, GIDDY WITH ADREN­A­LINE, WE SET­TLE INTO CHAIRS IN A PIT GARAGE TO RANK OUR SIX FI­NAL­ISTS…

GT2 isn’t just sen­sa­tional on track. It’s sen­sa­tion­ally easy to drive fast, full stop

Airlow runs over here, makes you feellike a god

Per­fect driv­ing po­si­tion, ace vis­i­bil­ity: must be the Senna

Pista’s 710bhp V8 is vis­ceral, ri­otous, manic. And sooo fast

Like a spot of car­bon ibre? You’ll love the Senna. Note the clear lowerdoor pan­elsMCLAREN SENNA

ALPINE A110FER­RARI 488 PISTA

Like your per­for­mance cars to push bound­aries? This one does Be in no doubt: the Senna is a very se­ri­ousmo­tor car

Best that we gloss over the trans­ac­tions here

The cir­cuit closed hours ago. He doesn’t seem to care

You sense the 911’s wait­ing for a stripped out ver­sion of the BMW M8 with which to duel Jake re­li­ably inds his own jokes funny. Which is good

One car, one more lap – what’s it go­ing to be?

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