The Best Driver’s Car Under $100K—According to Top Gear AmericaA Corvette, Porsche, and a Lotus battled it out for the title.See all 7 photosJordon ScottAuthorMotorTrend StaffPhotographerMay 14, 2021
$100,000 sounds like a lot for a car, but when it comes to the performance car spectrum, it’s actually kind of reasonable. Sure, not 300hp Honda Civic Type R-reasonable but compared to the eye-watering price tag of a Bugatti Chiron; $100,000 is reasonable enough. There are so many great driver’s cars available for under 100k, but which is best? Top Gear America has narrowed it down to three contenders: The 2020 C8 Corvette Z51, 2020 Porsche Cayman GT4 and the 2020 Lotus Evora GT.
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It’s easy to compare cars on paper—and a complete waste of time. The C8 Stingray comes in so much cheaper than the Lotus and the Porsche and flat-out whallops them in the 0-60 sprint. Plus, Dax Shepard bleeds Corvette. We’re not joking, he has the Crossed Flags tattooed in-between his shoulder blades. He literally bled for his love of Corvettes. And Jethro Bovingdon is no better—a man who’s passion for cars was refined on the racetrack absolutely would choose a perfect distillation of modern motorsport in a street car like the Cayman GT4. Rob Corddry on the other hand, well, he’s eccentric. He knows how to drive and knows what a truly great driver’s car needs—he just can’t tell you what that is. Except that the Evora has more of it than the other two cars.
Testing the Best Driver’s Car
Going back to comparing numbers; it’s a waste of time. Again, Corvette Stingray wins with the most power, but then it has a lower top speed than the Porsche and Lotus. Dax says a good driver’s car has to have a V-8 because no engine excites the human condition more thoroughly, but the Evora GT has that sweet supercharger whine that aurally arouses just as much. Nothing compares to the Cayman GT4’s monstrous grip, either—even with it’s pushrod V-8-heart now residing behind the driver, the C8 still has the least amount of grip of our trio of performance cars under $100,000.
Great driver’s cars like the Nissan GT-R and McLaren MP4-12C had great statistics on paper, but some reviewers found them to be clinical and sterile in their driving characteristics. Multiple Davids have triumphed over automotive Goliaths on and off the track—compare the Austin Minis to the much faster and more powerful Ford Falcons they raced against in the British Touring Car Championships in the 1960s. No, determining a great driver’s car can’t be done with numbers.
What Makes a Great Driver’s Car?
To some enthusiasts, the numbers are all that’s important. For many, it’s the je ne sais quoi, the intangible feelings, the indescribable sensations. You know it when you know it. Dax sees a V-8 with a Chevy badge and his heart starts pounding. Jethro finds his joy pushing cars to their limits. Rob, well, again—Rob is Rob. He loves cars, but they all speak to him in a different way and only he can understand them. These three will never agree on which is the best driver’s car.
See all 7 photos
That’s the beauty of driving and cars: The styles are just as unique as their owners, there’s no making sense of it and there doesn’t have to be. Cruising the highway, hitting the dragstrip, battling it out wheel-to-wheel or even just spectating—it’s all car enthusiasm. Jethro might like the Porsche more, but he still had a blast when he was on the figure-eight in the Corvette. The Cayman may not have what his Evora has, but Rob is a self-proclaimed Porsche-phile and we’re positive he thinks the GT4 would go nicely next to his personal 911. Mr. Detroit Shepard reps the GM badges proudly, but one of his all-time favorite cars is Italian—the Lamborghini Countach. The world of cars has something for everyone and the MotorTrend App is your gateway to that world, so subscribe today! Then, hit us on the socials and tell us what your favorite driver’s car is.