Happy Automobile of the Year week! With just days to go before we release the identity of the 2013 Automobile of the Year, we thought it would be best to catch you up on the proceedings and let you know a little bit more about what went down earlier this month.
We took 28 of the best and brightest cars that were new for the 2012/2013 model years to our favorite western Michigan hideaway, Gingerman Raceway in South Haven. Over the course of three days (two driving just on public roads, one driving just on Gingerman’s 2.1-mile road course), editors had the chance to drive each and every one of them and name a winner.
To make our jobs (slightly) easier, we also decided to name a “shortlist,” 10 finalists that went from merely being nominated for 2013 Automobile of the Year to being on the final ballot when we chose a winner. We’ve revealed the final ten in the following pages, and provided a little bit of real-time insight as our editors climbed out of each car, snapped photos on Instagram, and tapped out quick responses on Twitter.
The BMW’s prodigious thrust was enough to draw quite a few compliments–especially on track day. Even so, the mighty M5 fell to the Tesla Model S in a drag race–credit that car’s instant-on torque and single-speed transaxle.
— Eric Tingwall (@AM_Tingwall) October 2, 2012
|Engine||Twin-turbocharged 4.4-liter DOHC V-8|
|Power||560 hp @ 6000 rpm|
|Torque||500 lb-ft @ 1500 rpm|
|Transmission||7-speed dual-clutch auto|
The ATS delighted many over our three days of testing, but we couldn’t help but compare it to the mighty BMW 3 Series–the 2.0T to our Four Seasons 328i Luxury, the 3.6-liter to the 335i Sport Line in our tester fleet.
|Engines||Turbocharged 2.0-liter DOHC I-4; 3.6-liter DOHC V-6|
|Power||272 hp @ 5500 rpm; 321 hp @ 6800 rpm|
|Torque||260 lb-ft @ 1700 rpm; 275 lb-ft @ 4800 rpm|
|Transmissions||6-speed manual; 6-speed automatic|
|Base Price||$44,315; $47,590|
|As Tested||$45,910; $48,190|
We actually had two cars with the same engine on hand during Automobile of the Year testing: one Dodge Dart, and one Fiat 500 Abarth. While the Abarth’s friskiness drew a lot of smiles, we loved the Dart’s everyday usability…and its status as the most compelling Chrysler small car we’ve seen in years.
|Engine||Turbocharged 1.4-liter SOHC I-4|
|Power||160 hp @ 5500 rpm|
|Torque||148 lb-ft @ 2500 rpm|
Can a Focus with 252 horsepower still be a usable vehicle? We debated that ad nauseam all week…after fighting over the keys to this entertaining hot hatchback.
|Engine||Turbocharged 2.0-liter DOHC I-4|
|Power||252 hp @ 5500 rpm|
|Torque||270 lb-ft @ 2500 rpm|
We staged our own mid-size melee at Automobile of the Year testing, pitting the Nissan Altima against the Honda Accord and Ford Fusion. It was the Fusion’s looks, ride and handling, and impressive hybrid that elevated it to the next round. But is it enough to steal the crown?
|Engines||Turbocharged 1.6-liter DOHC I-4; Turbocharged 2.0-liter DOHC I-4; 2.0-liter DOHC I-4 with electric motor|
|Power||178 hp @ 5700 rpm; 240 hp @ 5500 rpm; 188 hp (combined)|
|Torque||184 lb-ft @ 2500 rpm; 270 lb-ft @ 3000 rpm; NA|
|Transmissions||6-speed manual; 6-speed automatic; Continuously variable|
|Drive||Front-wheel; Four-wheel; Front-wheel|
|Base Price||$24,495; $32,995; $27,995|
|As Tested||$26,040; $37,670; $30,975|
The second mid-size melee entrant: the venerable Honda Accord. We loved the Accord’s handling and power from both I-4 and V-6 engines, as well as its simple, easy-to-understand interior and controls.
— Evan McCausland (@AM_EvMcC) October 3, 2012
|Engines||2.4-liter DOHC I-4; 3.5-liter SOHC V-6|
|Power||185 hp @ 6400 rpm; 278 hp @ 6200 rpm|
|Torque||252 lb-ft @ 4900 rpm; 274 lb-ft @ 3600 rpm|
|Base Price||$24,180; $33,140|
|As Tested||$24,180; $33,140|
The Porsche Boxster S was all-new for 2013, but our feelings weren’t: the car still shows remarkable poise, makes plenty of power, and slays more powerful cars on the track.
German car fails Canadian cup holder test. twitter.com/AM_Floraday/st…
— Phil Floraday (@AM_Floraday) October 8, 2012
|Engine||3.4-liter DOHC flat-six|
|Power||315 hp @ 6700 rpm|
|Torque||266 lb-ft @ 4500 rpm|
What would Automobile of the Year testing be without a brand-new 911? The blue C2S was a hit on track day, road driving…pretty much everywhere we put it. With 400 hp on tap, a beautiful interior and exterior design, and superb handling, we can see why.
|Engine||3.8-liter DOHC flat-six|
|Power||400 hp @ 7400 rpm|
|Torque||325 lb-ft @ 5600 rpm|
|Transmission||7-speed dual-clutch automatic|
One of the handful of Four Seasons cars that made it to Automobile of the Year testing, the BRZ was familiar to most of us but still shone through the pack thanks to its great chassis, workhorse engine, and point-and-squirt handling. Many remarked that it rewarded drivers on the track more than cars costing twice as much.
|Engine||2.0-liter DOHC flat-four|
|Power||200 hp @ 7000 rpm|
|Torque||151 lb-ft @ 6400 rpm|
Automobile of the Year testing was actually the first time many staffers were able to drive or even touch a Model S, and most came away impressed with its speed and handling. The huge 85-kWh battery allowed us to treat the car like any other gas-powered one: we drove all day and parked it at night, plugged in to a 240-volt charger.
|Motor/Transmission||Three-phase, four pole AC induction motor with copper rotor; single-speed transaxle|
|Power||416 hp @ 5000 rpm|
|Torque||443 lb-ft @ 0 rpm|
|Battery/Range||85-kWh, Lithium-ion unit; 265-mile range|