When we name our Best Car to Buy 2017 on Monday morning, the winner will join an esteemed list of performance cars.
It’s a big honor, and it’s one we take seriously. Our staff has spent hours behind the wheel of each of this year’s nominees. Needless to say, this year’s challenge may have been our greatest yet.
But let’s now take a walk through history and consider what cars won us over in years past.
2016: Chevrolet Camaro SS
Last year, the award went to the Chevrolet Camaro SS. Still one of the world’s greatest performance bargains, the Camaro won us over because of its lighter curb weight and its far better behaved chassis. We said just a year ago that, “in its latest iteration, the Camaro SS is one of the most capable, pavement-melting, mind-bending performance cars on the road.”
And that’s definitely still true today. The Camaro has been a hit with buyers and, with the upcoming 1LE, it’s poised to get even better.
2015: Alfa Romeo 4C
Eschewing practicality, we were positively charmed by the snarling little Alfa 4C. Marking the brand’s return to the United States after two decades (excluding the ultra-limited 8C Competizione), the 4C brought Italian style and a raw chassis to the masses.
“The Alfa Romeo 4C is not just a car, it’s an experience,” we said. “It’s something every enthusiast should drive just to know what passion and lust and sensuality are about behind the wheel of a car.”
We still agree with that, even though the 4C hasn’t exactly been a sales success. We’re hoping that the Alfa Romeo Giulia will be a serious contender for buyers’ hearts when it hits the market soon, however.
2014: Porsche Cayman and Mercedes-Benz CLA45 AMG
For 2014’s award, we were wowed by a pair of Germans and we split our award. We liked the Cayman for its balance and its precision. The CLA45 AMG, meanwhile, was something of a surprise. While Mercedes has done fast cars, it hadn’t really done great-handling AMGs. At least up until the CLA45.
“It is, quite possibly, the best all-around, attainable, everyday enthusiast car we’ve driven,” we said of the CLA45.
But don’t discount the Cayman. “Scrabbling for grip at every apex, slinging out of corners with throttle-steerable ease, hanging on the driver’s every input, the Cayman seems to know what you want the moment you want it,” we wrote back then.
Today, the CLA45 AMG remains essentially unchanged, but the Cayman now boasts a turbocharged 4-cylinder engine lineup.