MOTOR Performance Car of the Year 2022 explained
Jhe entry for Performance Car of the Year 2022 was simple. Make it bigger and better than it has ever been before. More cars, more breadth and depth of coverage, the best team on board, the most compelling video output, and the fastest and strongest group of passionate cars ever. Spare no expense booking circuits, shooting verdicts and delivering a pile of hard data, featured in the largest and most important edition of MOTOR magazine to date. No small mission, therefore.
This year’s event sees a traditional PCOTY event merged with something new. You told us how much you missed Bang For Your Bucks, our annual competition for more affordable vehicles which was temporarily suspended, so we listened and gave Bang an upgrade in the PCOTY fold, in him giving it a spit and a polish and tossing it as Sports Car of the Year. So there are now two separate but equal competitions, which have resulted in two very deserving champions for this first installment of the double-header.
The winners of the 2022 Performance Car of the Year and Sports Car of the Year will be announced on Tuesday, March 29.
It doesn’t look real. I approach the red line in a Porsche 992 GT3. In front of me, Warren Luff drives a fluorescent Lamborghini Huracán Evo. Blue and white strobes under its tires as it’s framed by the blue and white Bass Strait, a dome of cloudless sky above and the distant warmth of the Cape Woolamai cliffs beyond.
It seems for a moment that the world has gone crazy over beauty filters, turning up the intensity to a ridiculous level. We knew PCOTY ’22 was going to be sold out. We just didn’t expect it to be so supernatural.
It started badly. You can read more about Daniel Gardner’s behind-the-scenes reasons for PCOTY, but suffice it to say that nature has conspired against us. Then the vehicles started falling one by one. Camera manager Ellen Dewar was hospitalized with an eye problem. It looked like jostling for 18 cars and the accompanying support vehicles was going to be a challenge like we’d never really experienced.
Still, it was obvious that the result was clearly going to be worth it. The Sports Car of the Year field consisted of 10 cars, with the Hyundai i20 N likely touted as the frontrunner heading into the event. Keeping the Korean baby more than honest was the new Subaru BRZ, with the evergreen Golf GTI here in Mk8 form and the intriguing Toyota GR Yaris Rallye hoping to make up for its less focused sibling’s eighth-place disappointment at PCOTY 2021.
The 200kW Toyota wasn’t even SCOTY’s biggest hitter this year. That honor went to the hearty 345kW naturally aspirated V8 in the Ford Mustang Mach 1, with the Hyundai i30 Sedan N and Ford Focus ST also eclipsing the Yaris’ acclaimed kilowatt count, if not its power-to-weight ratio.
The estate was completed with the most focused version of the ND Mazda MX-5, the GT RS, alongside the Skoda Octavia RS and BMW’s Golf GTI-themed 180kW front-wheel drive, the 128ti. . You couldn’t have asked for a more varied mix. Front, rear and all-wheel drive, manual, automatic and dual-clutch and a near-perfect handful of body styles.
Remember that the cars are not compared directly to each other, but judged against the long-standing PCOTY criteria. In this case, we’ve tweaked the score weightings slightly so that the SCOTY competition cars are weighted more for value and less for X-factor, reversing this decision for the PCOTY class.
Stepping onto the PCOTY grounds, a pair of Bavarians opened the proceedings in the form of the Alpina B3 and BMW M3. The M3 was particularly interesting because it is the entry-level car with three pedals and a stick, the only entrant in the senior category so equipped. The Alpina is a bit cheaper than the M3 and with an additional 150 Nm Buchloe’s bahnstormer had more than a fighting chance.
Jaguar’s facelifted F-Type P450 R-Dynamic delivered the only front-engine V8 in this section, sending power only to the rear treads and, in most normal years, might have been the top performing car by PCOTY. Not this time. Our Australian first look at the long-awaited mid-engined Corvette C8 in right-hand drive form has piqued everyone’s interest, as we’ve missed the inclusion of a Lamborghini Huracán Evo at PCOTY so far, so the launch of the new Fluo Capsule Edition was all the excuse we really needed. If everyone can relax the rules a bit because of Covid, then so can we.
Porsche, perhaps stung by being overtaken last year by Mercedes-AMG, had arrived in force. Trent Giunco couldn’t help but tell everyone how good the 25-year-old Boxster was, so that was a natural inclusion. Cam Kirby also insisted that we had to have a Taycan at the PCOTY, after missing one last year. We asked him to reserve a 4S, but he couldn’t be turned away from his view that PCOTY deserved the faster version and so we ended up with a Turbo S.
Finally, we managed to get early access to one of the first 911 GT3s to land in Australia. An unmissable favourite? Just look at Porsche’s record at past PCOTY events to see why. Would it be able to outrun its electric brother by 400 meters?
Was he about to come undone on the rough Gippsland road? Could it surpass the stellar one million watt power of the Huracán? So many questions.
Alongside the revival of BFYB, we also welcomed another MOTOR device for 2022. The driver-at-arms responsible for setting lap times and dodging geese around the Phillip Island GP circuit was a guy in shape here, setting the hot laps the last time PCOTY was on the island in 2008, a certain Warren Luff.
While many racing drivers don’t always understand the history of road cars, Luffy is deeply invested, perpetually curious, and always has an interesting view of a car’s performance.
This year, the judging panel is made up of the core MOTOR test drive team and a ringer. We got in touch with a man who intimately understands the Australian performance car market; Bernie Quinn, technical director and co-founder of Premcar. With nearly three decades of fast Ford under his belt through Tickford, Prodrive and Premcar, Bernie knows a thing or two about how cars should drive and handle in local conditions.
Having mapped out two separate road routes, a Taycan charging method that didn’t resort to dismantling the Korumburra hotel junction box, a Phillip Island testing schedule that just seemed impossible to achieve in vying for a photography team with only three functioning eyeballs, SCOTY and PCOTY were a try. And MOTOR has never seen an event like this.
MOTOR The assistant editor loves a super V8. Also loves a terrible V8 but we won’t hold it against it
The best Wagga Wagga export after Dame Edna and the Chiko Roll. Practical steering bar, owner of the XR6T
Superior power-to-weight ratio and the only panel member to fit in an MX-5 without looking like an orangutan
The ring master of the show. Now a resident of Phillip Island, so we expect he won’t poke holes in the local landscape
Co-founder of Premcar, he is therefore responsible for the Holy Grail. Not sure about his involvement in Life of Brian
The VBOX does not lie. Beyond the raw numbers, we’re looking for powertrain response and refinement
The intricacies of balance, grip, and control fidelity that separate the greats from the greats
The process by which the vehicle allows you to access its talent pools and the return on investment it provides when you do so
Ride quality, interior comfort, visibility, ergonomics and noise suppression. A livable car is one you will continue to use
Price, option costs, talent vs. similarly priced peer group, warranty agreements, fuel economy
Never be impressed by mere charisma. Look for character. Which car light shines the brightest and the longest?