The best-handling SUV the world has ever seen. The all-new Lamborghini that didn’t really handle and the ‘speciale’ Ferrari that did. The Porsche 911 killer from nearby Mercedes-AMG. This year had the lot.
And yet every one of those landmarks fades into the background the instant you mention that one word: hypercar. The McLaren P1, Porsche 918 Spyder and LaFerrari have made 2014 so completely their own that no review of the road testing year can begin anywhere else.
When 2014 started, the 918 Spyder was the only car to which we knew for sure the term ‘greatness’ applied. A track drive in Europe in the Porsche late last year set the bar at a height that seemed almost unreachable at the time – as did the Porsche’s now-famous 6min 57sec lap of the Nürburgring Nordschleife.
But it was equally unthinkable that McLaren and Ferrari would fail to reach the 918’s mark – and they didn’t. Within a crazy couple of weeks in April we’d been let loose for first drives in both the P1 and LaFerrari. The Ferrari stunned editor-at-large Steve Sutcliffe into boundless praise, proving every inch the money-no-object dream machine we all imagined it would be.
But McLaren’s PR masterstroke was to hand us a P1 for a full road test within a matter of weeks. The British contender knocked more than a second off our all-time dry handling circuit lap record and earned itself a perfect five-star recommendation in one of Autocar’s biggest-selling issues of the year.
That wasn’t the end of the story, though. An identical full road test on the Porsche followed in October, during which the 918 proved itself to be not only faster from rest to 80mph than the P1 but also faster again around our dry handling circuit – by more than a second.