From the January 2022 issue of Car and Driver.
Winner: Ford Mustang Mach-E
The giant test of EVs detailed in our July/August 2021 issue was a few years in the making, and we named the Ford Mustang the EV of the Year. Sorry, we mean the Mustang Mach-E. Despite appropriating an icon's name, the Mach-E delivers most of the EV goods with decent range for a not-crazy sum of money.
Cadillac won everything with its new Blackwing sedans, including two 10Best spots. We even petitioned the Hockey Hall of Fame to engrave their names on the Stanley Cup (we haven't heard back). But Cadillac is still a loser this year because it's throwing in the towel. Just when its mainstream cousin Chevrolet spent Cadillac money on a new double-overhead-cam V-8 for the Corvette Z06, Caddy says "No more internal-combustion V cars." Quitting when you're on top of your game is admirable for an athlete. This is a squandered opportunity. But anyone who has worked at General Motors will tell you that "squandered opportunity" is the unofficial slogan of the executive suites.
Winner: Porsche Taycan
Cadillac had better benchmark the Porsche Taycan when making its EVs, because it's the only electric on the market that doesn't need a "for an EV" caveat. It's just plain good. And it has a secret weapon: a multispeed gearbox. The first Tesla Roadster we tested (in 2008) had a two-speed transmission, but you couldn't shift on the fly, and it never made it to production. The Taycan's automatic unlocks EV range like no other model (well, the Audi e-tron GT has it, but it's mostly a rebodied Taycan). In our real-world highway fuel-economy testing, most EVs don't come close to reaching their EPA range estimates—unlike the government, we do runs at a realistic 75 mph. But the two-speed box lowers the motor speed enough to allow the Taycan to outperform the EPA's lab results. In the base Taycan with the bigger battery, we got a 280-mile range, 55 miles more than the EPA number.
Loser: Hyundai Tucson
No one ever said a family-oriented SUV needs to light up the drag strip, but on the other hand we hadn't expected the redesigned Tucson with the base 2.5-liter engine to achieve one of the year's slowest 60-mph times. (We thought for sure it would beat the 8780-pound AEV Prospector XL, a modified Ram 2500 with the Cummins diesel and 40-inch tires.) But with an 8.8-second run, the Tucson rolled slower than we could have imagined. That is part of a larger trend we've observed with new Hyundai and Kia products that don't allow brake torquing at launch, effectively eliminating the low-end acceleration benefit of a torque converter's torque multiplication.
Tesla needs to stop trying to become the Ferrari of EV makers, and that isn't a comment on performance or build quality. Hey, Tesla: When you loan a car to the media (any media, not just us), let them test it as they see fit and don't try to control every tiny aspect. Everyone is anxious to learn about how quick you can make a 10-year-old car, but if you only allow independent outlets to test on a prepped surface, you look like you don't have confidence in your cars. Also, we don't mind if you don't loan us cars the way you do other journalists. We'll rent or borrow what we need and get the story done. And we'll get it done to our standards.
Winners: Ferrari SF90 Stradale and Bugatti Chiron Sport
The big Bug crushed the Porsche 918 Spyder's quarter-mile record of 9.7 seconds at 145 mph by turning a 9.4-second pass at—gulp—158 mph. Desperate to qualify for a sub-10-second NHRA license? Rent one of these French missiles and head to a sanctioned event. Ferrari let us test its SF90 Stradale at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. We'd prefer to borrow one and test it at our home track, the Chelsea Proving Grounds, but the Brickyard is an okay alternative, we suppose. Anyway, before lapping the 986-hp hybrid on the road course, we ran it through our normal testing gauntlet, and it trumped the 2.1-second 60-mph sprint that the Porsche 918 and 911 Turbo S laid down in 2014 and 2020, respectively, with a 2.0-second time. Stupendo.
Winners: Subaru BRZ and Toyota GR86
The new Subaru BRZ and Toyota GR86, which share almost everything, including a 228-hp 2.4-liter flat-four, gained a lot of acceleration from a lawn mower's worth of added power—just 23 horses. Times to 60 mph went from the low-six-second range in the previous generation to 5.4 seconds. Plus, they're just wonderful little coupes. During a comparison test, we pondered the potential greatness of a small sedan built on this platform. It would be a modern-day Datsun 510 and the only manual-transmission rear-driver in a class flooded with CVTs and front-drivers. Your move, Toyobaru.
Winner: Tesla Model S Plaid
The Model S Plaid is quick. How quick? With a 9.4-second time slip, as quick as the Chiron, but the EV traps slower at 151 mph. It's worth noting that we test cars—EV or gasser—with a full tank, so there's a chance the Chiron could burn through enough fuel to unify the quarter-mile title. While internal-combustion cars can get quicker as they burn off fuel, no EV will as its state of charge drops. And we don't bend testing protocols to suit a car. Now we just need to get our hands on a Rimac.
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