Now that we’ve selected the ten best cars we tested all year and highlighted the most expensive, it’s time to go through our five favorite drives of 2023. Although they’re undoubtedly a centerpiece of any automotive story, these picks highlight more than just the featured car. They’re about location, time, and challenges we faced along the way.
From driving an early McLaren prototype on a deserted mountain road to racing against a hurricane in a Bentley and pushing a Rolls-Royce to its limits on a road trip, these stories are our favorite because, as you’ll soon find out, they’re by far the most memorable.
5. A Track Day In The Chevrolet Corvette E-Ray – Denver, CO
The Chevrolet Corvette E-Ray represents a lot of firsts for GM’s mid-engined sports car. It’s the first electrified Vette and the first to send power to all four wheels. By Chevy’s account, it’s the first Corvette that can be a one-car solution for most buyers. We traveled to Denver, Colorado, for a few days behind the wheel to put these claims to the test. Our first day saw us logging miles on large stretches of highway and empty twisty mountain roads, where the E-Ray demonstrated its chops as a proper road trip machine.
Day two stepped things up with a track day at Pikes Peak International Raceway. From back-to-back hot laps to open time on a skid pad, the electrified Vette showed that its increased power and traction deliver improvements not just in its usability but its on-track prowess, making these few days on-road and on-track one of the most memorable of the year.
4. A Race Against A Hurricane In A Bentley Continental GTC Speed – Monterey, CA
What started as a simple drive from Monterey, California, to Los Angeles quickly turned into a race against nature. With this year’s Monterey Car Week activities closing, we jumped into a Bentley Continental GTC Speed for the long drive south. However, as we began our charge, a hurricane battered Southern California, bringing record rainfall, flooding, and widespread power outages.
While the beginning of our drive proved relatively uneventful, relentless rain showers soon flooded large sections of the highway, leaving more than a few vehicles spun out on the shoulder lane. We pressed on with hopes of reaching our destination before the worst of the storm left us stuck due to road closures, turning what should’ve been a routine trip into one of this year’s most memorable drives in a W12-powered grand tourer.
3. A McLaren Elva Prototype On An Empty Mountain Road – Los Angeles, CA
The McLaren Elva’s 2019 unveiling signaled a shift for the British supercar manufacturer. It simultaneously debuted a new carbon-fiber monocoque and displayed that the marque wouldn’t just focus on building supercars but hypercars as well. Earlier this year, we scored a few hours behind the wheel of an early Elva prototype to see just what a seven-figure machine from Woking could be like.
To our surprise, however, we didn’t just drive one of the world’s rarest cars; we also got to experience it on an empty, twisty mountain road. And while this prototype sports a windshield, making it more closely resemble a traditional hyper or supercar, it does little to soften the Elva’s edges. It is, without question, one of the most exciting machines we’ve ever tested.
2. Pushing The Rolls-Royce Spectre’s Range On A Nonstop Roadtrip – Las Vegas, NV
While most of this year’s best drives saw us getting acquainted with the industry’s best machines in ideal conditions, our recent Rolls-Royce Spectre road trip only served to push this $500,000 luxury coupe’s limits. At the time of our departure from Las Vegas’ Wynn Resort, the Spectre’s estimated range hovered around 260 miles on a single charge. However, given that the large Rolls consistently outperformed its estimated stats in previous drives, we decided to put it to the test on a nonstop drive from Las Vegas to Los Angeles, a trip scheduled to cover 255 miles, leaving us with just a few to spare.
Along the way, we faced multiple climbs up mountain passes and large stretches of desert highways where access to a charger was far from guaranteed. Still, we pressed forward, pushing the Spectre to its range limits as we got closer to our destination in Los Angeles. However, as its range estimates dipped rapidly, the Rolls proved it had more than just one ace up its sleeve.
- 1. Ice Drifting The Final V8-Powered Maseratis – Livigno, Italy
Maserati is about to produce its final V8-powered car ever. Its eight-cylinder Trofeo lineup, consisting of the Quattroporte, Ghibli, and Levante, is scheduled to go out of production in just a few weeks. To celebrate their departure, we traveled to the Italian Alps to test their limits and exceed them with plenty of sideways action in perhaps the only triple-test of the range ever conducted. And while these Trofeos might be stunning, their on-road performance didn’t impress on our first drives years ago. However, as it turns out, letting them swing their tails out through back-to-back bends unlocked an exciting new side of their personality.