Road & Track's 2013 Performance Car of the Year

13 cars contended for Performance Car of the Year. Only one could emerge.

By Jack Baruth November 14, 2013 / Photos by Andrew Trahan

"The runway next to this one," the man says, using the sheaf of remarkably comprehensive waivers that we've just signed to point behind us, "is active. Don't enter that runway. There's a $10,000 fine. And there will be aircraft using that runway during your test here."

No driving in front of airplanes, check. Cars on this runway, airplanes on that one. Check. Still, I momentarily contemplate defying the man: waiting for a Gulfstream to rotate into position on runway 33, then lining up next to it in the sleek Ferrari F12berlinetta or the stealth-creased new Corvette or the brutal Competition Pack BMW M6. Giving the universal signal: Let's go. Then the screech of tires and the roar of the turbofans, the asphalt rushing to the windshield, 5000 feet to the finish. Fist in the air, Top Gun-style. Childhood dreams are made of stuff like that.

I shake my head and look around: This is the stuff of childhood dreams. Thirteen cars, all new or significantly revised for 2013, from the ridiculously aggressive Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG Black Series to the sublime and elegant Jaguar F-type. Here's the plan: A full day thrashing around Detroit City Airport's runway 25 and its taxiways, otherwise known as the Motown Mile, to separate the brilliant from the merely good.

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