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Road & Track’s Performance Car of the Year competition is legendary. Most major auto news outlets host some kind of sports-car ranking, but the PCOTY (as it’s fondly called) is special. The competition takes place over four days, and testers drove over 700 miles to put nine performance cars through their paces.

The top three sports cars may surprise you. There was one Porsche, one Cadillac … and a Toyota.

The 2022 Porsche 911 GT3 emerged as the top sports car

Road & Track admitted that it was a tough battle deciding among the top three cars to choose only one winner. But at the end of the day, it was the new Porsche 911 GT3 taking home the trophy. This won’t be surprising to many. MotorTrend crowned the new 911 GT3 its Performance Vehicle of the Year, and this sports car is scooping up awards and accolades left and right.

One of the things that sets the PCOTY apart from other competitions is a focus on the holistic sports-car experience. That means that a performance car doesn’t necessarily need to be the lightest, the fastest, or have the most horsepower to win. It just has to have the right soul and a hefty dose of exhilaration.

The Porsche 911 GT3’s 502-hp 4.0-liter engine wasn’t the most powerful in the bunch. It was only the second-fastest sports car. It captured hearts all the same.

Bright red 2022 Porsche 911 GT3 sports car parked next to a lake
2022 Porsche 911 GT3 | Porsche

The 2022 Cadillac CT5-V Blackwing was an aggressive competitor

This Cadillac is the strongest sports sedan that the brand has put out, making 668 hp and 659 lb-ft of torque from a 6.2-liter supercharged V8. It was the most powerful sedan in the rankings, second-most powerful overall, and is possibly the brand’s fond farewell to the internal-combustion sports car. Road & Track called it “royalty” and “one of the best sport sedans of all time.”

The praise and love for the CT5-V Blackwing was applied liberally. There was little question why this Cadillac made it into the final three in a very tough competition.

Front angle view of a blue 2022 Cadillac CT5-V Blackwing sports sedan parked on an asphalt road at sunset
2022 Cadillac CT5-V Blackwing | Cadillac

Toyota’s cheap sports car put up a gutsy fight

It may seem strange to see a cheap Toyota sports car competing against Lamborghinis and BMWs, but the 2022 Toyota GR86 was able to hold its own in a startlingly powerful class. Its 228-hp engine and $30,000 starting price normally place the GR86 coupe at a lunch table far from the likes of the CT5-V Blackwing and the 911 GT3, but the PCOTY welcomes all who satisfy the sports-car cravings.

Road & Track called the compact coupe an “ear-to-ear grin on wheels,” and the Toyota GR86 gave a strong showing on both the track and back roads. While the other two performance cars in the top three represent the best of the best, the GR86 sits as the everyman’s sports car.

Red 2022 Toyota GR86 sports car driving along a track, toward the camera
2022 Toyota GR86 | Toyota

The Performance Car of the Year is more than a numbers game

If the competition were based solely on raw data, specs, and figures, this list of the top three sports cars might have looked very different. But that’s what makes the Performance Car of the Year testing unique. Cars aren’t judged solely on their horsepower. Testers judge based on whether they’re the best sports car they can be and whether they can get the heart pounding and the imagination running wild.

The Porsche 911 was the well-deserved winner, and the Cadillac CT5-V Blackwing may be the most awe-inspiring V8 sports sedan that the brand will ever make. But, there’s something great about seeing a peppery little Toyota make it to the top. 


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