Welcome to the 33rd running of our Britain’s Best Driver’s Car contest, informally known around these parts as Handling Day – even though it’s actually three days on road and track and consists of a lot more than assessing vehicle dynamics. But what we’re always looking for is straightforward: the most fun-to-drive car launched this year.
Despite everything, 2021’s lineup looks extremely special. There’s always a moment, early in the days we give over to this contest, when we look at them all together and are struck by how competitive, or not, we know the competition will be. This year is a good one.
It has everything from modest but brilliant hatchbacks to the wildest supercars, a restomod, sports saloons and not one but two lightweight British sports cars – one, the Ariel Atom 4, invited back as defending champion. Then there’s the most powerful car yet to appear in this contest, a Ferrari with 1000 metric horsepower.
We’ll spend a day making a balanced judgement on the road: can these cars impress at sensible, sheep-untroubling speeds? And then we’ll head to Anglesey Circuit to explore their performance and limit handling properly. Following that we will have an argument, but knowing that, once the scores are in, we’ll have found Britain’s Best Driver’s Car for 2021.
The venue for Autocar’s Britain’s Best Driver’s Car 2021 was decided the moment the circuit manager at Anglesey said ‘yes’. Some things were easier to agree on than others in the track office and on the mountain roads of North Wales this year, but all four judges, and all gathered artistes and hangers-on, were of one mind in this respect: that there has never been a better place to conduct our annual comparison of the year’s greatest enthusiast cars than Anglesey Circuit and its nearby roads, and that rarely has there been a more varied and eclectic field of cars for comparing than we had this year.
The truth is, though, that even that happened almost by accident. The line-up for ‘BBDC21’ shifted and changed throughout the summer and was still developing – and causing yours truly to roll eyes and suck teeth – as late as two working days before the contest was due to start.