Since 2006, Car and Drive has taken a range of performance cars and put them to the test at one of America’s most challenging circuits, the Virginia International Raceway (VIR), for something it calls the Lightning Lap. This year, the 2021 Mercedes-AMG GT Black Series took top honors in the competition.
This year’s test saw 21 competitors vying for the fastest lap honors at the 4.1-mile (6.5 km) track on the North Carolina border. In its first year, none of the cars tested were able to finish the lap in less than three minutes. This year, nearly half of the field did.
The winner for 2021 is the second-fastest the Car and Driver has ever tested around VIR, coming in just shy of the multi-million dollar McLaren Senna. It completed the lap in 2:34.9 while the Mercedes-AMG GT Black Series managed an impressive 2:37.0.
Powered by a twin-turbocharged 4.0-liter V8 engine with a flat-plane crank, the Mercedes makes 720 hp (730 PS/537 kW) and 590 lb-ft (800 Nm) of torque. As a result, it is also an impressively fast car around Germany’s Nurburgring, completing that lap in 6:48.05.
But it wasn’t just the top-tier cars that impressed this year. The 2021 Honda Civic Type R Limited Edition became the fastest front-wheel-drive vehicle ever tested at the track by the outlet. Its time of 3:00.7 helped it beat the 2020 Mini John Cooper Works GP that set the lap record just last year.
Porsche, meanwhile, set two new records but not with its sports cars. The 2021 Panamera Turbo S became the fastest-ever sedan tested by Car and Driver at the track. Its time of 2:47.8 helped it beat the previous record-holder, the 2019 Mercedes-AMG GT63 S. The 2022 Porsche Cayenne Turbo GT’s time of 2:52.6, meanwhile, makes it the fastest SUV in Lightning Lap history, beating the 2019 Lamborghini Urus.
All of the results, organized by price point, are listed below. You can read Car and Driver’s full analysis on its website or in the February/March 2022 issue of the magazine.
LL1: Up to $34,999
2022 Toyota GR86 Premium – 3:11.8
2022 Subaru BRZ Limited – 3:12.4
LL2: From $35,000 to $64,999
2021 Ford Mustang Mach 1 – 2:51.4
2021 Honda Civic Type R Limited Edition – 3:00.7
2022 BMW M240i xDrive – 3:03.0
2022 Volkswagen Golf R – 3:04.3
2022 Lexus IS500 F Sport Performance – 3:04.9
2021 Acura TLX Type S SH-AWD – 3:06.7
2022 Volkswagen Golf GTI Autobahn – 3:12.1
LL3: From $65,000 to $124,999
2022 Cadillac CT5-V Blackwing – 2:49.4
2022 BMW M3 Competition xDrive – 2:53.5
2022 Cadillac CT4-V Blackwing – 2:55.6
2021 BMW X5 M Competition – 3:00.5
2020 Audi RS Q8 – 3:02.2
2022 BMW X4M Competition – 3:02.9
LL4: From $125,000 to $249,999
2022 Porsche 911 GT3 – 2:40.6
2021 Porsche Panamera Turbo S – 2:47.8
2022 BMW M5 CS – 2:50.3
2022 Porsche Cayenne Turbo GT Coupe – 2:52.6
LL5: From $250,000 and above
2021 Mercedes-AMG GT Black Series – 2:37.0
2022 Bentley Continental GT Speed – 2:56.2