The sun just beginning its descent into the Pacific, we assemble on Dockweiler Beach - and effectively run an impromptu marketing study. The GT-R draws its usual fan club of scruffy, hoodie-wearing young guys. A few middle-aged men inquire about the Evora and seem surprised to learn that it's not a Tesla. The Porsche and the Chevy? Invisible. We do manage to raise the Corvette's profile some by pulling the vacuum lines responsible for the Z06's neighbor-friendly exhaust note. The beach, already polluted with the sound of jet airplanes from nearby LAX, is now treated to the uncorked Vroom! Pop! Pop! of eight pistons and an aggressive camshaft.
So, now that we've had our fun, how do these four cars and their different flavors ultimately compare? It's complicated, to say the least. For one thing, our least favorite after we'd finished all our driving, the GT-R, happened to be the clear performance winner. Just as with the other vehicles, this comes down to a question of taste and culture. First-time visitors to Tokyo are often amazed and amused by the technology that the Japanese unleash on the simplest of tasks, from vending machines that take ten steps to deliver a perfectly poured cup of soda to heated toilet seats operated via twelve-button control pads. The GT-R takes the same complex, technologically over-the-top approach to the relatively simple task of sloshing your brain against the inside of your skull. It works wondrously on the stat sheet, but it was the least satisfying from a driver's perspective. Thus, the GT-R comes in last here.
The competition was extremely tight among the remaining three. In fact, each received at least one first-place vote from the four editors who made the trip. The bronze medal, as it were, goes to the Z06. Now in the sixth year of its sixth generation, the Corvette remains the ultimate riposte to the notion that American cars cannot compete with the best in the world. Indeed, the Chevy came within a baby's breath of defeating mighty Godzilla on the racetrack but was as engaging as the Europeans, in its own way. And it accomplishes this without sacrificing an iota of its born-in-Kentucky swagger. As GM struggles to become relevant again with American consumers, it might do well to sprinkle this sort of charisma across its lineup.