Top Gear’s Top 9: the best car pedals, ever

By topgear, 27 April 2020

Pagani Zonda

Predictably, Pagani does a strong line in pedal design. The petri-dish brake and clutch isn’t the most natural-feeling structure underfoot, and the impossibly delicate throttle doesn’t at all look strong enough to summon, say, a 500, 600, or 700hp+ V12.

And yet, as with every other piece of the Zonda puzzle, what looks like steampunk showing off actually gels into a seriously sorted drive. Just go easy on learning to heel’n’toe.

Renault Twingo RS 133

Pause… Stop. Play! It’s so simple, when you think about it. Why isn’t this standard in all learner-driver-school cars? Why hasn’t Renault made this standard in all of its RS models?

Proof: you can get excellent pedal imagination underfoot for a few grand. Take that, Pagani. 

Lexus LFA

The LFA is a car made of improbably gorgeous details, and the bits that make it go and stop when the driver tells it to are no different, milled from solid aluminium. And with a 4.8-litre, 9,000rpm V10 just the other side of that firewall, the slim throttle isn’t just a mechanical device – it’s a 560hp musical instrument.

(Click HERE for our First Drive of the Lexus LFA)

McLaren F1

Just about every detail on the iconic F1 was an over-the-top love letter to engineering. Its pedals don’t let the side down. They’re titanium, to save weight (duh) and so beautifully machined that leaving the linkages exposed as they run into the bulkhead looks more like automotive pornography than lazy trimming. Anyone else find it surprising that Gordon Murray allowed the ‘F1’ legend to be embossed onto the surface, instead of having it engraved, to save a few more grammes?

Ferrari Enzo

Worthy of inclusion for the ‘manual’ Enzo illusion Easter egg. No, the 650bhp V12 flagship doesn’t actually have three pedals, but if you polish the tub to a high enough sheen, you’ll get this rather pleasing reflection. 

Or just, y’know, drive the thing. 

Lotus Elise

What made the Lotus Elise so light? Ah-loo-min-um. Or aluminium, if you speak English. Specifically, the process of aluminium extrusions, which basically involves squeezing a big block of the metal out of a smaller hole, then chopping up the squeezed result and bonding it together with adhesive.

Result? A very light, very strong structure that’s also cheaper to make and easier to repair than carbonfibre. The Elise’s tub – its core, beneath the humble fibreglass panels – was one of the most advanced pieces of aluminium extrusion ever used in a road car. It was the work of Lotus’s chief engineer, Richard Rackham. 

To celebrate this – or to show off – Lotus decided the pedals of the Elise should also be slim, aluminium extrusions showing the artful strengthened cross section. They could’ve just used parts-bin pedals – after all, the Elise borrowed Vauxhall indicator stalks, and Peugeot heater controls. But they went bespoke, and to this day, the Elise has pedals that look like designer label cutlery from the 23rd Century.

(Click HERE to read about two 'heavyweight' lightweights, the Alpine A110 and the Lotus Elise)

Bentley Continental GT

What’s remarkable about the latest Conti’s pedal isn’t so much the metal face itself as the stem. It’s carbonfibre, which seems a bit pointless when the car itself weighs well over two tonnes.

(Click HERE for our First Drive of the W12 Bentley Continental GT Coupe)

Mind you, the Conti is fitted with the second-biggest brakes of any production car – 420mm carbon-ceramic discs, so you’d be glad to find the reinforced motorsport-grade stem if you’re putting some load through them. Now you’re wondering what the biggest brakes are, right? They’re 440mm rotors, found on the front of Bentley’s Bentayga Speed. Naturally. 

McLaren 12C, 650S, 675LT, P1 etc

McLaren’s modern output continues the proud tradition of the marque getting pedals spot on. Not only are the minimalist, grilled billets very nicely machined, but they’re placed to perfection. So, you can left-foot brake like Lewis if you’re feeling handy, or schlep along with just your right foot doing the work if you’re feeling lazy.

(Click HERE to read our First Drive of the 675LT 'Longtail')

Spyker C8

We’re shocked, shocked we tell you, that the notoriously ornate and spangly Spyker brand decided to mill its pedals from solid blocks of aluminium and mount them in a mechanism that looks like the sort of prosthetic knee an elderly Terminator would be fitted with. Honourable mention here goes to the Porsche Carrera GT, for its similar-looking, equally beautiful pedalbox.

STORY Ollie Kew

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