McLaren has been a racing powerhouse for 50 years, but they’re a relative newcomer to the consumer supercar scene (their first was the extremely limited-release F1 in 1992). It was just three years ago that their MP4-12C ripped onto the stage, a rocket that hit the apex on its head with its first try. Now it’s dead. Before you get upset, know this: its replacement, the 650S, is better by a fair clip. We take a closer look.
Captain Planet approved. Sort of.
The Porsche 918, the McLaren P1 and the Ferrari LaFerrari are still all about superlatives — fastest, best handling, most exotic. But they also repurpose the latest technology to maximize the “dear lord” factor. They’re redefining excess, not stamping it out.
A Skyline in the city
With one of the highest thrill-to-dollar ratios of any production car on the planet, the only way to make the Nissan GT-R more monstrous (hello, 0-60 in less than three seconds) is a limited Track Edition. Luckily, we didn’t have to call in any favors or cash in our Bitcoins to get our hands on the 2014 Nissan GT-R Track Edition ($117,000), which serves dual duties as a sports car and a missile.
The Snake Lives On
When thinking of an automotive CEO, one expects a suit topped with a lot of gray hair, moved along with the help of a tidy personal chauffeur in the brand’s finest flagship sedan. Not so with Ralph Gilles of SRT. The man wears a baseball cap and jeans, is remarkably affable, and helms his own supercar creations at the track. He’s passionate and proud of his vehicles, and his latest, the new SRT Viper Time Attack ($123,080) is more deserving of those dotings than any other. This is no “base” version — it’s an impressive track edition of a true American sports car that’s no longer the unhinged, unrefined, chopped-top V10 monster that took to the streets and scared respectable citizens way back in 1999 in the form of the SRT10.
America Gets a World-Class Supercar
The Chevrolet Corvette is an American icon as popular as baseball and apple pie. But it hasn’t all been pretty. Through its iterations the ‘Vette has brought to mind everything from ’70s chest hair to midlife crises to silk Tommy Bahama shirts, stale cigars and trailer park access. There’s been beauty and power, too — especially in the C4 through C6 generations — but America’s car has always failed to achieve world-class stardom, perhaps pulled down by those sour associations. Everything changes in the seventh-generation C7 ‘Vette. Yes: the 2014 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray ($51,000+) could go down as one of the best American cars ever built.
Super is an understatement
Supercars are easily the Kate Uptons of the automotive world: stunning to behold, unobtainable by the average human and wicked in all the right ways. Even in an age of high fuel costs and environmentalism, they still get our attention. Exotic materials, radical designs, pavement rippling performance lead to stratospheric prices, which ensure that for most men, these cars will remain a fantasy. We got to drive a handful of supercars that made us happy to be alive and gave us good reason to change our underwear.
When perfect is not enough
In 2008 Audi introduced the R8, a mid-engine V8 somewhat inspired by their highly successful R8 Le Mans Prototype race car, and blew the world away, winning both the World Performance Car and World Design Car of year awards. It’s undergone only minor changes — until this year. The 2014 Audi R8 V10 Plus ($171,000) gets one of the best upgrades yet, a smooth-as-glass and lightning fast seven speed dual clutch S Tronic transmission. We drove it.
The most excellent excess
Studies show that many young people just don’t care much about cars or driving these days — they’re more focused on things like smartphones and the latest portable technology. Though the supercar landscape is changing, the basic idea and fulfillment behind this dream car is not. Regardless of changes in the industry or the pressures of fuel economy, the supercar will not only survive, it will continue to thrive.
Bring the 80s back, please
The Ferrari Enzo and F40 need no introduction — they’ve virtually been canonized. There is a Ferrari supercar, however, that travels under the radar compared to its two aforementioned (and more modern) brothers. The Ferrari 288 GTO was built with purpose, created to feed Enzo Ferrari’s unquenchable racing passions in Group B racing, a beautiful, supremely quick beast. It can actually be credited as the father of the modern Ferrari supercar.
God bless you, Enzo
It’s easy to marvel at modern supercars — the Bugatti Veyron, Ferrari 458 Italia and Lamborghini Aventador. They’re remarkable automobiles that almost defy logic, packed with technology that can turn just about anybody into a semi-competent driver. But there are some cars that usurp respect and admiration from even these titans of technology. They’re so iconic, so wickedly ravishing to behold, and so pure in their purpose and performance that to own one is to reach automotive nirvana. To see one in the flesh is enough to take your breath away. The Ferrari F40 is just such a car.
Not made as much as folded
Lamborghini never does things quietly — and that’s a very good thing, especially when the goal is to draw the rapt attention of the automotive world. But one model in particular marked the inception of Lambo’s radical styling flavor that would span decades, even into the present: the Countach. Angled to the nines, as angry as a giant bull whacked in the butt with a hot poker and as practical as a Kevlar dinner jacket, the Countach embodied the exotic supercar like no other automobile before it.
One hell of a legacy
The SLS AMG by Mercedes-Benz is truly the 300SL Gullwing reincarnate. Only the resurrected version is so much faster, you’ll wonder what happened to your eyebrows. How do we know? We got behind the wheel and watched it make people’s necks sore.
Ready to fight
Spain, known for Flamenco dancing, bullfighting, tapas. Supercars? Not so much. Manufacturer Spania GTA aims to add that category to the Spanish vocabulary with its Spano, just unveiled at the Geneva Motor Show. This isn’t some number built in an automotive nut’s garage in Valencia. It boasts some of the best technology the automotive world has to offer.
It's environmental, really
Ferrari’s supercar legacy is not only alive and well, it’s now hooked up to hybrid power for the first time. Making use of a HY-KERS system that generates 160 hp on top of the V12′s already crazy 780 hp, the all-new Ferrari LaFerrari should get to 60 in less than three seconds and top out at 217 mph. But it’s not all go and no show. The beautifully designed supercar is both fluid and muscular, making use of more organic design elements than the car it replaces. The sum of these parts? A supercar easily worthy of the Ferrari name.
On the verge of being released for the drooling public in Geneva tomorrow, the Lamborghini Veneno has enough hard edges, wings and vents to make the prospect of a carnauba wax a serious headache. That in-your-face exterior should be well partnered with a purported 6.5-liter V12, snorting out 740 horsepower to rocket the Veneno to 60 in under three seconds and providing a top speed of 220 mph.
True British Muscle
Aston Martin recently decided that being one of the most prestigious and sexiest car makers on the planet wasn’t enough. They needed to be audacious. Their execution of this? Surgically transplanting the 6.0-liter 510 hp V12 from the DBS into their smallest and lightest offering, the Vantage. The Carbon Black edition adds carbon-fiber side strakes, lightweight carbon fiber and Kevlar seats, piano black accents and gloss black painted wheels, which convey the same kind of ballsy aggression as the drivetrain underneath that extruded aluminum body. Read on for a video and photo essay of this Brit stunner.
I believe I can fly
Most drivers with sport-tuned cars like BMW’s Ms and Audi’s S line are relegated to red light straightaways, only partially exploiting the true potential of their steeds. The pathway to higher speeds lies elsewhere. Mercedes recognized this problem and invited us to Rosamond, CA., a quiet farming town with long, unpatrolled stretches of road, to play with all their AMG
toys offerings for 2013 and to use the track at Willow Springs Raceway for their brand new Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG GT ($200,000 Base Coupe).
Makes the Italians sweat
Some claim the Nissan GT-R is a tad too clinical, born from a generation of Gran Turismo video game junkies who are better on a game console than behind a real wheel. But no one will dispute the fact that the GT-R is a bonkers supercar for a non-supercar price, and it makes just about every other competitor sweaty in the nether regions. The 2014 Nissan GT-R Track Edition should add an even heftier dose of fear into the hearts of performance cars with twice the price tag.
The History of America's Greatest Sports Car
Your loyalties may lie with other sports car brands, but the Corvette garners respect from all automotive circles for its remarkable capabilities, especially in light of its price. The Corvette is truly an American automotive icon and easily qualifies as America’s supercar, though it didn’t always boast the performance numbers of today. For at least the past three generations, it has been widely considered a bargain, as far as supercars go — with the speed, handling and track chops to make cars costing three times more quake in their brake shoes. Follow the Corvette as we detail its humble C1 inception to its modern automotive exotica in the recently released C7.
The niche Italian supercar known as the Evantra impressed us when it launched two years ago boasting a flat six engine with 600 horsepower in the turbo model and a 0-60 time of around three and-a-half seconds. But that’s nothing compared to the 2013 7.0-liter V8 Mazzanti Evantra, which billows out a kidney-crushing 700 horsepower…
Ugly no more
If Gumpert vehicles were as homely as their name, they might look something like this, but lucky for us, the German manufacturer makes some of the fastest and best handling supercars in the world and thankfully survived insolvency this past summer. Based on photos of their next design, the Gumpert Tornante, it looks like all…
A sublime encounter with the bull
In the world of exotic Italian automakers, the Lamborghini name needs no introduction — especially with the legacy of V12 superbeasts like the Miura and the Countach. Such icons adorned the walls of many a high school boy’s room just a few decades ago, and still ring true in our memories as a couple of…
Batten down the hairpieces
The Lamborghini Aventador is unquestionably a land rocket. Trust us. We’ve driven it, and we’re still trying to massage our organs back into alignment. Now that Lamborghini has pulled the curtains back on their roofless V12-powered Aventador LP 700-4 Roadster (~$381,000), we’re prepared to search for our scalps after a quick jaunt around the block….
A shock to the eyes, as well as the wallet
Supercars tend to be about as subtle as an MMA pugilist after a couple Red Bull and vodkas. Stuff that mess into a retina-searing blue dress and you’ve got the Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG Electric Drive. Forking up $530,000 for this gull-winged Smurf-mobile gets you 750 e-horsepower from four electric motors (one at each wheel) and…
Refreshing a supercar is like asking Aishwarya Rai to pretty herself up. No easy task. Well, Audi recently released photos of their R8 V10 Plus, the new supercar range topper for the German automaker, and though the design changes are fairly noticeable via updated tube LED headlights and revised taillights, it’s the performance that gets…
No question the McLaren MP4-12C is a remarkable automobile, often pitted agains the likes of the venerable Ferrari 458 Italia and holding its own. Now it’s gone topless as the McLaren MP4-12C Spider, and it’s quite the looker, especially in Volcano Red. Not common knowledge, the MP4-12C (say that ten times after a few dirty…
Be my Valentino
After more than 40 years as a test driver for Lamborghini, Valentino Balboni retired. In place of a gold watch the Italian supercar maker crafted a limited edition model (only 250) in his honor: the Lamborghini Gallardo LP 550-2 Valentino Balboni — yes, it’s a mouth full. That very car birthed two beautiful descendants. Our…
The Dodge Viper has come a long way. Don’t misunderstand, though. From the 1st version in 1992 to the last generation model, the Viper has always been a V10, American made horsepower monster that chews up tires like a starving beaver on fresh pine. Far from refined, the Viper would damage both kidneys and dental…
Sounding like the illegitimate offspring of a British royal and a bare-fisted cage fighter, the Gumpert Apollo Enraged showed up at the Geneva Auto show in all its aggressive fury. The German automaker is famous for the street legal race car, the original Gumpert Apollo, powered by a supercharged 4.2 liter Audi sourced V8 that…
Full face warp
If you like crazy fast exotic automobiles and you also happen to be fan of getting hit in the face with bug guts, asphalt chunks and other airborne particulate matter, then the Lamborghini Aventador J is your kind of car. Introduced at the Geneva Auto Show and just sold to a clandestine owner for a…