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. That said, more and more of these titans of the tarmac are popping up everywhere. Heck, even Poland has its own version — so you never know. Though the Arrinera didn’t make its way to us, we got to drive a handful of supercars that made us happy to be alive and gave us good reason to change our underwear.
Additional Contribution by Bradley Hasemeyer
MORE TALES FROM THE TARMAC: Behind The Wheel: 2013 BMW M3 Lime Rock Park Edition | Track Day: Lexus LFA and the 2013 Lexus GS 350 | Quick Spin: Porsche Panamera GTS
McLaren MP4-12C Spider
Best Supercar for the Racing Enthusiast: The MP4-12C Spider ($268,250) is a marvel to both drive and look at. To call a supercar ridiculously comfortable is an oxymoron, but it’s true with this British beast. McLaren made this car with a tremendous attention to detail, and it shows: everything feels buttery smooth, from the steering to the deployment of the hard top. A slick 7-speed dual clutch automatic transmission delivers its 616 horses with authority. Why would Ferrari be nervous? This is why.
Miles Driven: 142
Memorable Moment: Just before hitting Chicago’s Lake Shore Drive, we downshifted and punched the gas to hear the twin-turbo V8 scream in the tunnel, much to our delight.
Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG GT
Best Supercar for The Power Sophisticate: If you’re in the market for a car inspired by history and handmade by magicians, and you also wanted that car to have beautiful gullwing doors and a sexy silhouette, you’ve come to the right place. The 6.2-liter V8 with 583 hp sends the aluminum-space-framed SLS AMG GT ($205,000) to 60 MPH in 3.6 seconds. The cabin lies at the back of a long nose, which gives the driver an experience like sitting on the butt of a derby race horse taking off down home stretch. Sure, it’s not as pricey as some of the other cars on the list, but you can add the $13,000 ALU-BEAM silver paint job or some carbon ceramic brakes to catch up. Also, opening the doors makes you feel like you’re in a Michael Bay movie.
Miles Driven: 418
Memorable Moment: Taking the long way home through the glorious canyons of LA late at night, we rolled down the windows to appreciate every ounce of rumble from the hand-built engine.
Audi R8 V10 Plus
Best Supercar for The Everyman: Finally featuring a seven-speed dual clutch that’s smooth as glass and fast as lightning, the Audi R8 V10 Plus ($170,545) comes in 130 pounds lighter than the “standard” V10 thanks to loads of carbon fiber and the absence of some comfort electronics. This everyday supercar might be the best example of practical combined with truly exceptional: you can grab (a few) groceries, run errands and go through the car wash all before logging some hours at your local track without adjusting one screw. However, after three Iron Man movies and six years on the road, it does seem to be ready for a fresh overhaul. Just don’t mess with those menacing LEDs.
Miles Driven: 150
Memorable Moment: Driving flat out at Willow Springs, getting the tail a little happy and knowing the car would hold on as we nailed the corners and punched the throttle on the straights.
Lamborghini Aventador LP700-4
Best Supercar for the Showman: The Lamborghini Aventador ($387,000) is an earthbound rocketship that remains ridiculously comfortable to drive at high speeds (the single clutch makes city driving a tad painful). A 700-horsepower V12 proudly shows that naturally aspirated power isn’t going the way of the dodo just yet. The four driven wheels ensure that the car remains composed and planted even at triple-digit speeds. Lambo still knows how to do the supercar with sharply angular styling, and they’ve executed it most beautifully in the Aventador. If you tend to like things low on the radar, this certainly is not your supercar of choice.
Miles Driven: 399
Memorable Moment: Hitting 175 MPH on winding New England roads while maintaining a calm conversation with our co-pilot.
Best Supercar for The Family Man: The Ferrari FF ($298,750) does so many things so well — seats four comfortably, drives all four wheels, transports friends and cargo, and turns heads everywhere it goes. With Ferrari’s most powerful engine, the FF makes mincemeat out of two-seaters. The beautiful V12 engine sings and growls at the same time, especially when you make use of the manettino switch to pop it into sport mode, whereby the hounds are released and you’re transported to another world where you are the god of roads. Yes, it’s that good. Plus, we dare you to take another supercar in the snow.
Miles Driven: 480
Memorable Moment: Hitting the engine start button to hear the Ferrari V12 roar to life. We never wanted it to end.