Even if you don’t know a glovebox from a gearbox, a ravishing, potent supercar can get just about anyone’s pulse racing. Which is why we do what we do. No, it’s not just about roasting rubber and tearing up tarmac — but it is and always will be about the drive. Hands on the wheel at 9 and 3, feet ready to dance on the pedals and an untrammeled view of the road ahead is what we’re all about.
2014 proved to be another stellar year, helming the hell out of Ferraris, Lamborghinis, Benzes, Bentleys, BMWs, Jaguars and just about everything in between. And while we can’t say for certain what 2015 will hold, it looks to be one of the best years the automotive world has seen in a very long time. From superbly exhilarating sports cars to affordable and raucously entertaining small cars, these are the 15 cars we’re bursting at the seams to drive this year.
2016 Acura NSX
The second coming of the legendary and original NSX has been nearly three years in the works, having shown up in concept and production form at no fewer than four major auto shows since 2012. (It’s been like Waiting for Godot, only more painful.) Another year, and Acura might have to skip the second generation car and go right to the third. But supposedly 2015 will be that magic year, according to the Japanese automaker. The NSX will be fierce by virtue of its mid-mounted twin-turbo V6 engine, two front-mounted electric motors, a dual clutch automatic transmission with its own integrated electric motor and Acura’s own Sport Hybrid All Wheel Drive system (SH-AWD) adding up to over 500 horses. It’ll also mark Acura’s first six-figure sticker price, but that’s appropriate given its intended targets: Ferrari’s 458, Audi’s R8 and Porsche’s 911.
Trion Nemesis RR
The horsepower numbers game is alive and well. Joining the Bugatti Veyron, Hennessey Venom GT, and Koenigsegg One:1 is the 2,000-hp Trion Nemesis RR. That’s an astounding number from a homegrown niche automaker based in Orange County, CA. Okay, so it looks like a massively vented crustacean, especially in flaming orange, but it’s constructed with a lightweight composite body, can accommodate drivers up to 7 feet tall (NBA ballers will surely line up for this one) and will supposedly do 60 in 2.8 seconds from a standstill and achieve an insane top speed of 270 mph. Whether or not it’ll hit those numbers remains to be seen, especially since that’s a tall order for a twin-turbo V8 — but we’re more than willing to be both frightened and proven wrong in the process of helming this American monster.
2016 Cadillac CTS-V
The rumors of Caddy’s struggles in the marketplace are apparently false, because they’ve just delivered news of their unrelenting quest for power and performance in the form of the third generation CTS-V. By all accounts, it’s the stuff of legend. Caddy has given it a 6.2-liter supercharged LT4 V8 with 640 horsepower — just ten fewer than the Z06 supercar. It’ll get from a standstill to 60 in 3.7 seconds and top out just over the 200 mph mark. It also gets magnetic ride control, a track-tuned suspension setup, launch control and Brembos at all four corners. All of which should make M and AMG more than a little bit nervous.
2015 Bentley Continental GT3-R
When a bespoke British automaker goes into race mode, our interest piques even more than usual. The race-ready GT3-R doesn’t get any wood treatment in the cabin, but who gives a Crewe crap? The twin-turbo V8 delivers 51 more horses (572) and 14 more lb-ft (516) than its Continental GT V-8 S brother. The GT3-R will get to 60 in a minuscule 3.6 seconds, which is mindblowing for a 4,840-pound car. But the GT3-R will also thrash the track with a faster-shifting 8-speed automatic transmission replete with paddle shifters. To ensure corner clipping with the best of them, it also gets a rear diff with torque vectoring, huge 275/40 Pirellis and some satellite-dish-sized ceramic brakes. Oh, and you must like white, black and green, since those are the Bentley Motorsport colors — and since this is the roadgoing version of the car that shows up in t he Blancpain Endurance Series in Europe and the Pirelli World Challenge in America.
2015 Chevrolet Corvette Z06
What has more vents than Lord Vader’s helmet and enough blacked out trim pieces to make said malefactor burst with pride? It’s the new ultimate American supercar known simply as the Z06. No one is laughing anymore — because it isn’t just an American supercar, it’s one of the most capable performance cars the world has ever seen. The 6.2-liter V8 lays down smoking hot patches because 650 horses and 650 lb-ft simply must. Ferraris and Lambos will sweat buckets of oil because the Z06 with the Z07 Performance Package will let the Bowtie beauty rocket to 60 in three seconds flat, nail the quarter mile in 11.1 seconds and lay down 1.19 lateral g’s with face-distorting authority. With a base price of under $80k, buying one is like shopping for nuclear warheads at Wal-Mart.
2016 Audi S1
Hot hatches are one of our automotive love languages, and the Euro-only S1 gets us as jealous as a jilted lover. The compact Audi hatchback benefits from some of the best Audi sheetmetal we’ve seen with tight dimensions and clean lines. What’s even tastier is the fact that the S1 gets 231 hp and 273 lb-ft from its single turboed inline 4-cylinder engine, mated to the only transmission available — a slick 6-speed manual. It nails 60 mph in 5.8 seconds and tops out at 155 mph, which is all good enough for some serious fun. The S1 also gets a sound enhancer and exhaust bypass flaps for more pleasurable braps when the driving goes to 9/10ths. Choose three or five doors if you move to Germany from ‘murica, but either flavor will deliver massive grins.
2016 Ford Mustang Shelby GT350
Even though the new ‘stang is a more sophisticated world muscle car that takes FoMoCo to a new level, it’s still a beast. And the GT350 is perhaps its best nod to pony car heritage to date. It refuses to make nice, with a somewhat rare naturally aspirated 5.2-liter V8 with 500 hp and 440 lb-ft of torque. The only gearbox available is the row-it-yourself six-speed manual. Gone is the wheel-hop-happy live rear axle, replaced by an independent rear suspension with a limited slip rear differential. Magnetic Ride Control civilizes things even further, but the raw white and blue color scheme keeps it real.
2016 Jaguar XE
The 3-Series fighter will easily quell your nightmarish memories of the Jag X-Type. Apart from looking far better than its predecessor (which was essentially a UK-ified Ford Mondeo), the leaping cat’s long-awaited sedan will drive like a real sporty four-door should. Ample use of stiff, lightweight aluminum will offset its corpulence and help with the mpgs. The XE will host numerous engines, including a turbocharged 4-cylinder for more miserly drivers, a supercharged V6 and a diesel engine. And to keep things even more interesting, Jaguar will offer both rear-wheel-drive and all-wheel-drive, as well as both an 8-speed automatic transmission and a purist-pleasing stick shift. It’ll show up in 2016, but we hope to get our hands on it even earlier.