Driving a sports car has been described by some as a spiritual experience, and while that may or may not be true, it is certainly a defining one. Once you’ve spent some time behind the wheel of some of the most powerful performance cars like these cars from BMW, there really is no going back to your boring old commuter. Sadly, not all of us can afford one of these glorious machines, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t find a way to get a taste, even if it is just a weekend rental while you’re on vacation.
If you are in the same boat, you’ll want to make the best of those precious few chances. So, of the many sports, super, and hypercars out there, which are the ones that are truly worth your limited time? A souped-up engine throwing out 1,000+ horsepower doesn’t mean much if the handling is terrible. Similarly, you’ll no doubt want the kind of interior that makes you feel special, too. To ensure that you don’t waste your time, here is a list of some of the top performance vehicles currently available, in no particular order.
1. BMW M2 Competition
One of the most hands-on vehicles in the German automaker’s garage, the M2 is a performance classic, even if it is the smallest of its siblings. The potent twin-turbo inline six-cylinder engine under the hood develops 405 hp and 406 lb-ft of torque, which is directed to the rear wheels via a six-speed manual gearbox. Those who want the speed without the stress of shifting at the ideal moment may prefer the available seven-speed automatic.
Thanks to its more compact size, it is better able to harness the full potential of the refined handling that BMW is renowned for. The athletic coupe gives you plenty of freedom to have fun, so long as you are confident in your skills as a driver. If you’re a little less certain, the lack of communication through the steering wheel may be disconcerting.
As with most performance-centric cars, sacrifices are made in a number of other areas, such as practicality and comfort. Loads of carbon trim spread around the cabin gives the interior a sportier atmosphere that would complement a racetrack perfectly. However, the back seats are basically just there for show, since the lack of legroom quickly becomes tedious over long drives.
2. Mercedes-AMG C63
It is impossible to mention BMW without thinking of its competitive neighbor, Mercedes-Benz. Just as the former has its M line specialized vehicles, so, too, does the latter have its AMG division. Similarly elegant to the M2 in outward appearance, the C63 can be had in sedan, coupe, or convertible flavors, and is a bit bigger and, therefore, gets a more powerful twin-turbo V8 powertrain. This gives it access to 469 hp and 479 lb-ft, which means it can sprint to 60 mph in under four seconds (3.8 for the coupe variant, the fastest of the three).
Unlike the Competition, though, the AMG is just as spectacular on the inside, with top-notch materials used throughout and style to spare. But, it makes similar sacrifices in terms of passenger space in the back seats and a small trunk. The suspension is a bit better, though, but still lags behind the regular Mercedes lineup of comfort-focused tourers.
In terms of handling, it lacks the dexterity of the smaller M2 or even the M4, but it is by no means unfun to pilot. Only those who have spent some time behind the wheel of the most expertly-crafted sports cars will find fault with the C63, while the rest will think that it is a dream come true. It graceful maintains its composure when tackling corners at speed, coming out on the other side with ease as the talkative steering guides you through the process.
3. Ford Mustang GT
American muscle at its best, the Mustang is beloved in the USA, and there are few places you can go where you won’t see at least one of these bad boys on the road. This is because it is one of the most affordable performance cars in the world with a starting MSRP of under $40,000 for the GT variant. Of course, this would mean nothing if it didn’t have the chops to make it in the performance scene.
Luckily, the large displacement V8 under the hood can keep up with the best of them, using 460 horsepower to launch the low-rider from zero to OMG in under five seconds, with top speed electronically limited to 155 mph, though we suspect it could handle much higher velocities. To suit its more everyman attitude, the Mustang offers a choice of several driving modes, each of which tweaks steering and throttle responses to meet your needs.
The interior fits the bill, though… quite literally. Though the seats are comfy, they are upholstered in plain cloth, with leather reserved for the upper trims. But, no matter how much cash you dump into it, the rear seats are little more than decorations. Head- and legroom are restrictive even for teens or some children.
4. McLaren 570S
At the other end of the pricing spectrum, the McLaren 570S is one of the most expensive sports cars you’ll find. It’s one of the most beautiful, too, if we’re being totally honest. Plenty of sleek lines and sexy curves give it a certain ‘je ne sais quoi’, whether you want the coupe or the convertible, and since a large portion of the body is constructed from carbon fiber, it is remarkably light on its feet. Just don’t crash it – safety systems are pretty basic.
With an impressive 562 hp on tap, you’ll definitely be tempted to put your pedal to the metal, and the 570S is just as eager to go, racing from 0 to 62 mph in just 3.2 seconds. The lower weight and zesty powertrain give the car amazing handling dynamics. And while the suspension on many performance cars can be brutally unforgiving, the adaptive suspension on the McLaren does a great job of smoothing things out around town or on the highway.
The cockpit of this speed racer is a wonderful place to beif a little on the snug side. Normally, this would be a detractor. But with the way, the car seems to mold around the driver when on the move, it actually adds to the experience. Just be sure not to bump your head on the way in. This is not a car to play with though, for all the fun it has to offer, it should be taken seriously.