5 Volkswagen R32
The R32 is one of our favorite hot-hatchbacks. It’s a car that provides on-the-dime precision handling, keeps grip and stability around corners at high speeds, and is tiny and nimble enough to give the same sort of fun the Cooper S offers. Shifting with the paddles on the R32 feels precise too, as the DSG system helps with shifting smoothness as it transfers power evenly to all four wheels. Even for a smaller car, the sound of the R32’s 3.2 V6-engine is nice and broad, sounding more powerful than the exterior gives it credit for. We love the R32 because it is another car that comfortably makes its way between commuting and the track.
4 BMW 3-Series
The BMW 3-Series is not only a classic in its own right, but stays old school under the hood. While obvious advancements have been made over the years here and there, the 3-Series still uses a straight-six engine. BMW continues to keep the high performance the 3-Series is known for, while continuing its legacy of being a wonderfully simple yet powerfully engineered car. Like the Mini Cooper S, the BMW 3-Series can find its way interchangeable between highway driving and track racing. The 3-Series holds onto the long iconic BMW look, and continues in 2008 to be a machine balancing sports car power and luxury.
3 Mini Cooper S
It’s not the fastest of the bunch, but BMW made Mini Cooper S’ supercharged 4-cylinders output around 200 horsepower from its 1.6 liter engine. There’s no mistaking a Cooper’s look, and its low curb weight and wide wheel base enable the Cooper S to whip in and out of traffic and through city streets with delightful handling. The six-speed manual transmission Cooper S makes our list because you probably won’t find a car more fun to drive. We also love the Cooper S because it can make its way onto the track, or turn into a daily commuter vehicle quite easily.
2 Chevy Corvette C6 ZR1
The C6 ‘Vette has been a huge hit just on looks alone and we love it for that reason too. But aesthetics aren’t everything, because lurking under the hood of the ZR1 is a roaring 6.2 liter, LS9 V8 engine that puts out a whopping 638-horsepower. The ZR1 plows into 60 mph in only 3.4 seconds, and the engine, well, it just looks gorgeous. Best of all? While the ZR1 costs quite a bit more than a normal ‘Vette, you are getting supercar power to match even some Ferraris — and you’re paying far, far less. Repair costs, and hell, even an included warranty, make this a reasonable buy for anyone who wants to go out on the track and still keep their auto running in tip-top shape without breaking the bank when a repair needs to be done.
1 Porsche Cayman S
For those who need more kick than the Boxster, the Cayman S has been engineered from bumper to bumper to create an insanely fast machine with nimble handling. From its aluminum engine to its low-to-the-ground center of gravity, along with 295 ponies in a 3.4 liter engine (add in a low curb weight), it’s already easy to see why the Cayman S ranks so high on our list. With six-speed manual transmission, and the ability to change driving styles using the PSM control, the Porsche Cayman S is designed purely for a true driving experience both on the track and on the road. Of course you’ll also be getting that unique Porsche body design, along that great Porsche steering.
Whether you want all out raw power, or something that can track on the weekends and get you to work during the week, there are plenty of options out there.