5 Maserati GranTurismo
The sound, style, and luxury of the GranTurismo makes it an on-the-road type of sports car that can go head to head with the Jaguar XK. Even so, the GranTurismo isn’t really made for the track. 4.7 liters and a V-8 engine, churns out around 430 horsepower, so what we are saying must sound crazy right? Well, here’s the problem: the Maserati sometimes gets lost between feeling as if it should be on the track, or on if it should just be on the road, showing off. It seems Maserati designed the GranTurismo for the comfortable cruise or a touring adventure, but the amount of power it has under the hood calls for it to unleash its unruly side in competition. Not that the GranTurismo can’t take a corner at a good speed, it just lacks the potency of the GT-R or the Carrera S. On the other hand, the style of the Maserati will turn heads even in the most saturated environment of high end sports cars and luxury vehicles. Then again, this makes us wonder where the GranTurismo really belongs. Regardless of its ‘flaws’, we just love the way this car looks, sounds and drives, plus the added comfort and luxury of a Maserati, and that’s why it’s on our list.
4 Ferrari 458 Italia
How to describe the 458 Italia? I would say awesome, but that word doesn’t seem refined enough to capture the sleek design, the richly made cockpit, and the 4.5 V-8 engine turning out 0-60 in 3.4. Just looking at this thing takes your breath away. F-1 style steering shift-paddles click each gear quickly and cleanly while the suspension, traction, and stability controls can be set to different type of driving situations. This makes the 458 both an on-road wonder and a sensation at the track. You’ll be dropping some major coin for this baby, but then again I guess you can always say you own a Ferrari 458 Italia once you do.
3 Porsche 911 Carrera S
How could we forget the Porsche 911 Carrera S? The 911 Carrera has come a long way in regards to handling when in the hands of amateur drivers, and for the company this is probably the aim. Porsche die-hards may like the old 911’s because those cars tested their skills when on the track, but less experienced owners will find the 2012 version much easier to handle. With a wider wheel base and improvements in traction control and overall stabilization, 2012 has brought us a 911 Carerra that is easy for beginners to slip behind the wheel of and have a good time. That’s good for most consumers because the 911 Carrera S has 400 horses to keep under control. Porsche has refined an already fine-turned machine without fixing what isn’t broke… and that’s why we love the 2012 911 Carrera S.
2 Jaguar XKR
Jaguars are pretty damn good these days, and the XKR is proof of that. Begin with 520 horsepower, a supercharged 5.0 liter V8, and then offer the driver a sleek exterior, an expensive interior, and a comfortable ride. Now you can begin to see why it is easy to fall in love with the XKR. It’s a car that makes you smile when you drive it, and even better, makes you feel like your James Bond — surrounded by luxurious style. Thank the powers that be that Jags have come back into the light!
1 Nissan GT-R
The Nissan GT-R has always been a favorite of ours due to its reasonable low cost compared to other comparable Euro supercar imports. Not only that, but the GT-R is one of the finest cornering autos we’ve ever seen. The GT-R has proved its worth over the years, and had become a fan favorite for both import lovers and driving enthusiast in general. 2012 makes this nimble beast even better with higher horse power (530 hp) and more torque (448 lb-ft). The twin turbo V6 is still present with an auto-manual transmission. An inexperienced driver can get behind a wheel of a GT-R and feel like a professional, while a professional can take the GT-R even further. This puts the GT-R in a strange position though: will professionals love it? Probably not as much as a car that makes a driver work harder behind the wheel to garner greater performance. Still, the GT-R is a favorite and if Nissan continues the path they are on with this car, it will continue to be one for years to come.
Style is just as important as substance, and it’s good to know a consumer can get a supercar that doesn’t cost a quarter of a million dollars.