Every gearhead, young or old, loves a sports car. Stunning metallic creations promising tantalizing performance, determining which one delivers the bigger adrenaline kick is tricky.
Going fast is the easy bit, sticking to the road when things get twisty, again no problem. The real challenge arises when called upon to deliver the same level of speed, grip, and excitement every day, even the biggest automotive names have been known to struggle here. Take any number of sports car icons, and most will have their “glitches” responsible for leaving you stranded even before you leave your garage. As an example, Ford’s first GT re-boot, plagued by dodgy electrics, Lotus’ Esprit with a highly strung four-cylinder engine consumed turbos and cats frequently. Every day sports cars might trade off some wow factor, but let’s be honest, even the most drool-worthy sports car can be a garage queen if she doesn’t run.
10 Garage Queen – McLaren GT
McLaren’s MP4/1 pioneered the use of carbon fiber, lighter and stiffer than conventional materials, the miracle of woven fiber changing car technology forever. At the heart of the current Woking-based carmaker’s range, strands of resin impregnated fibers form the backbone of every McLaren.
The McLaren GT, a high-tech tourer brimming with performance enhancing technology from its clever electronically controlled suspension to the 4-liter twin turbocharged V8 nestling out back, a drool-worthy orgy of speed and comfort topping out at 203 mph. However, before stowing a weekend bag and heading off, be warned, as McLaren’s reputation for reliability isn’t the best.
9 Abuse Me – Porsche 992 Turbo S
For night on 60 years, Porsche has fettled the oddly rear-engined 911 to be one of the most sought after supercars the world over, ask any non-gearhead to draw a sports car, and the chances are this is the one you’ll get. The current cream of Porsche’s line-up, 992 Turbo S spec cars sporting a 3.7-liter turbocharged flat-six capable of lapping the Nürburgring in 7-mins-17-seconds.
Blisteringly quick around a track and surprisingly documented on public roads, Porsche has created a Jekyll and Hyde supercar for everyday use, power delivery, ride height, comfort, and a trunk too. Could you use it every day? Definitely, whether or not gearheads could resist the time-warping surge of acceleration under their right foot is another matter.
8th Garage Queen – Alfa Romeo Quadrifoglio
Achingly beautiful to gaze upon, Alfa Romeo’s hot Giulia Quadrifoglio packs the punch of a supercar in a four-door sedan body and still manages to woo even the most avid of gearheads. On US shores, offered with a choice of four or six-cylinders, the later a potent 2.9-liter twin turbocharged V6 dishing out 505 hp.
On a bad day, and there are going to be numerous occasions when the Alfa’s sophisticated electronics don’t want to play, you’ll be left with the frustration poking around under the hood seeking out that elusive loose connector.
7 Abuse Me – Lotus Exige Cup 430
Lots Of Trouble Usually Serious (Lotus), has dogged the UKs best sports carmaker since the early days of production, built cheaply and lightly often at the expense of usability. That all changed with the introduction of the Elise, a heady mix of aluminum, glue, and small four-cylinder engines.
Enter the Exige, a hardcore, track-focused variant with more power, performance and grip. Switching from Rover to Toyota Power reassured buyers, V6 3.5-liter supercharged engines with near bomb-proof build quality. 430 hp in the model’s final year results in a maximum speed of 180 mph, getting to 60 only took 3.2 seconds.
6 Garage Queen – Mercedes AMG GT
All-aluminum construction save for a smattering of carbon-fiber panels, Mercedes-AMG pushed the limit of just what is possible with their GT; lighter, faster, a hardcore fire breathing V8 turbocharged monster. Packing a 550 hp engine up front driving the rear wheels via a custom 7-speed paddle operated dual clutch transaxle.
Mercedes’ build-quality is second to none when it comes to dependability, the AMG-GT listed under garage queen for other reasons. Without question, the GT will put a grin on your face every time you take it for a spin, provided of course it’s not back at your local dealer for yet another recall.
5 Abuse Me – BMW M4
For everyday use it’s hard to beat a fast coupe or sedan, here the only obvious choice is BMW’s M4, supercar thrills with bordering on the realms if you squint a bit of family car. Admittedly, it’s not going to be everyone’s cup of tea, but for tail-out shenanigans, it’s a hoot.
Second generation G82/G83s deliver an unmatched intoxicating blend of speed and aggression from one of the best engines in the business. BMW’s B8 3-liter straight six bolstered by a brace of turbos punches out 473 hp reined in at 155mph by a Germanic gentlemen agreement, that once removed goes onto 174 mph.
4 Garage Queen – Mazda RX7 FD3S
Joining the ranks of JDM fandom, Mazda’s RX7 FD3 takes an entirely different approach to delivering big performance, Toyota, Nissan and Honda sticking conventional six-pot motors, Mazda instead adopting a Wankel design. Wankel’s more commonly referred to as rotary engines are smaller, lighter, and have fewer moving parts, when turbocharged deliver huge power figures, the FD3S producing 273 hp from a tiny 1.3 liters.
From 0-60,000 miles requiring little more than routine servicing, beyond this figure Mazda’s 13B twin rotor engine is a ticking time bomb, not if rather when things start to seriously go wrong, necessitating big ticket rebuilds at best.
3 Abuse Me – Chevrolet Corvette C8
A game changing engine and chassis layout elevates Chevrolet’s latest Corvette to similar levels of speed and handling as numerous Ferraris for a fraction of the price. Throw into the mix, dependable American V8 power, and you’ve got a winner on your hands. By no means perfect, you could nitpick with the Vettes lower grade material cockpit, but at $60,000 who cares.
Under the rear deck, yes this Vette is mid-engined, GM’s LT2 punches out 495 hp using just a 6.2-liter displacement, no turbos or blowers in sight leaving the V8 to deliver an unfettled rumble you don’t get with forced induction.
2 Garage Queen(s) – Tesla
Muddying the definition of sports car versus fast coupe/sedan, Tesla has come a long way since 2009, transforming the way gearheads think about performance cars. Pity, then, that for the last few years nearly all Teslas have been firmly rooted in the bottom half of reliability reviews.
The future of cars might be very well EV, but there is only so far over the air updates or fixes can go, after which it’s a tow truck and garage visit. Battery tech and electric motors continue to evolve, Tesla worryingly not reaping the rewards.
1 Abuse Me – Ford Mustang GT
Faced with the unenviable task of picking a sports car for everyday use, taking into account speed, usability, dependability, and fund fun, the Mustang comes out trumps. Faster cars exist, but not cheaper, or as entertaining, the only dilemma is which engine spec, naturally it has to be a V8.
At the lower end, GT spec cars pack 5-liter V8 engines tuned to deliver 450 hp venting a thunderous roar via Ford’s optional active exhaust, rarely does any engine sound so snarlingly aggressive. Nailing the loud pedal, manual or auto box, launches the GT from rest to 60 mph in 4.2 seconds.