The term ‘performance’ has of course, to be one of the most over-worked words in the motor industry’s language. It’s used to designate everything from a bog-standard family hatchback with stickers, spoilers and a silly name to the kind of Ferrari you’ll be buying with your next lottery win.
Here, we’re going to talk about ‘Performance Sportscars’ in their truest sense. Cars that offer the ultimate in roadgoing excitement. They’re not all Coupes or Convertibles, nor do they all have exotic badges. But all of them will reward their drivers in a way you simply wouldn’t believe. So where to start? Well, for simplicity, we’ve divided what is a very wide category up into three sections.
The first, and most affordable, centres around cars of two types. There are hairy-chested big-bruising roadsters like Chevrolet’s Corvette and the TVR Griffith. And there are properly-sorted, motorsport-inspired versions of more ordinary roadcars. Go for rally-derived models like the Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution and ultimate versions of the Subaru Impreza or opt for German high-speed fare like BMW’s M3 and M Coupe, Mercedes’ C36/C43/C32 AMG or Audi’s RS4. Stretch the point and you might also include cars like the Porsche 968, the old Audi Quattro, Toyota’s Supra Turbo and Nissan’s 300ZX in this category.
If you can afford to move up to the next stage of Performance Sportscar motoring, then the stakes get higher. If you need something practical, the Germans can again deliver proper motorsport-tuned versions of their larger executive saloons – cars like the Audi S6, the BMW M5 and the Mercedes E55 AMG. All these will reward the experienced driver but not in the same way as a pure coupe or cabriolet that was developed for the enthusiast from the very beginning. Cars like the Chrysler Viper, the Lotus Esprit, the TVR Cerbera or the Nissan Skyline GT-R.
It’s only at the highest level however, that the product is truly pure, developed for the enthusiast, with almost nothing borrowed from more mundane fare. Most Ferraris, Maseratis and Aston Martins fall into this category of course. So does the Porsche 911. There’s also the Jaguar XKR and the Honda NSX.