Imagine sipping a cup of coffee while relaxing in a luxurious car on the way to work; that is how smooth and effortless supercars make a lap around a track feel. Every supercar is different from the next; they all have their own quirks and advantages. But, at the end of the day, they are all designed to be the fastest cars around a track that are able to pass regulations to be street legal. So, “exotic” may be a better term than “supercar”.
I had the privilege of driving 8 different models at 3 laps each at Miami Homestead Raceway through a company called Xtreme Xperience. The cars driven are as follows:
-C8 Corvette Z51 Package (A): Understeer in the new vet, huh? Well, the Z51 pack fixes that and then some. For starting at around $65-70K (without horrendous dealer markup) with the Z51 Pack, the car drives and feels like a $200K+ super car (other than being down on power); the most comparable being a McLaren. This is mostly due to the incredible weight distribution of the mid-mounted engine and the wonderful new 7-speed dual clutch transmission (which still makes it feel more raw because of its dual clutch, the way it kicks you down a gear before getting on the throttle). No, its not as sharp as the others when it comes to darting towards the apex (the corner), but the C8 shoots out of the corner incredibly smooth and get ups to triple digit speeds so effortlessly that you can probably take a sip of your latte at the same time. But, overall it is still a sub $100K car with less than 500 horsepower, so the less power is certainly felt at about 110mph when it starts to loosen its legs a bit, unlike the others that keep pulling; however though, 495 feels more like 550.
-Mercedes AMG GT R (B+): This car is a BEAST! One of the more harder to control cars. Not only does its backend like to stick out but it roars ferociously with some crackles and pops from the exhaust. And not only that, but the brakes are very violent with immediate response that slows the car down in a heartbeat. The steering response is good when going towards the apex, but a bit stiff. The power delivery is a bit rough as well as the suspension, but once it gets going man does it pull hard for a smaller block V8 and becomes very linear like its an everyday task for it to cruise over 100mph. A true definition of a German muscle car.
-Nissan GTR (A-): Godzilla is certainly starting to show its age now. It might have gotten away with it for years, but technology is catching up fast and leaving it behind. But man does it still sound and look sweet. Once on a track that alleged rough suspension and massive turbo lag almost disappear. The steering is a lot lighter than expected, almost too much so. Yes its a big boat, but it’s hardly noticeable thanks to the light steering and the suspension that makes it feel very planted, therefore having incredible turn in capabilities that are almost on par with a 911. But coming out of an apex tracking out is where one might redact that comparison to a 911, as there is some noticeable turbo lag, but at the same time once the turbo kicks in the power is very linear. The rumors are that the GTR is a wild animal that is hard to tame, but in reality, as driver with a decent amount of knowledge and some experience on a track, Goodzilla can make one feel very confident behind the wheel to push it to it limits. Lastly, although it is rated at 565 HP, it feels less powerful on the straights, like it tops out quicker than one would expect; therefore one gets a feeling that something is missing; it’s behind the times.
-Lamborghini Huracan LP-610 (B-/C+): Power, power, power. Thats what this car is. The NA (naturally aspirated) V10 may only be rated at around 610 HP, but it feels more like 700+. When flying down the straight away listening to that wonderful high pitched scream the engine produces, one may think they are in a F1 car, but then open their eyes to discover they are in what appears to be a fat old Bat Mobile/spaceship. It doesn’t feel as light and planted as the reports suggest but it is very smooth thanks to it being very electronically advanced, and with the AWD it makes the car feel extremely grippy. The steering wheel is a bit big and the responsiveness of the handling isn’t what is anticipated in terms of being overwhelming, it’s just smooth and easy. Not that it’s bad, it’s just the expectations are higher than it feeling no better than a $70K Corvette. But, it still gets the job done in the corners. The AWD and NA V10 really help this vehicle shine the most as it is a rocket ship that keeps pulling and pulling like your close to breaking through the atmosphere on the way to space.
-McLaren 570s (A): Say it with me: The 570s doesn’t get nearly as much credit as its siblings like the 720s does. This car is supercar precision at its finest. The wonderful up to date with the times interior and incredibly smooth stealthy fast ride makes one feel like they are a modern James Bond. The handling is nice and tight but responsive and smooth at the same time making the low weight of this car feel very true. The power delivery is linear. The sound of the turbocharged V8 is soothing yet exciting. But, the one big draw back that is unfortunately what seems to be unique with the McLaren, is the amount of lag there is before the turbos kick in. At almost 85 mph on the straight away or around 6-7K RPM the turbo finally kicks in, and boy does it kick in; the amount of g-force is breathtaking. With that said, this car being at about $200K, it is a hell of a bargain.
-Ferrari 488 GTB (A-): Here comes a turn, make sure you grab that “oh shit” handle; seriously. Talk about darting towards an apex, the 488 GTB practically teleports, meanwhile transporting your heart to your throat. Outside of maybe the Porsche 911 GT3 RS or other higher end 911’s, the GTB is the most raw race car like supercar in this fleet. Because of the rawness of the ride, one may initially not think it’s as good as the McLaren or Lamborghini, but thats because those are more exotic than racecar. But, when it coms time to think it back over, it’s Ferrari, they have been king for a long long time, this car knows what it’s doing like a seasoned championship veteran athlete who can still learn new tricks. Unlike the McLaren, the turbos kicks in a lot quicker and lower down in the RPM range making coming out of an apex incredibly smooth, as well as the making for a dramatic straight away experience with the soundtrack of Le Mans behind your seat.
-Porsche 911 GT3 RS (A+): No one builds a better all around sports/performance car than Porsche. I repeat, no one! The flat 6 cylinder engine from Porsche will no doubt be at the entrance to the man-kind accomplishments museum when we are all dead. Singularly unique is what the 911 is. Balance, precision, power, sound, beauty, and passion are all captured so perfectly in the GT3 RS that it brings tears to a car enthusiast’s eyes when driving this car. Porsche’s PDK transmission is so good at keeping it in the correct part of the RPM range at all time. The instant, no lag of power delivery is incredible coming out of a turn onto the straight away; and then taking the car all the way to nearly 10K RPM red line is an orgasmic experience as the sound of a fighter jet makes it all that much more exciting. 526 HP is more than enough for this car. No, it’s not #1 in hardly any of the on paper categories compared to the other cars on this list, but it doesn’t matter because it’s no doubt the captain of the team.
-Ford Mustang Shelby GT500 (B-): Outside of maybe the GT350R, this is the best handling Mustang of all time. No, the steering response is not immediate, and yes you feel the weight of this beast, but the suspension set up as well as the great new 7-speed dual clutch transmission and sticky Michelin tires the body roll is almost non existent as one powers through the apex and onto the straight away while sitting on a cloud. The 760 HP is certainly present as it keeps pulling and pulling even after you reach speeds of 120+. Maybe its do to the comfiness of the suspension and the fact that its muscle car, but the power seems underwhelming and the car seems very controllable. With that said, unless you are a person who goes to the track a ton, $85K is a stretch when you can get a GT with the performance pack for half the price.
Overall this was a very eye opening experience that has made me truly understand what a supercar/exotic has to offer and why they are so expensive. Yes, cars like these are becoming less the so called “driver’s cars” as they are electronically advanced so much so that it feels like the car is driving you, but it doesn’t take away from the fact that these types of cars are on a whole other level that pushes the laws of physics.
Favorite Car Ranking: McLaren 570S / Porsche GT3 RS / Mercedes AMG GT R / Nissan GTR / Lamborghini LP-610 / C8 Corvette / Ferrari 488 GTB / Ford Mustang Shelby GT500
Most Impressive Car: McLaren 570S / Porsche GT3 RS / Corvette C8 / Lamborghini LP-610 / Ferrari 488 GTB / Ford Mustang Shelby GT500 / Mercedes AMG GT R / Nissan GTR
Best All Around Car: Porsche GT3 RS / McLaren 570S / Corvette C8 / Ferrari 488 GTB / Mercedes AMG GT R / Ford Mustang Shelby GT500 / Nissan GTR