When it comes to Mustangs, they don’t get any wilder than the Shelby GT500. Available in coupe or convertible format, either model comes with a spine-compressing 650-bhp supercharged 5.8-liter V-8 coupled to a 6-speed manual transmission. Top speed is 202 mph and the sprint from 0-60 mph should only take 3.7 seconds. Considering its awesome performance, you might expect the GT500 to be an absolute beast away from the racetrack. Surprisingly, it’s easy to drive – though be warned, the rear tires can spin in 3rd gear. If you’re going racing, the optional Track Package adds an external engine oil cooler, along with coolers for the differential and transmission. Another choice is the Performance Package, which includes sportier springs, thicker anti-roll bars, a Torsen limited-slip diff and cockpit-adjustable Bilstein dampers.
The Porsche Panamera brings sports car performance and untraditional styling to the full-size premium luxury sedan class.
The Panamera is offered in eight versions, the rear-wheel drive 2 and S, and the all-wheel drive 4, 4S, 4S Executive, GTS, Turbo and Turbo Executive. The 2 and 4 models come with a direct injected 3.6-litre 310-hp V-6 engine, the S/4S get a 420-hp twin-turbo 3.0-litre V-6, the GTS sports a 4.8-litre V-8 making 440-hp, while the Turbo adds twin turbos to the V-8 to make 520-hp. The Porsche PDK double-clutch gearbox is standard on all models, and all are equipped with an auto start-stop feature for increased urban fuel economy. The body appears to be a four-door sedan but with a coupe-like profile and a power liftgate, rather than a typical trunk, for access to the spacious luggage area. Standard safety features include ten airbags, adaptive bi-xenon headlights with LED daytime running lights, rain sensing wipers, full LED rear lighting, four belt pretensioners and electronic traction and stability control. A small sample of optional tech features includes a 6-disc CD changer, Bose surround sound, Burmester surround sound, front and rear ParkAssist, an electronic logbook and voice control.
The Panamera features refreshed styling for 2014, a new twin-turbo V-6 in the S trims, increased power in all engines and now offers long wheelbase Executive versions of the 4S and Turbo.
Aston Martin in recent years has branched out with a grand variety of cars. In the middle of the pack is the Virage, available as either a coupe or a convertible (Volante in Aston Martin speak). Drivetrains are the same in both models: 48-valve 5.9-liter V-12 that pumps out 490 bhp and 420 lb.-ft. of torque. Performance is exhilarating and the handling is delightful. Both Virage models come only with the 6-speed Touchtronic (automatic) transmission. While you may lament the lack of a manual gearbox, the Touchtronic works quite smoothly. And the Adaptive Damping System makes it easy to alter suspension stiffness to match road conditions. Add in the sumptuous interior appointments, and what's not to like?
Ferrari’s California was meant to capture a new segment of owner, one who would appreciate the dual nature of this folding-hardtop spider. And so it has happened. There are those who argue against the exterior design, the main point of contention being the tall rear that accommodates the folding hardtop. Yet that shape means 12 cu. ft. of luggage space and the ability to go from closed roof to open in 13 seconds. And still the California drives like a Ferrari, its front mid-engine being a 4.3-liter 460-bhp V-8 backed by the company’s shift-in-a-flash 7-speed paddle-shifter gearbox. About all that’s new for 2011 is stop/start of the V-8 when you’re in traffic. Unlike a hybrid’s almost unnoticed stop/start, the Ferrari’s is downright invigorating as it growls back to life. Cool.
While the Impreza is great for economy-minded drivers, Subaru's WRX and STI provide an easy upgrade path to enthusiasts seeking performance nirvana. The WRX and STI may be similar in specification—they come in either 4- or 5-door body styles and feature manual transmissions and all-wheel-drive drivetrains, turbocharged flat-4 engines and sport-tuned suspension—but they are fairly different in intent. The WRX is for enthusiasts, and 265 bhp and a 5-speed manual is just what it takes to keep them happy. The STI is for the hardcore types, the ones who demand more power to the tune of 305 bhp. You also get a 6-speed manual, adjustable center differential, an even stiffer suspension setup, and a bigger and stickier tire package.