Europe is the land of great sports cars. It is the continent where the modern sports cars have their roots – traceable to mostly German and Italian carmakers. That culture is still very much alive today and carmakers like Audi, Mercedes, Porsche, and Ferrari continue to churn out praise-worthy high-performance models that jostle for place and recognition in a congested marketplace.
Some sports cars end up as success stories: a perfect combination of price, great design, handling, and engine performance that makes them a highly desirable part of any garage today. Others turn out to be a let-down for one reason or the other – an embarrassment to the carmaker in the unforgiving automobile world.
In this article, we look at some first-class sports cars that will be right at home in the garage of a typical gearhead; no questions asked. Then we sprinkled in a few others that will most probably enjoy a less glamorous fate.
15 Keep – Audi S3
The sparse interior layout of the Audi S3 is a bit of a disappointment; at least compared to its rivals. You will quickly forget about that though once you settle into the driver’s seat and fire up 288-hp turbo-charged powerplant. The car sprints away with impressive acceleration for its size yet you will not feel you are losing control because of its top-notch handling and balance. We expect no less from the German brand.
14 Keep – Porsche 911 Carrera 4S
It’s hard to go wrong with a 911 Carrera and this one adds even something more special in the form of an all-wheel-drive system. It helps plant the car squarely on the road and allows you to be a little unrestrained with the twin-turbocharged flat-6 engine mated to an 8-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission.
13 Junk – 1998 Audi TT
The Audi TT launched in 1998 to great fanfare, but it seemingly sank under the weight of expectations. The car was involved in a series of accidents, especially at high speed and ultimately forced Audi to issue a recall. Audi learned its lessons and later models proved to be a resounding success but we wouldn’t spare a second glance for the first-gen Audi TT.
12 Keep – BMW M2 Competition
The M2 Competition is one of the best M models ever produced by BMW. The handling is crisp and you never feel detached from the fabulous M-spec twin-turbo V6 engine; whether you opt for the six-speed manual or 7-speed semi-auto dual-clutch transmission. It doesn’t come cheap but then competitors that offer the same level of fun will cost a pretty penny too.
11 Keep – Aston Martin DB11
Aston Martin signaled the start of something new with the launch of this car back in 2016. It is easily the most beautiful car on this list with its elegant lines and curves. You can opt for the V8 option or step it up a notch with the V12 configuration. The DB11 is a sports car that offers up a host of luxurious comforts without sacrificing much in the way of performance. It is your ideal ride for that long highway cruise.
10 Keep – Mercedes Benz SLS AMG Black Series
This is another AMG model that is deserving of a place of honor in any gearhead’s garage – and we are not just talking about those cool gullwing doors. Comfort is lacking but the car was never meant to cuddle you. The car wears special track and competition tires which you will definitely need once you fire up its massive 6.2-liter V8 engine and point the car’s long nose down the highway.
9 Junk – Ferrari California
The Ferrari California was an entry-level creation designed to entice more people to the Ferrari camp. It did achieve its aim and became the highest-selling Ferrari model. However, the engine and driving experience lacked the trademark Ferrari magic. It looked like the carmaker compromised too much in bringing the cost down to a more affordable range. We are glad the car’s gone now – replaced by the much-improved Portofino.
8 Keep – 2020 Audi R8
The R8 is one of the few naturally aspirated V10 engines still in existence and thankfully, it just keeps getting better. You may not even need to splurge on the top-end V10-Plus model trims. The Audi R8 is well-built and handles like a supercar; not surprising considering the pedigree of the company.
7 Keep – 2019 Maserati GranTurismo
The car is not cheap, with prices starting at $150,000, but what you do get is a proper Italian sports car with a great design and lavish interior. Then there’s that Ferrari-derived V8 engine under the hood that cranks out over 470 hp. It sounds great too and you will always feel the need to push the car on the highway – luckily, it will mostly oblige.
6 Junk – 2012 BMW M6
The 2012 BMW M6 cost north of $100,000 when it first launched and it did not stop there. The price continued to climb with extra options – for example, $8,500 for ceramic brakes and gold calipers. It is not such a bad car but it is hard to ignore that steep price point for a 2-ton sports car when cheaper options can offer more thrill at the wheel.
5 Keep – Porsche 718 Cayman
The Porsche 718 Cayman is a perfectly acceptable option for those who cannot afford the pricier Porsche 911 models. The expertly-tuned chassis is complemented by a few engine options like the 300hp flat-four engine or the 394hp naturally aspirated flat-six setup for the top-end GTS model trim. The Cayman starts at less than $60,000 but you can be sure you are getting value for every dollar.
4 Keep – Jaguar F-Type R
It is unfortunate that the Jaguar is usually compared to the likes of the Porsche 911 because then it doesn’t get the credit that it deserves. This is a very well put-together British sports car with no shortage of thrill and driving pleasure. It lacks the quicker acceleration of the Porsche but you will never get tired of squeezing the power out of its supercharged V8 engine.
3 Junk – 2013 Alfa Romeo 4C
The Alfa Romeo 4C does score points in the looks department, as can be expected for the typical Italian brand. It is powered by a 1.7-liter engine; quite inadequate but it helps that the car weighs less than 2200 lbs. The real issue with the car is its handling, especially at cruising speeds. According to Top Gear, it does not inspire confidence and driving feels more tedious than it should.
2 Keep – 2020 Mercedes Benz AMG GTR Pro
The AMG GTR Pro came with decades of top-notch racing experience built into its mechanics and even better, it’s perfectly road legal. The car is powered by a 577-hp twin-turbo V8 – same as the AMG GTR – but clever aerodynamic tweaks and rework made it nearly 7 seconds faster at the Nürburgring, making it one of the fastest ever front-engine cars to lap the infamous track.
1 Junk – Ferrari Mondial 8
The Ferrari Mondial has a very bad reputation but most of it is deserved. This is easily one of the worst Ferraris ever built and has very little going in its favor. It weighed close to 2 tons and was just too heavy to be a proper sports car. It wasn’t helped by its long chassis and ponderous handling too. No amount of garage tinkering can fix that.
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