We choose the five best performance models that true enthusiasts will love.
Some say car enthusiasts are living in a golden age. While fuel economy and emissions regulations have seemingly taken all of the fun out of cars, manufacturers have still found ways to make the enthusiasts as giddy as can be. There are many fast cars out there, but we wanted to pick our top five for enthusiasts. An enthusiast car should be fast, good looking, unique and offer a driving experience that can't be matched in a "normal" car. We decided to keep the list under $100,000, just to make it somewhat grounded in reality.
The Porsche 911 has always been a benchmark by which all other sports cars are measured. However, $100,000 doesn't really buy a whole lot of 911 anymore. In fact, the only 911 that still costs less than $100,000 is the base Carrera model. The base Carrera starts at $91,100, but can easily be taken above six-figures with even the cheapest options. This means that enthusiasts will have to settle for a completely base model, which is fine with us. The 911 Carrera produces 370 hp from a twin-turbo 3.0-liter flat-six. A seven-speed manual sends power to the rear wheels for a 0-60 mph time of 4.4 seconds. Even the most plain 911 is still an enthusiast's dream car.
Not everyone likes to "settle" for the base model car, so that's why the Chevy Camaro ZL1 makes this list. There are plenty of high-power muscle cars on the market, but we think that the ZL1 offers the best balance of usability, comfort, power and performance. The ZL1 Camaro is powered by the same supercharged LT4 V8 from the Corvette Z06, good for 650 hp. Chevy recently revealed the track-focused 1LE model, which is even more extreme. Even the hardcore 1LE model is still only around $70,000, which keeps the ZL1 well under our $100,000 cap. We think that the ZL1 is so good, we put it on the list above the Corvette Z06, which is known to have some cooling issues on track.
We really must live in a golden age of performance cars if we have two muscle cars on a list of best enthusiast cars. The Shelby GT350 is the most powerful Mustang that is currently on sale, but it doesn't take the same high-power, supercharged approach that Shelby has used in the past. Instead, the GT350 is powered by a unique 5.2-liter flat-plane crank V8, which pumps out 526 hp. The flat-plane crank design makes the Shelby sound more like an old E9X BMW M3 than a typical muscle car. Enthusiasts have already fallen in love with the GT350, because it is a unique Mustang unlike any we have seen before.
Being able to afford a mid-engined supercar is becoming increasingly more difficult. Ferrari prices are skyrocketing, and even the most "affordable" McLaren costs almost $200,000. Luckily, Lotus is still hanging around with a mid-engined supercar for less than $100,000. The Lotus Evora 400 starts at $89,900, which is not bad for a hand-built British car. This new version of the Evora produces 400 hp from a 3.5-liter supercharged V6. The car can hit 60 mph in just 4.1-seconds and weighs just over 3,000 pounds. The Evora may be a bit dated, but it is still one of the best cars on the market for true enthusiasts who prefer the feel of an old school mid-engined sports car.
When we were putting this list together, we knew that at least one performance sedan was going to make it in the top five. We may have ruffled a few feathers by not including a BMW on this list, but we think that Alfa Romeo has come out of nowhere to turn this segment on its head. The Giulia Quadrifoglio is one of the best cars we've driven this year, and it reminded us of what this segment used to be. We think that the other cars in this segment have become complacent with no crazy newcomer to push the boundaries. The Giulia feels like a true sports car, not just a highly tuned sedan. It may not be the most reliable car, but for sheer driving pleasure, the Giulia is the sport sedan that we'd choose.