The Ultimate Car Guide for Gentlemen – Performance Cars

Chevrolet Camaro

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Gutsy engines, aggressive sheetmetal, and rear-wheel drive are essential for any muscle car, but the Camaro stirs in excellent handling and great steering, too. Available as a coupe or convertible, the base engine is a 275-hp 2.0-liter turbo four; a 335-hp 3.6-liter V-6 and a 455-hp 6.2-liter V-8 are optional. All offer either a six-speed manual or optional eight-speed automatic. The interior, though, is tight and offers limited visibility. The V-6 and V-8 Camaros are 10Best winners for 2017.

Chevrolet Corvette

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The mighty Corvette truly competes with the world’s greatest sports cars, no excuses required. With a 6.2-liter V-8 making 455 hp and 460 lb-ft of torque (an optional sport exhaust is good for 460 hp and 465 lb-ft), an eight-speed automatic is now available in addition to the standard seven-speed manual. The Corvette sheds its unrefined reputation and has an interior befitting its stature. The Grand Sport is a 10Best winner, combining the LT1 V-8 with the Z06’s bodywork and chassis hardware.

Chevrolet SS

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Don’t judge the SS by its cover: Ho-hum styling hides a mighty V-8 and track-ready tuning. Chevy’s flagship performance sedan has the 6.2-liter 415-hp engine from the previous-gen Camaro and the Corvette. Rear-drive and a six-speed automatic are standard; we’d pick the six-speed manual, which is a no-cost option. Standard performance bits—front and rear Brembo brakes, magnetic ride control—contribute to exceptional handling. A comfy interior and a 4.6-second sprint to 60 mph are bonuses.

Dodge Challenger

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The Challenger is one big bruiser, with heft better suited to cruising or drag-racing at the strip than turning laps on a race track. Powertrains include the standard 305-hp 3.6-liter V-6 and an eight-speed auto; a 5.7-liter Hemi V-8 makes 375 hp when paired with the standard six-speed manual and 372 hp with the optional eight-speed automatic. The Scat Pack option features a 485-hp 6.4-liter Hemi V-8; a six-speed manual is standard and a eight-speed auto is optional.

Dodge Viper

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The Viper is both all-American and a true exotic, with lots of curves and bulges in all the right places to let you know it means business. The long nose, bodacious body, and predatory stare give the Viper a menacing look, while its 645-hp, 8.4-liter V-10 can catapult it to 60 mph in about three seconds. For the ultimate track monster, check out the Viper ACR. With all kinds of aero aids, special tires by Kumho and carbon-ceramic brakes, Dodge says it is the fastest Viper on a racetrack.

Fiat 124 Spider

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Borrowing heavily from the looks of the Pininfarina-designed original, circa 1966, the 124 Spider is a stylish, if not exactly Italian, two-seat droptop. Its rival—Mazda’s MX-5 Miata—is also its main benefactor, donating its chassis, assembly line, and parts bin. But the 124 Spider does have a unique suspension and powertrain: a 160-hp 1.4-liter turbo four with either a six-speed manual or auto. The racy Abarth gets a sport-tuned exhaust, a limited-slip differential, and a boost to 164 hp.

Ford GT

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Ford has approved 500 lucky people to purchase a GT; the rest of us can only dream. The GT has some of the most stunningly exotic bodywork around. Highlights include a mid-engine twin-turbo 3.5-liter V-6 making 647 hp and a maximum of 550 lb-ft of torque, carbon-fiber construction and body panels, active aerodynamics, and a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic; a manual won’t be offered. Ford says the top speed is 216 mph—we can’t wait to test that claim.

Ford Mustang

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The galloping pony nestled in the grille serves as a reminder that the Mustang is most at home on the open road. Both the coupe and convertible come with your choice of a 300-hp 3.7-liter V-6, a 310-hp 2.3-liter turbo four-cylinder, or a 435-hp 5.0-liter V-8; choose from a six-speed manual or a six-speed automatic. The rear-wheel-drive chassis is eager to attack corners while enabling a smooth ride when cruising. An updated Mustang debuts in fall 2017 with a new 10-speed automatic as an option.

Hyundai Genesis Coupe

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Hyundai is releasing the Genesis Coupe for the 2016 model year with a new six-inch color display in the center stack in place of the previous dot-matrix display. That’s it. Oh, except for a price increase. The coupe still packs a 3.8-liter V6 as standard, driving 348 horsepower and 295 pound-feet of torque to the rear wheels through either a six-speed manual or eight-speed automatic transmission. For some buyers, the Genesis Coupe makes for a compelling alternative to the likes of the Nissan 370Z (which only has two seats) and the Infiniti Q60 Coupe (which is significantly more expensive).

Kia Stinger

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We won’t find out if the Stinger lives up to its name until it goes on sale later this year. The base engine is a 255-hp 2.0-liter turbo four; a 365-hp 3.3-liter twin-turbo V-6 is optional. Both models have an eight-speed automatic and either rear- or all-wheel drive. A 7.0-in touchscreen and navigation are standard. Driver aids include adaptive cruise, automated emergency braking, and lane-keep assist. An optional Harman/Kardon audio system with 15 speakers and 720 watts kicks out the jams.

Mazda MX-5 Miata

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For pure driving bliss, the Miata is tops in our book—it’s so good, it’s a 10Best winner for 2017. This legendary two-seater has a 155-hp 2.0-liter four-cylinder with a six-speed manual; a six-speed automatic is optional. Its use of aluminum helps keep weight down, so the Miata remains eminently flingable in the twists and turns that you’ll surely seek out whenever you hit the road. The RF model offers a power-folding targa top, but it’s much more expensive than the cloth-topped Miata.

Nissan 370Z

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Nissan’s ‘Z-car’ has been a dominant force in sports coupes for more than four decades. The latest Nissan 370Z coupe traces its roots to the legendary 240Z that took the world by storm with its exceptional looks and powerful performance. Fast forward to today, and you’ll find that the basic formula defining the ‘Z’ has stayed the same – now with a remarkable 328PS 3.7L V6 engine and a host of technical advances.

Nissan GT-R

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Doesn’t matter what you call it—GT-R or, more fittingly, Godzilla—Nissan’s range topper is a supercar-stomping, high-tech dynamo. Its 3.8-liter twin-turbo V-6 makes a mighty 565 hp while a six-speed dual-clutch automatic and all-wheel drive team up to put all that power to the pavement. The GT-R’s quick steering, rigid structure and adjustable suspension can make even amateurs feel positively heroic from behind the wheel. Want more? Check out the track-ready NISMO-tuned variant with 600 hp.

Scion FR-S

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When the Scion brand ended, the FR-S became the Toyota 86. Regardless, the FR-S offers excellent driving dynamics. Only one engine was available: a 200-hp 2.0-liter flat-four. A six-speed manual or a six-speed automatic were the transmission choices. The manual shifts with a solid, no-nonsense feel, while the paddle-shift automatic is quick and responsive. The cabin is cramped and plasticky, but the FR-S is very agile, which endears it to enthusiasts.

Subaru BRZ

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Don’t let the boy-racer vibe deter you: The BRZ is perfect for purists on a budget. An updated 205-hp version of the 2.0-liter flat-four pairs to a six-speed manual, hardly answering complaints that the rear-drive sports car lacks punch. Output drops to 200 hp with the six-speed automatic. Still, the BRZ is impeccably balanced and satisfying, not to mention slide-happy. There’s not much trunk space and adults will reject the back seat, but once behind the wheel, those objections melt away.

Toyota 86

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The car formerly known as the Scion FR-S is now the Toyota 86 and is tasked with keeping the brand’s sports-car flame burning in this crossover-crazed world. The 2.0-liter flat-four makes 205 hp when paired to the smooth-shifting six-speed manual. With the optional six-speed automatic, however, power drops to 200 hp—but we doubt you’ll be able to tell. Rear-wheel drive and a balanced chassis provide endless fun on twisty roads. When cruising around town, the racy styling will turn heads.

About the Author Arnold Sithole

I help men look and feel their best by providing them with information to make affordable choices and to take decisive actions so they can get what they want in the world.

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