6 Sports Cars Everyone Should Drive at Least Once in Their Lives
I have my choices. What are yours?by Kirby Garlitos, on
Suppose you were given a choice to pick six sports cars to take out for a spin, which models would you choose? Some of you might choose from a list made entirely out of hypercars. Some of you might go for all the all-muscle types. Some of you might even choose to drive one automaker’s entire catalog. Everyone’s taste for sports cars is different, which is why in figuring out my suggestions for the six sports cars everyone should drive at least once in their lives, I was more varied in my choices. I put in a hypercar, a track car, a muscle car, a Japanese monster, and a small Italian sports car that’s going to blow you away. Some of you might have different choices, and that’s fine. What’s important is that, at the end of the day, we all get to experience the cars we love, even if it’s just for a day.
The Ariel Atom is an anomaly in a lot of ways. It’s a track-built racer that can literally peel your face off if you decide to overextend it. In its V8 500 configuration, the Atom features a Hartley-built, 3.0-liter V-8 that produces a staggering 500 horsepower and 284 pound-feet of torque. Translate that to a car that weighs 550 kilos (1,213 pounds), and the limits of what it can do starts venturing into the realms of the ridiculous.
This is what you get if you sit behind the wheel of an Ariel Atom. Accelerating off the line feels like you just got walloped in the chest, and the speed it can reach will give your face a literal lift. The Atom can sprint from 0 60 to mph in 2.9 seconds and hit a top speed of 168 mph. Remember, again, the weight of the Atom, and imagine going 150 mph in it. The Atom is a must-drive car if you want to be reminded of how precious your life is. If you don’t believe me, go ask Jeremy Clarkson. Better yet, you can just watch what the Atom did to him.
Unfortunately, the thrill of driving an Ariel Atom comes with a price of $225,000.
Read our full review on the 2015 Ariel Atom 3S.
The Jaguar F-Type isn’t the fastest and most powerful car on this list. Heck, it’s not even the most expensive. But, just because it doesn’t check those distinctions, it doesn’t mean the sports car is no less fun to drive. For that, we turn your attention to the F-Type 400 Sport, the newest version of the F-Type that packs plenty of power and performance, wrapped up in one of the most stunning designs of any sports car in the business today.
The F-Type 400 Sport features a 3.0-liter, supercharged, V-6 that produces a mouth-watering 400 horsepower. It comes with an eight-speed automatic transmission, but if you’re the adventurous type, you can get a six-speed manual as an option. Granted, the F-Type’s ride isn’t the smoothest, especially over bumpy roads, but when you take it on a flat and smooth surface, the car’s firm suspension shines in more ways than one. You can even choose whether to give the 400 Sport rear-wheel drive or all-wheel drive. It’s a choice that you don’t get to have on other versions of the sports car, making the 400 Sport that much more compelling.
Even if there are more powerful versions of the F-Type that are available — the 575-horsepower SVR is the crown jewel of the lineup — none of them approach the sweet spot of thrills and affordability quite like the 400 Sport. It’s priced at a little over $90,000, but with a few options thrown in, the cost could approach six figures. It’s a small price to pay relative to what you can get from more expensive sports cars. And at the end of the day, few cars sound as exciting as a Jaguar. With a supercharged V-6 and a dual-mode exhaust that can be configured to spit louder on demand, you’re not going to be short-changed in raucous notes when you’re driving this sports car.
Read our full review on the 2018 Jaguar F-Type 400 Sport.
I was tempted to keep this list to cars that are at least partly affordable to most folks, but when we’re talking about performance cars that all of us should drive at least once, it would be a cardinal sin to leave out the car that currently holds the top speed record for a production vehicle. Ladies and gentlemen, in the understatement of the century, the Koenigsegg Agera RS belongs in this list.
There’s no going around it, nor are there any perceived optics to explain. The Koenigsegg Agera RS is going to leave you breathless, literally. I’ll skip over its build and the meticulous development that went into its creation. Instead, I’ll get straight to the point. There are only a handful of cars in the history of the auto industry that can reach 250 mph. The Koenigsegg Agera RS is one of them. Even better, it can also reach 255 mph, 260 mph, 265 mph, 270 mph, and 275 mph. That’s the kind of speed other sports cars on this list can only dream about. The Agera RS, on the other hand, is more than capable of doing it. A big reason for that is the 5.0-liter, twin-turbo, V-8 that Koenigsegg developed for this model. This engine is capable of producing as much as 1,360 horsepower. That kind of power not only allows it to sprint from 0 to 60 mph in the low 2.0 seconds, it’s also capable of sending the supercar on a top speed run approaching 270 mph.
There’s no going around the fact that the Koenigsegg Agera RS is the fastest car in the world today. So when there’s a discussion of cars that people need to drive at least once, this Swedish monster should be on top of everyone’s list. The only caveat is that you’ll need around $3 million to get your hands on one.
Read our full review on the 2015 Koenigsegg Agera RS.
There used to be a time when the saying “nobody does sports cars like the Japanese” was a universally regarded statement. That may not be true anymore because the rest of the world has caught up, but the Japanese are still considered one of the best at it. Need proof? Look no further than the Nissan GT-R NISMO, one of the best-handling performance cars in the market today.
The GT-R is a lot of things to a lot of people. It has one of the coolest nicknames — Godzilla — in the business. It has a reputation for top-end performance that few supercars have. But most importantly, it handles like a dream despite the fact that it weighs a chunky 1,740 kilos (3,840 pounds).
The GT-R draws its power from 3.8-liter, twin-boosted, V-6 that delivers a total of 600 horsepower and 481 pound-feet of torque. When you take those numbers and put them in a car that also has a double wishbone suspension system with high-rigidity bolts and an optional Track Package that adds a set of manually adjustable Öhlins dampers and reduced spring rates, you’re looking at one of the few cars in the segment that boasts excellent power, performance, and driving dynamics.
There may be faster and more powerful cars out there, but when you step inside a Nissan GT-R NISMO and push to its paces, you’re going to remember that experience for a long time. Should you want to experience the Nissan GT-R NISMO as soon as possible, you’ll need to fork over $150,000.
Read our full review on the 2017 Nissan GT-R NISMO
Have you ever had that urge to go out late at night for a donut binge? I’m not talking about the round delicacies we all love, but the thing you do where you burn your tires and create donuts with those burnt treads, all while huge plumes of smoke come out and rise into the air. Well, if you haven’t had experienced the thrill of doing donuts, may I suggest the Dodge Challenger SRT Demon.
Obviously, the Challenger SRT Demon is more than just a donut maker. It’s arguably one of the most hardcore cars on the market today. It’s a drag race titan, too, one that’s capable of leaving rivals eating its dust. There are a lot of exciting things about the Challenger SRT Demon, and at the heart of that is a 6.2-liter, supercharged, V-8 that produces an incredible 850 horsepower and 770 pound-feet of torque. That allows the muscle car to not only sprint from 0 to 60 mph in just 2.3 seconds, but it can do a quarter mile time of 9.65 seconds while doing 140 mph in the process. There’s a word for that. Oh, yeah I know what it is.
Power and speed aren’t the only things that define the Challenger SRT Demon. It’s also capable of producing 1.8 g’s of forward acceleration, enough force to actually lift the nose of the car off the ground. Oh, and about those donuts. The Challenger SRT Demon sits on a set of unique Nitto tires that can provide all the tire-burning madness your heart desires. About the only downside to this scenario is the sad reality that the Challenger SRT Demon is sold out. Even if there were still some models available, it’s going to cost you $84,995.
Read our full review on the Dodge Challenger SRT Demon.
You’re probably wondering why the Alfa Romeo 4C is included in this list. Some of you might think I’ve lost my mind putting the Italian sportster above, you know, Ferraris and Lamborghinis. That’s fair, but I also tried to make this list as varied as possible. So the 4C is in because it’s the embodiment of a sports car that offers a lot more than you bargained for.
See, the 4C doesn’t particularly stand out. It looks good, sure, but it only has a 1.7-liter four-cylinder that produces 240 horsepower and 258 pound-feet of torque. It’s the least powerful car on this list, and as someone who has driven it in the past, I can tell you that it doesn’t really offer a great driving experience when it’s bottled up in city roads. But like I said, the 4C comes with a lot of surprises, not the least of which is its ability to make you forget about all of its supposed deficiencies once the road opens up.
That’s where the 4C excels, and holy smokes is it an awesome drive. The stiff drives in the city give way to a smoother run once it gets a chance to stretch its legs. It’s even surprisingly springy once it gets up-to-speed. Best of all, the 4C has a fuel efficiency rating — 24 mpg (city) and 34 mpg (highway) — that’s above and beyond what you can get from other cars on this list. And let’s not forget the sense of nostalgia that comes with driving an Alfa Romeo. The company may have fallen on hard times recently, but the 4C has proven itself as a car that deserves to have one of the best badges in the industry slapped on it. If you’re the type who wants to go on weekend drives and leave all your worries behind, there’s no better companion than this $54,000 piece of awesomeness.
Read our full review on the 2014 Alfa Romeo 4C