What is a high-end sports car? Are they Italian performance machines like the Ferrari 458 and the Lamborghini Gallardo, or are they more sensible vehicles like the BMW M5 and theMercedes-Benz SL63 AMG? We think they’re the latter.

For this top ten, we are going to set the price cap at $120,000, if you can call that a cap. That should eliminate most of the extreme vehicles, but keep the basic Porsches and so on within the limits.

What kinds of things are we looking for with high-end sports cars? Obviously, they need to be fast with agile handling and excellent driving dynamics. The car needs to look stunning with a functional yet stylish interior. It would also be great if it could stand the test of time, so reliability is also a factor.

Let’s review the previous winners of our sports car test. The Volkswagen GTI took the top spot in the entry-level test due to its excellent performance, build quality, and versatility. There were numerous winners of the mid-level test, as we had multiple categories. We chose the Audi S4, the BMW M3, and the Ford Mustang GT500 as the top cars in their classes.

Hit the jump to see the list.

10. Audi S6

TopSpeed's 10 Best High-End Sports Cars for 2010 Exterior
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We love Audis here, as you’ll see later, but the S6 is a bit dull. The only thing that really stands out about this machine is the LED headlights and that’s just not good enough. The motor under the hood is decent and the handling is very good, but the car is just dull. The alternative options from BMW and Mercedes-Benz are far more exciting. We do like the Audi’s build quality and the interior layout and materials, if only the car itself could be invigorating. Prices start at $76,100.

9. Chevrolet Corvette Z06

TopSpeed's 10 Best High-End Sports Cars for 2010 Exterior
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The main reason for this vehicle coming in second-to-last is the fact that the ZR1 is only a few thousand more. There really isn’t a reason to buy the Z06 unless you want a bad back later in life. The suspension is very bad, the interior is low-rent, and we’ve seen better handling on 18th century wagons. On the plus side, the power is immense and it can be fun to destroy the back tires with an epic wheel spin. Still, tire smoking power isn’t enough to save the Z06. Prices start at $74,285

8. Mercedes-Benz SL550

TopSpeed's 10 Best High-End Sports Cars for 2010 Exterior
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There might be reason there aren’t many of these machines on the road. The styling is very gaudy, but it does help it stand out. The power is sensational, but it’s almost to much. Being a Mercedes, the traction control is always stepping in with that much power going to the rear. That makes power sliding very tricky, not that you should be doing that on public roads. The car is also very heavy due to all that technology. The SL550 is more of a cruiser, despite the epic power. Prices start at $102,600. If you can afford it, the SL63 is a better car.

7. Mercedes-Benz E-Class AMG

TopSpeed's 10 Best High-End Sports Cars for 2010 Exterior
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The new E-Class has a superb ride and handling balance and a very powerful engine. Not to mention the interior is first rate and there a plenty of safety oriented items. We like the way the car looks as well, although some won’t. On the downside, there are tons of computers that you need to fiddle with in order to get the car set up. The COMAND system is a bit tricky as well. The cost is also a bit high, at $85,750.

6. BMW M5

TopSpeed's 10 Best High-End Sports Cars for 2010 Exterior
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The 2010 M5 has a fantastic V10, the ride is brilliant, and the fit and finish is what you would expect on a BMW. On the downside, the car suffers from a lackluster steering feel, an outdated gearbox, and terrible stability control. There are also way too many controls to mess with in order to get the car setup just the way you like it. We aren’t too fond of the looks either. Prices start at $85,700.

5. Cadillac CTS-V

TopSpeed's 10 Best High-End Sports Cars for 2010 Exterior
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The engine in the new CTS-V is the real highlight. The V8 is so strong and so fast that it’s truly stunning. The handling is even decent, which is saying a lot for an American car. The styling is pure straight lines, but it looks good. There might be a touch too much chrome, but what do you expect. We like the fact that you can have a manual transmission, as most automakers have gone with fancy paddle shift transmissions. On the downside, you won’t get all the technology that you would in a German car and the build quality isn’t a good as we would like. Prices start at $62,165.

4. Jaguar XKR

TopSpeed's 10 Best High-End Sports Cars for 2010 Exterior
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The XKR has rip-roaring acceleration, a pleasing balance of performance and comfort, and a luxurious cabin with high feature content. The car also has sensational looks that could be in an art gallery. Not to mention the noise that this car makes is brilliantly loud and deep. If you had to find fault with the XKR, it would be the backseat and the touch screen. Honestly though, those aren’t huge faults. Prices start at $95,150.

3. Nissan GT-R

TopSpeed's 10 Best High-End Sports Cars for 2010 Exterior
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The GT-R is Nissan’s only real high-end sports car. Some might even call it a supercar. It offers up a brilliant motor with sensational acceleration and handling that can snap a neck. The build quality is what you would expect from Nissan and you could probably use this car everyday if you wanted to. On the downside, the car does feel a bit digital, like it doesn’t need you to be a good driver. There are so many different gizmos that you can feel a bit left out at times. Prices start at $84,500.

2. Porsche 911

TopSpeed's 10 Best High-End Sports Cars for 2010 Exterior
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The classic German machine has always been the 911. Porsche can make whatever they want, but the 911 is always going to be the car that made them who they are. There are many models to choose from and they are all pretty good. The acceleration on most models is brilliant and the handling is precise. You also get a comfortable and spacious cockpit, surprisingly good fuel-efficiency, and plenty of customization options. Sadly, it’s not all good news, as the 911 can be seriously expensive if you start adding those options. The PDK paddle shifters also have a lackluster feel. We also aren’t huge on the looks, as they have been the same for years now. Prices start at $77,800.

1. Audi R8

TopSpeed's 10 Best High-End Sports Cars for 2010 Exterior
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The R8 has to be one of the best cars we have ever driven and luckily for us and it, the Audi was just under our price cap for 2010. The motor is very good and the handling is like the GT-R’s, incredibly good if not painful at times, but unlike the Nissan, the R8 has a mechanical feel to it. You get all-wheel drive and a well designed interior plus we love the manual transmission. You also get Audi’s excellent build quality. If there is a high-performance car that you can use everyday, it would be this one without a doubt. The seats are comfortable and there is enough room for stuff from a shopping trip. Prices start at $114,200, but act soon, for 2011 those prices will be going up.

There you have it, the Audi R8 is the king of the hill. We love the Nissan, the Porsche, and the Jaguar, but it’s hard to deny that the R8 is brilliant. Many of you will never get the chance to take one for a drive, but if you have the ability to, please do. For the money, the R8 can’t be beat. Even when the price does go up for 2011, the R8 will still be one hell of a bargain.

Stay tuned for our top ten supercars with no price cap.

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  (382) posted on 12.13.2011

Well, I’m really expecting that Porsche will be on the number one. However, I’m still satisfied on this list. Well, these vehicles are truly deserved to be in this category! smiley

  (399) posted on 10.18.2011

Well, for me, it doesn’t matter if whose on the number one, but these cars are really deserved to be in these lists, and I must say that I’m so impressed with the angst and aggressiveness that these cars had.

  (517) posted on 09.29.2011

These cars are really great! They all look like a sedan so, at first I never thought that they are a sports car. Anyway, I am impressed with this list, and Audi R8 should really be at number one. smiley

  (363) posted on 06.9.2011

These cars are perfect for classy living. I just love the way some drivers hold those type of cars because it looks pretty classic and beautiful.

  (619) posted on 10.15.2010

High end cars?? huhu..i can’t afford even one..smiley

  (340) posted on 10.12.2010

Whoa!!nice list..smiley

  (17) posted on 08.25.2010

With respect to the GT-R’s reliability, Edmunds and others rate it below average largely due to its transmission falling apart when its launch control is utilized. Its vaunted 3.1 0-60 sounds so good until one realizes that actually doing it will render the car undriveable after using launch control just a half dozen times or so. Time will tell if Nissan has solved this well recognized VDC vs. launch control shortfall so the GT-R can embrace the promise it came so close to epitomizing.

  (221) posted on 08.25.2010

Shouldn’t GT-R be the first? Well that’s for me, because I think GT-R is more reliable than 911 and R8.

  (17) posted on 08.25.2010

So gos doesn’t get the argument(?) and j9 COMPLETELY AGREES... Well, I get Uncia’s position. The article clearly states that sensibility is the issue and reliability is a factor which is the salient point Uncia focuses upon. Uncia’s list has cars that should have been included (though Tesla doesn’t yet offer a warranty which, admittedly, is different from reliability) because they would have supported the main reason for this article’s existence. I’d love every one of the article’s jalopies to be in my garage so that as each falls apart I’ve got another to go to until ultimately I’d be driving the 911. Even if I’ve got $ growing out my tukus, their lack of reliability doesn’t sound too sensible...

  (868) posted on 08.24.2010

Reliability is always a factor, because the fact of the matter is that it doesn’t matter how much horsepower your car has if it isn’t running, and whether or not you can afford these cars, no one wants to hassle with a mechanic any more than they need to. When your car is in the shop, does it matter how well it drives? And I don’t just care about reliability and nothing else. There are plenty of reliable cars that drive well. The Porsche Cayman S, Maserati Gran Turismo, Aston Martin V8 Vantage, Lotus Evora, Lotus Exige S260, and Tesla Roadster can all be had for $120K or less, are more reliable than nine of the ten cars listed and drive as well if not better than any of them.

  (92) posted on 08.24.2010

@godofsavages ... I COMPLETELY AGREE WITH YOU. I mean, if you have the money to buy an Audi R8, then you most likely will have money to repair whatever it is that went wrong... If you look carefully at the Headline of this post it says "best high end SPORTS cars". This list has nothing to do with reliability and it most certainly should not care... Now, if this were a list for Endurance racing sports cars, then I’m pretty sure that reliability would be a major factor, but these are all consumer vehicles.

  (25) posted on 08.24.2010

Not quite sure what your argument is? These are the high-end sports cars, most aren’t going to be dependable, and the 911 came second. Ferrari’s and Lamborghini’s aren’t that dependable but they still sell well and are highly sought after. Are you arguing the fact that car companies are making poor cars? If that’s the case then fine, I agree. But, if your trying to argue the way the list is setup I’m not sure you did a good job. Audi are reliable cars, I don’t care what Consumer Reports tells you. The 911 is second, so not sure what you’re complaining about. Nissans are reliable, third place. Jag is getting better and so are Mercedes and BMW. If all you care about is reliability, why not just go read consumer reports and not websites that care more about how a car drives then how long it will last. Most of these cars will be fine and if you can afford them, I doubt you’ll care about dependability.

  (868) posted on 08.24.2010

This list is truly pathetic. According to Consumer Reports, the 911 is the only car on this list with an acceptable reliability rating. You call these unreliable malfunctions on wheels "sensible?" No sensible person who did their dependability research would ever own nine out of the ten cars on this list.

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