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5 standout performance cars of 2017

2017-12-24 07:30

Image: Warren Wilson

Sean Parker

Cape Town - Writing about performance cars is about putting you in the driver's seat, it's not necessarily about how much grip it has or its top speed, although that's an element of it. It's more about how it makes the driver feel. It's a more emotional, human side of the test.  

We had a plethora of performance cars on test at Wheels24, these are the five models that left an indelible impression on me: 

1. Jaguar F-Type 400 Sport 

Loud, brilliant to look at and good, fun rear-wheel drive dynamics make the 400 Sport (the number refers to how much horsepower) standout among its contemporaries. Powered by a 3.0-litre supercharged V6 engine (bespoke to the 400), it's good for a claimed 294kW/460Nm and a top speed of 275km/h. 

Prod the exhaust button to wake up the neighbourhood and revel in the wickedness of the F-Type and its lairy nature. Stamp on the throttle like you're The Rock swotting a fly and you'll reach 0-100km/h.

I loved how intoxicating the driving experience is, the combination of the noise, gear changes and outright pace is hard to ignore and even more difficult to forget. 

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2. BMW M4 DTM Champion Edition  

The M4 with aquafresh stripes... also one of the most viseral experiences I've had in a car. It was created to celebrate the automaker's 2016 DTM champion Marco Wittmann's triumph and all 15 had been sold when I drove it mid-year. 

Powered by a water-injected 3.0-litre six cylinder turbocharged engine which churns out a raucous 368kW/600Nm. 0-100km/h sprint is dispatched in 3.8 seconds and it runs out of puff at 305km/h. 

It's a complete hooligan and felt lively and agile when I gave it the full beans. A fixed rear-wing means there is genuine downforce but it's the searing pace that gets one's pulse racing. 

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3. BMW i8 

I know BMW's hybrid sportscar has been on sale in Mzansi since 2015, but it's the first time I've driven the two-door coupe and I was left gobsmacked at how well it handles and how fast it is. 

Powered by four electric engines (one on each wheel) and a 1.5-litre three-cylinder turbocharged engine to produce a total of 266kW/570Nm and scorches from 0-100km/h in a claimed 4.4 seconds. 

It deserves a mention because it's light (uses a carbon fibre tub), looks amazing and handles incredibly well. 

It's let down be few charging points (thankfully it can run alone on the petrol engine, it even charges the batteries for you) and an expensive price tag that might put buyers off. 

4. Audi RS 3 

It's hard not to like the RS 3: it's small, loud (especially when fitted with optional sports exhaust) and quick, oh so bloody quick. It's been tested in Gauteng (where the air is thinner) with a scorching 0-100km/h time of 3.83 seconds

What's new with this model? Well for the first time Ingolstadt has fitted its massively-powerful 2.5-litre five-cylinder engine into a sedan body. Power is up from 270kW to 294kW with torque pegged at 480Nm. 

I love how agressive it looks, how it launches off the line (thanks to the all-wheel drive system) and it turns in. There's little understeer when you're edging towards the limit. 

Startting at R925 000, there aren't many cars that can keep up with the RS 3, it'll make supercars a tad nervous when you pull alongside them. 

5. Porsche Carerra GTS 

Before I get to what a nimble, precise driving tool the Carerra GTS is let's take a glimpse at the numbers: it's powered by a 3.0-litre six-cylinder engine, for 2017, Porsche breathed on it to produce 331kW and 550Nm.

It rockets from 0-100km/h in 3.7 seconds and changes via the seven-speed PDK box are lightening quick and oh so satisfying to drive. 

The seating postion is nigh on perfect and the thin steering wheel fits perfectly in my clutches almost asking for the 1450kg sportscar to be whisked around a mountain pass. 

It's a genuine driver's car and it's also the best car I've driven all year. 

 
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