Aston Martin V8 Vantage
Aston Martin’s Vantage is a modern high-performance icon of unmistakable character, styled to seduce and engineered to thrill. In its day, it was always the most affordable supercar the British brand made, but many will tell you that it’s arguably also the very best Aston Martin of all. Modern versions may have the Mercedes-AMG-sourced V8 power beneath the bonnet, but the performance is still as sensational. For many people, it’s the best thing the company makes, the best to drive and the best looking. The Vantage is simply overflowing with that special feel you want in a sportscar, the one you’ve been dreaming of owning all your life.
What can you say about this Italian brand and beautiful cars? After all, it has such a glittering heritage in looks and of course performance that for many, Ferrari are second to none. And with the California, Ferrari have a car that not only appeals to the huge American market, but across the world. The California has a front-mid-mounted engine, a dual-clutch automatic gearbox, a folding hard-top roof and optional rear seats, but is lighter and more powerful than before. Its beauty is not only found in its looks, but also in the feel of the drive.
Most know the Porsche 911 as the world’s greatest sports car. It certainly has the history and now comes with a great range of choice – there’s the Cabriolet, Carrera, Carrera 4, GT3, Targa 4 and Turbo incarnations to salivate over and even more variations on those. All come with more power, sharper design and even broader everyday usability, as well as that classic 911 look. The model has kept pace with developments in the automotive industry to always be a desirable car. For many, this is still the performance sportscar to have.
Alfa Romeo Spider
If we’re honest, nearly everyone would jump at the chance of blasting through the Tuscan hills or cruising the Amalfi coast road in a red Italian sportscar. With its illustrious history, the Alfa Romeo Spider would fit the bill very nicely. The Italians seem to instinctively know how to design a great-looking sportscar. And, with its 2007 Spider, Alfa Romeo was intent on building a roadster that was truly captivating. It’s a comfortable cruiser with a decent cabin environment, a strong range of engines and a roof arrangement that’s hassle free. It’s also of course, available in red.
Cadillac Coupe de Ville
Cadillac is one of the oldest car brands in the world. It is renowned for producing cars that are synonymous with the world of luxury. The de Ville is a full-sized sedan, with a massively powerful engine that can cruise with the best of them. The company’s primary markets are the United States, Canada, and China, but you’ll find Cadillac-branded vehicles on the roads in many countries, including Europe. The last versions of the de Ville carried sportier looks than its predecessors whilst keeping the luxury inside just as everyone had come to expect.
The Jaguar E-Type was a car of its time that has stayed the course. With an aerodynamically focussed design by Malcolm Sayer, it gave the public a sight to savour that caused a sensation when it was unveiled. Affordable sports driving was what it gave the public back in the 1960s and with a performance that got better and better with each update and those quintessential sweeping bodywork looks that remained so British, many would rank it as the most beautiful car and certainly as the most beautiful British car ever made.
The Chevrolet Corvette doesn’t need a great deal of introduction. “America’s Sports Car” has been available in one guise or another since the fifties, but it was not until the launch of the C5 series in 1997 that the Corvette received the respect of European drivers. And, if the concept of crushing power, exotic good looks and robust mechanicals appeal to you, the Corvette is about as good as it gets.
Early Bentley models were sports cars. More recent ones have been luxury GTs. The Bentley Continental first made production in 1991 when the Continental R thundered into the pages of an enthusiast press. Constructed from the Turbo R platform, the Conti’s ‘official’ launch was at the 1991 Geneva Show where it wowed the crowds. Its third-generation design shares its lighter, stiffer chassis with the very latest second generation Porsche Panamera. That car also donates a quicker-reacting dual clutch gearbox and there’s a more sophisticated 4WD set-up too. The model seamlessly blends Bentley’s glittering heritage with the latest technology to create a highly desirable package.
Stylish, luxurious and a potent performance weapon, the Maserati GranTurismo is on paper, part luxury Grand Tourer and part serious performance sportscar. On the road, it gives you everything you’d want from a historic automotive marque. Over the last few years, there’s been a subtle repositioning of the Maserati brand, with the famous Italian manufacturer coming out of the Ferrari shadow. The marque these days is focusing more acutely on luxury, comfort and the understated elegance that’s always been part of the Maserati package. Performance seekers need not despair, though. They’ll still get their fair share of brutal acceleration and finely-honed handling.
The SLK was Mercedes’ compact roadster model that was first sold in 1996, where it re-invented the coupe-cabriolet concept for the modern age. Slick detailing, low running costs and distinctive styling are all part of its appeal. But so is the SLK concept of delivering a more affordable, more accessible version of the brand’s SL luxury convertible to the wider sportscar market. It was innovative in its first-generation form with a ‘Vario’ metal folding top that was quickly copied across the industry. For its MK3 mode, it became more finely attuned to its market, offering a level of engine efficiency and technology that makes many rivals from its era seem from a prior generation. A great car – but after all, it is a Mercedes!