We’ve all had the discussion: Money no object, what is your dream car? Problem with that is the answer can’t just include one platform. It’s far more complex. For us, each response is a thought through catalogue of said car, its price tier and ideal use. Personally, the list is long: Diablo SV, R34, Supra, Maybach S600, S15, Prerunner Tundra, and P1 GTR – just to get warmed up. We brought this conversation to life with a bit more realistic $100,000 cap, 3-car limit and focus on daily driving only.
To help narrow down the trio we also looked at only recently released sports cars that are produced in volume and have a strong aftermarket. In the end, we chose the 650hp 2015 Chevrolet Corvette Z06 with performance package, 545hp Nissan GT-R Premium and a modified 430hp BMW M4, owned by premo carbon aero company Enlaes. The first two being supercar stock at an MSRP just a tick over $100K and a $70K M4 that included $30k in modification. Ooo, the good life.
Since these three cars have been positively dissected to death by journos at this point, we focused on seat of the pants feel, daily comfort and street attitude. Benchmarks like fuel economy are of course not important. No track impressions here, our friends at Motor Trend can help you out there.
Time limited, we hit the streets of Long Beach, sat through Los Angeles traffic, killed the canyons of Malibu and essentially lived with each for a short time. One even was the victim of parking garage wheel theft – the Z06 was left on blocks (FU criminals)! Choosing a daily favorite is subjective being that we all want different things but here is how they stacked up for the SS staff:
GT-R Premium: 3sec
*Numbers based on Motor Trend and stock platform. Tenths lost or gained due to driver and conditions.
2015 Chevrolet Corvette Z06
“Whoa,” drooled out of my lips exiting the first freeway exit in this newly designed Chevrolet C7. “Officer, the car made me do it!” Forget what you thought you knew about the Corvette. This latest Z06 is fantastic. America needed an attainable gasoline supercar and this is it. Line up against one of these STOCK 650hp, 650 lb-ft jaw dropper and you best bring the heat. JDM fans beware.
First thing to know: within two days of having this car I received 22 thumbs up, found the car left on blocks in a secure garage and got pulled over just so the cop could quiz me on its specs. It is a real crowd pleaser for better or worse.
Being a 3,582 lbs. coupe, in convertible form for us, there is an immediate sense of fun when entering. On button start, the low exhaust note, HUD and truckload of brand insignias in your peripheral prepare your senses for the hooning ahead. Drop the top, turn up XM and switch into sport mode - things are about to get wild. ‘Murica muscle initiates as the LT4 supercharged 6.2L V8 erupts in a glorious war cry.
Technology has sorted out all of the previous problems people bring up when jabbing the Z06. Most notably, the traction control, electric variable-ratio power steering and magnetic ride control work to make you feel like an star-spangled hero. Seriously, a controlled slide through an intersection or 180 off a stop is too simple with pedal modulation. You will have passengers writhing in giddy fear.
ECU control has made many sports cars feel numb or limiting. Chevy put immense work in keeping this car feeling raw and loose like the historic Corvettes of old. Difference is there are now sensors, circuit boards and wiring to keep uncontrolled throttle or steering inputs inline. I’ve never felt more in control while looking so out of control. The tech is that good. Purists hate that this latest Z06 comes in an 8-speed paddle-shift automatic (7-speed manual is available) but I found it great for city driving. The car has so much torque stock that there is no need to clutch kick if you want to break ‘em loose. Personally, the auto ups driving comfort and allows more focus to the road ahead.
Controlling the madness are massive brakes on sticky Michelin Pilot Super Sport tires. The rear wheels drop in at a size of 20 x 12”. Paired with electronic suspension and twisty road driving is a confidence-inspiring experience.
Where the Wheel Lug Locks: The fantastic wheel/tire combo proved to tempting for a band of auto thieves that after breaking into a car on the street to grab an apartment gate garage clicker, stumbled onto the sleeping Z06 to then meticulously remove the wheels from the Corvette, leaving it on cinder blocks, before exiting in a stolen car. I found it in the morning. All of which was caught on camera during a 2am-4am heist. Note that this occurred in a safe parking garage in Culver City on the first night it was driven home; it was literally parked there for 3 hours before the incident. Chevrolet was gracious enough to swap the car out the next day. The Corvette needs wheel locks standard.
Back to daily driving the Z06. Trunk space won’t fit checked luggage. My GF wasn’t very happy to put her luggage on her lap after a 4-hour flight to LAX. But legroom even for a 6’3 frame is comfortable. The speakers sound great even with roof down and the media controls all make sense. The interior is not fancy; the lion’s share of updates went to performance parts. The half analog, half digital instrument cluster and windshield HUD is a nice touch too, showing what was and what the Z06 has become.
Overall, the 2015 Z06 is a sledgehammer of controlled chaos. Your energy is way up behind the wheel – it makes you do things once left to the imaginary world of a GTA video game. I’ve never seen a stock American car pull so many looks. It feels like a mid ‘90s torque monster. Breaking traction and uncooked, brutal acceleration never gets old. What does get old is dailying a two-door sports car. This is an amazing piece of machinery but for mundane chores it’s best left in the garage. All in all, it was my favorite of the three and the number 1 car to loose a license in.
2015 Nissan GT-R Premium
How sweet it was to see this red GT-R Premium arrive at our office. Often overlooked by the average cager, the GT-R is a surgical weapon of speed and corner carving. Duh! The twin-turbo 3.8L V6 power comes on like a magnetic Japanese bullet train. The technology is obviously track-certified and the aftermarket unlimited; there is good reason why the GT-R holds a trophy room of accolades and 1000hp+ build examples.
In stock form, it can be whatever you want it to be with a twist of a dial and controlled right foot: grocery getter, highway rocket, canyon king and always the apple of every JDM tuner’s eye.
Because of its legendary status even a first timer experiences a warm and fuzzy feeling of confidence behind the wheel. “If I had to pick, I’d stick to my guns as the JDM guy and go GT-R. You really can’t go wrong,” said SS staffer Jofel Tolosa.
For 2015, Nissan worked to improve balance under G’s and when cruising. Changes included: a revised chassis, a new Bose Active noise Cancellation System, new LED headlights, and revised rear LED lights.
Off a light, the factory 545hp and 463 lb-ft mechanically ramps up and firmly pushes you back into the seat, especially at the top of the rev range. The boosted DOHC engine gets moving fast smoothly. It is not a jarring climb in mph – bolt-ons and ECU flash solve that or for an additional $100,000 someone like SP Engineering can get you near the insane 2000whp range. Shattering speed limits occurs without attracting a lot of outside exhaust note attention, a bonus for daily driving.
The six-speed dual clutch auto tranny is mechanical and swift, helping keep focus on the road. The brakes shed momentum faster than a cop can raise his laser gun. The AWD grip is incredible. It moves on rails and makes you feel like Lewis Hamilton. TC can be turned off too. Unlike a Lambo, driver visibility is also great all-around.
A drawback of operating with such precision is it’s almost numbing. Anyone from your grandma to the 16-year-old down the street could drive this thing without breaking a sweat….until dropping the hammer. Seat of the pants excitement, for me at least, was mild within the confines of LA streets. It begs for a track or open road.
The interior and console controls do not scream $102,000! Quite the opposite as there is a lack of plushness and fancy comfort gadgets found in a six-figure euro whip. The mundane interior feels closer to a Maxima than supercar. The sound system could be improved further as well but for 2015, the interior was made quieter overall. No fault to Nissan, it all went to performance.
The cargo and passenger room is fair; leaps and bounds above the Z06. You can easily throw luggage or groceries in the trunk. Headroom is ample and the rear seat useable if you are 3’5” or an average size person sitting sideways; think FR-S rear seat room. All of this are unimportant details for fans of the GT-R though.
“The GT-R is more me. The Vette is rawer and pulls more looks but I feel at home in the GT-R. Maybe I’m just a turbo guy. You need to be car guy to know the GT-R. It’s just different fun,” said Willie Yee, Super Street Network sales head.
Overall, the modern R35 lives up to its Godzilla nickname. Grabbing a dozen eggs and 40-pack of TP out of its trunk though feels like sidelining Ronda Rousey behind a corporate desk. It works but what a poor use of resources. This car was built to run, period. Compared to the other two it comes in second for daily drivability. Was there even a doubt whether or not it received shining SS staff reviews all around? It took top pick of staffers Jofel Tolosa, Sam Du, Willie Yee and Mike Sabounchi. BUT if you want more Joe Public flash, see the BMW and Corvette.
2015 BMW M4
The German precision found throughout the history of BMW M cars is mythical and the latest M3/M4 continues the trend. Sharp styling, cabin luxury and a brand mantra of, “The ultimate driving machine,” makes the latest BMW M3/M4 http://www.superstreetonline.com/features/1509-better-bimmer-530hp-dinan-tuned-2015-bmw-m4-s1/ platform a winner. What we have here is a modified BMW M4 meant to break necks at the show and on the street. Built by Alex Weld of carbon aero company Enlaes, our final entry features a $70K car upgraded to the tune of the MSRP found with the GT-R and Z06. The big appeal here is the unique edge.
Given the opportunity and means, many of us would choose the route of buying a more affordable platform to leave room for mods. After all, who wants to be showroom stock?
Enlaes carbon fiber aero, wheels, exhaust, ECU flash and air suspension compliments the twin-turbo 3L straight-six, which makes 425hp and 406 lb-ft. The 7-speed twin-clutch auto is buttery smooth. More torque with this new motor means getting into power is easier, no matter the gear – that's great for the street.
Performance, in its featured form, is lesser than the Z06 and GT-R but creature comforts and tech is high. RWD keeps the slide and burnout fun possible after turning off nannies. The exhaust sound is a bit less exciting with the departure of the V8 – see aftermarket for help – but seat of the pants acceleration is enough to induce smiles. Inherently, rolling on air kills cornering advantages of a static setup but the presence and look of going low on park is special in its own right. While this entry is not as fast the Z06 or GT-R, its cabin luxuries make it the most livable.
Step into the M4 and the interior screams, Business! It’s all class interior-wise, where the Z06 and GT-R focus more heavily on speed-settings. Alacantra and polished instrument knobs make entry into the cabin super comfortable. You know you are in a European sports car.
BMW tech is a big draw. For instance, forget just a rear view camera, the driver has access to a bird’s eye view of the M on the media center LCD via cameras on the sides, front and rear, which stitch together a 360 top view. The infotainment center is easy to use and the sound system is crisp. The BMW is the most universally acceptable daily driver out of the three; you don't need to be a gearhead to want to drive this car.
This M4 carries an air of youthful excellence. It does everything a street driver could want with the added bonus of customization. Premium features and the focused power to back up the sharp styling make it another historic BMW M model. Its presence is on par with the Z06 and it wins for daily driving comfort. Whether at the Big SoCal Euro car show, valeting at Cosmo hotel in Vegas or road tripping, this final entry does it with smartness and excitement.
It was some kind of coincidence that these three cars together formed a red, white and blue color scheme. You will do American asphalt a real solid with any one of these performers. Choosing one comes down to personal preference. While I leaned towards the raucous Z06 for sheer excitement, it is not a livable daily. The M4 checks all of the boxes but isn’t as fast as the GT-R or Chevy. Godzilla is obviously a driver’s car but lacks modern creature comforts and is not enough flash for some. Each shares multiple drive modes and amazing grip for the conditions ahead. You can’t go wrong here. Each has a host of mods available. Like the HRC, we love them all.