Until recently, there were very defined lines about what we can and can't do in our magazine. But because we're Super Street, we threw those rules out the window, gave the old middle finger to the man upstairs and decided to bring our readers something a bit different than our normal new car reviews. Every car enthusiast has their list of dream cars, and recently I got to take a spin in a few of the coolest "big kid" cars currently on the market at the annual Motor Press Guild (MPG) Track Day at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, California. These four cars are all very different from one another, and all of them have their ups and downs. My reviews are based solely on how these cars performed on trackI don't care about comfort or fuel economy, cargo capacity, rear legroom or any of that garbage. Why? Because even though (tragically) 99% of people who own these cars will never track them, that is exactly what these fantastic vehicles have been designed to do. And boy, do they do it well.
2013 Mercedes Benz C63 AMG Coupe
I've driven a few Mercedes cars in the past, and by and large I like the way they feel. Even the "boring" MBZs are very well-built cars, as well they ought to be for the price. One of my favorite cars I've driven in recent memory was the absolutely bonkers S63 AMG big daddy Mercedes sedan, so when I saw the lighter, smaller and more nimble baby brother C63 AMG Coupe, I elbowed my way to the front of the line and saddled up. The first thing you notice about this car is the powerthere is a lot of it. 451 horses is more than enough to motivate this beefy car in a straight line, and the way it sounds is pure magic. But sadly, straight line performance and an exhaust note do not make a good car. As soon as I approach the first corner, the brakes hit hard (a good thing) but the standard equipment 255 tires are just nowhere near wide enough to provide adequate cornering grip for a car like this. The C63 AMG is very squirrely and likes to get loose in the rear end, but not in a fun way. More like a "dammit car, again?" sort of way. Also, the transmission of our test mule was acting up, which is a huge red flag for potential buyers if you plan to ever track the car. The Mercedes representative told me the reason I couldn't get out of 4th gear was because it was too hot. As far as excuses go, that's a pretty lame one considering the vast majority of the cars were performing perfectly on the same track under the same conditions. The C63 AMG is a good car, it needs a better tire package but aside from that, there are no really glaring issues (we'll pretend for the sake of argument that the transmission on my tester was not indicative of how these cars typically perform.) The biggest problem with the C63 AMG is in fact, not anything about the car itself, but about what it competes against. With the better rounded (and just plain more fun to drive) BMW M3 coming in at about $1,300 less, it's a no-brainer.
2013 Mercedes Benz C63 AMG Coupe
The Sticker: Starting from $61,430
Engine: 6.2-liter DOHC 90-degree V8
Transmission: AMG Speedshift Plus Seven-speed multi-clutch automatic
The Power: 451hp at 6500rpm; 443 lb-ft at 5000rpm
Layout: Front engine, rear-wheel-drive
Wheels & Tires: 18" alloy wheels with 235/40R18 front, 255/35R18 rear tires
The new RS 5 is kind of like the modern day equivalent of the original Audi Quattro coupe from the 1980s, as it shares many of the same characteristics that make those cars so popular. The RS 5 is a 2-door coupe with a sweeping roofline that's just boxy enough to look cool, while still modern, and like its grandfather, a highly-strung naturally-aspirated motor, which sends power to all four wheels, propels the RS 5. The 4.2-liter V8 is a big beast in a car this size, but it's not blisteringly fast. The Quattro system, as well as many other components add a lot of weight to the relatively small dimensionally RS 5. But it's not the power that really makes this car great anyway. The amount of traction you can find on the road course from Audi's Quattro system is just fantastic! This is one of those cars where you can make a mistake entering a corner and it won't slap you in the face. Instead, it will understandingly cradle you in it's arms, tell you everything is going to be okay and snap back on line without a hesitation or loss of momentum through a tough corner. Considering how good the car feels even when you do it wrong, the feeling of nailing a corner perfectly is as you would expectsublime. The large brakes help in a huge way, you can dive really deep into a corner, turn in, and pretty much mash the throttle right away without any worry of losing traction. For under $70,000, I can honestly say there isn't a car I would rather have than this one. In short, the RS 5 is a freaking hoot! Unfortunately, there will be a short production run in North America, with only 1000 units being sold. Damn you Audi
The Sticker: Starting from $68,900
Engine: 4.2-liter DOHC Direct Injection V8
Transmission: Seven-speed S-Tronic automatic
The Power: 450hp at 8250rpm; 317 lb-ft at 4000rpm
Layout: Front engine, all-wheel-drive
Wheels & Tires: 19" alloy wheels with 265/35R19 tires
2013 Porsche 911 Carrera S
Ever since I was a youngster, the Porsche 911 has been one of my favorite cars. I fell in love with these things when I was about 9 or maybe 10; my best friend's uncle had a cherry red 993 Turbo that we used to sit in it and make racing sounds until he would come to the garage and chase us out. Well, the day finally came when I didn't have to make the sounds myself anymore, oh no. The 3.8-liter flat-six in the new 991 (not a typo, 991 is the chassis code for the newest 911 body style) not only creates a symphonic aural orgasm (aural means something you hear, get your mind out of the gutter) but with an increased output over the 997 Carrera S, the now-even 400 horsepower engine simply throws you into the back of your seat as you fly down to the first corner. I've always heard that older 911s are terrifying and unruly beasts around the bends due to their rear engine design, and I can't comment on whether that's true or not. But I can say that the newest 991 is anything but terrifying, and no one would dare call it "unruly". No, my thoughts are more along the lines of "absolutely f@#&ing fantastic." The cornering abilities of the rear-engined sports car are nothing short of perfection, and although some people say the 911 has lost it's soul, I think what they really mean is something else. The 991 911 is not without soul, it's actually just a car that is so good, that you have to be a real hot shoe to out drive the car. Some people might not like that, but the truth of the matter is the 991 is an amazing piece of engineering, and if you want to feel like Superman, there's not a lot of better cars to do it in. I really do wish I could compare the feeling of the 991 to a 997, 996 and 993, but sadly I have not driven any of those cars. So if you own one and feel like donating your ride to an unofficial Super Street road test, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org, otherwise you'll have to take my review with a grain of salt. Without any comparative context to its predecessors, I will simply say that the 991 Carrera S is an unbelievably good car. I just wish I could have driven a Turbo, maybe next year!
2013 Porsche 911 Carrera S
The Sticker: Starting from $96,400
Engine: 3.8-liter horizontally opposed DOHC 6-cylinder
Transmission: PDK 7-speed dual-clutch transmission or 7-speed manual
The Power: 400hp at 7400rpm; 325 lb-ft at 5600rpm
Layout: Rear engine, rear-wheel-drive
Wheels & Tires: 20" alloy wheels with 245/35R20 front, 295/30R20 rear tires
As a photographer by trade, I can't help but place a mental bias on a car that looks visually pleasing. So when I see a car like the Jaguar XKR-S, I am needless to say, intrigued. This car is not simply a decent-looking vehicle. This car is beautiful. The XKR-S is the best looking British sports car out there arguable only against the Aston Martin family of cars, all of which share the same general shape and look as the XKR-S. I am happy to report that the looks department is only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to describing how good this car really is. As you fire up the XKR-S the engine barks violently, a sign that this car is a far cry from the Jags of old. Powered by a 550 horsepower 5.0-liter supercharged V8, the XKR-S can go from 0-60 in 4.2 seconds, which is fast enough to make you say "damn Gina" as your braking zone approaches much quicker than you expected. Brake hard and the XKR-S rewards you with a stable feelingunlike lesser cars that sometimes twitch and sway to and fro under heavy braking, the XKR-S is an amazingly well-balanced car. As I look forward and aim for my apex, the XKR-S flies true and with purpose. Jaguar really took the time to make this car a proper Grand Touring coupe, although honestly this thing is so fast that name doesn't really sound appropriate. The XKR-S does technically have a back seat, but it's really more of a formality than a functionality thing. Make no mistake; this car is a sports car through and through. There is way more than enough power to get the tail end sticking out as I exit the corner, but when that happens it isn't a moment of horror. No, it's more like a moment of pure awesomeness and hilarity at the same time. I realize all of a sudden that I'm drifting a $132,000 car and start laughing like a 13 year-old kid watching Beavis and Butthead, a sound I can only barely make out over the thunderous roar of the blown V8. At the next corner I take it a little easier and am again rewarded by a pure racecar like feeling of excellent grip and unstoppable power. Brake, point, shoot; it's that simple with this car. I feel like a God among men, the XKR-S is so confidence-inspiring that I fearlessly attack corner after corner, each time rewarded by how unbelievably good this car really is. At this point, I'm only halfway through my first lap and already I'm in love with the car. After flogging the crap out of this amazing machine for another five and a half minutes or so, I knew I had to return to the paddock, and I was genuinely sad as I did so. The XKR-S is that good. This is my personal favorite of the day and I look forward to the next time I am lucky enough to find myself behind the driver's seat of this excellent piece of machinery. It's worth noting that the price of the XKR-S is about $35,000 higher than the 911, and almost double the price of the RS 5, but that doesn't matter because I won't be buying any of these cars anytime soon. A boy can dream can't he?
The Sticker: Starting from $132,000
Engine: 5.0-liter DOHC Supercharged V8
Transmission: Six-speed automatic w/paddle shift
The Power: 550hp at 6000rpm; 502 lb-ft at 2500rpm
Layout: Front engine, rear-wheel-drive
Wheels & Tires: 20" alloy wheels with 255/35R20 front, 295/30R20 rear tires