These days, you can’t buy a bad performance car. They may display vastly
different characteristics and require either very little or a whole lot of driving ability to explore their potential, but they are all a testament to how far modern automotive tech has progressed.
There are a handful, though, that really stand out. They’re cars that have picked up our accepted parameters of what a sportscar ought to do … and advanced them a few paces. I’m not necessarily talking about speed; after all, you can go only so fast before the laws of physics, not to mention public safety, intervene. I’m referring to acceleration, handling and a tough-to-define quality that makes you immediately aware you are driving something rather special. Recent models such as the Toyota 86, Audi RS6 Avant, Mercedes-AMG GT S and Alfa Romeo Giulia QV spring to mind. They’re all cars, irrespective of their pace, that succeeded in eliciting a huge grin from my face within the first few kilometres behind the wheel. For this issue, I was lucky enough to drive three more – the Porsche Panamera Turbo, Volkswagen Golf GTI Clubsport S and Mercedes-AMG C43 Coupé – and here’s why they made me smile.
For a luxury car of its size, the Panamera is staggeringly quick – 0-100 km/h in 3,4 seconds quick – and agile through corners, all the while cosseting its occupants in executive comforts. This time round, it even looks good. And the C43 … what a surprise that was. Expecting something of a watered-down C63, I found this twin-turbo anything but. Lighter and more nimble than its sibling and possessed of a real gem of an engine, it’s one of the best pound for-pound sports cars in our market. As a road car, it’s better than the C63. Last but certainly not least, the Clubsport S.
Yes, it’s a stripped-out, track-focused machine that set a record CAR lap time at Killarney for hatchbacks (see page 187), but the VW retains the GTI’s duality of offering a supple and comfortable ride along with blistering pace. Definitely one of those “I reeeeally love my job” months, then.