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Since the inception of CAR’s Top 12 Best Buys awards programme, Porsche’s 911 and Boxster have dominated the sports/performance car category. One of the principal reasons for this was that CAR’s editors were rarely exposed to other supercars as a group, but 2013 marked a watershed in that we got to evaluate such exotics as the McLaren 12C Spider, Aston Martin Vanquish Volante and Lamborghini Gallardo LP550-2. Moreover, for the June 2013, the majority of the CAR team evaluated a trio of Ferraris, which included the visceral 458 Spider. It’s a supercar that surpasses the hype that surrounds it; with virtually telepathic responses from its steering and throttle inputs, the Spider’s dual-clutch transmission whips through its ratios as its naturally aspirated V8 motor revs with alacrity. Apart from a melodious soundtrack that adds to the supreme sense of occasion when piloting an open-topped Prancing Horse, the 458 Spider has a pliant ride quality and, for all its wide-eyed reactivity, the Ferrari never feels fidgety or on edge. Four million rand is a fortune in almost everyone’s book, but this car feels, comparatively speaking, worth every cent.
BEST EVERYDAY SPORTSCAR:
Porsche Boxter S
The relegation of the Boxster S from overall winner in this category does not detract from the fact that we believe the Zuffenhausen-made roadster is South Africa’s best sportscar on a rand-for-rand basis. And what puts it ahead of its highly desirable Cayman sibling, at least by our estimation, is that it offers the dual roles of wind-in-hair ragtop or focused compact sportscar depending on its roof configuration. Some thought the Jaguar F-Type would challenge the Boxster S, but based on the V8-engined S model, the only one we’ve tested, we disagree.
BEST SUPER SEDAN:
Mercedes-Benz E63 AMG S
To emerge victorious from CAR’s Performance Shootout speaks volumes of the E63 AMG S, especially given the calibre of its competition: supreme machines such the BMW M6 Gran Coupé, Audi RS7 and Jaguar XFR-S. Even though the AMG did not set the fastest zero-to-100 km/h or lap times at the event, we were impressed with the super sedan’s ability to perform the roles of gentle cruiser and four-wheeled projectile with equal aplomb. Whenever that monumental in-gear shove of the 430 kW/800 N.m 5,5-litre twin-turbocharged V8 was required, the Benz delivered with gusto.
LOOK OUT FOR
This year is going to realise a bumper crop for sportscar aficionados. Launching are the Alfa Romeo 4C, BMW M3 and M4, Hyundai Veloster Turbo, Jaguar F-Type Coupé, Kia Koup, Lamborghini Huracan, as well as Porsche 911 GT3 and Targa.
Check out all the winners from our Top 12 Best Buys for 2014 here (click).