“Overindulgence is life. The rest is just details.”
We’re paraphrasing here, but you remember those t-shirts that were all the rage in the 1990s. They made everyone into an enthusiast of some kind, at least for a few seconds.
Here at The Car Connection, we’re car enthusiasts, even as we watch the march toward vehicles that won’t require any driver intervention. And we know a great performance car when we buckle into one.
These eight cars are the most ready and willing to shred some rubber in the pursuit of happiness.
Our team of experts has driven hundreds of new cars over the last year and we’ve boiled it down to eight that rank at the top of our performance metric. We can’t paint “performance” with a single brush, either: some excel at handling, some are goofy-fast in a straight line, some just draw it all together in a sweetly tuned package.
Read along to find out our top eight performers of 2018.
The 2018 Nissan GT-R isn’t nicknamed “Godzilla” because it’s a cute and cuddly teddy bear. The GT-R is savage, but it’s not as brutal as it once was. This year, it’s even a little more attainable thanks to a new GT-R Pure trim level that pushes the price of entry to $100,000.
For enthusiasts, driving a 565-hrosepower GT-R is a bucket-list item. Its drama-free demeanor is best experienced at triple-digit speeds on a winding road course, where it hugs the pavement in a way unmatched by few cars short of a Formula 1 racer.
The Cadillac CTS-V combines all the right ingredients: 640-hp supercharged Z06 Corvette muscle, Recaro sport seats, crisply toned Cadillac styling, and a Nuerburgring-tuned chassis. The CTS-V scorches the earth, and leaves the E63 and RS7 with some burn marks. If you’re willing (and find yourself in a spot where it’s legal to do so), the CTS-V will keep on pulling to 200 mph, at which speed it’s rock-solid, taut, and tuned. It’s a sedan that put the Germans on notice in its first iteration and now bests them at their own game.
The 2018 Chevrolet Corvette delivers unmatched performance for the dollar and the features to go with it. There’s no mild here, although a base Corvette is a remarkably comfortable and effective mile-eater, while the Z06 is a track-tamer of the highest order. The Corvette’s looks are arresting, but perhaps too aggressive for some tastes, with lots of scoops and ducts. If subtle is your thing, go for the Cadillac above.
The 2018 Porsche 911 is a superlative sports car that has defied the test of time. It’s a classic, but it performs better than nearly any newcomer to its arena. There’s a 911 for just about every want and every need, as long as you have the better part of six figures to bring to the table. This year’s new 911 GT3 gives us even more reasons to spend hours on Porsche’s online configurator selecting just the right 911 for our (virtual) garages.
The 2018 Acura NSX is a hybrid in more ways than one. At first glance, it’s an engineering tour de force that blends gasoline-electric components components with a turbocharged V-6 to create a track-ready supercar that accelerates sensationally quickly. Yet at its core it’s made by the same company that churns out the excellent (for many different reasons) Civic, so it’s just as suitable a daily driver as it is a supercar. As long as you’re only carrying one other passenger and not much luggage, at least. Ah, concessions.
The 2018 Audi R8 is a spectacular performance car with a phenomenal pedigree. Its fantastic V-10 engine supplies power to all four corners via a 7-speed dual-clutch transmission. Perfect? No. The R8—available as a coupe in V10 and V10 Plus configurations and as a V10 Spyder is hard to see out of even by sports car standards, and its massive degree of technology comes with a price tag as much as a nice home in many places. But it’s the ultimate indulgence in Audi’s lineup.
Mercedes-Benz’s AMG division sets its three-pointed sights on the world’s serious sports cars, supercars, and even racing cars with its 2018 AMG GT range of sports cars. From the touring-oriented GT to the track track-ready GT R, the AMG GT deliver the highest level of performance imaginable while retaining the rock-solid solidity of expected of a Mercedes. They’re a reminder that stodgy ol’ Mercedes has a very fun side indeed.
Here’s the ultimate overindulgence. The Bentley Bentayga takes what you think you know about physics, comfort, and speed, and quickly sets a new high-water mark for each. It’s not all that pretty to behold, but the Bentayga absolutely excels at conquering everything the world can throw at it. This chunky SUV is the fastest of its kind thanks to its screaming W-12 engine, but it out-handles many bona fide sports cars when the road turns curvy. Oh, and it’ll plug along on a muddy road as well. That’s a performance point on its own. It’s like eating an entire German chocolate cake. Good idea? At the time, yes.