Track-edition cars are talented and tough enough to handle a day of hot laps, and yet mild enough for an easy cruise home. 2018 has seen an incredible spike in these rare dual-purpose sports cars. Here are ten that nail the formula.
The good news is that not all break the bank. So whether your name is Buffet, Gates, Bezos, or McDuck, these track rides are for you — the best track machines on the planet.
1. Ferrari 458 Speciale
Few cars are as rewarding to drive, devastatingly quick, and downright gorgeous as Ferrari’s 458 Italia. And sure, the Ferrari 488 ripped onto the racing scene in a big way. But this is Ferrari, and the $300,000 Speciale packs more technology than any track-edition car the company has ever produced. This 458 shed about 200 pounds, so it’s even more agile than the stock Ferrari 458 Italia. And Ferrari has specified a firmer suspension for the Speciale along with new electronics that can alter the car’s track attitude through its electronic rear differential and a new Side Slip Control (SSP). The SSP can analyze your driving style and make near instantaneous adjustments to keep the car on point.
Active aerodynamics? Check. And there’s more heat under that rear hatch—597 hp, to be exact. More importantly, the Speciale produces that thrust way up at 9000 rpm (!) with a soundtrack that is likely better than any production car available today. Sixty mph is less than 3 seconds away, and this car is quicker around Ferrari’s own test track than the Enzo.
2. Ariel Atom
The Mazda Miata weighs 2,200 pounds and has 155 horsepower. That is enough for it to be considered a quick lightweight sports car. Now, imagine a car that weighs 900 pounds less and has twice the power.
This is a car that revs out to 7,800 RPM with VTEC (yo) and turbos. Turbos that push power to a ridiculous 360 in a car that weighs just 1,300 pounds.
It is ludicrous. Even a light breath on the throttle produces acceleration that should only exist in another dimension. The Atom is easily the quickest car we’ve ever been in. There is no turbo-lag, there is pull in every part of the rev range. Stand on the throttle at low revs in fourth, and the laws of physics are broken to push you forward.
3. Chevy Corvette Z06
The Corvette Z06 has been a performance icon since the first one rolled onto the roads and racetracks across the country back in 2001. The first two generations of Z06 were impressive, but the 2015 model was one of the quickest and most well rounded. It’s a supercharged track beast capable of matching the old ZR1’s moves out of the gate, thanks to 650 horsepower and 650 lb-ft of torque—Chevy says it’s quicker around the company’s Milford Road Course. With its track-focused version of the new C7 Corvette chassis, the Z06 is one of the best handling Corvettes, too.
4. Porsche 911 GT3
There is no denying that our favorite track day car at SPEEDVEGAS is one for the more wealthy track day drivers, but the stunningly engineered Porsche 911 GT3 is worth every penny. The combination of accurate handling, interactive controls and a PDK gearbox makes it a delight.
Since its launch in 1999, the Porsche 911 GT3 has been the benchmark against which every other track-focused car has been rated. There are more powerful, more expensive 911s, but the GT3 represents the sports car at its purest and most intense. In fact, all four generations of GT3 arguably rank alongside 1973’s legendary 2.7 RS in the annals of greatest 911s.
It’s worth pointing out that while the 911 might not turn in the top track speeds at SPEEDVEGAS, it’s clearly the serious fan’s favorite pick. You’ll get beat out by Italian muscle on the straight, but more than make up for it in the turns.
5. Lamborghini Huracan Performante
At nearly twice the price of the Porsche 911 GT3 you would expect the Huracan Performante to offer an incredible driving experience, and on many levels it does. There are four key areas in which the Performante has been developed to improve upon the standard Huracan: lightweight materials, the V10 engine, chassis and finally aerodynamics. This means the Performante is 40kg lighter, 29bhp more powerful and 10 per cent stiffer than the standard car, helping deliver a ferociously fast and surprisingly physical driving experience. The highlight of the Huracan is still the naturally aspirated V10, which provides 70% of its 600Nm from just 1,000rpm and keeps on pulling past 8,000rpm. The noise it makes is incredible, sounding similar to the Huracan GT3 racer.
With a top speed of 268 mph recorded at Volkswagen’s test track, the Veyron Super Sport was once recognized as the world’s second fastest production car by the Guinness Book of World Records.
6. McLaren 570S Track Pack
McLaren says it’s for owners “who enjoy occasional trackday activity without compromising the car’s all-round usability”. We think that’s pretty accurate. To drive, this is one of our favorite cars in what we should probably call the entry-level supercar class. The Audi R8’s V10 engine is transcendental, the Porsche 911 Turbo is the all-weather, all-purpose master. But the 570S, even though it’s turbocharged, is the best handling, most involving car to drive. The Track Pack simply adds a bit of polish and sharpness to what was already a stunning motor.
7. Porsche Cayman GTS
The greatest pleasure to be found in Porsche’s Cayman GTS exists between the edge of grip and the edge of control. It’s a place of pure joy thanks to the sweetest stability-control system in existence—one that lets you look over the edge without actually jumping, but which also never punishes you for doing so. These are machines we’ve appreciated for years now, approving enough of Porsche’s least costly sports car in either its roadster or coupe forms (or both) to award them a spot on our list of top track cars.
8. Honda Civic Type R
The Type R has taken the States by storm, with its amazing mix of performance and poise earning it a spot on our list. The lone powertrain is a turbo 2.0-liter inline-four that funnels 306 hp to the front wheels via a six-speed manual gearbox. A front-strut suspension—Honda calls it Dual Axis—eliminates the torque steer normally associated with high-powered front-drive vehicles. Navigation, Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, and a 540-watt 12-speaker stereo are all standard.
9. BMW M4 CS
The BMW M4 CS might just be the best choice for you if you’re looking to get the fastest M4 available at this very moment. The CS version is just one step behind the M4 GTS in terms of performance. However, one does have to wonder just how good it has to be to rise up to the price tag it’s asking for. The grip is where they have improved the CS. You can drive this all day long – on the road and on the track.
10. Chevrolet Camaro ZL1
Track tuned and ready to rumble, the ZL1 is king of the muscle cars for 2018. Both the coupe and the convertible house a ferocious 650-hp supercharged 6.2-liter V-8 donated by the Corvette Z06. Power is sent to the rear through either a six-speed manual or a 10-speed automatic and an electronic limited-slip differential, then scorches the pavement via ultra-wide rear tires. An 8.0-inch infotainment display is standard; a performance data recorder is optional.