Lots of people will argue the definition of a proper sports car, so while I was inclined to call this piece TN’s Best Sports Car Stories of 2016 – I know that far too many people would cry foul at my including the likes of the 4-door sedans on the list, even though they are among the best-performing cars sold in the US.
This is why I went with “Best Performance Car” stories of 2016, as on this list you will find a hybrid supercar, several high performance sedans, several American muscle cars, a few smaller performance cars and even a Toyota with a Ferrari engine. These might not be the biggest performance car stories of 2016, but as we close the door on the year – these are most certainly some of the most interesting performance car topics of the 2016.
Acura – The NSX Cometh
The supercar world has been waiting for the rebirth of the Acura NSX for years, but in the summer of 2016, the new Japanese hybrid supercar officially started production in Ohio.
Audi – Dieselgate Kills a Performance Engine
Other than the fact that Audi had to minimize their racing programs, “Dieselgate” really didn’t have much impact on the American performance car market. However, due to the costs of the litigation surrounding Dieselgate, Audi was forced to pull the plug on their project of putting a new 420hp engine in their TT.
BMW – Jeremy Clarkson Loves the BMW M2
Jeremy Clarkson is easily one of the most opinionated men in the automotive media world while also being one of the most critical. When Clarkson hates a car, he is quick to explain why and it seems that he dislikes more cars than he likes. That makes his praise of the BMW M2 even that much more important.
Chevrolet – Corvette ZR1 Testing with the Hellcat
Over the past year, we have talked plenty about the long-rumored return of the Chevrolet Corvette ZR1. A few months back, someone who was quick with their camera phone caught video of a handful of what we believe to be C7 Corvette ZR1 test cars leaving a gas station with an array of other performance cars – including the 707hp Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat. (More on the next page)
Dodge – Hellcats Storm Bondurant
The Hellcat-powered Dodge Challenger and Dodge Charger are easily the most talked-about cars to hit the American performance market in the past decade, with the 707 horsepower supercharged Hemi making these cars the quickest, fastest and most powerful of their kind on the market today. Along with the Dodge Viper, the Hellcat Challenger and Charger were named the official cars of the Bondurant Racing School and Patrick Rall was fortunate enough to attend Bondurant to drive the Dodge performance cars – and the action was all caught on film.
Ford – First Hint of a GT500
The new Shelby GT350 Mustang continues to be the hottest horse in the Ford stable, but someone on the Ford IT team slipped up earlier this year, posting information on the Shelby GT500 on Ford.com. This was the first official mention of a new GT500 and while it was quickly removed – this all but guarantees that there is a new Shelby GT500 Mustang coming and it will likely look to rival the Hellcat Challenger.
Lexus - F Versus V
Lexus has made a big push in the performance car world this year, rolling out new high powered models to challenge the best in the luxury world. John Goreham had a chance to test two of those Lexus perofmance models – the GS F and the RC F – on the race track against the Cadillac ATS-V so see how Japan’s lxuo-sport models compared to a similar model from the USA.
Mazda – Miata Versus Itself, from Fiat
The new Mazda Miata MX5 has long been one of the hottest performance cars in the 2-seat market, but starting in 2016, the Fiat 124 Spider arrived to challenge the Miata with Mazda’s help. The new Fiat 124 is based on the Mazda underpinnings, but it has its own drivetrain and body – so which is better? (More on the next page)
Mitsubishi – Nissan Could Save the Evo
Mitsubishi pretty much gave up on the performance world when they killed off the Lancer Evolution beyond the 2016 model year. This year, we learned that there would be a “final edition” version of the Evo sold in a few different markets, but it looks like Nissan could help Mitsubishi by bringing back the Evo.
Nissan – Record Setting GTR
The Nissan GTR hasn’t changed a great deal over the past few years, shy of little exterior changes and the occasional increase in power, but one privately owned (and heavily modified) Nissan supercar is putting down enough power to run almost as quick as an NHRA pro stock car.
Subaru – Record Setting STI
Subaru is so heavily involved in the racing world and the performance car world with the Impreza WRX STI that it is hard to pick one story that showcases their road cars or their race cars. Once again, the Subaru rally team dominated around the world, but for those American racers who are more familiar with the drag strip – this STI’s blast down the quarter mile will be of greater interest.
Toyota – Ferrari Power in an 86
While Lexus and Scion have both offered various performance cars over the past few years, the Toyota brand has not had a sporty coupe in many moons – but that all changed in 2016, as the company killed off the Scion brand and shifted the FRS to Toyota, where it was renamed the 86. The new Toyota sports car doesn’t have a ton of horsepower, but leading up to the SEMA Show, one drift racing legend put together a Toyota 86 with the engine from a Ferrari 458.