Supercar. Just the word conjures up visions of outlandish styling, cutting edge technology, hyper speed and a price beyond the means of mere mortals.
So where is this rare breed heading? Today's supercar is certainly fast off the line, with a top speed more suitable for a runway, with handling and brakes to match. It is pure eye candy inside and out. The exclusive clientele for these has become more demanding.
More demanding how you ask? What could be better than a classic Esprit, Testarossa or Diablo? Well for starters, your pet exotic could actually start on a regular basis. It seems that casually mentioning your Bugatti is in the shop again is wearing thin.
As for the gas guzzling engines, they are still out there (I'm looking at you Aston Martin), but the demand for fuel efficiency has now entered a new realm. Certainly, anyone who can afford these cars can afford to put Chevron's annual gas output in them and maintain a factory crew and two spares on standby - but do they really want to?
Apparently the answer is no when there is a choice.
The game has changed drastically, and may never go back. Sure there are still unreliable toys out there, but their days are numbered.
Examples? The Lotus Elise, while priced little more than a base Corvette, uses a Toyota sourced engine to return great mileage and modest maintenance costs in one of the best handling cars in the world, and certainly a head turner.
With the Gallardo, Lamborghini makes use of Audi engineering to turn one of the most notoriously exasperating makes to own into an everyday driver - if you're Danica Patrick that is.
When a consumer magazine highlights reliability as a reason for buying a Porsche 911, you know things have changed.
But there are bigger changes than reliability - it seems the exotic car customer has caught the green bug. Sort of.
Outside of the Tesla, an electric that started life as the aforementioned Lotus Elise,
most exotic car makers and their customers want 200mph + bragging rights, not low carbon footprint claims. Still, the trend is catching on. Sort of.
Another change is the de rigueur dual clutch paddle shifters in cars that once would not have been caught dead without that third pedal. Before you shout 'posers', keep in mind that this technology comes directly from Formula 1 racing.
The point is that time moves on and many exotics can not even be purchased with a standard. In cars like the Bugatti Veyron, one understands that human beings cannot manually shift fast enough to keep up with the titanic acceleration of this car.
And speaking of time moving on, the exotic elite have another huge problem on their hands. The technology and performance you once needed six or seven figures and a two year waiting list to get is now at your local family car dealer for a pittance.
When a Ford Taurus SHO boasts 365 horsepower, a heads up display, and adaptive cruise control, you better have more up your sleeve than just a leather upgrade.
And they do. If you want an achingly beautiful car, with an interior that looks like James Bond met Chuck Yeager, you still need to check out a Spyker, gleaming toggle switches, tufted leather and a shape that takes no prisoners. Exotic cars are no compromise, in your face fantasies come to life no group think here.
Look at the center console dial in a Koenigsegg and tell me you have seen that before. Didn't think so. Watch the control mechanism rise up out of the console when you turn the ignition in the Jaguar XF. Or the rear spoiler and suspension automatically raise and lower in the Veyron.
Much carbon-fiber, Kevlar or aluminum used in your car? No? Pity. Purpose-built cars will always have a place, as will extremes of design and engineering.
The supercar of the future will still be exotic, only it may be gasp!- somewhat more practical, more reliable, more green, easier to maintain, and able to carry more than two small passengers, like the new Lotus Evora, or Porsche Panamera. It may be powered by something other than petrol, and it will be much more user friendly.
Sigh. Make mine an Audi R8, and hold the e-gear.