You don’t need to consult the writings of Nostradamus to know we’re nearing the end of an era. The internal combustion engine’s days are now starting to feel more numbered than ever before. While Tesla Motors fired the first salvo across the bow of the sports car fleet with the all-electric Tesla Roadster several years ago, every major auto show going into 2011 has shown yet another sports car incorporating electric propulsion. When the likes of Ferrari and Porsche start seriously exploring joules and kilowatts, it’s a safe bet the sports car as we currently know it is about to change.
With that in mind, this list of the five best new sports cars of 2010 might well come to eventually represent the zenith of internal combustion powered sports cars. As much as we love the sound of a blipped throttle, we do understand time and technology march on and we readily embrace this new paradigm. Still though, for now, gas is what we got and these five cars, (listed in alphabetical order) in our opinion were the five best new sports cars introduced for 2010.
Aston Martin V12 Vantage
Though introduced in Europe a few years ago, the V12 Vantage only became available in North America in 2010 and so qualifies for our list with an asterisk. Following a tried and true formula that has given the world such greats as the original Pontiac GTO, Dr. Ulrich Bez, CEO at Aston Martin, took the most powerful engine his company builds and shoehorned it into their smallest car. The result? You wind up with 510 horsepower and 420 pound-feet of torque propelling a car that weighs 3700 pounds. This results in four-second 60s and a 190 top. But more than this, the sumptuousness that is an integral part of the Aston Martin experience is in full effect. With the Aston V12 Vantage, you get an exceptionally beautiful car that goes like you wouldn’t believe, while coddling you with nearly unimaginable luxury and craftsmanship.
Aston Martin V12 Vantage
Ferrari 599 GTO
As to be expected of a company that started out building sports cars solely to support its racing endeavors, Ferrari has consistently produced some of the world’s most exciting examples of the genre. Indeed, for many people, when the phrase sports car is uttered, the image of a red Ferrari pops into their heads. In its entire 63-year history of building road cars, the company has applied the term Gran Turismo Omolagato (GTO) to but two other cars, each of them an outstanding performer and of course, highly collectible. This latest car to wear the GTO badge weighs 3500 pounds, makes 661 horsepower, goes 0 to 60 in three seconds, and hits a top speed in excess of 208 miles per hour. The fastest road-going Ferrari ever built (to date), the 599 GTO is Ferrari’s apotheosis.
Thanks to the longevity of the Elise, many people now tend to think of Lotus as the quirky sports car company that gives no thought to comfort or convenience. Because of this, Lotus cars have been relegated to sunny day playthings, bought only by people who already have two or three other cars. With Evora, Lotus reminded the world they are fully capable of building cars for daily use too. Indeed, Evora will be recognized in years to come as the car that signaled the latest renaissance at Lotus. The products shown by the company at the Paris Motor Show in September 2010 are clearly more closely aligned with Evora than Elise. That Evora does this while still maintaining the qualities we’ve come to love about Lotus cars, their amazing balance, outstanding handling and telepathic steering, bodes well for the next evolution in the company’s development.
Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG
When you’ve got something as iconic as the 300 SL gullwing coupes in your past, you have to be very careful when you trot something like it out again for the market to consume. You don’t want to ruin the rep of such a deified piece by building a car that kind of looks like it, but doesn’t do what it did as well as it did. With the SLS AMG, Mercedes-Benz simultaneously captured the spirit of the original, while catapulting its legacy well into the 21st century. Yes, the SLS AMG could be better looking—as it is kind of frumpy from certain angles—but the alacrity with which it goes is completely in keeping with the racing machines from which its predecessor was derived.
Porsche Boxster Spyder
For years, we’ve pondered what would happen if Porsche got really serious about developing the Boxster to its full potential. As heretical as it might sound to Porsche-ficianadoes, it’s common sense that a truly developed Boxster would be faster and handle better than a 911. (Hey, doesn’t matter who your lawyer is, you can’t beat the laws of physics. Mid-engine trumps rear-engine any day of the week.) When Porsche pared the roadster’s weight back, pumped its engine up, and got serious with its suspension system, the Spyder became concrete evidence the Boxster platform is indeed capable of all we always knew it could be.