The Top Ten Most Exciting Performance Cars of 2011

Rossin Bertin Vorax Coupe

While 2010 will rightfully go down as one of the most important years for the automobile, we think 2011 will be one of the most important for the performance car. Here are our picks for the most important supercars of the year. If you have other hot selections, please feel free to drop them in the comments. 

2012 Ferrari FF

Ferrari Four

Okay, okay, we know this thing isn’t likely to see the light of day until next year sometime, but we couldn’t resist. The concept dropped in 2011, therefore it goes on the list. What we love about this car is its distincness as a fully-identifiable product, yet it uses technology derived from competitors to wonderful effect. That, and we have always had a serious weakness for shooting brakes. The Ferrari FF is supposed to be the replacement for the impressive-but-aged Ferrari 612 Scaglietti.

The new car has an all-new V12 good for 651 horses, and sporting the company’s HELE stop-start system, for those who need to feel just a little environmental. Speaking of mental, the four-by-four Ferrari will hit 60 in 3.7 seconds on its way to a Scaglietti-besting 208 mph. Even with four seats and another differential, Ferrari says this car is 110 pounds lighter than the Scaglietti.

James Glickenhaus’ 2011 Ferrari P4/5 Competizione

2011 Ferrari P45 Competizione

James Glickenhaus is truly the car guy’s car guy. For every bench racing-inspired idea that we all have in our down time at the office, Glickenhaus has a custom ride. When his street-driven version of the P4/5 dropped, the automotive world lost its collective breath. Never one to let the hype die, just as everyone had moved on, he announced the P4/5 Competizione, which will be ready for this year’s Nuburgring 24 Hour race. Based on the Ferrari F430 Scuderia, this car is sure to go down in history just like Glickenhaus’s last effort did.

2012 Mercedes-Benz CLS63 AMG

2012 Mercedes-Benz CLS63 AMG

We hate to use the term “instant classic,” but this is one car that probably deserves the moniker. First, it’s the new generation of a line of Benzes that turned the automotive world on its ear when they were released. It also represents AMG’s new direction, which basically means AMG’s attempts to look more like an independent car company. It holds a wealth of new AMG technology, from an all-new AMG-specific front suspension to an engine that retards ignition timing on cylinders four and seven, which AMG says lessens unpleasant vibrations.

Then there’s the performance package, which kicks power from 518 hp to 550 hp, resulting in a 4.3 second 0-60 sprint. We think we can get along with the new era of AMG quite nicely.

2012 BMW M5 (F10)

2012 BMW M5

The upcoming promises, as it should, to be the pinnacle of the badge thus far. Where the last version of the car, a true barn stormer in its own right, relied on the brute force of a naturally-aspirated V10, the new car will get its grunt from a 4.4 liter twin-turbo V8. Power will be somewhere in the neighborhood of 570 hp, or Ferrari 458 Italia country. Add to that a seven-speed sequential gearbox and mountains of electronic wizardry from the M department, and you have the most formidable M5 to date.

Numbers aren’t the new car’s only strong point though. This car is supposed to take the M5 back to be more in line with the soulful drivers’ car orientations of the older generations. We like this.

[Image Source: Carscoop]

2012 Noble M600

2012 Noble M600

What weighs 2,600 pounds, packs 650 horses and makes the Bugatti Veyron look like the flabby techno-rocket it is? That’s right, the 2012 Noble M600. Like all Nobles before it, the M600 operates on a “lighter is better” philosophy, which means, among other things, carbon fiber body work. All this lunacy translates into a sub-3-second 0-60 run, and a 225 mph top end.Oh yeah, and it has a “missile switch” to turn off the traction control. Color us sold.

If we’re ever lucky enough to see them here, we can assure you no mere mortal will be able to afford one. Still, what a treat for those lucky few who can.

2011 Lamborghini LP 550-2

2012 Lamborghini Gallardo Bicolore

Lamborghini is calling this car the 2011 Lamborghini LP 560-4 Bicolore overseas, but the one we get is at least as sweet. As the name implies, ours only gets 550 ponies, but will be blessed with a Balboni-channeling RWD-only set up.

For other markets, the Bicolore basically represents an LP 560-4 with a special interior and exterior treatment. Here, though, it means a car much more stripped-down and to the point than we would have expected from Lamborghini. Getting back to the super car’s two-wheel-drive roots puts this beast solidly in the middle of our list.

2012 Aston Martin Vantage S

2012 Aston Martin Vantage S

What list of high-performance cars would be complete without an Aston? With the English company in full-stride these days, it’s only fair that their latest offering make our list. For 2012, they’re taking the Vantage line to another level, this time with a higher-performance version, the V8 Vantage S.

While it only gets a 15 horsepower bump over the standard car, it gets an all-new seven-speed close ratio trans called the Sportshift II. Aston touts this as the car’s centerpiece, adding that it helps the engine stay within its optimal torque range a much larger per cent of the time. You’ll also get sexier 19-inch wheels, a front splitter, a spoiler and dynamic stability control system.

2011 Pagani Huayra

2012 Pagani Huayra

The latest monster from Horatio Pagani promises to build even more awesome, awesome lunacy on top of the Zonda’s plenty crazy legacy. Sporting an enormous V12 from AMG, the Huayra is everything its predecessor was, only distilled into something altogether fitting both as a tribute and an evolution.

The new car will put out a junior high school notebook-worthy 730 hp, hit 60 in 3.3 seconds, be able to hit 230 mph and pull 1.5 g on the skidpad. Those numbers go a long way to solidifying Pagani’s image as the premier bespoke hyper car manufacturer. Couple that with an environmental record on par with the Exxon Valdez’s, and interior appointments as lavish as Tony Montana’s crib, and you have a car company right at the top of its game.

2012 Ford Focus ST

2012 Ford Focus ST

Don’t bother re-reading that heading, we’re dead serious. Among the super car elite, we thought it would be nice to have something the common man can afford, and this is truly it. Added to that, it’s practical as all get out, reliable and won’t kill you at the gas pumps or when it does need a repair.

There’s a multitude of reasons this car reaches number 2. For one, we have been awaiting its arrival since the first ones stormed their way onto the European market nearly a decade ago. Now, after years and years of pleading, the magic moment is upon us. When the car lands late this year, it will land with a 250 hp version of Ford’s marvelous EcoBoost four pot and, wonder of wonders, an honest-to-god three-pedal six speed stick shift. To say we want one would be a grievous understatement.

2012 Porsche 918 Spyder

2012 Porsche 918 Spyder

The 2012 Porsche 918 Spyder has been ok’d for production as a successor to the Carrera GT. This car tops our list because it makes an attempt to apply environmentally-conscious technology to the super car segment. That’s admirable, given the dire condition of our atmosphere and the need to shift out focus away from fossil fuels. And, while there’s certainly nothing friendly about the 918’s 500-horsepower V8, the ability to hit 60 in 3.2 seconds and achieve 78 mpg is as affable and outgoing as a new puppy.

The 918 achieves this feat with an electric motor for each axle to augment the V8. The 918 Spyder can operate strictly on electricty (for 16 miles), before being switched to any one of four hybrid drive mode. The standard mode is like your run-of-the-mill hybrid. Sport Hybrid uses both drive systems to send the majority of power to the rear wheels and make the drive a little more fun. The last mode, Race Hybrid, will have you zipping around the Nurburgring in less that 7:30, granted you have the talent.

So, Porsche 918 Spyder, you are officially the number one performance car for 2011. Welcome to the top of the heap.

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