Cadillac CTS-V Sport Wagon – This guy makes the list not because it’s so scary to drive (though any V-badged Caddy can raise questions of mortality, to be sure), but because there’s such ample space to scare the spit out of your cozily ensconced back-seat passengers. And the dog in his crate in the cargo area. And the people glaring at you, way back there at the stoplight. And the cop that has to tell you three times to stop grinning. You get the idea.
Bugatti Veyron 16.4 Super Sport – The king-of-the-pile Bug will do everything it can to keep you from killing yourself. It really will. But, despite NASA levels of tech, tires as wide as a country lane, and all-wheel grip, 1200 horsepower is a lot.
Suzuki Kizashi Turbo by Road Race Motorsports – This is old-school turbo fun, with a rawness of power delivery that we haven’t felt since driving 1980’s era cars. Honestly, RRM should sell this tuning package with large “TURBO” decals to adorn the doors. Huge boost is available when you ask for it, and it’s delivered in the sort of on/off switch fashion that can get you into some trouble mid-corner. Our clothes smelled of front-tire smoke for days after we handed back the keys.
Lotus Evora S – The supercharged Evora is just a scalpel-like as the rest of the Lotus clan. But, also like its stable mates, it really lacks the sort of intrusive electronic aids that are easy to take for granted when driving fast. Turn off the computer-controlled safety aids, and it’s just you, four contact patches, and 345 horsepower slung snugly behind your ears. Get it right.
Jaguar XKR-S – You’re going to find a lot of “velvet hammer” kinds of cars on this list, and the top-trim XK may be the poster child for them all. In its sleek, sexy wrapper, you might not guess at the danger that lurks beneath the hood of this über Jag (if you somehow missed the wild body kit and cocky rear wing), but it is there for the asking. Throttle down in the XKR-S and you’ll have no doubt of the racing pretensions here—keep a firm couple of hands on the steering wheel, pay close attention to the tenuous grip those big rear tires have on the tarmac, and let the dogs (er, cats?) out.
Mercedes-Benz CL63 AMG – Like Jag’s XKR-S the CL63 AMG is a highly tuned version of a car that’s already pretty fast to begin with. Let AMG loose on the CL (which is, don’t forget, essentially and S-Class coupe), and you’re bound to get enough wheel-shredding torque to get a bit clammy handed. That the CL63 is slightly less predictable than its lesser-engined brothers is what makes it a touch frightening, especially when we’re bold enough to turn the traction nannies off.
Nissan GT-R – Yes, yes, the GT-R has got phenomenal AWD grip, and covers ground in the real world like nobody’s business—we’ve heard it all before. What people tend to talk about less is that it’s surprisingly easy, with so much power on hand, to overwhelm the car’s underpinnings if you start to drive in any kind of aggressive fashion. There’s a really snappy chassis here, it’s just that you need to be ballsy, stupid, or unaware to really find that out. (We’ll let you guess at which one of those applied to us.)
BMW 1-Series M Coupe – With a ride that’s supremely balanced, even for track-fast driving, and stiff-in-the corners handling overall, the M Coupe begins to feel like a bit of a doddle, even compared with the 135i. The truth is though, a really short wheelbase and rear wheel drive, combined with extra M power, make for a snappy car that does occasionally threaten to bite you when you are paying only partial attention.
Shelby GT350 Convertible 624HP – The acceleration is brutal. The cornering force is brutal. The ride is pretty brutal. Hell, even shifting the thing requires a focused effort, unless you’re clipping along at track speeds. Forget about the huge horsepower figure for a second; this Shelby is simply so visceral, and so ridiculously quick, you’d have to be crazy not to be scared of it. Will that fear keep you out of the driver’s seat? Probably not.
Rossion Q1 – A little bit like combining the ability and balance of the Evora S, adding in the crazy character of the Kizashi Turbo, and then sending it to race school. A stunningly fast, turbocharged speedball of mechanical feel, and out of control boost. Too few people, good, car-loving people, don’t know about the Q1. The Rossion can, and will, make every highway ramp an adventure in face-melting thrust, and every track day a record-lap attempt. Bring a change of pants though.