Supercars from household names
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Engine: 545-hp twin-turbo 3.8-liter V-6
When you think about ultra-high-performance cars, you usually think of brands like Ferrari, Lamborghini or McLaren. But brands like Chevrolet and Nissan are also playing in the supercar realm, as are luxury brands like Acura and Lexus, which are not usually known for extreme sports cars.
A prime example is the Nissan GT-R which, for the 2013 model year, has a hand-built 585-horsepower twin-turbo V-6 powering all four wheels. At a recent racetrack event, the GT-R showed itself still capable of handling what might otherwise be white-knuckle cornering speeds with the ease of a jaunt to the corner store.
The GT-R's price tag pushes very close to six figures, more twice as much as Nissan's next-priciest car, the 370Z Touring Roadster. But the automaker still makes the case that it's a value proposition fitting for the brand.
"When you compare it to a [Lamborghini] Gallardo or an [Ferrari] 458, it's a bargain," said Carl Phillips who heads GT-R marketing in the U.S.
Chevrolet Corvette ZR1
Engine: Supercharged 638-hp 6.2-liter V-8
Corvette has been Chevy's performance halo-car for decades but GM upped the ante in the 2009 model year with the ZR1. Under the hood is a supercharged 6.2-liter 638 horsepower V-8 working with an improved version of the Corvette's already excellent chassis and suspension set up. It's a surprisingly nice car to drive for something so potent.
Sadly, all that excellence wrapped in some unfortunate old-school GM cheapness. The interior is barely different from the $50,000 base 'Vette. And that cool window in the hood that lets everyone see your awesome supercharger? Actually, they're seeing a painted plastic engine cover. That's just embarrassing.
An entirely new version of the Corvette is expected for the 2014 model year. A new ZR1 -- assuming there is to be another -- probably wouldn't be ready for at least a couple of years after that.