European Sports Car: The Best In High Performance

Published: 09th November 2011
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Among sports car aficionados, there is a constant debate concerning the region that makes the best sports car. In sum, it is an argument about what sort of high performance vehicle one is looking for, and what compromises one is willing to make. American sports cars focus primarily on raw power and straight-line speed. Massive and heavy with huge engines, they are excellent for drag racing, but prove very difficult to handle in corners. Japanese sports cars are just the opposite, as they offer amazing grip and cornering but tend to be lacking at high speeds due to the low horsepower of their engines. Therefore, speed enthusiasts prefer American cars while drifters and stunt drivers choose Japanese models.

However, European models, especially Italian cars like those made by Lamborghini and Bugatti, are known for not making compromises. They are consequently very expensive, but the thing is, the european car is just a lot more competitive than it is in America or Japan. With an abundance of private raceways in England and Germany, there is more incentive for people to purchase sports cars, and since there are more companies producing them, the competition is fiercer. Therefore it is generally believed that European sports cars are "best" because they produce an excellent amount of power without compromising on the handling.

An excellent example of this is the iconic Porsche 911. Intended to compete with expensive Italian and British models, it has remained relatively unchanged in appearance, although its engine, transmission and traction control systems have all received extensive updates as new technology became available. It remains an affordable and decidedly speedy sports car, costing about as much or even less than contemporary American and Japanese models. Despite the location of the engine in the back, it is excellent at cornering, and offers acceleration and grip that allows it to compete with many mid-engined vehicles.

European sports cars are also praised for their advanced styling and interiors, something which American and Japanese manufacturers have failed to match, even when imitating their high performance vehicle. The Lamborghini Miura is still considered to be one of the most beautiful cars ever made, a full fifty years after it went on the market. Lamborghini and Ferrari continue to be recognized for producing beautiful cars which also perform, and Ferrari in particular has succeeded in producing the world's most powerful high-end supercars. The latest Ferrari, named "Enzo" after the company founder, has been repeatedly cited as one of the most incredible supercars on the market today, second only to the multi-million dollar Bugatti Veyron.

One last advantage that European sports cars have over their competitors is racing pedigree. While Ford, GM, Toyota and Mitsubishi have all produced superb racing vehicles, they were generally late to the class, and in many cases restricted themselves to nationally or regionally specific racing such as NASCAR. A European sports car, meanwhile, invented the modern definition of auto racing, and have set the standard in terms of Formula One and Grand Touring races. Even American and Japanese models intended to compete within these formats tend to emulate European styling and handling choices rather than sticking to indigenous designs. This gives European sports cars a leg-up when improvements in technology are developed in racing and then applied in production cars. Porsche, BMW and Ferrari have been the best at this, as they constantly jockey for the #1 title in Formula 1 and various rallying classes by giving their drivers newer and better cars and safety features. Modern traction control, for example, was first developed for racing vehicles, as was the direct-shift gearbox or the side-impact airbag.


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