How To Spend It: Luxury Sports Cars


How To Spend It: Luxury Sports Cars

Cash burning a whole in your pocket? Here are five luxury sports cars to ease your pain.

Published on 25 October 2017

Every once in a while you want to spend that hard-earned dollar on something fun. In this series, we’re going to show you how to spend it. First off, we take a look at some of Singapore’s latest and greatest luxury sports cars. From Germany to Italy and Japan, we test our top picks of the very best cars available on the market today. Each offers a different experience, epitomising the various aspects of what can be purchased if you have six figures to drop on a new car.

*All prices include current COE

Maserati GranTurismo S – The Macho Italian

The legendary Maserati GranTurismo has been breaking sound barriers since 2007.  In S guise like the one we drove, this baby daddy features a Ferrari derived 4.7 litre 460-hp V8. No turbocharging going on under this bonnet. Just pure, naturally aspirated, brute force. Now it may not be the fastest four-seater Italian coupe money can buy, but it is one of the most beautiful. Unmistakably a Maserati, it looks, feels, and sounds Italian.

What most impressed was the ride quality and handling though. For a sports tuned coupe, the ride was supple and could be adjusted via a switch. I had a tendency to keep it in sports mode, which amplified everything from the throttle response to the stiffness of the suspension, and most importantly the loudness of that exhaust note, which is intoxicating – to say the least. If you can keep the wheelspin to a minimum, that symphony from the exhaust can be matched to a 0 – 100 kmh run in just under 5 seconds.

When getting into the GranTurismo S, you’ll notice two things: One, the cabin looks a bit “old school” compared to its other newer stablemates and two, there is easily enough room for four adults inside. That is a lot more than I can say for many other two door, four-seaters. And to be honest, I don’t need so much tech on this car. Most of the time I’m going to use my phone for GPS navigation and Spotify to listen to music. What I want is an unforgettable driving experience, and this car delivers it in spades.

Interestingly, the large size of the coupe’s exterior and interior cabin doesn’t extend to the boot. What looks like a very large space from the outside, is actually not as big as you’d think. A quick trip to IKEA to test out the boot space proved I had bought more than I could actually fit. Fortunately, it isn’t a two-seater and the rear seats offered enough extra room to fit everything.

The GranTurismo S may be nearing the end of its life in its current form, however it still makes an appearance our list. This beautifully intoxicating machine is like no other vehicle on the road today. It’s our only naturally aspirated sports car, I challenge you to find any others and I wouldn’t be surprised if this is the last naturally aspirated sports car we receive from the brand, as their Ferrari sourced engines are all becoming turbocharged. So if pure unadulterated driving wrapped up in a beautifully muscular exterior is what you’re after, then the GranTurismo S is the car for you.

Prices start from S$597,909 (US$439,057)

Audi A5 Cabriolet 2.0 TFSI – The Tech Tour de Force

The latest A5 is a tech tour de force from the German manufacturer. The only drop top on our list, the A5 is gorgeous and although keeping traditional design highlights stretching back to the first Audi Cabriolet, its style blends futuristic accents with an elegance few can match.

We drove the base 2.0 TFSI version, which boasts a turbocharged 190 hp engine that sends power through front-wheel drive powered using a seven-speed dual clutch transmission or S tronic as Audi calls it. The least powerful car on our list, the Audi never felt lacking of power and hits 100 kmh from a standstill in 7.9 seconds. The turbos and transmission combine to minimise lag and provide a sporty yet comfortable driving experience. Although those looking for a more engaging experience may want to wait for the future RS model with its crazy horsepower and Quattro all-wheel drive.

When you approach the vehicle, you’ll notice the sleek LED lights both front and rear. There is no mistaking that this car means business. At the push of a button on the key fob, the top can be raised or lowered. A fun feature to show people, although I only used it once. Most drivers will undoubtedly open and close the hood from inside the car, which can be operated at speeds of up to 50 kmh. Great for that unexpected rain shower when you’re driving along on the motorway. Opening takes a mere 15 seconds, while closing takes just 18 seconds.

Although narrower than the previous A5, the interior is surprisingly spacious. Even in the rear, there is plenty of room for two adults. The cabin is up to Audi’s usual high standards with leather and wood covering most surfaces and the quality of items like fobs and touch-sensitive buttons is incredible. However, the standout feature is the Audi virtual cockpit. It takes a little getting used to, however, once you do, you’ll love it. The 12.3-inch TFT display shows everything from GPS navigation to vehicle information and the entertainment systems, among other things, and it can be arranged in a couple of different layouts. It’s extremely user intuitive and I found myself using it a lot more than the 8.3-inch TFT display in the middle console. With so many computers and screens you’ll feel like you’re not in a car anymore, but some type of spacecraft from the future. Other technological features in the cabin include a Wi-Fi hotspot, DVD drive, 10 GB of flash memory, plenty of USB ports, voice recognition, and microphones built into the driver’s seatbelt.

Driving the A5 is how you’d expect it to be. Push the starter button and the engine comes to life with minimal fuss. Select a gear and you’re off. Body roll is composed and although front wheel drive, it handles well and embodies a perfect convertible for a daily drive. For most users, if equipped with the right technology options there is nothing else you’d really need as your two-door drop-top.

Audi succeeded in devising a truly a pleasant cabin to spend time in. Everything is functional, road and wind noise are minimal, and I particularly love the fact that there’s one button for opening and closing all of the windows. If only more car brands thought like this.

Prices start from S$245,621 (US$180,364).

Lexus RC Turbo – The Samurai

When you think of Japanese luxury cars, for most people in the world that means Lexus. Their latest RC Turbo signifies the style and quality the brand is known for. Taking a more aggressive stance than its four-door family members, this two-door opens up the brand further to a younger demographic.

The RC Turbo features a 2.0-litre, 241-hp engine injecting enough power through the rear wheels to get you to 100 kmh in 7.5 seconds. Push the starter button and the engine spools to life. It has this unique ability to be quiet when you want, however, put it in sport mode, plant the accelerator, and she makes all the right noises. Throttle response was actually more impressive than I expected and the car never leaves you wanting more. The driver experience is further amplified by a seamlessly smooth eight-speed automatic gearbox. I usually prefer the dual clutch transmission, however, the gearbox fits this car perfectly.

The exterior is sleek, with its lines appearing to be cut by a samurai’s sword. And it’s not just for show, ducts and spoilers move air around the vehicle to increase maximum aerodynamic efficiency. That thought process continues under the RC Turbo where extra thick rocker panels reduce drag providing a sleek body both above and below. Lexus has even thought about pedestrian safety and in order to reduce the possibility of an injury to one if hit by the front of the vehicle, the bonnet actually pops up to absorb more of the impact.

Inside, the cabin is elegant and understated. The seats are supportive and the driving position ensures you are in charge. Surprisingly, the technology aspect didn’t feel up to modern standards. The infotainment system was not the most advanced and I don’t really need a CD player in the centre console. Albeit the audio system’s sound quality was perhaps the best of any model in our review. Other than that, the ergonomics of the cabin are well thought out, the leather seats look the part while offering bolstered comfort and with 60/40 split folding rear seats, for a two-door, there’s ample storage space in the rear.

If you want true sports car performance from Lexus, you’ll need to go for the RC F. However, if you purely want to use the car in the city and love its stylish exterior and elegant interior created by a highly-trained Takumi as much as we do, then the RC Turbo checks all of the boxes.

Prices start from S$246,000 (US$180,000).

Infiniti Q60 – The Double Take

Our second Japanese luxury car is the Infiniti Q60. Perhaps not as well known as Lexus, the Nissan owned brand has been rapidly expanding globally over the past decade. Inarguably the best-valued car on our list, priced just under S$200,000 (US$146,860), the 2.0-litre model we drove looks like an absolute beast. The front end glares at oncoming traffic like it’s ready to fight and the rear lets you know it’ll easily leave you in the dust if you push it. The angles of the exterior design, despite looking aggressive, also improve aerodynamics and provide an impressive 0.28 drag coefficient.

A 2.0 litre, four-cylinder engine comes sourced from Mercedes-Benz and produces 208 hp. For a single scroll engine, it’s very responsive and six figures are dealt with ease. The seven-speed automatic and front wheel drive help to produce a 0 – 100 kmh time of 7.4 seconds. Handling wise, the Infiniti again overachieves. Although we prefer a rear-wheel-drive car on a country backroad, for city driving and wet conditions, you really can’t go wrong with the front-wheel drive.

Depending on the driving conditions, you also have the option to adjust the drive mode. Four options are available, including Standard, Sport, Personal, and Snow modes. Each mode changes everything from the steering to gearing, suspension and throttle response. I found the sport mode to be the most enjoyable and meant that I could really get every last ounce of performance out of the vehicle.

Inside you’ll find leather throughout with seats that offer special spinal support that match the curvature of the spine. Also unique to the Infiniti is a double screen layout in the centre console, which provides two touch screens (8 inch upper and 7 inch lower) to control everything from climate control to GPS navigation and each of the four driving modes. Although the idea is to minimise the number of buttons and simplify the user experience, I wasn’t a big fan of the system. Albeit the system still did everything I asked of it and the rest of the ergonomics in the spacious cabin was spot on.

The Infiniti is the car you buy with your head. It offers incredible looks with performance to match. And like the Lexus, a highly-skilled Takumi has put his heart and soul into the vehicle, so you know it will have the quality to last.

Prices start from S$198,800 (US$145,983).

Porsche Panamera – The Swiss Army Knife

Although it’s technically not a two-door sports car, for anyone who has ever driven a Panamera, once in the drivers’ seat, you feel like you might as well be in any other Porsche sports car. This four-door saloon features four cockpit style seats in a wide and sleek body that offers an experience like no other.

In the original Panamera, Porsche came under much scrutiny in regards to its styling. You either loved it or hated it. With this new model, that divide has almost completely been washed away and we certainly love the evolutionary exterior design. The front is classic Porsche and the LED lights look impeccable. The rear is vastly improved and the light strip and rear active spoiler and to the appeal of a neater back end. The hatchback style boot remains to offer ample storage space, which is increased when the rear seats are lowered.

In the model we tested, you’ll find a 326 hp turbocharged V6 with rear-wheel drive and an eight-speed PDK dual clutch transmission. With the Sports Chrono package and launch control engaged, the hefty vehicle will hit 100 kmh from a standstill in 5.5 seconds. Doing this time and time again is as easy as pushing a couple buttons, pressing the brake while planting the accelerator. The revs will hold then you release the brake and she’s off. The computers measuring the surface conditions to attain optimal grip. Our car was equipped with 315 tyres on the rear though which offer so much traction, the computer might not have even been needed.

The paddle shifters make manual shifting on the go second nature and a rotating knob on the steering wheel allows you to switch between driving modes and keep the turbos open for an additional boost. Out of the systems on all of the vehicles in our review, the Porsche’s was the most responsive and easy to use. Even in full auto mode, the transmission knew exactly which gear I needed even before I did.

In the age of turbo charging, for such a big car, I didn’t feel the engine was responsive enough without the boost open or in the higher end of the rev range. However, when the engine is in its sweet spot, it feels plenty fast enough. And given I tested the model in Singapore, this is probably the best option to go for.

Inside the cabin is well equipped. Porsche has done away with the vast amount of push buttons on the centre console and instead made most items touch sensitive. A large 12-inch touchscreen controls most of the car’s media functions however you can also use it to adjust vehicle dynamics and climate control amongst a number of other options. Another two screens feature on either side of the rev counter displaying GPS navigation, vehicle information, G-force counter in addition to other information.

As comfy as it is in the front, the rear seat occupants have ample legroom. In fact, four adults can easily travel long distances. There are also optional video screens and passengers can follow the GPS routing from the rear centre console. Although not as fun as being in the driver’s seat of a Porsche, you wouldn’t feel left out sitting anywhere in the Panamera.

Prices start from S$408,497 (US$299,968).

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