Insider's Picks: 5 Top Performance Cars 2013

From supercars and hypercars to genteel speedsters, 2013 looks like a banner year for those who like going fast. More importantly, these five cars have as much style as they do pure horsepower

All the motor shows of 2012 are done and we are almost finished with the cars we are reviewing this year. At a time like this, we start thinking about what we want to review and really, about cars we wish we could test right now. Well, 2012 has given us a wealth of wonderful cars to look forward to, including the 2013 Mercedes-Benz SL (an incredible 242 pounds lighter than its predecessor) and the 2013 Bugatti Veyron Sport, the once and future king of straight-line road car speed at 268mph, and made our task of looking for great cars for this list very difficult indeed.

We did something difficult first of all: we cut the Veyron Sport. Color us jaded but we will not get to drive this beast in Hong Kong or Singapore so there was decidedly less enthusiasm for it. We also felt the Veyron to be perhaps a little passé in the present climate; if nothing else, it looks like a time traveler from another era. Excluding the Veyron also gave us the opportunity to not make this list, in particular, about top speed. If you want speed on the road, the Bugatti Veyron Sport is the winner. Enough said.

Speed is great of course but speeding in style (and stylish comfort) is even better. This is where two British offerings, one apiece from Aston Martin and Bentley, come into the picture. Both the Vanquish and the GT Speed (no prizes for guessing which model is from which company) demonstrate that you do not have to be a raging bull to dominate the road.

Speaking of raging bulls, we had to include a Lamborghini here and the Aventador showed us that aggression does not have to be irresponsible, believe it or not. Moving from Bologna to Maranello, (and from bulls to horses) we take a peek at the fastest production Ferrari ever built and discover, to our surprise, that it has been made both ridiculously easy to drive and impossibly difficult to engineer.

Finally, perhaps the ultimate acknowledgement that pure speed is not worth pursuing any more comes from Woking – the McLaren P1. McLaren intends this to be as close to perfection as possible but the company has publicly stated that it has no desire to “out Veyron the Veyron.”

For the purposes of this list, to mix things up a little, we have left the big German names out. Mercedes-Benz, BMW, Audi and Porsche will have to battle it out in another list. Without further ado then, check out our five most handsome speedster picks for 2013, presented in alphabetical order by brand.

  • Insiders Picks 5 High Performance Cars 2013 4Aston Martin Vanquish - With a reported top speed of just 180mph, the new Vanquish is the slowest of all the cars on this list but we have great affection for Aston Martin and this car gives us a chance to touch on why the need for absolute speed is a bit silly really. First of all, this car looks good and, crucially, it is a stylistic departure for Aston Martin that magically retains that Aston Martin feeling. Indeed, this car proves that the more things change, the more they stay the same. 
  • Insiders Picks 5 High Performance Cars 2013 3Aston Martin Vanquish - Where a Veyron simply steamrolls everything else and an Aventador frightens the opposition with its shrieking, the Aston Martin (according to the design team) tells other vehicles “to move out of the way, in a polite way.” Perhaps more important than this is the easy combination of cutting edge technology (carbon fiber body panels mounted on an improved version of the bonded-aluminum monocoque) and traditional finishing (beautifully stitching options for the seats).
  • Insiders Picks 5 High Performance Cars 2013 5Bentley GT Speed - It might seem strange to see Bentley in a list of speedsters but that is what this lovely behemoth is. Equipped with a 6-liter W12 616 HP twin-turbocharged engine, the GT Speed maxes out at a reported 205mph so unbelievers will be left in the dust. The flagship of Bentley’s performance cars, this model is being touted as the fastest production road car the crew from Crewe has ever made. 
  • Insiders Picks 5 High Performance Cars 2013 6Bentley GT Speed - Given Bentley’s reputation for building living rooms with engines and a drive train, this car looks like Windsor castle on wheels; the company has not weighed in on the curb weight yet. Heavyweight status aside, the GT Speed is – on paper – more than a match for the ultra light Lamborghini Gallardo LP 570-4 Superleggera, which has a listed top speed of 202mph.
  • Insiders Picks 5 High Performance Cars 2013 7Ferrari F12Berlinetta - With the FF and the new California, Ferrari’s range of offerings is already looking very impressive and that looks set to continue next year with the arrival of the F12Berlinetta. As we wrote earlier this year, this is Ferrari’s fastest and most powerful full production road car and will turn heads when it turns up in your city, even at a standstill.
  • Insiders Picks 5 High Performance Cars 2013 8Ferrari F12Berlinetta - Bearing in mind those caveats about road cars and production (the limited Enzo and the track-only FXX are faster), the new F12Berlinetta is the Prancing Horse (730 horses in fact, from a 6.3-liter V12) to get your blood racing. So how fast is the fastest then? Ferrari says 211mph, which you will need the Autobahn or a track to achieve. 
  • Insiders Picks 5 High Performance Cars 2013 9Ferrari F12Berlinetta - What makes this a winner for us is how reportedly easy it is on the foolishly brave, despite having a harder setup than the 599GTB Fiorano. Basically, Ferrari wanted its fastest car to be enjoyed by drivers of all persuasions while making it an engineering masterpiece. Of course, it is rumored that Ferrari will be revealing a new version of the Enzo so the F12Berlinetta may only be an appetizer…
  • Insiders Picks 5 High Performance Cars 2013 10Lamborghini Aventador LP700 - None of the boys at Top Gear owns (have ruined) this car so it can still be called cool (by their own rules). Typically loud (most likely with the same eardrum-busting engine roar) and brimming with unbridled aggression, the Aventador is already bad to the bone, so to speak. Well, hold that thought because we know for certain that Lamborghini is including stop/start technology and something called cylinder deactivation for 2013.
  • Insiders Picks 5 High Performance Cars 2013 11Lamborghini Aventador LP700 - Stop/start technology and cylinder deactivation are decidedly responsible moves that dent the Aventador’s street credibility. Still based on the 2012 6.5 liter V12 powerplant, the car’s new systems will actually shut down one bank of cylinders at speeds under 135km/h.  It should still manage to top out at 217mph and its all-wheel drive will ensure maximum power from a standing start.
  • Insiders Picks 5 High Performance Cars 2013 12McLaren P1 - Heads will turn. Revealed at the Paris Motor Show in October, the McLaren P1 is the spiritual heir to one of the fastest supercars ever made, the McLaren F1. McLaren have not revealed very much about the car, other than to note that it will be the best car possible, not necessarily the fastest. This is indicated in the name, the P1, which in Formula One parlance refers to pole position. Given that the F1 was matched against the Ferrari Enzo and a new Enzo might still be on the cards, the name of the car is an indication of McLaren’s resolve to build a better car.
  • Insiders Picks 5 High Performance Cars 2013 13McLaren P1 - The Woking-based firm has at least beat the Scuderia to the front of the grid by announcing the P1 in 2012 but details are sketchy. What we know so far is that the car will exert more downforce than any production car thus far – 600kg at well below maximum rpm. Given that the F1 was powered by a V12 engine, we have every expectation that the P1 will follow suit. We have our fingers crossed for the 2013 release of this car but it might only be available in 2014.

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