Buy/Drive/Burn: Powerful and Unpopular 2018 Sub-super Coupes

buy drive burn powerful and unpopular 2018 sub super coupes

Today’s Buy/Drive/Burn trio represent the high-dollar sports car that doesn’t quite make it into supercar territory. They’re very expensive, yet among other extra-fast vehicles in the six-figure segment, they’re considered relatively good value.

This makes them all oddballs; none ever burn up the sales charts. But that doesn’t mean they can’t catch fire.

Acura NSX

Honda’s long-delayed second entrant into the NSX nameplate made its way to Acura dealers for the 2017 model year. Produced at the Honda Performance Manufacturing center in Marysville, Ohio, the new NSX grew in every dimension compared to the first generation. Fortunately, power grew as well. The 3.5-liter V6 residing in the middle of the car has twin turbos, which work in conjunction with dual electric motors at the front , and a single electric motor at the rear. 573 combined horsepower travel to all four wheels via the nine-speed dual-clutch transmission. Today’s NSX has a couple of options: polished wheels for $1,700, and carbon-ceramic brakes for a tire-screeching $9,900. Final total is $170,700.

Nissan GT-R

The new GT-R was a bit of a departure for the performance entrant in the Nissan lineup. Previous versions of the GT-R had the Skyline name affixed to it — but Nissan wanted to go a different direction. Available since July of 2008 in the United States, the GT-R debuted to immediate critical acclaim. It received a facelift in 2011 and has continued its slow sales to date. A NISMO variant entered the fray in 2018, making it the most powerful, most serious GT-R. In this guise, the standard 3.8-liter twin-turbo engine is reworked for NISMO duty, to the tune of 600 horsepower. All four wheels receive horses via the six-speed dual-clutch automatic. Everything is standard, which is why the NISMO costs about $75,000 more than the base model. It’s $175,490.

Audi R8 V10

Audi’s first mid-engine car went on sale in Europe in 2006, making its way to the United states in 2007. The model was successful enough to warrant a second album, and an all-new R8 debuted for 2016. In the process, the R8 gained sharper styling and lost the V8 base engine of the first generation. Related to the Lamborghini Huracan, the R8 is built at the same Neckarsulm, Germany plant that used to crank out NSU vehicles. Two versions of the Lamborghini 5.2-liter V10 have powered the R8 since 2016; one is turned down, the other is turned up. Today’s offering is the middle trim that’s fitted with the lower-powered V10 and Quattro all-wheel drive. A total of 532 horsepower funnel through a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic. The R8 is today’s value leader, and asks just $164,900.

Three performance (not super) cars, each with well over 500 horsepower. Which one gets the Buy?

[Images: Honda, Nissan, Volkswagen]

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  • Rpn453 Rpn453 on Sep 18, 2018

    Buy the R8. Mid-rear V10. Drive the GT-R. During winter and anytime I need a trunk or back seats. I'll probably put more miles on it than the R8. Burn the NSX. Too electronic and futuristic-looking for my luddite tastes.

  • Wodehouse Wodehouse on Sep 19, 2018

    Buy the GT-R. It's nasty in all of the right and wrong ways=an involving relationship. Drive the Audi; because of the truly sweet sound. The dreary, "comes shipped in a flat pack box" design disappoints. Burn the NSX. After having driven it, I felt completely ok with never having to see, get in, or, drive one again. No emotional attachment for me. A perfect by-the-numbers car for those that like "mechanical-ness" of cars triple filtered and distilled. Its exterior design is also unoriginal.

  • DenverMike When was it ever a mystery? The Fairmont maybe, but only the 4-door "Futura" trim, that was distinctively upscale. The Citation and Volare didn't have competing trims, nor was there a base stripper Maxima at the time, if ever, crank windows, vinyl seats, 2-doors, etc. So it wasn't a "massacre", not even in spirit, just different market segments. It could be that the Maxima was intended to compete with those, but everything coming from Japan at the time had to take it up a notch, if not two.Thanks to the Japanese "voluntary" trade restriction, everything had extra options, if not hard loaded. The restriction limited how many vehicles were shipped, not what they retailed at. So Japanese automakers naturally raised the "price" (or stakes) without raising MSRP. What the dealers charged (gouged) was a different story.Realistically, the Maxima was going up against entry luxury sedans (except Cimarron lol), especially Euro/German, same as the Cressida. It definitely worked in Japanese automaker's favor, not to mention inspiring Lexus, Acura and Infiniti.
  • Ronnie Schreiber Hydrocarbon based fuels have become unreliable? More expensive at the moment but I haven't seen any lines gathering around gas stations lately, have you? I'm old enough to remember actual gasoline shortages in 1973 and 1979 (of course, since then there have been many recoverable oil deposits discovered around the world plus the introduction of fracking). Consumers Power is still supplying me with natural gas. I recently went camping and had no problem buying propane.Texas had grid problems last winter because they replaced fossil fueled power plants with wind and solar, which didn't work in the cold weather. That's the definition of unreliable.I'm an "all of the above" guy when it comes to energy: fossil fuels, hydro, wind (where it makes sense), nuclear (including funding for fusion research), and possibly solar.Environmental activists, it seems to me, have no interest in energy diversity. Based on what's happened in Sri Lanka and the push against agriculture in Europe and Canada, I think it's safe to say that some folks want most of us to live like medieval peasants to save the planet for their own private jets.
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  • MaintenanceCosts There's no mystery anymore about how the Japanese took over the prestige spot in the US mass market (especially on the west coast) when you realize that this thing was up against the likes of the Fairmont, Citation, and Volaré. A massacre.