There are plenty of cars out there that are great at getting the attention of passersby. But remember, you want that attention to be the right kind of attention. You don’t want people turning their heads for the wrong reasons—such as a weak-sounding motor coming from a strong-looking car (or vice versa), or a rambunctious, ridiculous-looking sports car that never belonged outside of a garage.
There are some cars that will always draw eyes towards them for the right reasons. We’re talking about Ferraris, Lamborghinis, Porsches, and the like. You usually can’t go wrong with one of those guys (though we might put that to the test in a minute here,) but not everyone can afford them. Also, remember that price doesn’t always equal quality.
What we’re going to do here is show you 10 sports car duds that you should avoid, and maybe even mention some alternatives, because we're nice like that. Then we’re going to show you 10 sports cars that are sure to get you the attention you crave wherever you go—and for all the right reasons.
Check out our list of 10 sports cars that’ll make you look like a dud, and 10 studs.
20 Stud: 2018 Chevrolet Corvette Z06 ($80,590)
The 2018 version of the Chevrolet Corvette pulls no punches. It’s an awesome sports car that is sure to turn heads, as Corvettes have been doing ever since their debut in 1953. Chevy has mastered a lot in its 65 years of working on Corvettes, and the seventh generation model is no exception.
The engines in these cars start out at a 455-horsepower V8, and top out at a 650 hp that’ll help you get from 0-60 mph in under 3 seconds.
The Corvette has always been lauded for its great handling, smooth ride, and awesome power. These models have full infotainment systems equipped, including an 8-inch touchscreen system with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. For a luxury sports car, it also has quite an impressive amount of cargo room. The 2018 Z06 starts at $80,590.
19 Stud: 2017 Dodge Viper ACR ($107,995)
The Dodge Viper is Chrysler’s answer to the Corvette, you could say. These cars always seem to be neck-and-neck for the coveted spot of top American-made muscle car. Though the Viper has had a shorter lifespan than the Corvette, that doesn’t make it any less evolved or incredible.
A 2016 Dodge Viper ACR broke 14 different lap records throughout America in that year, making it the fastest American, rear-wheel driven, manual transmission car to make it around the Nürburgring track. It performed just under the Lamborghini Huracan Performante, and ended up in sixth position for street legal vehicles. It’s powered by a 645 hp 8.4-liter V10 engine, allowing it a top speed of around 191 mph. The Viper ACR starts at $107,995, without any add-ons. The best part is you can fine-tune just about everything on the ACR, to make it a complete racing beast.
18 Stud: 2017 Nissan GT-R ($111,585)
The Nissan GT-R has had some seriously upgraded and updated features for its 2017 model. It has a new, sleek interior that helps it command a pricetag of over $100,000 ($111,585 to be exact), and the exterior has also been given a facelift, helping the GT-R pass off as a more modern sports car.
Together, these two qualities alone are enough to make the 2017 GT-R make any driver look like a stud, but the awesomeness doesn’t stop there.
The 2017 GT-R is powered by a 3.8-liter twin-turbo V6, giving it 585 hp on an all-wheel-drive system. It has swift steering and rigid structure, as well as adjustable suspension. A new titanium exhaust system and boost pressure has given the car an overall marked power increase. The dual-clutch gearbox has been changed to improve drivability.
17 Stud: 2017 Acura NSX ($156,000)
Keep in mind that we’re basing these cars on price—going from least expensive to most—and not on performance. That isn’t to say that the 2017 Acura NSX isn’t a complete monster. Starting at $156,000, the newest NSX is the successor to one of the most popular sports cars out there. This is a thrilling, technical supercar that reviewers have been praising since its unveiling.
Along with the twin-turbo V6 that gives it 572 hp, the NSX has three other motors joining, to help give power to all four wheels, allowing it to hit a top speed of 191 mph and a 0-60 mph rate of 2.9 seconds. Its nine-speed dual-clutch transmission and all-wheel-drive come standard. The electric motors drive the front wheels, making sure torque goes right where it's needed, to make this one of the ultimate performance vehicles.
16 Stud: 2017 Porsche 911 GT3RS ($175,900)
The 2017 Porsche 911 GT3RS has been called one of the best Porsches ever by Supercars.net. They also claim it is the best Porsche on sale at the moment (besides the Porsche 918, which is $845,000, so we’ll skip that one for now.) Only McLarens and Ferraris come close to the performance of the GT3RS (according to Supercars.net), and this one’s cheaper.
It’s supremely fast, thanks to its 4.0-liter flat-six engine, which has a new intake system that uses techniques used on the Porsche 919 Le Mans race car. It’s a naturally-aspirated masterclass in engine-work, with 493 hp at 8,250 rpms. The car looks aggressive and serious, and has been molded to make it the best track car you can expect. It’s a pure, race-oriented Porsche for the ages, and it’s made to turn heads.
15 Stud: 2017 Aston Martin V12 Vantage S ($186,295)
Aston Martin cars have always been awesome looking, and this one doesn’t disappoint. The V12 Vantage S is a beastly car with a beastly V12 engine, giving it 656 hp and a top speed of 205 mph. It’s also an achievement of unparalleled proportions: Aston Martin managed to combine a V12 engine with its lightest sports car.
It immediately became a huge hit, and has since been optimized with a lighter chassis, that huge engine, and a more responsive transmission. (You can even get a dogleg manual transmission as an option, if you wish.) It’s 15 kg lighter than a traditional V12 Vantage, and its specs make it read like a supercar. It’s the fastest production car Aston Martin has ever made, and at $186,295 it and all its glory can be yours.
14 Stud: 2017 Audi R8 Spyder ($192,000)
The 2017 Audi R8 Spyder is Audi’s newest installment in their hugely successful R8 series. This new car comes equipped with either a 540 hp V10 or a 610-hp V10+, which helped it win the 2016 World Performance Car of the Year award. Its engine is glass-covered, its wide and sharp in all the right places, and it commands your attention on the road.
The naturally-aspirated 5.2-liter V10 engine (540 hp) gives it an amazing revving sound, which is refreshing when compared to modern turbocharged cars that have weak-sounding, muted engines. It can reach 60 mph in 3.6 seconds from standstill, and tops out at 198 mph. It's powered by a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic, and the motors can divert 100% of its power to either the front or rear wheels as needed. Its roof can also be raised or lowered in just 20 seconds.
13 Stud: 2017 Lamborghini Huracán ($203,295)
The 2017 Lamborghini Huracán is available in both Coupe and a soft-top Spyder convertible version. It succeeded the Gallardo as Lamborghini’s “entry-level” supercar, and is powered by a 5.2-liter V10 engine, giving it 602 hp and a top speed of about 199 mph. Its seven-speed dual-clutch gearbox transfers power to all four wheels, which helps it hit 0-60 mph in just 3.2 seconds (3.4 for the Spyder).
The chassis of this vehicle is a technical masterpiece, combining carbon fiber and aluminum components.
The chassis is also ultra-light, helping give the Coupe a low weight of just 1,422 kilograms (3,134 lbs). Besides performing superbly, it’s also a Lamborghini—meaning it looks like the perennial supercar, and it has the swinging up-wing doors to boot, so even when you’re stopped, you’re garnering attention.
12 Stud: 2017 Ferrari 488 GTB ($256,550)
It only makes sense that the car coming directly after the Lamborghini Huracan comes from their chief rival: Ferrari. The 488 GTB is a mid-engined supercar that replaced the 458 model in 2015. It’s powered by a 3.9-liter twin-turbo V7 engine, run by a seven-speed dual-clutch gearbox (like most of the monstrous sports cars in this day and age).
Its engine gives it 661 hp and a top speed in excess of 205 mph. The car was named the “Supercar of the Year 2015” by Top Gear magazine, and this 2017 model was given Motor Trend’s 2017 “Best Driver’s Car.”
That quarter-of-a-million dollar price tag has some credence to it. It can reach 0-60 mph in 3 seconds flat, and its power-to-weight ratio of 2.2 kg per horsepower matches that of another Ferrari model, the F12 Berlinetta.
11 Stud: 2018 McLaren 720S ($291,564)
The top car (at least in terms of expensiveness, although likely in performance, too) on the list of cars that’ll make you look like a stud is the 2018 McLaren 720S. Granted, it costs more than many houses, but this is a supercar that was built to define the word “super.”
It’s powered by a 4.0-liter twin-turbo V8, an upgraded version of McLaren’s previous 3.8-liter engine from its 650S. It can accelerate from 0-62 mph in 2.7 seconds (0.3 seconds faster than the 650S), and can reach upwards of 212 mph.
With a quarter-mile indication of 9.7 seconds, coupled with its 0-60 mph and 0-124 mph tests, the 720S performs faster than most hyper cars. The handling is perfected by McLaren’s Proactive Chassis Control II, which is the culmination of five years of research. If you’re trying to impress, there’s no other car—probably in the world—that could do you better.
10 Dud: Honda del Sol
The Honda del Sol is a car that was around from 1992 to 1998, and though it looks like a sedan, it’s actually a front-engined, two-seater sports car. Its opening roof isn’t a full convertible feature, making it a “targa top.”
Because of its weird top, its trunk space was reduced. Only 75,000 of these vehicles were sold throughout its five year run, and there’s good reason for that.
The del Sol had a weak engine, just a 1.5-liter I4 with only around 160 horsepower. Suffice it to say that you won’t be turning any heads if you’re driving a del Sol, and you can probably get something better for the same price, which was $15,000 upon its release, but is now just around $8,000.
9 Dud: Geo Storm
The Geo Storm was a compact sports car released in the United States from 1990 to 1993. It was meant to be a budget car with the look and feel of a sports car, but it didn’t really hit the mark. It was a rebadged version of the sporty Isuzu Impulse, but without any of the expensive features of the latter car.
It didn’t have the Lotus-tuned suspension that the Impulse had, or the optional turbocharger or all-wheel drive drivetrain.
Basically, even though it was a worse car than the Impulse, it sold much better. Go figure. It actually sold more than most small GM cars of the time, but those sales quickly waned, and as of 2010 there were only 40,300 Storms registered in the world for road use. It also came available in a wagon back version (why?) and started at around $14,560.
8 Dud: Hyundai Tiburon
The Hyundai Tiburon had a pretty long life, from 1996 to 2008, but it never really wowed any customers. It’s a sports coupe that was released under two generations, with periodic facelifts that tried to help with safety improvements and interior/exterior improvements, but nothing ever really took off. The Tiburon is just a boring sports car, which is exactly what you don’t want as a sports car owner.
It took a whopping 10.8 seconds to get its 1.6-liter inline-four-cylinder engine from 0-60 mph, and it only topped out at 110 mph. (The stronger 1.8 and 2.0-liter models topped out at 123 and 128 mph, respectively, but those are still pretty meager.) The Tiburon is a sports car that won’t be missed by consumers, as there are plenty of options out there at $20,000 that are a lot more exciting.
7 Dud: Ford Probe
The Ford Probe was a sports car produced from 1988 to 1997, a liftback coupe that was the result of a collaboration with longtime Japanese partners Mazda, and derived from Mazda’s G platform. It succeeded the Ford EXP, and the first-generation Probe had pop-up headlights borrowed from the Mazda RX-7.
The only problems was that this car was nowhere near as exciting as an RX-7. It was based off the older model RX-6, as a compact coupe, and was originally supposed to be the fourth-generation Ford Mustang.
Boy, Ford must be glad they didn’t do that, or else they might have seriously tarnished the Mustang’s good name. This car was meant to compete with the Acura Integra, Nissan 200SX, and Toyota Celica, all of which are probably better cars. With its 110-145 hp I4 engine, this car was found wanting.
6 Dud: Plymouth Prowler
We probably don’t have to tell you this, but the Plymouth Prowler is hideous and stupid, and we hope you never fell into the trap of actually owning one. It’s Chrysler’s retro-styled apparatus that nearly cost the company all credibility. Its performance was lacking, with a 3.5-liter V6 engine that could only push 118 mph top speed (126 mph in later models.)
Sales figures for the Prowler were pretty terrible, with only 11,702 being sold overall. While they were first seen as an interesting novelty, people then realized that if they bought one of these monstrosities, they’d actually have to drive it home, and be subjected to the embarrassment of being seen on the road. It might sound harsh, but there’s no love lost between us and the Plymouth Prowler.
5 Dud: Cadillac XLR
Cadillac has come out with some pretty cool cars over the years, and they’ve especially ramped up their efforts in recent times, but the XLR is one that we’d rather forget (and we're pretty sure they share that sentiment.) The XLR was a luxury roadster produced from 2004 to 2009, intended to be Cadillac’s flagship sports car.
It had its own unique styling, interior, suspension, and power-retractable roof, if “unique” is even the right word for it. Though it was powered by a 4.6-liter Northstar V8 engine giving it 320 hp, and it could reach 0-60 mph in 4.6 seconds, its base price of $110,000 never really qualified it for the price Cadillac was asking. It’s not a six-figure car—maybe more of a mid-five-figure car. Heck, for less than that you could get a Corvette Z06 or a Viper ACR.
4 Dud: Infiniti Q50 S Red Sport 400
The Infiniti Q50 always has seemed to be a car that it’s not—a super sports sedan. It looks pretty sleek, and it runs pretty smoothly, but it doesn’t have that “drive” or wow factor that we’re looking for in a stud-to-dud list. It’s just sort of there.
Granted, the Red Sport 400 edition of the car was a step in the right direction, but let’s not mix apples and oranges here: it’ll never be a BMW M3 or a Mercedes-AMG contender, which it was trying to be.
It’s just not as aggressive or sharp as those other cars. It does have 400 hp, and is a comfortable ride, but that doesn’t make it a good sports car. It’s balanced and dynamic, and we’re talking about the most powerful model in the lineup, the 400 hp edition. Car and Driver gave it a 3.5/5, and that’s what we’ll give it too.
3 Dud: Smart Roadster Coupe
The Smart Roadster was a two-door sports car put out by Smart GmbH from 2003 to 2006. Sales of the car were pretty good. It met expectations, but warranty claims caused the platform to suffer, and it was discontinued in 2005 after 43,091 Roadsters were made.
The last one built is now in the Mercedes-Benz Museum, which is pretty apropos.
The Roadster was powered by a 0.7-liter 61-82 horsepower engine, giving it terrible power. It was a small car—smaller than the Mazda MX-5 Miata and Toyota MR2 in fact—with good handling and a pretty smooth ride (for its size,) but it was painfully slow, which is not what you want in a sports car. Its top speed was only 109 mph, and its 0-62 mph variant took almost 11 seconds to reach, which is just ridiculous.
2 Dud: BMW i8
We’re here to show you the BMW i8—a car that looks completely awesome, so you might not think it’s a dud, but under the hood it isn’t all its cracked up to be. The i8 is part of BMW’s electric fleet, built with a 7.1 kWh lithium-ion battery and an all-electric range of 23 miles (not great.)
It can accelerate from 0-62 mph in 4.4 seconds, but its electronically limited engine makes its top speed just 155 mph, which, when compared to the “stud” cars on this list, isn’t great. Truth be told, hybrid sports cars just aren’t up to snuff against their petrol competitors yet, and the i8 is no exception. It’s a unique and aggressive car, but it doesn’t stack up to some of the cars below. Oh, and it costs over $140,000.
1 Dud: Ferrari Mondial 8
The Ferrari Mondial was probably the only miss that Ferrari ever truly had, at least in our estimation. It was produced between 1980 and 1993, was offered in coupe and cabriolet styles, and was the last V8-engined model produced until the Ferrari California convertible in 2008.
The Mondial 8 was only produced 703 times, thankfully, and only 147 of them made it to the United States.
The reason it’s last on this list of duds is because it’s quite possibly the slowest Ferrari ever produced. It's very heavy, at 3,459 lbs, but its V8 only gave it 214 hp, which is unconscionable for a Ferrari. Its acceleration, tested by Car and Driver, showed its 0-62 mph rate at 9.5 seconds! You’d think it would have been cheap, but it retailed for $64,000, which was $26,000 more than the 300 hp, more-powerful Porsche 930 Turbo at the time.
Sources: Motor1.com; automobilemag.com; wikipedia.org; cars.usnews.com