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2015 was a great year for performance cars. Some great vehicles got even better, and some that haven’t been in the spotlight for a while are back with a vengeance. There were too many awesome vehicles to cover them all here, but these ones are my favorites.
Chevrolet Corvette Z06
The latest generation of Corvettes has been stellar, offering great power and handling at a relatively affordable price. One major weak point, however, has been the interior. While not hugely problematic, it just never felt like it lived up to the car’s exterior polish or its price tag. Fortunately, all that has changed.
The new corvette has a sleek interior made of leather, aluminum and carbon fiber, and it adds a few extra features like an eight-inch screen on the dash. The base model puts out 460 hp, with a 0-60 time of 3.7 seconds. Upgrade to the Z06, and you raise the horsepower to 650 while cutting the time to 3 seconds flat.
Alfa Romeo 4C
Alfa Romeo has only recently returned to the U.S. after a long absence, but until now, they were lacking a really great car to cement their renewed presence. Enter the 4C.
At first, most Americans might think the 4C is grossly underpowered. With a 1.7-liter, four-cylinder engine, its specs are more in line with a standard sedan than a sports car.
Alfa Romeo has managed to get 240 hp out of the little engine, but the real key here is the weight. The 4C weighs just over one ton. That’s about 60 percent of the Corvette’s weight, with around 50 percent of the horsepower. It is a bit slower, but it manages to put up a respectable 0-60 time of 4.5 seconds while getting over 40 mpg highway. The 4C also has stellar handling, better than just about any vehicle not made by Lotus.
The Challenger has been a solid car since its reintroduction, but Dodge took things a step further for 2015. While not lacking in power, the Challenger has always been a big, heavy thing compared to its pony car compatriots. The biggest advantage it has, partially due to that extra size, is comfort. The Challenger feels just as comfortable on a thousand-mile road trip as it does on a quarter-mile track.
The car features two new screens: an 8.4-inch display on the dash and a smaller screen embedded in the instrument cluster, providing additional performance data. A backup camera helps compensate for the car’s bulk, and the console also features a media hub with a USB port, aux input and SD card slot.
The Challenger still offers several engine choices, providing anywhere from 305 hp with six cylinders to 470 hp with eight. The R/T, with 375 hp, will give you a 0-60 time of 5.1 seconds.
Ford Mustang GT350R
It’s not even close as to what my favorite car of 2015 was. The GT350R is just insane. It’s one of my favorite-looking cars ever and has impressive numbers to back it up.
This is Ford’s latest high-performance Mustang, and it’s built for all-out speed. The “Voodoo” V8 engine puts out a whopping 526 hp, but even that doesn’t tell the whole story. This engine is capable of revving all the way to 8,250 rpm. The R version of the car also shaves off some pounds by cutting out unnecessary additions such as rear seats and air conditioning, as well as switching to carbon fiber wheels.
The new wheels and tires make a far bigger impact than just weight, however. They transform the Mustang’s handling into near-supercar level responsiveness and cornering. The fact that this car has more downforce than a Porsche 911 GT3 may have something to do with that as well.
The 350R accelerates from 0-60 in just 3.9 seconds, and with the radically designed Voodoo engine, you’ll rarely have to shift when blasting your way to ludicrous speeds. With many sports car manufacturers moving exclusively to forced induction, this might just be the pinnacle of naturally-aspirated V8 engines.
2015 sure delivered some pretty fantastic cars. Now, let’s see what 2016 can do.