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Saturday, May 2, 2009

Top 10 2009 Supercars

Supercars are considered as much a part of the motor-show eye candy as the girls asked to pose with them. Some might argue both are outdated throwbacks reflecting a bygone age. But both remain fixtures on many a show stand. While the predominantly male show goers probably should grow up and stop leering at the ladies, the supercars are still socially acceptable. And, as ever, Geneva provides plenty of exciting new metal and, increasingly, carbon fiber on which to feast your eyes. Here are our picks for the top 10 supercars on display in Geneva.

The Gumpert Apollo isn’t exactly the prettiest supercar ever made. Heck, even the name is ugly. But what it lacks in refined and beautiful style it more than makes up for in pure, brutal performance, which, for a certain brand of supercar buyer, counts for more than a pretty face. This new 800-horse, 224 mph Apollo Speed is built — as the pragmatically obvious name suggests — for one job and one job only. From its flat-surfaced wheel trims to its refined air intakes and smaller rear lip spoiler, this car is simply built to go flat out. A true four-wheeled weapon, the Gumpert’s pure functionality has a charm of its own.

09. 2009 Nissan GT-R SpecV
Surprised to see a Nissan in this kind of company? The mighty GT-R now has the one thing it lacked to truly hold its head high in the supercar club – a six-figure price tag of around $163,000. Rarity, too, is on its side, at least outside of Japan. And if you thought the standard GT-R was extreme, the SpecV proves you wrong. Carbon fiber is used everywhere, from the aerodynamic addenda to the interior panels and seats. Serious weight savings result. Nissan even spec’d a titanium-coated exhaust as part of the motorsport-influenced design. There’s also a temporary overboost function for added performance when needed. 

There’s a certain amount of pretension in the supercar world. But even by the standards of the business, Pagani is pushing things a bit by comparing its ultra-limited Cinque special edition to the works of Leonardo Da Vinci. No matter, few would argue with the assertion its $1.4 million special edition is a work of art. Based around a Mercedes-AMG V12, this latest Zonda develops 685 horsepower and 575 lb-ft of torque and is able to hit 62 mph in just 3.4 seconds. More so than its predecessors, this Zonda is more about race-car-style downforce and grip, the theme extending to a sequential gearbox. Just five will be made, and all have apparently been sold.

It’s big, buff, weighs over two tons and is based on an opulently appointed luxury GT. But the Bentley Continental Supersports qualifies as a supercar all right. After all, if 630 horsepower and a top speed greater than 200 mph don’t earn you membership in this very exclusive club, nothing will. Named after the first production Bentley to exceed 100 mph, the Continental Supersports might seem like an overpowered, overweight monstrosity, but experience shows the Continental is far more capable than you might think. And as a test bed for Bentley’s “green” biofuel technology, it points to an exciting future for the brand.

The car industry is feeling the squeeze in general, but luxury carmakers like Aston Martin are suffering more than most. The answer: Forget the merely wealthy and instead concentrate on the select few rich enough to see the global economic meltdown as little more than a mild inconvenience. As the name suggests, each car will be one of just 77 due to be built. High-tech is as crucial as high performance in modern supercars, and the One-77 has plenty of both, thanks to a 700-plus horsepower V12 engine and suspension and construction inspired by cutting-edge DTM touring cars. Inside and out, the One-77 is truly stunning.

For those rich enough, simply owning a Ferrari isn’t enough. And with the 599XX, owners will actually be contributing to the development of future prancing horses by helping to hone the car in a series of special track events. Having wads of cash isn’t enough to join the select group of 30 participants in the program, either. You’ll need a thorough understanding of what makes Ferrari special and the aptitude to be able to contribute to the “client test driver” program. And if you’re worthy, you’ll get to drive one of the most extreme Ferraris ever – a 700-horsepower rolling test bed based on the existing 599 coupe.

Infiniti wants to be taken seriously as more than just a builder of posh Nissans. And though its product line up has some very bold ideas, the automaker has never had a true supercar in the mix. That is, until now. And while the Essence revealed at Geneva is strictly just a concept, it’s a beauty, packed with interesting and distinctive ideas, both technically and aesthetically. A classic luxurious coupe, it manages to blend retro cool, a touch of Latin glamour and — appropriate for its Japanese breeding — some well-integrated high-tech, including a supercool dash display and nearly 600 horsepower from its gas-electric hybrid drivetrain.

Despite its all-carbon-fiber construction, its 200 mph-plus top speed and the pedigree of being built in the same factory as Lewis Hamilton’s F1 car, the Mercedes SLR has never quite seemed comfortable in its own skin. Sure, it’s fast and has a fabulous exhaust note. But true supercar status has always been just out of reach, which is what makes this last hurrah all the more compelling. The Stirling Moss link harks back to the Mercedes SLR in which the famed race-car driver took his famous victory at the Mille Miglia back in 1955. Stripped back with outrageously over-the-top styling, strictly limited availability and 650 horsepower, the SLR has finally found its niche on the cusp of retirement.

No lineup like this would be complete without the brand for which the very word supercar was coined. In Geneva, Lamborghini revealed one of the most outrageously hard-core cars in its history: the Murcielago LP670-4 SuperVeloce. And everything from the name to the size of its rear wing is totally over the top. And though the LP670-4 SV is only marginally faster than the LP640-4 on which it is based, it offers a very different experience, thanks to its 220-pound weight loss and race-honed aero kit, that monster rear wing aided by a carbon splitter and rear diffuser. Add a screaming 670-horsepower V12 and you’ve a true recipe for fun.

So the Veyron has been on the scene for four years now. But nothing about this machine is any less shocking than when we first saw it. Over $1.4 million, 1,001 horsepower, 250 mph-plus performance — it’s possible this is literally the most extreme supercar we’ll ever see. After all, who’s going to top it? This year is Bugatti’s 100th birthday, and it’s also likely to mark the end of Veyron coupe production — the target of 300 cars is likely to be completed as production of the open-top Grand Sport begins. That makes this, the one-off Veyron Bleu Centenaire, very special, even by Bugatti standards.

Source-MSN Autos