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Thread: What exactly is a "sports" car.
05-13-2013, 03:55 PM #1
What exactly is a "sports" car.
I know this is not a truck conversation, but I wanted people's opinions.
Some friends of mine had a discussion about what is a sports car.
IMO, I believe a sports car to be a 2 seat, rear wheel drive, manual transmission, car in which the primary function is handling and acceleration. This includes roadsters and supercars.
This leaves out Camaros, Mustangs, or any other cars with a back seat. I actually consider Camaros and Mustangs more in the line of a muscle car, not a sports car. There are some that consider 4 door sports sedans a sports car. I guess in the end it's all opinion.
Here are some examples:
Corvettes, Miata, Z3, M Roadster, Ferrari, Lamborghini, etc.
Camaro, Mustang, Chevelle, etc.
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05-13-2013, 09:39 PM #2
The requirement for a manual gearbox seems overly granular. Let's take an extreme example of a car that meets all of your other requirements but fails the manual gearbox requirement -- the Bugatti Veyron. Super cars are, by definition, extreme sports cars ... and this one isn't a sports car by your definition, yet it outruns every 'sports car' you listed that meets your requirements. You also listed 'Ferrari' as a sports car, yet the 458 doesn't have a manual gearbox, either ... so it's not a sports car according to your definition. (It would appear that even you can't be consistent on your own definition? That, by itself, might suggest this criterion was too granular?)
The number of doors used to be performance-relevant, but that's not necessarily true, anymore. Look at the Charger SRT8, 300C SRT8, and the Caddy CTS-V for obvious western-developed 4-door performers that can eat 2-door Mustangs for lunch. Or, if you want to be more cosmopolitan than muscular, there's the BMW M5, the Audi S7 and S8, the Mercedes E63 AMG and CLS63 AMG, the Maserati Quattrosporte GTS, and the Aston Martin Rapide S ... to name but a few 4-door vehicles that will make mince meat out of most 2-door 'sports cars'.
Rear wheel drive was once a sports car signature, but AWD has largely eclipsed it in today's performance car world. True, there are still a good number of RWD vehicles. Those that hold their own against AWD counterparts are typically much harder to drive on the edge (and much less forgiving when it's stepped over) than their AWD counterparts. The creme de la creme Porsche's are a great example -- RWD and tough to drive well ... but when driven well they can usually go toe-to-toe with or outrun their AWD counterparts (simply because they weigh less).
Given all of this, I tend to define a 'sports car' less by static things like door counts and drivelines ... and more based on the purpose for which it was designed (namely, performance first). Thus, I consider a Veyron, a CTS-V, a Ferrari 458, and even the lowly Evo Lancer and Subaru WRX to all be sports cars, even though every one of them fails your criteria-based test. I see door and seat counts as gimmicks to reduce insurance or placate the wife that you can get a child seat in the rear of a fun-mobile. Heck, I know a guy who turned in his MR2 Turbo for a WRX when he became a parent -- specifically because it had a back seat and the MR2 didn't. By your definition the MR-2 was a 'sports car' ... yet the WRX would outrun it and outhandle it ... despite failing your test.
P.S. In 2006 I sold my 1993 MR2 Turbo "sports car" and replaced it with a 2006 300C SRT8 -- a 4 door sedan that was better in every respect except handling in the curves. The MR2 Turbo was rated for .93g on a skidpad ... compared with .89g for the SRT8. Now consider the dry weight of a 300C SRT8 is 4198lbs ... and it got 0-60 in 4.9 seconds, could do 60-0 in ~110ft, run the quarter mile (bone stock) in the 13 second range, and pull .89g (as I said, already) on a skidpad. (And, as an added bonus, I could and did regularly meander by cops at 12-15mph over and no one batted an eye because I was a 30-something in a sedan, not a 30-something in a ricer.) That's AMAZING for a bone stock 2-ton automobile with an automatic tranny. And that was 2006 technology; it's only gotten better.
Last edited by SurrealOne; 05-13-2013 at 09:52 PM.
05-14-2013, 02:59 AM #3
To me a sports car is one that has a ton of power and handles like it is on rails. The handeling is what sets them apart from a muscle car. Door count has little to do with it in my opinion. Do you consider the Porsche Panamera to be a sports car? It has 4 doors. May not be the best example but it is yet another that @SurrealOne did not cover.
Can a Camaro or Mustang be a sports car? Just look at any AutoCross event. Many a Camaro and Mustang are in those events so yes they could also fit into the sports car relm.
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05-14-2013, 07:08 AM #4
To add to everything already said, the design teams that design "sports cars" typically have some idea of what a car should look like "Sporty". When was the last time you saw a really "sporty" full size sedan? I would argue that the 1990's Impala SS (The big boat on the Caprice body" is the only "Sporty" full size sedan and a muscle car at the same time.
I would not be caught dead in a modern Impala, they look like something my grand parents would drive, even if it was an SS model with insane hp.
I think more modern Impala's would sell if the Camaro and Corvette design teams re-designed the look of the car completely.
05-14-2013, 09:19 AM #5
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05-14-2013, 12:15 PM #6
If you really want to test a porsche..... take it to "The Tail of The Dragon":
Here are some great or not so great "Tail of the Dragon" crashes
05-14-2013, 02:13 PM #7
Pretty broad topic here and yes, very much depended on a person's opinions and a person's definition of such terms as "sports car", "race car", "super car", etc.
For a long time, my idea of a "sports car" was pretty much anything that wasn't a 4-door "family sedan". If it had 4 doors and lots of HP, then it was a sports car. If it didn't have much HP but had 2 doors, it was a sports car. These days, that line starts to blur when there are 4-door sedans with 300 to 400 HP.
These days, your typical Camaro or Mustang maybe should be labled a "sports coup" while things like Corvettes should be labled "sports cars" and Ferraris and such would be "super cars". At least that's my take on it.Clint (TX) 2001 Silverado LS 4.8L auto 2wd ECSB [GARAGE]
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05-14-2013, 05:04 PM #8
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05-15-2013, 09:58 PM #9
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