Ferrari 488 GTB, £181,449
We could tell you that the 488 GTB is a complete dog to drive, that it’ll be less dependable than an Austin Princess, or that you’ll suffer irreversible spine damage on your first drive. But if you had the money, it wouldn’t make any difference because you’d probably go out and buy one anyway, such is the allure of the Prancing Horse.
Of course, it’s none of these things. It’s the successor to the already supernaturally talented 458 Italia — and it’s better still. The turbocharged 3.9-litre V8 is more powerful than the 458’s naturally aspirated 4.5-litre unit, yet it’s also more frugal, lighter and lower in the chassis, to improve handling.
As with all current production Ferraris, there’s no manual gearbox option, just a seven-speed dual-clutch system. The whole car is breathtakingly good and the 488 Spider that’s just been unveiled will probably be the same. But if you want a 488 of any flavour, you’d better get your order in quickly. Ferrari doesn’t disclose queue lengths, other than to say: “Our waiting lists are generally around 9-12 months.” So order now and you’ll be doing well to enjoy your 488 next summer.
- OUR PICK Ferrari 488 GTB (£181,449)
- POWER 660bhp @ 8000rpm
- PERFORMANCE 0-62mph: 3sec
- TOP SPEED 205mph
- FUEL | CO2 24.8mpg (combined) | 260g/km
Jaguar F-type, £51,260-£97,145
The first F-type we drove was an unfinished pre-production car covered in big, ugly stickers, but even then it was obviously destined for greatness.
It might be expensive and the boot size laughable — the convertible can’t hold a large suitcase — but it has a party trick that will sell it to any driver taking a test drive: this car has the best sound to come out of Britain this side of the Proms.
That’s why you’ll want to buy the convertible and never put the roof up, even though it will raise in just 12 seconds when the heavens open.
The handling is beautifully balanced and even fuel consumption is reasonable in the V6 S model, which is the one to go for. If you want the sportiest Jaguar since the E-type, though, it has to be the more powerful, and pricier, V8. It’s a brutal machine on British country roads, though. A nudge of the accelerator in a corner is all it takes to make the rear wheels squirm, but driven carefully it’s a burbling beauty.
There are other options available: choose four-wheel drive if you want sports car performance in all weathers, and there’s a coupé version if you don’t want the world to see that the interior of your Jag resembles a boutique hotel.
Whichever member of the F-type family you go for, you’ll be picking one of the prettiest cars on the road, and also one of the most tuneful.
- OUR PICK Jaguar F-type S convertible (£65,745)
- POWER 375bhp @ 6500rpm
- PERFORMANCE 0-62mph: 5.5sec | Top speed:
- TOP SPEED 171mph
- FUEL | CO2 28.8mpg (combined) | 234g/km
Audi R8, £119,500-£134,500
If Ferrari had to create a relatively affordable supermini or Aston Martin had the task of developing an everyman family hatch, they’d probably fail miserably. Yet when Audi encroached on the territory usually reserved for manufacturers of the fastest, most desirable mid-engined supercars with the original R8, it came up with a car just as good, but at a fraction of the price.
Now there’s a second take on the R8 formula and it’s even better than the first. Lighter, stiffer, more powerful and packing more hi-tech equipment than before, the new R8 is better to drive, more efficient and even faster.
Gone is the V8 option of old; there’s now just the Lamborghini-derived 5.2-litre V10 in two forms. The entry-level car gets 532bhp, but for an extra £15,000 you can buy a V10 Plus with 601bhp and ceramic brakes.
In time there will be a pure electric e-tron edition that may or may not come here; if it does, it’ll be in tiny numbers. Stick with the basic V10, which has power sent to all four wheels via a seven-speed dual-clutch transmission, and no manual option.
For now, then, there’s only a coupé, but it’s inevitable that a Spyder edition will land before long. The first cars arrive here in November and if you order now it should be here in time for Christmas. You’ll need a big stocking, though.
- OUR PICK Audi R8 V10 (£119,500)
- POWER 532bhp @ 8250rpm
- PERFORMANCE 0-62mph: 3.5sec
- TOP SPEED 198mph
- FUEL | CO2 24.8mpg (combined) | 272g/km
65-plate Special contents
- Electric and hybrid cars
- Family cars
- Sports cars and supercars
- City cars
- Executive and luxury cars
- WAG gags: the words made possible by the 65-plate