Suzuki Alto RS Turbo
Price: ¥1,293,840 (£8685)Where is it sold? JapanCould it ever come to the UK? Yes! Bring it over
Fans of the Gran Turismo racing game will no doubt credit their encyclopaedic Nissan Skyline GT-R knowledge to the series, there will also be quite a few UK gamers who would recognise the Alto RS Turbo badge too.
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Another of Japan’s Kei cars, the Suzuki Alto RS Turbo has nearly as much notoriety as the GT-R and RX badges in its home cities. Underpinned by another 660cc turbocharged triple, the Alto RS Turbo produces a total brake horsepower of 63bhp. That figure may not seem like much in a modern context, but in a car with a kerb weight of around 720kg that figure doesn’t sound quite so meek.
Unfortunately, the Alto RS is only available with an automated manual gearbox, replacing the typically slick manual gearboxes that used to feature in cars like this.
Like the S660 above, the Alto may lack the numbers to be considered as a serious performance car in a global sense, but it is stuffed full of loads of big car tech. Features like an integrated exhaust manifold, dual stage turbochargers and those adorable looks could well make this the perfect London runabout. If only Suzuki saw fit to sell it.
Price: $60,695 (£45,563)Where is it sold? North AmericaCould it ever come to the UK? Unlikely
When we mentioned above that Cadillac was on the warpath, gunning for BMW performance cars, this is the model it sees as its weapon of mass destruction. The ATS was developed from the ground up to offer a compact, premium executive saloon to rival the BMW 3-series. Based on the same Alpha platform as the Camaro above, the ATS has commonly been noted as the sharpest compact executive car on the market in its home nation.
As with its larger CTS cousin, the ATS is at its most potent in ATS-V form, lacking a V8 engine it washes away the cliché of GM’s reliance on the smallblock V8. Instead, the ATS-V features a 3.6-litre twin-turbo V6 engine producing 458bhp, not bad for the V brand’s entry-level model.
The ATS-V has been on the leading edge of efforts to topple the M3 in the US on grounds of sports saloon handling, but as with the CTS-V, it is actually the polish that Cadillac imbues the basic package with that is most impressive.
With a 0-60mph time of 3.8sec and a 189mph top speed, the ATS is hardly a half baked effort and would make a fitting replacement for the VXR8 in the UK, but without any chance of RHD production, we might be barking up the wrong tree.
Available in coupe and saloon body styles, as well as six-speed manual and eight-speed auto variants, the ATS-V was a massive shock when it hit showrooms with a dynamic package within striking distance of the established players.
Chevrolet Corvette Z06
Price: $79,495 (£59,676)Where is it sold? North AmericaCould it ever come to the UK? Unlikely
Let’s not pretend that you don’t know about the Chevrolet Corvette already. America’s favourite sports car is as deeply ingrained in state-side car culture as the 911 is in Germany, but the C7 Corvette is quite a different beast to those early dinosaurs.
Significantly revised in 2014 for the model’s seventh generation, the Corvette has become a properly serious sports car, with supercar-beating performance thanks to a relatively lightweight body and insanely powerful V8 engine. The latest and greatest Corvette is the Z06, a car we have had the pleasure of driving in the US alongside a 911 GT3 no less. We found that although it’s not perfect, the ZO6 is hardly the American lump many of its predecessors were.
Yet again, drive comes courtesy of the LT4 supercharged V8 seen elsewhere in this little round up, featuring the same 640bhp as the Camaro ZL1. The difference here is that the Corvette Z06 weighs in at 1598kg, over 150kg down on the Camaro.
Add to this the facts of the Z06’s lower centre of gravity and more distinct performance focus and you’ll find that this is every bit as capable as the best performance sports cars from Europe. The real USP with the Corvette though is that all of this capability and performance is available at such low prices.
We Europeans have often seen Corvettes as underdog sports cars, partly because of those low list prices. The Z06 not only quashes this generalisation, it rips it to shreds. The next generation car has been spied with its V8 engine mounted amidships, pointing towards a change of philosophy and execution. We’ll be sure not to make the generalisation again.