The month of March brought the Denver Auto Show back to the Colorado Convention Center. According to Tim Jackson, President and CEO of the Colorado Automobile Dealers Association, more than 500 vehicles were onsite this year. It was a spectacular and varied assemblage of beautiful and innovative automotive hardware.
As we freely wandered the display floor during the VIP Charity Cocktail Party, we had the delightful opportunity to closely peruse many of the unique and exceptional treasures the manufacturers were showcasing. Surrounded by such a multitude of amazing vehicles, we found ourselves contemplating a wild flight of fancy.
The main intrigue became this teaser: if you found yourself with $140,000, give or take, burning a hole in your pocket, you only need two seats, and your main objectives are performance, styling, and pure fun, which of the exciting and lust-worthy cars on the showroom floor would you select?
Our top contenders quickly became the BMW i8, the Jaguar F-Type R, the Aston Martin Vantage GT, and the Audi R8. It turned out to be a very close race.
How they are similar: They are all sexy, low slung coupes with top speeds approaching 200 MPH. They all have more than 400 HP. Any one of these beauties will get you the premium valet parking spot, and put your driver’s license at dire risk.
How they are different: Three of the cars—the Jag, the Audi, and the BMW—are AWD with automatic manual transmissions. Only the RWD Aston Martin offers the third pedal for a manual 6-speed shifter. The F-Type is supercharged; the i8 is a plug-in electric Hybrid with a twin-turbo gas engine. The R8 tranny has 7 speeds; the F-Type has 8 speeds. The Hybrid i8 gets 76 MPG (equivalent) , the Aston V8 a meager 15 MPG, while the V8 Jag F-Type is rated at a respectable 23 MPG. The Audi V-10 falls somewhere short of 14 MPG. The Audi and BMW come from Germany; the Aston and Jaguar are both purely British.
Aston Martin Vantage GT – MSRP $131,552; 4.7L V8; 430 HP, 361 lb-ft of torque; 6-speed manual transmission; traditional RWD.
Audi R8 – MSRP $162,900; 5.2L V-10; 540 HP, 398 lb-ft of torque; 7-speed Dual Clutch auto-manual with paddle shifters; Quattro AWD.
BMW i8 – MSRP $140,700; 1.5L 3- cylinder twin-turbo gas engine plus electric motor; 357 combined HP, 420 lb-ft of torque; 6-speed auto-manual with paddle shifters; BMW Hybrid AWD system.
Jaguar F-Type R Coupe – MSRP $125,950; 5.0L Supercharged V8; 575 HP, 516 lb-ft of torque; 8-speed auto-manual with paddle shifters; Jaguar Instinctive AWD.
So, how do you choose the ideal super car for you?
If you want cutting edge technology wrapped in space age styling, with a nod to environmental virtue, it has to be the BMW i8.
If rakish good looks, German engineering, and a desire for an excess of cylinders is your passion, the Audi R8 is your ride.
When traditional and stylish Grand Touring while surrounded by sumptuous leather and burled wood is your cup of tea, the Aston Martin Vantage GT delivers all that and more.
With an obscene amount of power, the most soul-searing exhaust note on the planet, and voluptuous good looks, the Jaguar F-type R Coupe is a superlative contender.
The advantages are many, while the drawbacks are few, and in the end, it truly comes down to a matter of personal preference.