Super GTs are a rare breed with the ability to be soft and gentle one moment and ferocious the next, while encasing their occupants in luxurious surroundings. Which make our top ten?
18 December 2018

The modern ‘super-GT’ inherits a legacy forged and refined over a century of sports car-making, through front-engined, rear-wheel drive legends such as the pre-war Alfa Romeo 8C and the likes of the Jaguar E-Type, Aston Martin DB4, Ferrari 250 and Mercedes-Benz 300 SL ‘gullwing’. No other part of the performance car market has better pedigree.

These are cars intended for the idyllic, high-speed continent-crossing missions of your waking dreams.

They’re ‘have your cake and eat it’ cars, with excellent touring manners and plenty of space for your luggage, often with a couple of occasional back seats included.

But the very best combine all that with absolutely first-order speed, power, handling poise and driver engagement; or, alternatively, limousine-like luxury, as you prefer.

1. Aston Martin DBS Superleggera

If there’s one marque you’d expect to get the execution of a luxurious, powerful and beautiful super GT bang on the money, it’s Aston Martin. And with the latest DBS Superleggera, that’s exactly what the iconic British brand has done.

This new flagship model (at least until the Valkyrie hypercars) is one of a small handful of cars to be awarded the full five-star rating by our road test team in 2018. It’s an impressively well-rounded car, this one. The 715bhp and 664lb ft developed by its 5.2-litre twin-turbocharged V12 allows the DBS to cover ground at an alarming rate of knots, and yet, even with all that performance punch, the big Aston never feels intimidating or nervous - something that can’t be said of the Ferrari 812 Superfast. Superb handling and a ride that’s purposefully firm but usefully supple adds to its outstanding grand-touring credentials.

There are a few (minor) flies in its ointment, though. It’s not exactly lightweight (despite what the Superleggera name might lead you to believe), and the eight-speed gearbox can be a bit aggressive at low speeds. The cabin is also a mite too similar to that of the considerably cheaper DB11, too. But overall, this is a phenomenal car that represents a welcome return to form for a much loved British car maker.

Our Verdict

Aston kicks off its ‘second century plan’ with an all-new turbo V12 grand tourer

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2. Aston Martin DB11 AMR

That Aston Martin has laid claim to the top two spots on this list is a testament to the success of Messrs Palmer and Co in turning the fabled British car maker from a much-loved, if old-fashioned, brand into a genuine force to be reckoned with.?

Think of the AMR as a DB11 2.0. Nearly three years after the original DB11 V12 was launched in 2016, it has been retired and replaced by the model you see here. Power from the twin-turbo 5.2-litre V12 is up 30bhp over the old model to 630bhp, while stiffer suspension bushes and re-tuned dampers mean it now handles even more competently than before, while outright traction has also been improved. And while the it’s ride is understandably firm, there’s enough composure on offer to ensure it remains a comfortable, effortless GT.

It’s one that’s not quite as complete as the DBS Superleggera, but considering that flagship model is the best part of £50,000 more, you’d hope it wouldn’t tread on its bigger brother’s toes too much.

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3. Bentley Continental GT

The sporting realignment of the Bentley Continental GT has got off to a fine start with this new twelve cylinder, third-generation launch edition coupe. This is a car that retains all of the tactile material lavishness, top-level luxury and first-order touring refinement we’ve come to expect from its maker, but that probably halves the gap that existed between its predecessor and the best-handling cars in the ‘Super-GT’ niche on driver appeal.

The car’s towering real-world performance and all-surface stability will both be big draws for it to customers who use their cars on a daily basis, but they come partnered with much better body control and cornering poise than existing GT owners will be used to. But for one or two details, it’s hard to imagine how Crewe could better have delivered on this car’s particular dynamic brief, which now caters to a wider range of customer preferences than any of its predecessors have.

Granted, there are a couple of rival super grand tourers which nail that all-important compromise of handling agility and involvement and touring comfort ever-so-slightly better. But considering the weight of opulent luxury it has to bear, the Continental GT has just come a remarkably long way as a driver’s car. We’ll be watching how much further it may come yet with interest.

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4. Rolls-Royce Wraith

Little in the motoring world is more wonderful than the most aristocratic of passenger car blue-bloods dressed for some weekend amusement.

That’s what the Wraith represents. Rolls-Royce introduced the two-door ‘gran turismo’ version of its smaller Ghost saloon in 2013, and with it announced the most driver-focused car in its history.

The elegant two-door is only small by Rolls’ standards, of course; it’s easily big enough to accommodate adults in its beautifully appointed rear seats?and has boot space for plenty of designer luggage.

Up front, it trades some of the extravagance and formality of the interiors of its sister models for a more casual, intimate and understated ambience. Again though, Rolls’ idea of understated is still sufficiently stately to include soft hides, gleaming brightwork and large expanses of gorgeous wood veneer panelling.

The Wraith’s handling has a starchier, crisper edge than the Ghost's, making the car very happy to be whisked along a testing road at pace?and well capable of rewarding an interested driver with its deliciously weighted steering and strong, balanced grip levels.

The Wraith's V12 engine has abundant power, typical aristocratic smoothness and heightened responsiveness, although you still monitor its business at a distance, through Rolls’ idiosyncratic ‘power reserve’ meter rather than anything as common as a rev counter.

This car is simply delicious to drive, as well as being a sublime way to travel.

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5.?Ferrari 812 Superfast

An updated version of the front-engined V12 introduced as the F12 in 2012, the 812 Superfast builds on everything that was good about its predecessor, and also incorporates a lot of what made the special-edition F12tdf?such an incredible driver’s car. Which isn’t a bad start in life for any modern performance car.

With 801bhp from an atmospheric twelve-cylinder engine that could genuinely be the greatest of its kind ever to grace a road car?along with sporting handling that nothing in the Super GT class can really even approach, the 812 Superfast stands head and shoulders above its closest competitors for driver appeal.

The rapier-like handling agility of the F12tdf, caused principally by its aggressive four-wheel steering system, has been toned down, but without dampening the dynamic alertness and balance that has distinguished this generation of front-engined V12 Ferraris since its introduction.

Some would argue that a super GT?should be less highly strung – a more natural distance coverer that's capable of making the miles fly by the window in less wearing mode.

But once you’ve sampled the incisive vigour and engagement with which the 812 Superfast conducts itself, nothing else in the class will do.

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6.?McLaren 570GT

McLaren makes supercars, right? Right. But it also makes the 570GT: an added-practicality, slightly becalmed and cultured version of the 570S ‘sport series’ mid-engined super-sports car.

And while that idea might sound a bit misconceived, the car it gives rise to is anything but, combining 95% of the remarkable pace and balance of the ‘core’ 570S with more restrained cruising manners, a more elegant silhouette and a useful increase in carrying space.

The 570GT is a strict two-seater, making it a good deal less usable than plenty of the cars in this class, but it offers up to 370 litres of luggage space split between boot compartments front and rear; it has a slightly softer suspension tune than a 570S as well as slower-geared, more relaxed steering; and it carries better interior isolation and refinement measures than its rangemate.

The 570GT rides with remarkable compliance and, being a McLaren, offers much better all-round visibility, much easier entry and exit, and a much easier-going, longer-striding driving experience than you’d ever believe a mid-engined sports car could. The car is so good, in fact, that you might wonder if Woking should turn its hand to GT cars more often in future.

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7.?Lexus LFA

You might have been expecting to read about Lexus’ legendary, F1-inspired LFA in our ‘supercars’ class.

But, contrary to what the eye-popping styling and proportions suggested, this was,?in fact, a car with its V10 engine in the front and drive channelled to the rear: a mechanical template making it more at home in the ‘super-GT’ class than anywhere else.

What an engine it was. Normally aspirated and spinning all the way to 9400rpm, the Lexus’ ten-cylinder, 552bhp screamer took centre stage in the LFA's driving experience.

It was mated to an automated manual gearbox that wasn’t really worthy of it, making the LFA struggle to put down its power from standing. But the car’s handling agilty and steering purity both survived comparison with the very best mid-engined contemporaries. Few front-engined cars were as raw.

Only 500 examples of the LFA were built, and its price made it a car that might eventually have run short on demand if volume hadn’t been limited. But its importance as a symbol within both Lexus and Toyota cannot be underestimated.

Where the LFA lead, cars such as the GS-F, RC-F and LC coupé have followed – but principally only because Lexus’ pioneering V10 epoch-maker left such an indelible mark on, and built such enormous confidence within, the company that made it.

8.?Mercedes-AMG S63 Coupé

Mercedes' S-Class Coupé packs the very latest and greatest of its maker’s powertrain, suspension, safety and infotainment technology into an elegant?two-door flagship. And when you’re an industry powerhouse the size of Daimler, you can pack in an awful lot of technology – much of it the kind that its niche-level rivals in this class simply don’t have the budget or scale to offer.

The Mercedes-AMG S63 Coupé, then, is a car with all of Mercedes' semi-autonomous active lane keeping, speed limit and braking assistance systems, with the latest onboard connectivity and digital concierge systems and with Mercedes’ Magic Body Control?camera-based active hydraulic suspension that scans the surface of the road ahead and prepares the suspension specifically for the bumps it's about to encounter.

AMG’s 4.0-litre twin-turbocharged V8 supplies the S63?with every bit as much power and torque and it needs, and the suspension strikes a clever compromise between isolation and driver engagement that does just enough to keep you interested in the driving experience?but also makes the car feel superbly refined and long-legged.

9.?Aston Martin Rapide S

The Rapide S may have four doors and four usable adult-sized seats, but it’s as much a saloon car as it is a Martian lander. In a move intended to broaden its showroom range back in 2009, Aston Martin launched the Rapide at a time when there was an excited buzz around curvy, four-door liftbacks.

Now that the dust has settled and the buzz has subsided, it’s become clear that the most useful way to think about the Rapide is as a big coupé,?albeit one with a large hatchback, folding rear seatbacks, two unusually accessible occasional rear chairs?and a boot big enough to swallow much more holiday cargo than almost any other six-figure exotics.

Though it’s big, the Rapide S certainly isn’t short on either dynamic appeal or typical Aston Martin motive charm either, having a fluent, balanced chassis with an indulgently long, slow-reacting wheelbase, as well as feelsome steering and an effusive V12 that loves to rev.

There’ll be an AMR?performance version along fairly soon and likewise an all-electric version, with a Lagonda-branded?‘second-century’ replacement due in 2020.

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10.?Ferrari GTC4 Lusso T

Maranello’s four-seat, four-wheel drive shooting brake is described by the company as its ‘special model’, aimed at customers who have transport requirements that Ferraris haven’t traditionally been able to satisfy. By ‘special’, they mean oddball. Even if you’re expecting the unusual proportions, you’ll likely still be surprised by the car’s squat, boxy ‘breadvan’ styling.

The FF, in mid-life facelift form, became the GTC4 Lusso in 2016. The car’s engine range was expanded to include a 3.9-litre 603bhp turbocharge V8 in 2017 in addition to the 681bhp 6.3-litre V12. Both versions use a complicated four-wheel drive system, as part of which the front axle takes torque direct from the forwards end of the crankshaft via a separate two-speed gearbox and one wet clutch per wheel. When FF?became GTC4 Lusso, meanwhile, Ferrari added a four-wheel steering system derived from the one on the F12tdf.

The GTC4 Lusso T cruises in refined, relaxed fashion, albeit only by Ferrari’s own standards, and is significantly less highly strung than its various rangemates – although it’s not quite as perfectly poised or composed when driven hard as they are. All of which may matter little to you given that, as a quarter-million-pound, four-seat, two-door, pseudo-load-lugging coupé, the GTC4 Lusso T is in a class of one.

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Join the debate


22 December 2018

Erm, guys V8 version doesn't have this complicated all wheel drive system. To be precise it has no awd system, it's purely rwd car.

13 May 2019


Britain: 6

Rest of world: 4

Where are you Germans?

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