Supercars- The cars of 2006/7
The supercar world is a fast-moving one in all senses of the term; no sooner than one manufacturer sets a performance benchmark, their peers begin piling their time and cash into trumping it. This constant model development and the, sometimes misguided, notion that newest is best means that many people are always looking to experience (and be seen experiencing!) the latest supercar thrills.
In the past, speculating by getting your name down first on the order books used to damn near guarantee you a profit, even after a few months of enjoying the car, but now, such a return is by no means certain, something which those who banked on the Bentley GTC being in short supply in the secondary market shortly after its launch will no doubt attest to. Although bad news for some, this is good news for those involved in asset-sharing car programmes, as members will get to sample the most recent offerings from the greatest names in motoring without the possibility of having to pay a premium and/or take a big depreciation hit when the next 'must-have' catches their eye.
So what are the cars to be seen in this year? The nominees are, in no particular order...
Porsche 911 Turbo (997): This must be the quickest point-to-point car I have ever had the pleasure of driving. Four-wheel-drive, 480bhp, twin-turbos and a huge grin free with every prod of the loud pedal make this a great all-rounder, with enough luggage space for a weekend away. Although don't worry about booking a fancy hotel, as you'll be out driving most of the time; just get a spot somewhere cheap with decent roads nearby and save the rest for plenty of super unleaded. Perhaps not as flash as some of its contemporaries, but if you want bling, why not take a look at the...
Bentley Continental GTC: You may get the impression from the office know-it-all that the Bentley marque has been diluted since the introduction of the GT, but then, it is doubtful that he has driven one. Perhaps it is a touch on the brash side, especially in this new convertible incarnation, but there is no arguing that it still oozes opulence and serious road presence and the W12 twin-turbo is an absolute stormer. One for when the sun is shining and you're heading to the coast. Or maybe one for the June pilgrimage to Le Mans...?
Lamborghini Gallardo Spyder: The standard Gallardo is a stunningly accomplished car, but possibly too much so, until you catch the sight of your reflection in a shop window or the road opens up and allows you to exploit the potential of the V10 that is. Well, now Lambo have made it a little bit more special; press a button and the roof disappears in a scant 20 seconds, meaning that you can now enjoy that engine note even more.
Porsche 911 GT3: Our second Porsche in the list, but although the GT3 may share the distinctive 911 silhouette, it is an altogether different beast. 415 normally aspirated horses and rear-wheel-drive means that it is spiritually closer to the Porsches of old, but with the benefit of all those years of chassis development. To coin a cliché, it embodies man and machine as one and is a truly superb drive for those who like their cars with added involvement. Seek out the GT3 RS for an even more hardcore experience.
Audi R8: Much has been said about the R8 but, unfortunately, not by me, as I'm not due to get my hands on one for another month or so. This is Audi tossing its hat into the supercar ring and it is probably fair to say that this is one of the most hotly anticipated cars of 2007. With its chassis and layout based on the Gallardo, we know that it is going to be good, but just how good? If the styling is anything to go by, then the answer will be 'very.'
Aston Martin DB9 Volante: The gentleman's choice. Although Italian supercars may chase headline figures with their F1 technology and high-revving engines, the DB9 goes about its business in a more restrained fashion. 450bhp may not sound like much in today's automotive world, but it can still knock on the door of 190mph, accompanied by a soundtrack guaranteed to stir your soul. All of these things could be said of the coupe version, but now there is no pesky roof to stand between you and the aural nirvana provided by its 6-litre V12 power plant.
Ferrari 599 GTB Fiorano: This is Ferrari's flagship GT model, but although 'GT' may conjure up images of softly sprung but powerful cruisers, the 599 is as taut and accomplished as we have come to expect from the boys and girls in Maranello. It is probably best to let the figures do the talking on this one; the Enzo-derived 5999cc (hence the name) V12 produces a neck-brace-manufacturer-pleasing 611bhp and the claimed 0-62mph sprint is over in 3.7 seconds. And if you are feeling brave (and you have a very long driveway as we wouldn't condone this on the public road), you will be doing over 120mph just 7 seconds later. Bellissimo.
BMW M5 Touring: A list of the most exciting cars of the year and we have a BMW? Well, BMW's Motorsport range has consistently come up with some supercar-baiting versions of their more run-of-the-mill fare over the decades and now they have sprinkled their M-dust on the latest 5-series. Old news? Nope. This is the Touring iteration (don't call it an 'estate,' as it upsets the Bavarian boys), which means that you can make the fastest ever round trip to Ikea thanks to the same 507bhp V10 that powers the saloon.
Aston Martin Vantage Volante: If the DB9 is the more mature yet more powerful member of the AM family, then the Vantage is it's tenacious younger brother. True to Aston form, it has a fabulous engine note, although now it's a rich V8 burble at tickover that grows to a snarl under part throttle and a glorious wail at full chat. With the roof down and a tank full of the finest super unleaded, there are few more life-affirming ways to while away a day or two. Oh, and we won't tell anyone if you want to be a bit geeky and record the exhaust note as your mobile phone ring tone. Promise.
Lamborghini Murcielago: Although it remains a current model, the Murcielago is, perhaps, a bit long in the tooth in the company of the rest of these young upstarts, but is, nevertheless, worthy of a mention just because of the sheer occasion it brings to every trip. If stepping out of a Lambo with the trademark scissor doors (reserved only for the top-of-the-line V12 models, such as the Murcielago) wasn't enough, then you get to drive it in between getting in and out! Providing proper old-school thrills and true 200+mph performance, your supercar year just wouldn't be complete without it.
So, that's it. Our current top 10, which is subject to change as soon as I finish this sentence. There is no out and out winner apart from you, the consumer, because for as much as it costs for a set of tyres and a new clutch for just one of them, you could sample them all for a few days. Check out the full listing of supercar clubs here to get specific details of which clubs offer specific cars and their terms and conditions. You can also get access to our top 25 questions to ask your supercar club before signing on the dotted line by registering with Fractional Life here. It only takes a few seconds and could save you £££s.