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Sports Cars: Getting Started on Your Need for Speed

posted 4 Feb 2013, 06:06 by Manish Abraham

If high acceleration, top speed, and appearance are what you want in a vehicle, then a sports car is probably what you're looking for. 

Sports cars are a $4.5 billion industry with about 55,000 units sold annually.

Sports cars are built as performance vehicles  meaning they are to be pushed in ways regular cars cant. For example, acceleration is often no more than 5 seconds to go from 0 to 100 mph.

As it is more difficult to maneuver a speeding object, sports cars are specially designed to be handled at top speeds. 

The term sporty was coined to refer to a sleek but robust design that exudes a powerful persona for the person behind the wheel.  

What follows is a basic run-through of sports cars out in the marketplace  their general designs and layout, as well as a listing of the more popular models and makers.

- FF  front engine, front wheel drive. 
The FF layout has a moderate capacity for high speed handling and is seen in select models such as the Fiat Coup, and the Lotus Elan M100. 

- FR  front engine, rear wheel drive
Considered the classic sports car layout, the engine drives the rear wheels but keeps the weight off the back.  The FR is good at drifting corners while still maintaining control. Mercedes-Benz is recognized for using this layout for its models.

- RR  rear engine, rear wheel drive
With the engine at the back driving the rear wheels, weight placement on a RR layout provides excellent traction for a car. However, without auxiliary driving aids like stability control, handling becomes difficult. As of today, the only maker who keeps the RR layout for its cars is Porsche.

AWD  all wheel drive
An AWD layout provides the easiest handling, making it ideal for those who are just starting out with sports cars. Audi started the widespread use of this technique with the Quattro. Japanese manufacturers like Mitsubishi used this layout to increase handling making it an excellent rally car.

Because of higher restrictions in the states, sports car manufacturers are more prevalent in Europe than in America. Nevertheless, American brands are in equal competition with its European and Asian counterparts. Some recognized makers and models are:

Alfa Romeo
Alpine 
Aston Martin 
Austin-Healey 
BMW 
Bugatti 
Caterham 
Davrian 
De Lorean 
Ferrari 
Fisker 
Jaguar 
Koenigsegg 
Lamborghini 
Lotus 
McLaren 
Maserati 
MG 
Morgan 
Panoz 
Porsche 
Triumph 
TVR 
Vector

Now that you've gotten started, take your next step by discovering the excitement a sports car can bring you today, just like it has for generations.