Supercars on a $500K budget? Here's what our journos would buy
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Half-a-million dollars! Which car to buy for $500k isn’t a question very many of us will ever have to face, but at least we can all play and dream. It’s also the playground where you can’t just buy whatever dream car you wanted. Most Ferraris are above $500k, Lambo’s V12s, too, but most McLaren’s are under it. So there’s actually a bit of thought here, because you need enough to differentiate you from the masses, and those ‘regular’ Porsche 911 owners, but can’t go crazy.
SO we’ve done the research and picked our best for those top five percenters who could consider a $500k supercar.
Editor, Dean Evans: Audi R8 V10 Performance Quattro
Even with my Nissan bias, when offered up a budget of half-a-mill, I still can’t bring myself to fork out the $240k for a Nismo GT-R, as much as I want to; and I’d feel it a wasted opportunity if I spent ‘just’ $205k on a regular GT-R. If we’re being fancy and supercary, you have to look at the premium brands, and the Nissan just doesn’t cut it in that class.
I’d lean for an Audi R8, essentially the Lamborghini Huracan for introverts. With 449kW and a V10 for 0-100km/h in 3.1 seconds, there’s the aural sensations catered for. It looks awesome in just about any colour, and I’d go for Floret Silver Metallic and Matte Titanium 20-inch alloys.
It’s comfortable inside and well equipped, and is the supercar to use everyday. Yes, you could choose a Lambo, but could you live with one? And is a Porsche 911 ‘really’ that special? And while a Ferrari would be great, I’d be worried about some jealous jerk trying to key it every time it was parked somewhere out of sight.
The Audi sits in that ideal middle ground between looks, performance and practicality without pretention. It has a racing pedigree, it displays its mid-engine like the work of art it is, and a true usability that even Iron Man agreed with.
And at $346,900, it’s well under the price cap, and I don’t even need any options, either.
Deputy Editor, David Linklater: Ferrari Portofino
Given the chance to own a Ferrari, you wouldn’t ever turn it down would you? That’s exactly what this Expert Car Picks instalment allows me to do.
The Portofino is the only Ferrari you can buy in New Zealand for under $500k, but unlike the California before it, I don’t think you’re compromising by choosing it.
It’s true that it’s supposed to be the “everyday Ferrari”, which means it’s easier to drive and easier to live with than the marque’s other, more specialised models.
But I drove the Portofino at length a couple of years back in Italy and I’d argue it still looks and feels like a proper Ferrari. The real heritage of the brand is front-engined coupes (which this is) and the Portofino pays homage to some of those classic styling cues with the roof up.
Okay, it’s not a V12 – but the 441kW/760Nm turbo V8 in this model is still awesome and revs lag-free to 7500rpm. And it’s fast: 0-100kmh in 3.5 seconds.
It’s a great convertible cruiser as well, but the chassis has the right stuff for supercar driving. The steering is 10 per cent quicker than the old California, the magna-ride suspension (SCM-E) offers a range of settings for a range of roads (including “Bumpy Road Mode” that can instantly soften the chassis while keeping the powertrain in max-attack) and Ferrari’s E-Diff 3 takes care of things at the back.
Digital Writer, Andrew Sluys: Porsche 911 Turbo S
A Porsche GT3 RS has always been a dream of mine, so it was a no-brainer within these criteria. Unfortunately, the 2021 GT3 RS is still a while away, so instead of going for the coolest 911, I have gone for the fastest.
Thanks to the 3.8-litre twin-turbo flat-six at the back, this two-door monster makes 478kW and 800Nm — which is somewhat alarming when you consider that it tips the scales at a touch over 1.6-tonnes.
Power is sent to all four wheels through an eight-speed dual-clutch PDK transmission. This makes the 911 the fastest supercar on this list by quite a margin, getting to 100km/h in just 2.7 seconds.
Unlike this performance, the 911 Turbo S looks extremely understated compared to the other entries on this list. It could be argued that all this subtleness was thrown out the window with my configuration.
With an almost endless list of customizable options and additions, I spent way too long playing with Porsche's configurator to build potentially the most "out there" Turbo S that could be created.
After ticking almost every option (including the $3,500 for adaptive cruise control) my Turbo S came in just below the $500K mark at $491,890. Can you take out a mortgage on a car? Asking for a friend of course...