Aston Martin. Audi. Mercedes-Benz. What do they all have in common? Well, one thing at least. They make quite possibly the three most beautiful supercars in the world, and maybe even in automotive history.
Some look at new products and they think, “Hey, it can’t be one of the best if it hasn’t been around…” Well, I don’t believe that’s always the case. And in this case, it’s not possible. You find me three more beautiful cars in the world, and I’ll let you write your own article for The Long Drive.
Here are the cars: Aston Martin’s DBS, Audi’s R8 and Mercedes-Benz’s SLS AMG. All three are not really that competitive to one another, but all three are perfectly styled and some of the most modern examples of how car companies can take design cues from their past without making the car retro.
Let’s start off with the Mercedes. You’ve seen the old 300SL Gullwing, right? If you haven’t, you’re missing out. It is one of the sole reasons why Mercedes-Benz is looked at as one of the most beautiful automakers in the world. They design gorgeous products… without a manual, however. That’s always been my biggest issue. You can’t get an AMG with a manual transmission. Sad. But, with that said, I think I could learn to live without it for all of the grace, class and style that the SLS AMG offers its customers.
When you look at the SLS, you’ll notice pieces of it taken straight from the old-school Gullwing, but if you look closely, you’ll see a modern Benz style all its own. Under hood is a 6.2-liter engine, not an actual 6.3L that AMG claims and presents with their special badges on the sides of the cars. Still, though, that 6.2L V-8 is good for 563 horsepower and 479lb-ft of torque, all put to the ground by a 7-speed dual-clutch gearbox. AMG, Mercedes-Benz’s in-house tuning agency, who made the car from the ground up -the first ever AMG road car- did a lot to minimize weight by using an aluminum spaceframe and carbon fiber materials; weight’s been, surprisingly, kept to a minimum at just 3,573 lbs. That may seem like quite a bit for a modern day supercar, believe me, comparing it to an SLR, this is almost a MINI Cooper less. Let’s not forget that it’s still got MB’s attention to detail when it comes to safety, ladies and gentleman.
All of this special AMG technology and build perfection secures a 3.6-second 0-60 time, maybe faster, and a top speed nearing 200 mph. Not too shabby, boys. Not only did you create a true vision of modern automotive art, you made it go like bird (get it, because of the gullwing doors? Yeah, I know…).
The spiritual successor to one of the greatest cars of all time, the Acura NSX, is currently produced by a German company named Audi. Popular for Quattro all-wheel drive, front-wheel drive A4 sedans, and beautifully big A6 and A8 luxury cars. But also famous for Ur, S and RS sport line models, they now build a mid-engine supercar that will blast through the fog and getting to 60 in 4-seconds flat, or 3.3-seconds… depending on whether you get the 420hp 317lb-ft of torque 4.2-liter V-8 (2011 models get 430hp), or the 525hp and 391lb-ft of torque 5.2-liter V-10. You can also have your choice of top speed, too. Getting the R8 with a V-8 gets you just 187 mph at the top end, and 196 for the 5.2 FSI V-10 model.
When the Audi R8 became available for purchase in 2007, everyone loved it. I mean, c’mon, how could you hate it? With the styling of no other Audi before it, the handling of a supercar god, with the power to match it, what else was there to love? You could actually fit comfortably in it, have leather appointed everything, and you wouldn’t break down on the highway after a 1,000 mile road trip. It has the same quattro AWD system that Audi has become more than famous for, so you know it feels fantastic from behind the steering wheel. It also has Audi’s bulletproof 4.2-liter V-8 that’s been fitted in the S4, RS4, S5, RS5, every current Spyker, as well as the extra-super, Gumpert Apollo. If that doesn’t say something about the level of greatness the engine has achieved, I don’t know how else to tell you that it’s one of the best engines ever made.
Made of aluminum with some carbon fiber bits, just like the SLS, the R8 is a racing man’s supercar. It has the heritage with its name (the Audi R8 Le Mans racer won 5 times at the 24 Hours of Le Mans), but also the actual prowess of no other Audi that’s come before it. You can get it with a 6-speed manual or Audi’s R tronic automated manual gearbox. A dual-clutch is currently in the works. With the use of aluminum, the R8’s weight isn’t too bad, either. At just 3,571 lbs for the V-10 and 3,605 lbs for the V-8. The weight may seem like a lot, but you’ve got to remember that the R8 sits on an all-wheel drive platform. That’s a couple to a few hundred pounds extra weight right there. So I’d say that Audi did a great job at keeping weight down with all of the modern electronics and safety features that make it one of the best all-round cars in the world.
Last but not least, we have my current favorite car in the world, and the one that I think sits atop the list of most beautiful. I also think it’s in my top 10 of sexiest cars of all time. Sure, it weighs 3,737 lbs, by far the most of this group, has the slowest 0-60 time of 4.0-seconds, the lowest top speed of 191 mph, and also costs way more than both the Audi and the Mercedes. But one thing it has that the others don’t? British quality. Wait, okay, that’s the wrong way to put it. Umm… British design? Yeah, that’s better. It just so happens that the Aston Martin DBS is James Bond’s car of choice. Take that Germany!
Yet another supercar made of aluminum and carbon fiber, the DBS has driven by its 6.0-liter V-12, the largest of the group, but only puts out 510hp and 420lb-ft of torque. I know what you’re saying, “The car with the biggest engine has the lowest amount of power, the slowest 0-60 and top speed, and you think it’s the best one here?” Why yes, yes I do. Here’s why: The Aston is designed with a different grace than the other two beauties in this three car list. It’s artistic without being artsy. It’s big, bulky and has a muscle car look to it.
Coming in rear-wheel drive, the Aston Martin easily provides the most luxury here, and you can even option it with or without a rear seat. Hey, something to carry the babies. Also, standard is a 6-speed 007 manual transmission with a Touchtronic automatic as a $4,000 option.
A base DBS will swipe $266,000 from your checking out, while the Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG will only borrow $183,000 at the start before options, and the Audi R8’s will coax $114,200 and $146,000, respectively. If you happen to want a convertible, then you’ll have to dish out a little more for each and wait for the SLS to come out (AMG is currently working on one.). For the Audi R8 5.2 V-10 you will start out by paying $161,000 before options with a standard manual. The Aston Martin will cost you $286,400.
It should be noted that the DBS is the only car that comes only with carbon ceramic disc brakes. Audi does not offer them yet, and Mercedes-Benz charges a $12,500 premium.
Audi will also produce a V-8 R8 cabrio, but it won’t be available until spring of 2011.
Below are some videos I’ve compiled from Top Gear and Fifth Gear. Tiff Needell of Fifth Gear agrees with me that the Aston Martin DBS is the best GT car in the world.