Supercars get more coverage in magazines and on motoring websites than just about anything else with four wheels. Their stunning looks and off-the-charts performance figures make for some good reading. But what you don’t get told about are all of the compromises you have to make if you actually attempt to drive one.
Sure, the exhilaration of experiencing the full-bore acceleration of a turbocharged V12 mega-horsepower machine is motoring nirvana, but when will you actually get to do that? Handling too may be all sorts of amazing but try to explore the limits of grip in an urban setting and you will soon find yourself either in jail or the nearest hedge. Now these are first-world problems after all but they are worth knowing about, especially if you are just about to head down to your nearest supercar dealer.
Now if you still have an irrational need to own one (and who doesn’t) we also have a few supercar suggestions that minimize these inevitable compromises.
Not great for introverts
A supercar is by its very nature pushing the boundaries of design and style. That means that if you want a massively overpowered supercar and happen to be the retiring type, the constant attention is soon going to wear you down.
Your best option is to avoid any aero add-ons and stick to the least garish colour on offer. A dark grey or black usually does the trick. Stay away from the extra loud sports exhaust option and chrome-painted alloys too.
Best compromise: Audi R8
The police give you a lot of attention
When you come upon a roadblock the chances that a cop is going to single you out are rather high. Whether this is profiling or not, they are assuming that the possibility of you having a few outstanding speeding fines are quite high.
Trying to explain that the man in the diesel van next to you is just as likely to have dodgy driving is unlikely to work.
Best compromise: Porsche Turbo S (in grey)
Hard to drive in town
You sit low in a supercar, the shallow side windows and generally non-existent rearward visibility make manoeuvring around town a real nightmare.
Try and thread a Lamborghini Aventador through morning traffic and you will see what we mean.
Best compromise: BMW i8
Rock hard ride
All that ‘handling’ and grip that makes for such impressive lap times means that when you aren’t trying to lap the Nurburgring the ride will suffer.
In some supercars it is downright uncomfortable, each road imperfection gets magnified and sent straight up your spine. The wide tyres and thin sidewalls don’t help either.
Best compromise: McLaren 720s
Too fast for the road
A Ferrari 812 Superfast is indeed extremely fast. Its 800-bhp 6.5-litre V12 is a work of art and it blasts to 60mph in under 3-seconds. Seeing as the speed limits on UK roads are at most 70mph, you can lose your license in well under 10-seconds after stepping on the accelerator pedal.
Even along twisty mountain roads where the law tends to turn a blind eye, you will struggle to deploy even a quarter of this car’s monumental pace.
Best compromise: None really, they are all over-powered by definition.
Too expensive for the track
‘So what, I will just drive it on the track then’, you say. Well even the cheapest supercars are extremely pricey so it may not be the best idea. A day at the track will wear away your expensive tyres and brakes too.
Unless you really know what you are doing, you may end up in the barrier and damage the bodywork too. Track insurance is expensive if you can get it all.
Best compromise: Lotus Exige
Too expensive to maintain and repair
A major service on a Ferrari or Bugatti out of warranty can cost as much as an entire hatchback. Sometimes more. If you think older supercars are perhaps cheaper to maintain you would be very wrong. Up until the F430 started using a camchain, cambelts used to be an expensive engine-out affair every 3 to 5 years.
Bodywork repairs can also run in to tens of thousands of pounds. Carbon-fibre trim and aluminium body panels are easily damaged and need to be repaired to the highest levels to retain the value of your precious supercar.
Best compromise: Mercedes AMG GT (or any new supercar that comes with a service plan, like the latest Ferraris)
You can’t park it just anywhere
We have already established that a supercar is not ideal for the morning milk run but they are a pain even when you are merely looking for a parking spot. Some are as wide as a massive SUV and those fancy gullwing doors are not quite so fancy when you can’t actually open them.
Whether it’s in a multi-storey car park or an open-air shopping market lot, the risk of scrapes and dings may scare you off the prospect altogether.
Best compromise: Ariel Atom (as long as it’s only for milk and it’s not raining)
You can’t take it on holiday
What about a nice long-distance road trip then? Well aside from the horrendous consumption that will have you visiting every service station on the way, you better be prepared to travel light.
The tiny little boots and cockpit storage spaces on most supercars will make it a proper challenge to pack more than one nights clothing.
Best compromise: Ferrari GTC4Lusso T
You can’t get into them
A low-slung supercar with gullwing doors looks awesome until you actually try to get into it. Most owners will be well in to their twilight years before they can afford one so the contortions required to get seated may be downright dangerous.
If you have recently won the Euro lottery and are planning on buying a McLaren F1, its central seating position makes ingress and egress even trickier.
Best compromise: Lamborghini URUS (if you can deal with the fact that it is an SUV)
Your neighbours will hate you
A fast saloon or common sports car is something most people can relate to. Arrive home in a new BMW M3 and the chances are most people will think it’s a fancy 3-series and not feel too threatened by its presence. If that new car happens to be a McLaren 570S the reception may well be quite different.
Unless your neighbour happens to have a 675LT parked in his driveway already there are going to be a lot of envious glances and mutterings once your back is turned.
Best compromise: Porsche GT3 TP (it’s the manual one with GT3 performance but without the massive rear wing)