Porsche 911 Carrera S (winner)
Known internally as the 991, the all-new Porsche 911 is one of the most talked about performance offerings of 2012. The 991 is longer, wider and lower than the previous-generation 997 and, as a result, has undergone a major visual revamp. Closer inspection reveals wide-set headlights and a rejigged lower bumper to accommodate larger air dams and LED running lights. The changes are more obvious at the rear – thinner taillights and a tapered rear glass formation accentuates the 991’s squat stance. Of course no 911 is complete without a traditional straight-six boxer engine. The new 911 Carrera S uses a mid-mounted 3.8-litre power plant rated at 294kW and 440Nm. Extensive cabin insulation has asphyxiated the exhaust note but selecting the sports exhaust button in combination with enthusiastic throttle prodding raises the volume to a more appreciable level. The 911 offers two choices of transmissions: a seven-speed double-clutch PDK semi-automatic or the world’s first seven-speed manual – either way you’re in for a mesmerising drive. The track-honed suspension geometry and near-perfect weight matched to the firm’s new electro-mechanical steering system ensures sublime handling. Other models, such as the 911 cabriolet, Carrera, 911 Turbo and GT3, will gradually be introduced to the model line-up.
By parlaying the winning formula of the original McLaren F1 into a contemporary package, the MP4-12C has the power, aerodynamics and torsional rigidity to challenge the Ferrari 458 Italia. Like its predecessor the MP4-12C is all about performance employing a bespoke 3.8-litre V8 twin turbo mill, a carbon fibre MonoCell and a seven-speed dual-clutch gearbox culminating in mind-blowing acceleration.
Each year the Nissan GT-R swells in power output – that’s 44kW/40Nm in three years. Apart from a fine-tuned engine, transmission and chassis, the 2012-spec GT-R dons a newly developed asymmetric suspension arrangement which compensates for driver weight for improved handling. What makes the GT-R all the more special is that at R1347000 it’s one of the most affordable supercars around.
Ferrari 458 Italia
At present nothing comes close to the Ferrari 458 Italia. Yes, its contemporaries may produce similar power and offer similar performance but ultimately lack the finesse and packaging of the 458. From the Pininfarina-designed body contours to the high-revving 4.5-litre V8, the 458 Italia has become the quintessential poster car of choice the world over. Now available in Spider guise, the drop-top version offers all the frills of coupe just with more noise.