Over the last few days, Jalopnik’s been wringing out four distinctly different cars with one commonality I only noticed after a few hundred miles. The Alfa Romeo 4C, Porsche Cayman GTS, Ford Mustang GT, and Volkswagen Golf R are perfect caricatures of their automakers.
(Full Disclosure: We had these vehicles around the track at Lime Rock for driver training, and on the backroads of New York for our own amusement. I’d effectively had zero experience in any of these cars before this weekend, and as some of you know, my speciality is trucks.)
Here are my unedited driving notes on each car, in the order in which I drove them. I’d love to hear what lines up with your preconceived notions about these... or your own impressions, if you’ve driven them yourself.
2015 Porsche Cayman GTS
- I want to touch every part of it.
- Heavy clutch, shifter sounds like a swordfight clanging through gears. In the very best kind of way.
- Not the gut-sucking acceleration I was expec– hoooly shit we’re doing 120.
- Sounds absolutely perfect at every RPM. And when you push the little “exhaust” button: perfecter.
- Handling is so sharp I’m afraid the steering wheel will cut my hand. Just kidding, that alcantara helm is the the softest steering wheel I’ve ever held. It would never hurt me.
- Every bit of the interior looks just spaceship enough to be exciting, simple enough to be timeless.
- $96,000? Might have to go see a man about a mortgage.
2015 Ford Mustang GT
- This car definitely looks like it’s matured on the outside. Oh don’t worry it’s still a fucking circus act as soon as you open the door; missile switches for hazard lights, (apparently real) aluminum dash, speedo says “Ground Speed.”
- Carnival-ride interior vibe translates directly to the driving experience; stomp the gas “whenever, dude” to step the back out. Hot shifts shake the entirety of the oceanliner-length car.
- Hood is SO long. Is this what it’s like to drive an E-Type? (Pause for laughter.)
- Very comfortable until you hit any...thing. Anything. “Performance Pack’s” Brembo brakes and Recaro seats look and work great; springs make you feel like you’re riding in a cheaply executed tuner car if you’re doing anything besides high-performance driving.
- Kids love it.
- Surprisingly quiet.
- Genuinely enjoyable cruiser with an annoyingly ambitious suspension setup. Ditch the tight shocks and have a comfortable sporty coupe that can do great burnouts.
2014 Alfa Romeo 4C
- Egregious rattles. Uneven paintwork. Panel gaps you could fuck.
- Remember that time you took your Little Red Wagon, taped cardboard pieces on the side to make it look like a car, then jumped in and went flying down the neighborhood hill waaay too faaast? Then you know what it’s like to drive a 4C.
- True go-cart-esque experience is achieved as your feet are fore of the front wheels. Or if they’re not, it sure feels like it.
- Every bit as much fun as it is exhausting. This is the furthest possible pole from a luxury pickup truck.
- Certainly does sound good, though.
- Unnngh, that sound.
2015 Volkswagen Golf R
- Comfortable, tidy interior, reasonable fuel economy, extremely fast when you want it to be and a great balance in the corners... wow, this car is so good at car.
- Big wheels and stiff suspension means every single pebble you run over will make it to your ass.
- Why does the infotainments screen have the resolution of a Tamagotchi? Damn shame because the interface in general is great.
- $3,000 “Dynamic Chassis Control” option, in fact the car’s only option, does dramatically change the steering feel and suspension feedback. Probably worth it if you’re a speed demon, I had plenty of fun driving the thing in “Comfort” mode.
2015 Corvette Stingray Convertible
- Beautiful to look at, nice to sit in, quick, technologically miles ahead of its predecessor.
- Auto rev-match feature works really well, throw it in seventh gear at 30 MPH to unlock secret “tugboat mode.”
- I only drove it for about twenty minutes, but first impression is that it’s every bit as good as everybody says.