Sitting here on a cold wet Saturday morning with sheets of rain sweeping across the front lawn brings back fond memories of summer drives in Scotland. The potential that we might be able to take a long road trip or two later this year is incredibly appealing. With 2021 bringing hope that normalcy may return at some point, it has gotten me thinking about what the cars are I would really like to drive for the 1st time this year. My top 5 are the McLaren 765LT, McLaren Artura, SCG 004S, Ferrari 812 GTS, and Chevrolet C8 Corvette. Of the five, I have a high degree of confidence that 4 of the 5 will happen, the only one I am unsure of is the Ferrari 812 GTS. I’ve chosen each of these five as I believe they bring something unique and special to the supercar world.
To be honest, this was a car I was originally hoping to drive in 2020. Like most things in 2020 it didn’t happen for a whole host of reasons beyond anyone’s control. As the 765LT is likely the last of the first-generation twin turbo Ricardo V8 powered cars (assuming McLaren doesn’t do a “780 R”) it should be the best of the breed. However, its predecessor, the McLaren 675LT, is a phenomenal car (My Favorite McLaren) so the 765LT has a very high bar to clear. Making matters even tougher for the 765LT is the normal production car on which it is based, the 720S, is already hugely capable and brilliant to drive.
I’ve read most of the McLaren 765LT press reviews and even watched a few of the YouTube vlogs. The only thing consistent in the reviews is the lack of consistency. Some reviews are absolutely gushing, and some complain that the 765LT is unruly at the limits. Two that I found quite helpful were Henry Catchpole’s Carfection 765LT & JWW’s JWW 765LT (he’s Shmee for adults) as they cover both the professional car tester end of the spectrum and the car enthusiast end. The twitchiness several refer to at the limit strikes me that it’s a car with lots of character, which in my opinion should be a very good thing. Of the five, I probably have the highest expectations for the McLaren 765LT.
If the 765LT is at the top on my expectations list, the Artura is probably at the bottom (Hybrids Are Coming). The Artura will be McLaren’s first regular production hybrid. The Artura is built around a new, even lighter and stiffer, carbon fiber tub with a twin turbo V6 mated to an electric motor. Like the P1, it will be able to run on full electric mode for roughly 20 miles. If the 765LT brings up imagery of being raw, wild, and blindingly quick, the first things that come to mind on the hybrid Artura are heavy and digital. To be fair to the Artura, this is based purely on my experience with other hybrids (BMW i8), and I have been assured that the Artura will be anything but lumpy and remote. Where the Artura will sit in McLaren’s portfolio is also a bit of a mystery. The 570/600 Sport Series has already reached the end of its production run and the 720/765 Super Series will do so shortly. While the common assumption is the Artura is the 1st model in the next generation Sport Series, I would not be surprised if McLaren’s plan is to move away from separate Sport & Super Series lines to a simpler portfolio of Supercars (Artura), Hypercars (next Gen P1), MSO Bespoke Commission’s (Sabre), and GTs, going forward. Given the move to hybrid technology, if the Artura is as good as the 720S, that would meet my base level of expectations.
Scuderia Cameron Glickenhaus SCG004S
On paper, the SCG004S (It Lives – SCG004) is epic. Mid-engine supercharged V8, 6 speed manual gearbox, carbon fiber tub, and 3 seat center driver’s position. The initial feedback on the race version of the 004, the 004C, was that the car is epic. If the road version lives up to the expectations generated by the race version, it will break new ground. The fact that the SCG004S even exists is a bit of a miracle. Without Jim & Jesse Glickenhaus’ determination, creativity, and vision a full US road legal three seat center driving position supercar would very likely have never made it off the drawing board. Having owned a supercar built by a micro manufacturer in the past, the Mosler MT900S, my expectations for the SCG004S are very high when it comes to performance. However, patience will likely be needed as elements of the car will need fine tuning as its being broken in. I remember the Mosler as being hugely intimidating initially yet easy to learn and a joy to drive after a short period behind the wheel. I expect the SCG004S to have a similar learning curve even though it is on a whole different performance level.
Ferrari 812 GTS
Over the years, I’ve had a bit of a twisted relationship with front engine Ferrari V12s GTs (Man Math & Ferrari V12s). It can basically be described as lust, acquisition, and then neglect. I love the idea but when it comes to owning and using the car, they just tend to sit, usually losing the key grab war to the mid-engine V8 Spiders if there was any risk of the sun being out. It’s that open air potential that makes me thing the 812 GTS might be different. The 812 GTS is Ferrari’s first V12 GT Spider since the 365 GTS/4 Daytona went out of production in 1973. All the V12 we have owned to date have been coupes. As the 812 GTS comes with a retractable hardtop, it should be able to give the V8 Spiders a run for their money and could become the long-distance road trip car of choice. Hence my keen interest in getting behind the wheel to see if we bond. I expect it will sound phenomenal but how it handles its size and weight will be critical. The 812 GTS is the one I am not sure will happen as I currently don’t have any idea on how I might be able to get my hands on a demonstrator or press car.
Chevrolet C8 Corvette
It is probably a bit of a shock that the Chevrolet C8 Corvette is on my list. It’s here purely out of personal curiosity. A number of publications have called it a supercar and I would like to find out if it really meets those expectations. On a number of elements, it certainly ticks the right boxes: its mid-engine, has a V8, is made out of the same material Ferrari builds its main productions cars out of, and uses a dual clutch transmission. Where it falls a bit short on paper is weight, where it’s a bit flabby, and bhp, where it’s a bit short by today’s supercar standards. However, you can tick every option box on the C8 list, and its still less than half the cost of a Ferrari F8. My guess is the C8 is a very accomplished sports car but not quite a supercar. If it truly is a supercar, then it’s a game changer. I just need to spend a bit of time behind the wheel of one to find out.
A Few Others
There are a few others that aren’t quite top 5, but I would definitely like the chance to spend a few days getting to know.
Aston Martin DBX – I’ve had a couple of friends say it really is quite good, better in fact than the Bentley Bentayga . My experience with Aston Martin recently has been disappointing but I do think I should give the DBX a fair chance.
Ferrari SF90 Stradale – Its Ferrari’s latest and greatest. I have a lot of concerns about Ferraris first attempt at a supercar hybrid which I outlined in Hybrids Are Coming. The few people that I know who have driven the SF90 have all come back with very different opinions ranging from love to total disenchantment. Like the DBX, I would like to find out for myself.
Maserati MC20 – We’ve had a GranTurismo Cabriolet for 6 years now and it’s been terrific. As the MC20 is Maserati’s first 21st century mid-engine (the MC12 was based on the Ferrari Enzo) I believe it’s definitely worth taking for spending a bit of seat time in.
Porsche Taycan – I’m not a fan of electric cars. I’ve only driven two, both Teslas. It was about as involving and exciting as driving a golf cart. However, if anyone can make an electric car that’s good to drive, my money would be on Porsche. Given the market is moving in this direction, I’ve interested in seeing how the current gold standard drives.
Despite the massive turmoil and tragedy of 2020, there still have been a number of quite exciting cars that have been launched. McLaren, for a ten year old supercar company, continuously pushes the boundaries of performance. Ferrari has been a Wall Street darling since it went public in 2015, driven by the successful growth and expansion of its supercar portfolio. It will be interesting to see how Maserati’s move into mid-engine supercars works out given this is a much more crowded and competitive segment than it was a decade ago. SCG is just getting started and while the Glickenhaus’ ambitions are certainly high, I would not bet against them. Porsche is the crown jewel in the VW Group empire and the outsize profits Porsche’s SUV business throws off have paid many of the Dieselgate bills. However, the move into electric is the biggest risk to the Porsche brand since the Cayenne’s launch in 2003. While it took Chevrolet only 47 years to come up with a mid-engine Corvette, the car is now here and what impact it has on the competition will be interesting to see. How good the cars that all of these great companies have recently launched is something I am very much looking forward to finding out.
Thoughts and comments? Please see the comments section below.
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Interesting that you mention Henry Catchpole. If he’s not the best reviewer in the business for what he does both for Carfection and Evo (plus a cycling magazine! (That I’m sorry I can’t remember the name of.)), then he’s in the top one of that list.
Other notable people are the rest of the Carfection team (mainly Drew), Tiff at LoveCars (and the very talented Vicki Piria featured in their TV show, a Formula W driver), and Rory Reid at Autotrader. And it would be wrong not to also mention Steve Sutcliffe at Autocar.
I wonder if the V6 Hybrid McLaren Artura is going to be the replacement for the 720s. Potentially dropping two cylinders will make the car lighter, but light enough to compensate for the battery pack? Even Aston have been spending money they don’t have on developing a V6 Hybrid. Years back when Ferrari stated their roadmap for the future it also included V6 Hybrid. The 720s / F8 type of car may well be moving to V6. They may well be forced to with increasingly tough regulations to pass.
Mechanically and passenger space & comfort I think will be very good in the Aston DBX. Just that with a competent designer it would have been an awesome car. To compare with the Bentayga I think is wrong, it’s more like the Lamborghini Urus where it is trying to bridge the performance gap. Although really the impression I get is that it’s sitting between those two. In that area where you’d opt for the Range Rover Sport SVR. But the Bentayga’s interior just looks like a really special place to be.
Why isn’t the 575 Superamerica considered a V12 open top spider?
Really looking forward to your evaluation of the C8 Corvette as I have one on order. Are you waiting for a RHD car or will you travel to America to test the car? Thank you.
Two months ago, I finally took delivery of a C8 Z51 Convertible after an 18 month wait. Today, exactly sixty days later, it is gone. Sold to its new owner. And I feel great.
I really wanted to love it. Instead, I just liked it. And the garages don’t have enough room for cars that I don’t love. While it made great “ROAR-ROAR-ROAR” noises and manages (mostly through traction and transmission) to rip off truly impressive 0-60 times, the 495HP pushrod V8 was ultimately the biggest letdown, especially at 6,000-8,000 feet. It felt kind of quick, until I got back into one of my 911 Turbos, and was reminded what quick really is.
Handling was impressive overall but very sterile, particularly the (lack of) real steering feel. It was also just a bit too large, compromised by GM corporate’s insistence that it have enough room to haul golf clubs. Needs a bob-job with at least 8″ trimmed off. But that is largely their demographic, so I at least understand the compromise from a business perspective.
Interior was nice, but nice for an american car. Fit and finish were very good, except for the big, obvious run in the paint that was clear coated over… (DOH!)
The new dual clutch transmission, *superb*. The equal of a modern Porsche PDK, which is saying a lot.
As my car was spec’ed, it is a hell of a lot of car for $75K. All kinds of features that are big $ extras on the Porsches are standard on even a zero option C8. But hen I was offered $95K for it, I couldn’t say yes fast enough. I think I’ll roll into a McLaren to complement the 911 Turbos, likely a 575S Track-Pack.