Ever wonder what it's like to drive a car that costs $100,000? Think about what features you would expect, what comforts, what abilities. Would you go for luxury or sport? Perhaps a classic would tickle your fancy.
We asked our editors what they would drive if they had six figures to spend on an automotive dream. Not surprisingly, each editor had his/her own idea of worth. Here is their infinite variety of responses in no particular order.
2013 Ferrari F12 Berlinetta
I like my Ferraris the way Enzo liked his Ferraris, with 12 cylinders mounted up front and sexy Pininfarina bodywork. Cars like the 250 GTO, 250 SWB, 250 California, Daytona and 550 Maranello are my thing. Sadly, the 599 and modern-day GTO have always left me cold. They just don't look right. And the butt-ugly California is only packing eight cylinders. Fact is, it has been years since Ferrari built a car worthy of my lottery winnings.
That's about to change with the F12 Berlinetta. Make mine black. No, silver. The new front-engine coupe from Modena stopped me in my tracks back at the Geneva auto show this past spring and its 730-horsepower 6.3-liter V12 makes it the most powerful Ferrari ever.
It's as if il Commendatore himself returned from the great beyond and asked his crew to build my new dream car. Thanks, paisan.
— Scott Oldham, Editor in Chief
2013 Nissan GT-R
I'm a Nissan GT-R fan because its grip on the planet is so immense that it will actually bend the Earth's crust beneath itself when cornering. Check it out. I'm not kidding. Crushing grip. Massive grunt.
Pure, uninhibited Earth-bending awesomeness.
— Josh Jacquot, Senior Editor
2013 Subaru BRZ
This is all the supercar I need or want. Handling, steering, shifter, diminutive footprint — it's the hardtop Miata that Mazda never had the balls to build, but with legroom for us tall guys. Toyota's D4S port-and-direct fuel injection system has transformed the Subaru flat-4, and the lack of all-wheel-drive mechanicals allows it to sit on the deck for a far lower center of gravity feel than any Subie has managed to exhibit previously.
Meanwhile, the $75,000 that's left goes straight into the college fund. Or maybe a roll cage, a Dodge Ram 3500 Diesel dually and an enclosed trailer. They can get student loans, right?
— Dan Edmunds, Director of Vehicle Testing
2013 Ford Focus ST
It's the drive, not just the car. So I'd get through my $100,000 by buying four $24,495 examples of the 2013 Ford Focus ST. Then I'd stash one in every place around the world that has great roads. One in Southern California for the mountains on three sides of Los Angeles. One in Northern California for the old though now paved logging roads through the coastal redwoods. One in Lake Tahoe, adjacent to the six mountain passes through the Sierra Nevadas. And one in Nice, France, so I could run the Col de Turini and the route of the Rallye Monte Carlo whenever I wanted. (Jeez, three in California; maybe I'll have to send one to New Zealand.)
— Michael Jordan, Executive Editor
2012 Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG Roadster
Roadsters rule because you can really hear the engine, and no roadster sounds quite like the Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG. It's the open-top version of the gullwing coupe, so some people think it's sacrilege to forego the gullwing doors to get a convertible top. Not true. The sound of this car at full throttle is every bit as enticing as the look of the coupe with its unique doors swung open. And the roadster not only sounds fast, it is fast. Try zero to 60 in less than 4 seconds. That's my kind of six-figure sports car.
— Ed Hellwig, Editor
2010 Porsche 911 GT3
Fast is easy. Any car that's more than $100,000 is proper fast.
No, what we want here in addition to outright speed is tactility. Something that's gratifying to drive, that rewards the senses. The car that perennially strikes the right chords with me is the Porsche 911 GT3, a car that is underpinned by some seriously advanced hardware (and software) but never, ever feels synthetic.
911s are sort of the Camry of the sports car world, but exclusivity never really plays strongly with me. The driving experience, however, does. And the GT3 is absolutely one hell of an experience.
— Jason Kavanagh, Engineering Editor
2012 Rolls-Royce Ghost
Plush and hushed. But I don't need to drive it. I just want to live in the backseat of the Ghost and get chauffeured around. Carpeting so thick you could lose your diamond-studded flip-flops in it. Now I just need the diamond-studded flip-flops.
— Bryn MacKinnon, Senior Editor
2012 Tesla Model S
My dream car is a 2012 Tesla Model S in Performance Trim. I love technology and being environmentally conscious. It has an MSRP of $103,050, but I would get back $7,500 next year on my taxes, thanks to the federal tax credit. The Model S has a range of about 300 miles per charge and can go zero to 60 in 4.4 seconds — all without using a drop of gas. Some of the options that I've chosen on this car are the $1,500 pearl white tri-coat paint, $950 Studio Sound package, $3,750 Tech package, and the high-power wall connector.
— Ron Montoya, Consumer Advice Editor
2012 Aston Martin DBS
I would get a DBS. I'd love to say it's because of the V12 that goes like hell and sounds like the divine orchestra that plays you into heaven. I'd love to say it's this epic GT car's ability to blast through a canyon one day and drive cross-country the next. I'd love to say it's because words can't properly express how gorgeous it is. I'd even love to say it's because of the Liquid Silver paint that's so metallic it probably glows by itself. I'd love to say all that, and it'd be true, but really it's because I'm a giant James Bond nerd.
— James Riswick, Automotive Editor
2006 Porsche Carrera GT
Why is the Porsche Carrera GT my pick? Because it requires more skill to pilot than any new supercar with its "anybody-can-drive-this" automated manual transmission. The hair-trigger clutch has been a main component of lesser drivers reducing their GTs to parts. I like vehicles that finely balance entertainment and death.
My racetrack laps in a GT will be part of my mental highlight reel when I'm on my deathbed. The throttle barked as sharply as a grand prix bike and the brakes were powerful enough to pull my helmet visor open (seriously, that happened!).
— Mark Takahashi, Associate Editor
2012 Fisker Karma Sedan Eco-Chic
The Fisker Karma is the most eye-popping car to roll out recently. It doesn't look like it but, as the name implies, it is "Eco-Chic." At $109,850 it better be all kinds of chic. And to think I could tap 402 horses of all-electric power is nothing short of futuristically mind-blowing. After a year driving my Nissan Leaf I've put gasoline behind me — but would like to return to performance driving and style. Here's my chic way to get the best of both worlds.
— Phil Reed, Senior Editor
2012 Ford Mustang Boss 302
Give me $100K for a dream car and I'm going to spend it on a 2012 Ford Mustang Boss 302.
As if the 5.0-liter didn't sound good enough tearing out of the rear exhaust, the Boss adds side pipes. So now it peels your eardrums from right outside the window. And it will be in School Bus Yellow. Yep, it may look like a bumblebee, but it won't sound like one. See those black stripes at every intersection in town? I made them. I figure $40K gets me the car. The remaining $60K gets me tires to burn and a roof to keep it under.
— Mike Schmidt, Vehicle Testing Manager
1985 Ferrari 288 GTO
I have been a car nut since I was a little kid, but the car that solidified my obsession for all things automotive is the Ferrari 288 GTO.
Powered by the twin-turbo V8 that set the tone for the stunning F40, it was homologated for Group B racing, just like its competitor at the time Porsche 959, which in my book could never touch it. It was elegant and sexy, yet also mean and muscular, a perfect physical evolution of the Ferrari 308. It was the first street-legal car to reach 186 mph, paving the way for the snapping of the elusive 200-mph barrier.
Cool, tough, beautiful from absolutely every angle, with a roar that could set the hairs on the back of your neck on end, the Ferrari GTO was, and still is, the stuff of dreams.
— Doug Lloyd, Senior Copy Editor
Mercedes-Benz G55 AMG
$100,000 in one go isn't hard. Not in 2012. Click the right buttons and you can easily throw a Boxster over that bar.
But I wouldn't buy an insanely loaded brown Porsche with matching everything with my $100,000. I'd walk to the nearest Benz dealer and walk out with a G55 AMG, the most preposterous vehicle on the planet.
The G-Wagon was never built for the AMG treatment and, frankly, barely understands it. It still rides and drives like a military vehicle from the '70s, except you've got an insane amount of power from the now-dead 5.5-liter supercharged V8. For next year you'll be able to get the G63 AMG, which has the slick twin-turbo V8, but I want the supercharged 8. It sounds cooler.
It can't park in half the lots in Southern California because it's too tall (it's too heavy for some, too), it returns single-digit fuel economy and drives like a colonial farmhouse that's been harpooned by a Saturn V rocket. It's perfect.
— Mike Magrath, Associate Editor
If I had $100K to spend on any car I'd want, there are a lot of choices that would spring to mind. Any number of Ferraris, Porsches, or even a classic Jaguar E-Type XKE Coupe would be tempting, but in my heart I know I'm not a champagne kind of guy. I prefer beer. And to that end I'd love to have an Icon FJ40.
Icon takes the classic great looks of the Toyota FJ40 and combines it with modern mechanics. At its heart is a 5.7-liter, 420 hp, 458 pound-feet torque monster. It can easily navigate anything thrown at it with 12 inches of travel coil suspension and a crawl ratio of 87:1.
This custom-crafted vehicle probably wouldn't make it to the top of a lot of people's lists, but it would sit atop mine. Just like any mountain I'd take my dream car to.
— Scott Jacobs, Senior Manager, Photography
2013 Chevrolet Corvette ZR1
When it comes to cars near the $100,000 price range, it's truly hard to beat Chevy's Corvette ZR1. Come on. It's got 638 hp, 604 lb-ft of torque, a near-perfect six-speed manual transmission, rear-wheel drive, Performance Traction Management, carbon-ceramic brakes and fantastic handling. It's ready for track days right off the showroom floor. And, the seats are finally livable for performance driving. Plus, there's the sound: Step hard on the throttle and your world will come alive with that raucous supercharged 6.2-liter V8. I could be happy with this car for a long, long time.
— Mike Monticello, Road Test Editor
2012 Aston Martin V8 Vantage
To avoid the cliché of the Asian guy picking an Asian car, I flipped a coin to decide between two of my $100K favorites: the GT-R and the Aston Martin V8 Vantage. It landed tails, so fate chose the AM V8. I've always been a design guy and I love the Vantage's lines: classy, yet menacing. Sleek and sexy, it looks good traveling through the streets of Beverly Hills or the curvaceous roads of Angeles Crest. The power isn't overwhelming and while the handling isn't crisp, it's very balanced. It's "just right."
— Rex Tokeshi-Torres, Vehicle Testing Assistant
2011 Porsche 911 GT3
Hundred grand? Without a doubt or hesitation: Porsche 911 GT3. The GT3 is the purest expression of every Porsche 911 extant. It is the car at the hub of all things Porsche: a naturally aspirated motorsport-powered rear-drive homologation car that relies exclusively on the driver as the "stability system." I was in love from the first moment behind the wheel until I had the privilege to run it — and run as hard as I could — at the test track. I always get the distinct feeling that my fiddling around barely scratches the surface of this battle-tested racecar. Driving. Perfection.
— Chris Walton, Chief Road Test Editor
2012 Audi R8
If I had $100K just lying around, the Audi R8 would be mine. I got to take it on a road trip from L.A. to Seattle and back and found that not only is it a powerful, fun car to drive, but it's luxurious and plush. However, I have to admit that the most compelling reason for me to get it? I'd get to say, "I AM Ironman."
— Caroline Pardilla, Deputy Managing Editor
2012 Tesla Model S
What if I told you that you could buy a luxury sedan that accelerated from zero to 60 mph in 4.4 seconds, yet achieved almost 90 miles to the gallon? And what if I said it also had sports-car-like handling, used no gasoline, could seat seven people and achieved top safety scores? Hard to believe? Or maybe even impossible? Well, the impossible has arrived in the form of the 2012 Tesla Model S Signature Performance. We've yet to fully test this electric revolution. But if it delivers what Tesla says it will, it will certainly be my favorite $100,000 car.
— Brent Romans, Senior Automotive Editor
2012 Aston Martin DB9 Volante
I love cars that are beautiful. I love cars that are fast. I love cars that make cool noises. No surprise, then, that I love the Aston Martin DB9 Volante. I also love really driving a car, so three pedals are a must. With its 470-hp V12 and the availability of a real manual gearbox, this Aston has everything I want. Check our review and you'll see under "Cons" that the navigation system is terrible. But if I'm rolling in a DB9, getting lost wouldn't be all that bad, would it?
— John DiPietro, Automotive Editor
2011 Porsche 911 Carrera GTS
MSRP: $103,100. Predictable choice? Boring? Maybe. But even with more cash to spend, I'd choose a fully loaded Carrera GTS. Not a Turbo, which I think I'd run off a cliff at some point. Aston Martins are pretty and Ferraris are stunning. Bentleys are fast and refined. They speak to different people. Personally, I don't think I'd ever need more car than a trimmed-up 911. Driving sensations transmit through the seats and steering like lightning. The car's reactions are telepathic. It's comfortable inside. I don't believe driving this car could ever get old.
— Dan Frio, Automotive Editor
2012 Aston Martin Virage Convertible
There are two elements that go into this choice. First, this is a "dream car." So, if your dream doesn't feature the top down, wind blowing your hair as you speed off into a not-so-distant sunset, then you probably shouldn't be dreaming at all. Second, when you tell other people what you drive, the look on their face should be some sort of mixture of shock, inspiration, humility — but above all else — instant and unanimous approval. I think that an Aston Martin convertible would probably do the trick.
— Aaron Lewis, Corporate News Producer
2012 Mercedes-Benz E63 AMG
The E63 has something to keep every aspect of my personality satisfied.
The part of me that craves luxury (that's a big part) loves the superb cabin design, meticulous fit and finish, and exceptional materials quality. The part of me that loves to go fast can't get enough of that engine: a mighty, monstrous twin-turbo 5.5-liter V8 that cranks out 550 hp and 590 lb-ft of torque (when upgraded with the sweet AMG Performance package). And the part of me that values practicality loves how ideally suited the E63 — with its refined road manners, big backseat and roomy trunk — is for city living.
When you consider all the opulent, Germanic awesomeness on tap, the E63's price seems like a bargain.
— Warren Clarke, Automotive Content Editor
Now it's your turn. We're not giving you $100,000 but imagine we did. What car would you choose and why?