But what a motor the four-banger was. Essentially the 1.6L powerplant that Williams built for Formula One’s then-anticipated move to four cylinders, Jaguar took the high-tech engine, removed the pneumatic valve springs (not nearly practical for a production vehicle, even a supercar), slapped on both a supercharger and a turbocharger and wrung some 600 horsepower out of the little bugger. Revved to 11,000 rpm, it sounded like a BMW superbike with an Akropovic pipe. Combined with electric motors fore and aft, there was 896 hp on hand and, with a 20 kilowatt-hour battery on board, it actually had decent electric range.
It even sounded like a beast when it was charging, Jaguar having built a sound transducer into the roof that vibrated the body panels when it was plugged-in. It sounded, well, a little like the mating call of a killer whale or some alien predator looking for Ferraris to devour. Quite amazing in every way, the C-X75 gets my vote for the missed opportunity of all time and the supercar I would most like to own.
This was another easy choice. Basically a superbike on four wheels, Ferrari’s 458 combines the most magical engine sound ever emitted from a piston with the precise steering that makes 600-cc motorcycles the most fun twisty-road-weapons in the world. One might not know exactly what the rear end of the Ferrari is doing, but, my Lord, does the front end ever stick. If you somehow managed to get understeer out of a 458, you were almost certainly in the process of crashing.