For many driving enthusiasts, a rear-wheel drive sports car is the purists dream.
Of course, many so-called purists insist upon having manual transmissions with clutches too. However, just as the new dual-clutch direct-shift gearboxes are better than manual transmissions; all-wheel drive (AWD) is superior in high performance situations to rear-wheel drive. The fact of the matter is well-driven AWD sports cars will always be faster around any given course than their rear-drive counterparts.
All-wheel drive offers superior traction in cornering maneuvers, plus it lets you put more power down to the ground earlier in a corner than rear drive will. Yes, all-wheel drive sports cars have more weight and complexity, but in truly powerful cars the weight issue is somewhat moot. The superior traction afforded by an all-wheel drive powertrain will typically overcome the weight deficit.
As for the complexity, yes all-wheel drive systems have more moving parts than rear-drive systems and thus more potential for maintenance issues and failure. And yes, added weight means higher fuel consumption. But for people who genuinely enjoy driving, those tradeoffs are a reasonable price to pay for the performance advantages offered by the best all-wheel drive sports cars.
What follows is a listing of the best 2012 AWD sports cars.
Audi is the acknowledged master of high performance awd sports cars. And while the basic TT is a bit lackluster in terms of performance, the 2012 Audi TT RS is an altogether different animal. This Audi is pumping 360 horsepower and 343 foot-pounds of torque to the ground through all four wheels. Additionally, it employs a more aggressive suspension package than the base TT. Thus, the Audi TT RS easily earns its place on this listing of the best 2012 all-wheel drive sports cars. Fold in the outstanding fit and finish of all Audi cars, along with the TT’s distinctive styling and you’ve got a package that’s sure to please every all wheel drive sports car fan.
As good as the Audi TT RS is, the Audi R8 GT is light-years better. A genuine all-wheel drive exotic AWD sports car, the Audi R8, as far as the best all-wheel drive sports cars for 2012 go, is easily one of the most exciting. With its timeless good looks, everyday usability, and outstanding comfort, many drivers are surprised the Audi R8 feels so—well—normal when you’re behind the wheel. However the moment you let that 560-horsepower 5.2-liter V10 have full throttle, the experience will be anything but normal. For these reasons and many, many more, the 2012 Audi TT RS earns its place on the best AWD sports cars list for 2012.
What can you say abut the fastest production car on the planet, which isn’t clearly stated by the first half of this sentence? Reiterated, the 2012 Bugatti Veyron 16.4 Super Sport AWD sports car is the single fastest production car ever produced for general consumption. (Assuming of course its $2,700,000+ price tag does not exclude it from being considered an item capable of general consumption.) Boasting an incredible 1186 horsepower and a planetary orbit altering 1106 foot-pounds of torque, the 16-cylinder quad turbocharged engine in the Bugatti 16.4 Veyron Super Sport displaces 8.0-liters. Its power is routed to all four wheels through a seven-speed direct shift gearbox. To say the Bugatti is one of (if not the) best on the 2012 AWD sports cars list is the very epitome of understatement.
If Ferrari, the king of sports car makers goes all-wheel drive, you know the concept has to have some merit. And while Ferrari has yet to fit all-wheel drive to one of its two-seat rear mid-engine models, the Ferrari FF (Ferrari Four) represents the Maranello automaker’s acknowledgment of the advantages of awd sports cars. Seating four, the FF packs a 651-horsepower, 6.2-liter V12 in its nose, mounted just behind the centerline of the front wheels for a front mid-engine configuration. The Ferrari of 2012 AWD sports cars was designed specifically to give Ferrari aficionados the ability to carry more than one friend along, in addition to tackling inclement weather and driving conditions in the style to which they’ve become accustomed.
Interestingly, all of the exotic sports car makers combining a rear mid-engine layout with all-wheel drive are part of the Volkswagen Group; namely Audi, Bugatti and Lamborghini. One of the best all-wheel drive sports cars for 2012, the Lamborghini Aventador LP 700-4 touts a full carbon fiber space frame monocoque passenger compartment. The “big” Lamborghini runs a 6.5 liter V12 with 700 horsepower (LP 700-4 = longitudinally positioned 700 horsepower engine with all-wheel drive). Given the car weighs just less than 3500 pounds; its engine has a mere five pounds per horsepower to move. So yes, the 2012 Lamborghini Aventador is an insanely fast AWD sports car. In addition to a 200+ mph top speed the Aventador LP 700-4 accelerates from 0 to 60 in 2.7 seconds.
The ultimate expression of the current “baby Lamborghini, the Gallardo LP 570-4 Superleggera is one of the most absolutely uncompromising all-wheel drive sports cars for 2012. A super lightweight aluminum spaceframe is employed to boost the Lamborghini’s power to weight ratio, enabling the 570-horsepower V10 engine to propel the Gallardo LP 570-4 Superleggera to a top speed of 202 miles per hour and to 60 from rest in 3.2 seconds. Looking more like a futuristic ground-bound aircraft than an automobile, the Gallardo Superleggera is one of the 2012 AWD sports cars which is nearly just as exciting to see, as it is to drive.
Nicknamed ‘Godzilla” for the prodigious nature of its performance capabilities, anyone doubting the virtues of all-wheel drive sports cars need only glance at the specs for the 2012 Nissan GT-R. Its hand built (in a clean room environment no less) 3.8-liter twin-turbocharged V6 engine produces 545 horsepower and 463 foot-pounds of torque. A six-speed dual clutch transmission funnels the power plant’s twist to all four wheels. The GT-R Black Edition has a top speed of 196 miles per hour and will accelerate to 60 from a dead stop in right around 2.5 seconds. These factors easily qualify the Nissan GT-R Black Edition as one of the 2012 best all wheel drive sports cars.
For years, Porsche 911s were decried because of the tail happiness of their handling characteristics. Something about mounting the largest mass of weight in the car behind the rear wheels just naturally gave the car those proclivities. Then, back in 1983, Porsche unveiled the 959 concept car with an all-wheel drive powertrain. The success of that car led Porsche to introduce an all-wheel drive strategy for all Porsche Turbo models moving forward from 1995. Today’s 2012 Porsche 911 Turbo S is among the fastest and best handling sports cars you can buy; again aptly demonstrating the merits of all-wheel drive sports cars. With a top speed of 195 miles per hour, the 2012 Porsche 911 Turbo S will also accelerate to 60 in just under 3 seconds from a dead stop.