Many discerning buyers prefer two-door cabriolets because driving with the top down during the warm weather months remains a thrill. So we offer the new Porsche 911 Turbo S, the Jaguar F-Type and the Chevrolet Corvette. They all come equipped with simple, no-hassle, one-button convertible tops. But they possess dramatically different personalities. Not everybody wants to attract attention by driving topless, so some may prefer a two-door coupe that happens to be environmentally advanced. If that’s the case, the new BMW i8 is a stunner. None of these two-door vehicles has a great deal of room, however, so perhaps an elegant but incredibly powerful sedan might be the ticket. If so,consider the Audi RS-7. All five picks have robust 0-60 mph acceleration times. We continue to believe that there is a big difference between the cars that CEOs buy and the ones that sports and entertainment figures buy. CEOs are naturally performance oriented,but they don’t want the overly exotic Italian models or James Bond speedsters that are too expensive, require too much upkeep of their tires and brakes, and demand extra time to take them to a track. Even if you are buying a personal car,you want to feel that you are getting value for your dollars. Here are our top-five recommendations.
FELINE FEROCITY: 2014 JAGUAR F TYPE V8 S
This car will put a smile on your face every time you get in. It’s simply gorgeous with all the right curves in the right places. It has a really muscular stance and the front end resembles a cat’s face, particularly when the LED lights around the headlights are on.When you turn on the engine, it has more of a Ferrari sound than the quiet purr of the vast majority of Jaguar sedans. It’s hard to believe it is a Jaguar because the rear end dances when you hit the accelerator due to the sheer power that is generated by the rear wheels. The huge 5.0 liter supercharged V8 engine will take the car from 0 to 60 mph in a blistering 4.2 seconds. However, at the same time, it has all the refinements you would expect in a Jaguar. The door handles recede into the body of the vehicle, the stitching on the leather inside matches the outside color of the car and the ventilation ducts pop up out of the dashboard when you turn the climate control on. All of these details add up to a wonderfully modern and elegant vehicle. There are different versions of the F-Type, but the most powerful one is the V8 S, which we drove. The shifting mechanism is delicate and requires a bit of patience to master. It can be driven in automatic mode or shifted with paddles on the steering wheel, but both choices are capable of unleashing the power of this beautiful creature.
- Horsepower: 495 hp.
- Price as Tested: $88,615
- MPG: 20 mpg city, 28 highway
- Plus: The headlights are the coolest in the universe.
- Nit: Dashboard controls are too complex.
- What it Says About You: You love stylish performance.
THE GRANDMASTER: 2014 PORSCHE 911 TURBO S
When you hang out with people who work for Porsche, you discover they have a naked and unabashed obsession with speed. They talk about their personal highest speed like other people talk about the stock market or their caloric intake.That passion has always resulted in cars that were incredibly powerful, but the company tended to resist beauty or comfort because those values might interfere with the need for speed. So, as you would expect, the third generation of the 911 Turbo S to appear in the United States, as of this year, screams with power. Its 560 horsepower—30 to40 more than the previous generation—meaning that the car can effortlessly reach speeds of, er, the legal limit within seconds and pin all occupants to the backs of their seats. 0 to 60 mph occurs in less than three seconds.It’s slightly disappointing that there is no manual transmission, but it has a “Sport Plus” mode that shifts the car into a more aggressive driving style even in automatic. It does not shift until it hits the red line at 7,200 rpm. So why bother with manual shift? And Formula One-style paddles on the steering wheel offer that thrilling alternative, as well. Handling is superb because of the vehicle’s weight distribution. You have absolute confidence in any turn, which is the soul of skillful driving. Your heart cries out for empty pavement ahead.This Porsche is also a real beauty—with sensuous lines—and it is actually comfortable. The seats are not hard benches but rather heated and ventilated leather seats with 18 adjustable positions. The Burmester sound system is robust,so the vehicle is perfect for putting the top down and cruising.It has two seats in back, but not many adults are going to sit in them. The trunk space, under the front hood, is adequate. All in all, you can now have Porsche’s power with both beauty and utility—if you can afford it.
- Horsepower: 560 hp.
- Price as Tested: $210,620
- MPG: 17 mpg city, 24 mpg highway
- Plus: The air scoops on the side of car make a dramatic statement.
- Nit: The small navigation system feels like it was crammed into the dashboard.
- What it Says About You: You seek the ultimate.
A PERFECT BLEND: 2014 AUDI RS 7
The jaded attendants at the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel’s parking garage have seen every luxury car imaginable. When I drove up in an Audi RS 7 sedan, with its stunning front grille, I scanned their stoic faces for any reaction, but I saw none. The next morning, when I checked out, however, I discovered they had parked it in a special area with the Bentleys and BMW 7 Series sedans. They clearly treasured it. What the attendants couldn’t possibly know is that the car, while stunningly beautiful, contains a raging inner beast. A 560-horsepower, 4-liter, V8 engine erupts whenever the driver hits the accelerator. A sports exhaust outlet opens up and the cabin is filled with a delicious roar, much like the deep bass pipes of a medieval organ would fill a cathedral. Audi claims a 0-60 mph acceleration time of 3.7 seconds.The RS 7 model, introduced in the United States in October 2013, is built by quattro GmbH, a division of Audi, much like Mercedes has its AMG and BMW has its M performance lines. It is intended to be “maximum Audi,” the company says, and it delivers just that. It may be the perfect choice for a CEO who wants four doors for family or friends, a spacious trunk and all the beautiful touches,such as the stitching on the seats and wood inlays with aluminum striping. The 20-inch gloss-black wheels are works of art by themselves.Yet it can be driven robustly when you’re in that mood. Its suspension, engine and transmission are set-up more aggressively than other Audis and it competes against the Mercedes CLS and the BMW 6 Grand Coupe. There is no manual shift, but paddles on the steering wheel allow you to drive it like a Formula One race car when you want a surge of adrenaline. This car offers a most satisfying combination of luxury, utility and performance.
- Horsepower: 560 hp.
- Price as Tested: $122,545
- MPG: 19 mpg city, 27 mpg highway
- Plus: The Bang & Olufsen sound system is incredible.
- Nit: Tires are vulnerable to potholes.
- What it Says About You: You demand excellence.
A SUPERMODEL SUPERCAR: 2014 BMW i8
You have a clear vision for the future and so does BMW. The BMW i8 is the German automaker’s new high-performance plug-in hybrid, and you don’t have to wait till the future to experience it. Zero to 62 mph in 4.4 seconds? A full charge in three hours from a regular garage outlet? Using absolutely no gasoline for a 10-plus mile commute? Yes, it’s true. It’s also one of those rare machines that’s even more stunning and desirable in production guise than it was as a concept car. The lithe bodywork that entranced the auto press is, in fact, a collection of lightweight and dent-resistant plastic panels that have been carefully sculpted with numerous functional aerodynamic details.BMW says the i8 can also travel about 22 miles and reach a top speed of 75 mph on electrons, alone. Uncorked with the gasoline engine in the lead, it will reach atop speed of 155 mph. The i8 also delivers stellar handling thanks to 50/50 weight distribution and a low, centrally mounted battery pack. Settling into the front seats requires some practice—given its unique scissor-lift-style doors and high sill, but the car makes up for it in style. Its low-slung profile is punctuated by standard U-shaped LED headlights. Inside, a multi-tiered and layered cockpit design is, at the same time, inviting and driver-oriented, and this car uses recycled materials and naturally treated leather for upholstery and panel surfaces. The multi-adjustable power seats offer good support and long-distance comfort, and a 6-foot 2-inch test driver had headroom to spare. The bottom line is that it’s a gorgeous, technically interesting machine that puts a premium on handling.
- Horsepower: 357 hp.
- Price as Tested: $135,700
- MPG: After about 20 miles of range on electricity, the gasoline engine should get an estimated 27 mpg.
- Plus: An electronic noise actuator under the rear-deck lid generates a fantastically designed exhaust note that is emitted from the stereo’s rear speakers whether it’s switched on or not.
- Nit: The rear “seats” are uncomfortably tiny and trunk space is a paltry 5.4 cubic feet.
- What it Says About You: You’re a Renaissance CEO, appreciating style, performance and cutting-edge technology.
AMERICAN MUSCLE:2014 CHEVROLET CORVETTE STINGRAY
There was a time when the driver of a Corvette would be expected to be a guy wearing a gold chain around his neck and sporting a ring on his pinkie finger. The psychographics were not right for a CEO.The completely redesigned, seventh generation 2014 Corvette Stingray, however, commands respect. It is, of course, sleeker, more angular and more pleasing to the eye. Its interior is dramatically improved and it has all the latest electronic features, including a rear-vision camera on the dashboard. General Motors has used aluminum and carbon fiber to make the car lighter than ever.But what it really represents is the best in pure, unadulterated, rear-wheel power driving. It is equipped with a heads-up display that the driver sees in the windshield, like the pilot of a jet fighter would see. It shows speed and which gear you are in. That is essential information,because with the roar in your ears and your heart in your throat, it is easy to forget just how fast you really are going. Stingray is officially part of this Corvette’s name, harkening back to the 1960s.
Appropriately, the Corvette is equipped with a standard, seven-speed manual shift. You can push the car to 60 mph while still in second gear, which means that, for the vast majority of time, you don’t need to go beyond third or fourth gear. The higher gears are for when you choose to put the top down, turn up the music and cruise smoothly with a companion. That’s also a glorious way to go.To be sure, there are trade-offs to make with a Corvette. There are no back seats, so space is limited and insurance rates shoot up for two-seat cars. But, oh, what a thrill! And at this price, you could buy or rent matching His and Hers models for less than the cost of the PorscheTurbo S and still have cash left over (click here to view the listing).
- Horsepower: 450 hp.
- Price as Tested: $66,080
- MPG: 17 mpg city, 29 mpg highway
- Plus: The passenger seat is equipped with a panic bar to grip, which will be essential for some spouses.
- Nit: There’s no windscreen to help bu er the wind when driving topless.
- What It Says About You: You are serious about torque
William Holstein is a freelance writer and author of “The Next American Economy: Blueprint For A Sustainable Recovery.” He resides in the greater New York City area.
Scott Oldham is Editor in Chief of Edmunds.com. He is based in Santa Monica, Calif.