One of the many things that makes sports cars so fun to drive is their tight, firm suspension and chassis. While this benefits response and handling, the main drawback is that such setups usually lead to a harsh and uncomfortable ride. That’s not ideal for an everyday car, especially if you need to shuttle passengers around town. And if those passengers – perhaps your parents – don’t share your appreciation for a sporty drive, you won’t hear the end of it until you’ve arrived at your destination.
However, there are options that combine the best of both worlds: smooth suspension and epic performance. Here are five sports cars which deliver on your need for speed without a bone-rattling ride, so your parents won’t complain about going for a drive.
Audi S8 Plus
Handsome and understated, the Audi S8 Plus is one of today’s best examples of a sleeper. Overall it looks fairly unassuming, with Audi’s clean and tidy design cues shaping up the lightweight aluminum body. However, once you start looking at the details it’s obvious that this is no ordinary luxury sedan.
Audi’s signature Singleframe grille has been blacked out for a more menacing appearance. Huge wheels with a design unique to Audi S models cover optional carbon ceramic brakes, the same stoppers fitted to the brand's R8 supercar. A sport differential channels power to Audi’s legendary quattro all-wheel drive system, and four exhaust outlets hint at the 605 horsepower twin-turbo V8 under the hood.
Yet with all these performance credentials, your parents would still love riding in the S8 Plus. Gorgeous quilted leather seats coddle passengers, and Audi’s popular adaptive air suspension guarantees a comfortable ride. At first glance, your parents might not realize that the S8 Plus is anything special, and they won’t have anything to complain about riding on the inside. When it’s time to spring into action simply tap the paddle shifters – the eight-speed transmission will kick down a few gears, and you’ll be ready to rocket down the road.
BMW Alpina B6 Gran Coupe
BMW’s M department is known worldwide for transforming the brand’s everyday models into high-powered monsters that are equally adept on a track or on the road. However Alpina, BMW’s lesser-known performance division, has provided their own unique approach to enhancing cars since 1965. Over five decades of their sporting knowledge are exemplified in the BMW Alpina B6 Gran Coupe.
Based on the shapely 6 Series Gran Coupe (the sedan version of the two-door 6 Series), the Alpina B6 features a twin-turbo 4.4 liter V8 engine tuned to produce a whopping 600 horsepower. Power goes to the ground through all four wheels via BMW’s xDrive all-wheel drive system, so even if you mash on the gas you’re unlikely to have any comfort-reducing wheelspin. The Alpina B6’s adaptive sport suspension and active roll stabilization continually adjust to road conditions, keeping the car level and luxurious on any surface.
Speaking of luxury, the Alpina B6 has all the creature comforts you’d expect from a high-end BMW, so your parents would be thrilled to go for a ride. There’s leather on nearly every surface, and a 16-speaker Bang & Olufsen sound system enhances any musical accompaniment. BMW’s M6 may be better-known, but the Alpina B6 is actually quicker from 0 to 60 mph and offers a level of comfort and refinement the M6 can’t match.
Porsche Panamera Turbo
Porsche made enthusiasts uneasy when they announced their first sedan, the Panamera. How could the brand, so well-known for their high-performance coupes, dilute their image with a large luxury car? However, anyone who has driven it has a hard time complaining: it is clear that Porsche stuck to their sport-focused heritage in every aspect of the Panamera’s construction.
Now in it’s second generation, there’s no question the Panamera Turbo skews on the sportier side of luxury – after all, it’s got a 550 horsepower twin-turbo V8, eight-speed dual-clutch transmission, and trick rear-wheel steering to enhance handling. However, it’s still an extremely comfortable car. A newly-developed 4D Chassis Control system continually monitors body roll and adapts the suspension to maintain a level ride. An active suspension system allows the driver to select from three distinct suspension settings ranging between comfortable and stiff. This system works in conjunction with 4D Chassis Control to adapt the suspension damping at each wheel, delivering a comfortable yet sporty ride.
If your parents are riding in the back seat of the Panamera, they’ll be pleased to find a four-zone climate control system that allows them to be heated or cooled to their own preference. Large 10” touchscreen displays are mounted to the backs of the front seats so they can browse the internet or watch a movie. The back seats are as deeply bolstered as the front ones, so when it comes time to take on a windy road, passengers will find themselves well supported and very comfortable.
Searching for a luxury car but need a heaping dose of American muscle? Look no further than the Cadillac CTS-V. While the outside of the car looks a lot like your standard Cadillac, it’s what’s underneath that transforms the car into a world-class sports sedan.
Starting with the 630 horsepower supercharged 6.2 liter V8 pulled straight from the Corvette Z06, the CTS-V sprints from 0 to 60 in 3.7 seconds on its way to a 200 mph top speed. Slats in the carbon fiber hood maximize cooling airflow, and huge Brembo brakes are more than sufficient in slowing everything down. In terms of luxury, Cadillac’s Magnetic Ride Control suspension offers continuous adjustability to keep the ride smooth and steady on the road, but can firm up at the touch of a button when it’s time to carve corners.
Luxury continues on the inside, with ample head and legroom in every microfiber-trimmed seat. Premium features like in-car Wi-Fi and a Bose speaker system will help keep your parents entertained as you drive them around. Entertainment will continue if your destination is the drag strip, as Michelin Pilot Super Sport tires and adjustable traction control settings help the CTS-V tear through the quarter mile in under 12 seconds. Your daddy may have had a Caddy, but the brand has come a long way since then. For proof, just look at the CTS-V.
The Mercedes-AMG S65 is perhaps the ultimate combination of staggering performance and opulent luxury. The car is based on the S-Class, the legendary large sedan which sets the industry benchmark for comfort and technology.
A built-in fragrance system keeping the entire cabin smelling fresh, while color-changing LED lighting throughout the interior can be customized to suit the occupants’ tastes. Massaging, heated, and ventilated multi-contour seats are available in the front and rear so passengers can maximize their relaxation as they move down the road.
Yet moving down the road is where the S65’s pièce de résistance comes into play: a handcrafted 6-liter, twin-turbo V12 engine sits under the hood and churns out 621 horsepower and 736 lb-ft of torque. That tidal wave of torque, channeled through a 7-speed automatic transmission, delivers effortless acceleration off the line and in passing maneuvers.
With over 43” of rear legroom, your parents can relax in the quilted leather back seats while you dig into the power band. Thanks to a muted exhaust note and Mercedes’ legendarily smooth ride, they’ll hardly notice as you cruise along at Autobahn speeds.
For all their virtues, parents are always great at finding something to complain about. That’s especially true if you force them to ride around in a bumpy, cramped, uncomfortable sports car. These options split the difference between luxury and performance so you can minimize any back seat driving while maximizing the adrenaline rush when you put your foot down.