MinimumTread HQ isn’t far from the Motor City, but on automotive matters our geographical proximity hasn’t influenced us much.
- Essentially from the first time we set sights on an E36 BMW M3 we’ve bled BMW roundel blue and associated automotive performance first and foremost with Bavaria.
- Currently in the MinimumTread garage sit two German performance V8’s.
- We may or may not own some BMW and Mercedes-Benz clothing… (Birthday gifts of course, and not purchased intentionally.)
- Corvette drivers have looked at us askance, and vice versa.
The Big Three automakers are currently providing more performance for far less than the Euros, and, subjectively speaking, each have performance cars on offer that lack European peers altogether.
It used to be the other way around. The Mustang wasn’t a true competitor to the M3, for example. Too crude. Too undeveloped. For decades America lacked an answer to the M3.
Nowadays what’s coming out of Europe that has a fraction of the charisma + performance of the Mustang Shelby GT350? (Let alone the “R” version.) Audi’s last attempt at a high revving V8, the RS5, was a flop.
And don’t even get us started on the Corvette Grand Sport. Aside from the practicality advantages of the BMW M4, what driving enthusiast prefers the Bimmer’s recipe for $70,000? We like the M4 quite a bit, but honestly, come on…
$45,000 will get you a base 2.0 liter turbo BMW 430i (i.e. wake us up when we get there), or a Camaro SS 1LE with a thumping 450 hp V8 that laps alongside the BMW M4 GTS, 997.2 Porsche 911 GT3 RS, Lexus LFA, Ferrari f430 Scuderia, and Lamborghini Murcielago LP670-4 SV.
The new CTS-V is a viable alternative to the F10 M5 and E63 AMG, and preferable according to more than a handful of converts. When the E39 BMW M5 was released, America didn’t have anything of the sort.
Further up the performance car food chain, Dodge is putting race cars on the street for not even ½ the going rate of the inflated 991 Porsche GT3 RS. Chris Harris provides feedback on the Viper ACR in the video below.
The trend is clear: The Big Three automakers are increasingly catering to performance driving enthusiasts, including HPDE/track day participants. American performance cars are equipped with track tires, manual transmissions, and effective aero, and ready to party straight off the showroom floor. What's more, American manufacturers expect buyers to take them partying.
In contrast, even the performance car divisions of European manufacturers seem to be bogged down by efficiency and regulations. (Although we will say, AMG seems to have managed quite well – see our Mercedes-AMG C63 S Track Test.)
If derestricted we don’t doubt that Europe could launch an effective counter-offensive. But in our view, that’s unlikely to happen until hybrid power becomes the requirement. The rash of small displacement turbo engines – especially those from BMW – are clearly a stepping stone in the march toward hybrid power.
Meanwhile, Detroit seems far more concerned with releasing badassery now. Recognition and credit is due.