• Feb 17, 2011
Motor Trend tests three sub-$100,000 supercars – Click above to watch video after the jump

Motor Trend is on a quest to determine the best budget supercar. Ford, Chevrolet and Nissan stepped up to the challenge with the 2011 Shelby GT500, 2011 Corvette Z06 and 2012 GT-R. Total cost of the vehicles used in this 1,585-horsepower shootout? $244,290... or $37,040 less than the 570-horsepower $281,330 Lamborghini Gallardo Superleggera we tested in 2010. Perspective, folks.

This comparision is not about high-dollar exotics, however, because M/T is looking for the best sub-$100,000 performer. The 2012 Nissan GT-R develops 530 horsepower from its twin-turbocharged 3.8-liter V6. The American muscle machines perfer V8 power with the supercharged 5.4-liter GT500 producing 550 horses and the 7.0-liter Z06 pumping out 505.

The Shelby GT500 certainly represents the best bang-for-your-buck due to its $55,330 as-tested price tag. Yet both the Z06 ($98,010 as-tested) and GT-R ($90,950) offer equally appealing performance at a relative bargain.

Motor Trend took all three super coupes to the drag strip and the Streets of Willow road course. The winning car is not much of a surprise (hint: it's not American) but the resulting videos are still fun to watch. Click past the jump for clips of the drag race and the road course testing, then head over to Motor Trend to read about the test.

[Source: Motor Trend]
2012 Nissan GT-R, Corvette Z06 and Ford Shelby GT500 square off in a drag race


Nissan GT-R, Corvette Z06 and Ford Shelby GT500 tested at the Streets of Willow


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    • 1 Second Ago
  • 117 Comments
      • 3 Years Ago
      the shelby cobra shakes like a buggy in the brake test......
      • 3 Years Ago
      Under 100k? I'll take... A Lotus Evora S, and boost it to at least 400hp.
      Or the Z06 Carbon. I'm not too into the GT-R.

      You could still buy an M3, or another, less powerful, but (argueably) more fun German car.
        • 3 Years Ago
        Still, my E90 sedan has got some reasonable practicality.
        • 3 Years Ago
        I'm a big fan of german cars but the current M3 is already having trouble battling it ouw with the Mustang GT on fun and performance factors. It's simply not up to par with any of these 3 cars.
      • 3 Years Ago
      It's strange, but I've noticed with a lot of comparos for performance vehicles from the cheap to the ultra-expensive, that I often want the one that is technically the weakest. For some reason the Mustang looks like the most fun, and it's the one I'd most want to find in my garage. My guess is that the "lesser" cars in these comparisons are like awesome versions of what I actually drive. A Mustang with three pedals? I can relate to that. An AWD rocket with a dual-clutch transmission? Well, I once drove my sister's Jetta TDI with a DSG... is that similar? (Short answer: No. Long answer: Nooooooooooo.)
      • 3 Years Ago
      He was 2 tenths quicker in the Nissan, with traction/stability controls on, than the Z06 without them...The clear winner on the track is the Z06. I've yet to see someone disable the Nissan-Nanny systems and try to compare it.
      • 3 Years Ago
      Although I am a Ford guy, and definitely regard the GT-R as quite possibly the best car on the road, I gotta say, if I had to choose one of these, it would be the Z06. It's just gorgeous, and easily faster than anything should ever be on the road. Yes, I've driven them.
      This comparo simply illustrates the fact that Ford NEEDS to make some radical changes to the Mustang. The chassis simply cannot handle the power.
      • 3 Years Ago
      I'll still the Z06 everytime. And here is why. 1) I can afford it.. you can buy a new Z06 for $75k (dont pay attention to the $25k in options MT added to this car).. but more importantly you can buy a used 07 or 08 Z06 for $40k. Thats real world affordability for most people commenting here. 2) The looks, sound, attraction. Its without a doubt the head turner of the group. 3) Practicality. Plenty of cargo room and gets almost 30mpg on the highway, you can really use this everyday. Even when gas hits $4 or even $5 a gallon in the future. 4) Its a traditional sports car. There is just something masculine and rewarding about a naturally aspirated 2WD coupe, with a powerful engine and manual transmission. What kid doesnt grow up dreaming up doing burnouts at stoplights? And the masculine nature of the car, doesnt feel like its cheating (forced induction or AWD).

      The GTR just isnt for me. Its performance is absolutely impressive. But it just seems boring. Boring to look at.. and even more boring to drive. The fact he was driving it one handed and how quiet the car was is exactly why Im not interested in it. Doesnt help the interior screams Nissan.. and in some ways Altima. Im a 36 year old man, not a 19 year old kid. Fast & Furious just isnt for me.

      The Shelby I respect. But if Im not paying $50k for a Mustang. Not when they sell a brand new 412hp GT for $28k. You are basically paying $20k for a supercharger.. and some other goodies.
        • 3 Years Ago
        So no kid doesn't dream of doing burnouts... but somehow the 'adult'
        wants a burnout machine?

        Sounds to me like the child-in-denial wants himself a Z06 ;)



        The Corvette interior is way more Cobalt than the GT-R is an Altima.
        • 3 Years Ago
        Z06 -- some modification potential to improve performance
        Shelby -- lot of modification potential to improve performance
        GT-R -- at the limit of potential to improve performance


        And the prices show.
      • 3 Years Ago
      Why is the GT500, at nearly half the cost of the other two, even in this comparison. Apples to oranges.

      Why not throw in a 911 Carrera or Carerra S or maybe even a Cayman S?
        • 3 Years Ago
        Probably because they don't have supercar power.
      • 3 Years Ago
      ALL WHEEL DRIVE IS GREAT !!!

      I wish my Viper was AWD,it would smoke the Nissan !! As the Vette is faster mph in the 1/4,obviously catching up because of traction issues...
      • 3 Years Ago
      I'll take one of each please:

      z06 for track day

      GT500 convertible for cruising with the family

      GT-R with snow tires for winter fun

      Add a couple trucks in there and I would die a happy man.
        • 3 Years Ago
        Paul P.
        7:37pm (2/17/2011)

        GT-R with snow tires for winter fun

        ^^^
        What He Said.
        • 3 Years Ago
        Can only imagine one with spiked tires. Not the 1/2 inch wimpy kind, but the 2 inch monster spikes.
        • 3 Years Ago
        I can't afford a Z06 or a GT-R. This is good enough for me.

        Grabber blue huh!

      • 3 Years Ago
      Weird title, there's no supercar there, all I see are sports cars, a sucky one, a fast but as-refined-as-wine-from-a-box, and the supercar killer (that is still a sports car)
      • 3 Years Ago
      I am getting sick of Motortrends countless unskilled drag races, I wanna see these cars fight it out on tracks or curves
        • 3 Years Ago
        Did you watch the second video? Pobst's commentary was great and there was a proper road course comparison.
        • 3 Years Ago
        lololololol
        • 3 Years Ago
        You must have watched different videos than I did. I saw a pro driver whip these cars around around a test track that has enough elements to push any car to its limits.
        • 3 Years Ago
        think ya missed a video there buddy!
      • 3 Years Ago
      The GT500 just isn't up to snuff at the edge on this track. When you have to let off the loud pedal because the LSD can't keep the inside wheel in check, you have a little more to do on your car. Two wheel drive is a handicap, one wheel drive is a real issue. It's still a great car, especially considering most people won't max it out on a track. And then there's the low, low price.

      The GT-R is an incredible performer and it makes everyone into a superstar. But just listen to it, it just doesn't sound exciting either leaving the line or on the go. And while it very much manages to overcome its weight, it's still a porker and it's going to eat tires in a race. Ask Pobst about his days driving the Audi A6 2.7T in Speed World Challenge, it had similar issues, due to even higher weight.

      The Z06 is the real "race car" of these 3. With much less weight and race brakes, it's a track star, as long as you are willing to commit to it. Yes, it loses to the GT-R, but not by much at all, and it makes a track day into a track day instead reducing the experience to a fast drive commute. And the sound of the engine as amazing. All motor. I need one of those so bad. It's too bad that the price is so high with the performance packs on it.

      I'm sure you wouldn't regret buying the GT-R, and in fact it's likely the smart buy for most people. But I'd love to think that I could be a Z06 driver and learn to drive it correctly on the track. And that sound. It's funny it's the pushrod motor of this group that really manages to sound like it belongs in a race.
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