So You Can't Afford: Ferrari 458 Italia Spyder
562-hp 4.5-liter V-8 at 9000 rpm
The inexpensive imitator: Lotus Elise SC
How could a four-cylinder Lotus with just a tick over 200 hp compete with a 562-hp Ferrari? Well, on hard numbers, it can't. The Ferrari is a supercar that would demolish it in any speed contest. When it comes to pure driving pleasure, however, the Lotus is like a junior-league Ferrari.
But Maybe You Can Afford: Lotus Elise SC
217-hp, 1.8-liter supercharged four-cylinder
The Elise has reflexes like a shifter kart. Its steering is extraordinarily sharp, direct, and precise. Its featherweight construction delivers a power-to-weight ratio and handling dynamics that rival the world's best sports cars.
The Ferrari is all of these things too, of course. And the 458 Italia, particularly the convertible Spyder version, may deliver the most bewitching engine sound of any car—period. But to hear those wonderful noises and to feel the prodigious thrust from that V-8, you must be traveling at speeds far greater than any speed limit on any U.S. road. The Elise on the other hand, provides a similar adrenaline rush at far saner speeds. And of course, opting for an Elise means you can keep that $200,000 price difference locked safely in your bank accounts.