With performance cars, some people can go into them thinking that they’ll be an all-around performer; something they can daily, take to the track and then continue driving it normally the following day. While some automakers successfully pull that off with models like the Hyundai Elantra N and the Honda Civic Type R, others fail at it.
Last week we asked readers what performance cars they thought were great on the street but trash on the track. These were their responses.
I’ve not driven one myself, but apparently the GR Corolla overheats like mad on the track. The next gen is supposed to get new pistons that won’t melt and much better cooling all around.
Submitted by: put-some-turbo-on-meeeee
Third Gen Mitsubishi Eclipse
I always thought the 3G eclipse was great as a daily while hated on for track performance. Soft enough for bombed out American roads but a bit sporty and economical.
Submitted by: Kevin Bergen via Facebook
Fiat 500 Abarth
Fiat 500 Abarth. They were fun little rounabouts around town (especially in a dense city), but they broke left and right on track. I went to a track day with the local Fiat club and all three of the 500s that showed up broke down.
Submitted by: golfball
VW Golf R
The Golf, at its current state, will boil the brake fluid after a single lap of an aggressive track, a higher temperature brake fluid would obviously help, but it’s still a very heavy car.
Daily them, canyon runs, snow shenanigans, but keep them off the track.
Submitted by: Bryan May via Facebook
Performance Trucks From The 1990s-2000s
I had a 94 Lightning in Ultra Red, it was a blast to drive and enjoy, and real-world handling was beyond impressive considering what it was, but power and no weight over the back wheels made things a little twitchy if you wanted to hustle it on a track or AutoX.
Still, 10/10 would buy again.
Submitted by: Potbelly Joe and 42 others
Porsche 944 Turbo
Back in the 80's there was the SCCA Showroom Stock GT racing and the C4 Vette with its lowly push-rod V8 absolutely pounded the Germanmobile every time. The Vettes won 29 to 0.
So the cry babies, including Porsche, had the C4 booted from the race series.
Submitted by: the1969DodgeChargerFan
I’ll take the low-hanging fruit of the Plymouth Prowler. It’s an amazing visual performer, but an uninspired actual performer. The wimpier-than-you’d-like engine and lazy slushbox were acceptable on the street, because these are really only for cruising down Main Street while reveling in the stares of everyone else. You don’t need big performance to go 25 mph between stop lights.
But you’ll be falling asleep at the wheel on a track as you wait for the thing to shift from 2nd to 3rd.
To be fair to the Prowler, I don’t think I’d ever heard of someone taking one of these things on the track. I do suspect thought that it would perform horribly.
Submitted by: Give Me Tacos or Give Me Death
Heavy Muscle Cars
The late 2000s and 2010s will be remember for the muscle car wars. But they were muscle cars in both the good and bad sense, especially when it came to actually perform in anything other than a straight line. While models like the Chevy Camaro and Ford Mustang performed well on track, but Dodge was busy making muscle cars in the classic sense. Sure, 808 horsepower was wild in the Challenger SRT Demon wild. But 808 horsepower in something weighing over 4,000 pounds and 16 and a half feet long isn’t that fun on the track.
Submitted by: boneheadotto
E9X Gen BMW 3 Series
This may not be a popular opinion, but the E9X iteration of the 3-series with early N54 engines were excellent daily driver performance cars, but had a few fatal flaws when pushed to extremes during track use. I remember when my friend let me drive his brand new 335 coupe and I was blown away by the power delivery of the engine, especially in comparison to the turbo Subies I was driving at the time which were great but still had some turbo lag under 3,500 rpm. Handling was, of course, excellent for an untuned road car.
At the track, the power delivery and handling characteristics made it a weekend track car, although after a few laps, most of the new 335s would go into limp mode which is of course not great for performance driving. The car went into limp mode due to overheating. Aside from common water pump and high-pressure fuel pump failures, even when the cooling/oil circ systems were working properly, they couldn’t handle repeated heavy loads. Fortunately, BMW was able to resolve that as they improved the powerplant in subsequent years but I will never forget going back to the pit and seeing all the 335s sitting with their hoods up and their frustrated owners waiting for them to cool down.
Submitted by: oddseth
NB/NC Mazda Miata
Miatas need some work to be track rats, as the factory suspension is clearly setup for making the car feel fast at street speeds instead of being fast at track speeds. At least the NB/NC did.
Submitted by: put-some-turbo-on-meeeee
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