60 Greatest Performance Cars of all time: 40-31

Welcome to MOTOR’s 60 Greatest Performance Cars of all time.

The list first appeared in our June 2014 issue as part of our 60th Anniversary celebrations. What better way to celebrate 60 years of testing performance cars than to name the best we’ve ever driven?

Now, given the last was compiled almost 12 months ago there are some obvious cars missing. At the time, we hadn’t driven the incredible LaFerrari or the sublime 458 Speciale, and we hadn’t yet sampled the excellent 991 GT3.

Bar a few recent models, however, it’s a list that’s unlikely to significantly change, now or into the future, as these 60 cars represent the pinnacle of performance motoring. That said, if we’ve missed your favourite, please let us know in the comments below. Enjoy.

Click here for cars 60-51

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40. Nissan S15 200SX

Before the 86 came along, we were wondering if we might have seen the last of the affordable, rear-drive coupe. Thankfully not, but at least it would’ve gone out on a high. Crappy local fuel robbed us of 37kW, but it mattered little as the sublime chassis and telepathic steering more than made up for it. The cheapest car ever to win PCOTY, and it beat a 911 Turbo to do it.

39. Peugeot 205 GTI

Whereas VW’s Golf GTI matured over the years, inevitably getting fatter and slower as a result, Peugeot’s landmark hot hatch refused to grow up, the motoring equivalent of those 30-year-old guys that still go to Schoolies – only less creepy. Die-hards will argue the merits of the 1.6- or 1.9-litre cars, but both will induce massive smiles by lift-off oversteering at the drop of a beret.

38. Lancia Delta Integrale

Six straight WRC manufacturers’ titles don’t lie. Back when the word ‘homologation’ actually meant something, this spoke volumes about the competency of the base product. The perfect example of how motorsport improves the breed, continual improvements demanded by the world’s toughest motorsport series meant each Integrale was that little bit better than its predecessor.  

37. Holden A9X Torana

If there was any justice in the world, the A9X would command similar reverence to the Phase III. It’s rare (just 405 were built; 305 sedans and 100 hatches), has impeccable race credentials and represent the pinnacle of Torana development, rectifying the (many) shortcomings of the L34.

36. Toyota 86

Regarde le renaissance. Of all the companies that could’ve revived the affordable, rear-drive coupe segment, few would have bet money on Toyota, that most conservative of corporate giants, being the one to take the plunge. Even better, thanks to the 86’s success, we’re guaranteed to see more challengers in the near future.

35. Lamborghini Murcielago LP670-4 SV

When it comes to pure automotive theatre, you can’t go past the ultimate evolution of the Murcielago. Thanks to a 100kg diet and the legendary Bizzarrini V12 – that could trace its roots back to 1963 – bellowing out 493kW in its final appearance, performance was shattering, accompanied by foot-long flames from the exhaust and a noise that could topple buildings.

34. Renault Sport Clio RS200

Everything a hot hatch should be. Frenzied and frantic at maximum attack, in its own way the Clio RS200 is as intensely focused as a 911 GT3. The driving position is iffy, the ride is bouncy and the gearing will drive you mad on the highway, but on your favourite road few cars will completely immerse you in the art of driving as well as the Clio.

33. BMW E39 M5

The definitive super sedan, and its supremacy over its rivals was never more apparent than with the V8-powered E39. With a greater breadth of ability than the earlier straight-six E28 and E34, yet refreshingly simple compared to the techno-loaded V10 E60 and current F10 that succeeded it, the E39 was, and is, a masterpiece.


No one expected the Gen-F GTS to be as good as it is. While its E3 predecessor was a fine drive, HSV’s new flagship moves the Aussie performance game so far forward it renders any comparison redundant. Huge power, benchmark brakes and clever electronics make this the archetypal 21st-century muscle car.

31. Ferrari Daytona

Before the Miura turned the supercar game on its head, all the truly fast cars had their engines in the front. And they were all trying to catch the Daytona. Beautiful, sophisticated and incredibly fast (280km/h flat out), in its day it was every bit as impressive as the F12 is now.

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