The best way to make money is to be smart with the money you have. Take Warren Buffett: he’s worth an estimated $62 billion, but reportedly drives a Cadillac DTS, which retails for about $46,000.
While Mr. Buffett clearly isn’t thirsting for seat-of-your-pants performance, lots of us are. The nice thing is, smart car shoppers can pull a Buffett and get car that drives almost as well as high-priced exotics for a fraction of the cost. True, you won’t get the status or kid-glove service that comes with luxury cars that cost two to three times more, and you’ll have to make some compromises on performance, but you will get to keep more of your hard-earned money.
Intrigued? Check out these cars that drive like -- but don’t cost -- a million bucks.
We know you’ve been lusting for the Lamborghini Murcielago since it came out. That sharp, wedge shape! That Italian motor! That 3.4 second zero-to-sixty time! That $353,000 price tag! Ok, maybe not the price tag. But you can get to sixty just as fast with the less-expensive Corvette ZR1. To be clear, the ZR1 isn’t a cheap car -- unless you’re comparing it to the Murcielago. But for the price of one monster Lambo, you can buy three ZR1s and still have cash left in your pocket. Sure, the Chevy emblem isn’t as lusted-after as Lamborghini’s angry bull, but with all the money you’ll save by going with the ZR1, you can afford to buy a new hood ornament.
With the price of organic food and hybrid cars, it seems like the only people who can afford to go green are the ones that have a lot of green to begin with. That ends with the Nissan Leaf. If you want an electric car, you can opt for the Tesla Roadster (MSRP $109,000) or the Tesla Model S sedan (MSRP $56,500), but the Leaf lets you go just as gas free and for only $33,720. The Tesla Roadster costs almost three times more than the Leaf does and only has seating for two. And though the Model S has seating for seven, it costs about 150 percent more than the Leaf. Sure, the Model S can be equipped to travel up to 300 miles between charges, but it’ll cost extra. Buy the Base Leaf and get a range of 100 miles between charges -- the same as the base Model S.
The Nissan GT-R is a rare breed: it’s a hard-edged, high-end sports car with a backseat. Why not bring the kiddies along as you tear up the back roads? If you really need four seats, you could always compare the GT-R to the Ferrari 612 Scaglietti. While the Ferrari is a more refined cruiser and has the iconic prancing stallion on its hood, the GT-R will only see the 612’s badge in the rearview. The GT-R scoots to sixty 0.9 seconds faster than the Scaglietti. Plus, opting for the GT-R will leave an extra $234,978 in your kids’ college fund.
One of the most appealing things about the Porsche 911 Carrera is that its essential design hasn’t changed much since the 911 was introduced. The current model is bigger than the original, but overall, the two don’t look much different. That’s something Mazda MX-5 buyers can appreciate. The MX-5’s looks haven’t changed much since its introduction either. And, if you want an affordable drop top with performance chops, the MX-5 is tough to beat. Of course, the 911 Carrera 4S Cabriolet with Porsche’s PDK transmission provides a great top-down driving experience, and it’s got a backseat, while the MX-5 is just a roadster. But, if you opt for the Carrera 4S Cabriolet with PDK, you’re going to need the extra space: given its price tag, you may have to live in it to afford it.