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Porsche 911 beats out 'Vette and Viper

Consumer Reports releases results for the most expensive group of cars it has ever tested. See photos of the 'Supercars.'

By Peter Valdes-Dapena, staff writer


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NEW YORK ( -- In testing the most expensive group of cars the magazine has ever purchased, Consumer Reports rated the Porsche 911 as the top high-performance sports car.

The 911 was tested against the Chevrolet Corvette Z06, the Dodge Viper and other performance vehicles in a competitive test of luxury sports cars.

The prices of the eight cars in the magazine's most recent tests ranged from $45,545 for a Lotus Elise to $105,855 for a Mercedes-Benz SL550.

In the magazine, those results are combined with those of six other luxury performance cars tested previously to provide a 14-car ranking of high-priced performance cars.

Consumer Reports, published by the non-profit Consumer's Union, purchases all the vehicles it tests for the magazine. The vehicles are bought anonymously from retail auto dealers.

Photos: Consumer Reports Supercar Testexternal link

Cars are tested on public roads as well as at the magazine's test track facility in Connecticut. Cars are put through a variety of tests, including high-speed maneuvering, braking and cornering.

The scoring system used for these cars was different from that generally used by the magazine for minivans and sedans, said David Champion, senior director of Consumer Reports' Auto Test Center.

While the scoring was still heavily weighted toward safety, including emergency handling, factors like acceleration were given more importance than, for instance, trunk space, Champion said.

Comfort, convenience and day-to-day drivability were still factors in the rankings, though.

Performance battle

"The 911 wowed us enough with its acceleration, handling, and braking for us to rate it our top sports car," said Champion. "The 911 is also easy to drive, but its much less expensive Boxster sibling performed almost as well."

The 911 cost about $87,500 as tested. The Corvette Z06's price was about $77,000.

The Corvette impressed the magazine's test drivers with its powerful acceleration and stable feel. The magazine called its handling "less precise" than the 911's, though.

The magazine called the Corvette Z06's predicted reliability "Poor," which prevented them from actually recommending the car in spite of high scores for performance and comfort.

Consumer Reports gauges "predicted reliability" based on survey data. The Corvette's "Poor" rating was based on results for the current version of the car, which debuted in 2005 as a 2006 model, and for the previous version, which shared many major components and features with the current version.

The V-10-powered Viper ranked as the fastest car ever tested by the magazine with a 0-60 time of 4.2 seconds. But it was only a tenth-of-a-second quicker than the Corvette Z06 and beat the 6-cylinder 911 by just two-tenths.

In other performance measures, it was no better than those cars, according to the magazine, in spite of a price that was $15,000 higher than the second-ranked Corvette Z06.

Ultimately, the Viper ranked second-to-last out of the 14 in the magazine's point system.

The Viper was rated as "Poor" in most "Comfort and Convenience" areas including "Ride," "Noise," and "Front seat comfort."

Still, Champion said, "I really liked the Viper."

The V-10-powered Viper has the kind of personality that's lacking from more coolly competent cars like the top-ranked Porsche 911.

"It's brutal," he said. "Everything about it is brutal."

The Lotus Elise, the cheapest car on the list, ranked last because of its extreme nature. The Elise's ride is extremely harsh and getting in and out of the tiny, low-slung car is difficult.

If pushed behind its high handling limits, the Elise resists attempts to get it back under control.

"We thought it was a little too tricky for most people to drive," said Champion.

Of the 14 cars tested, only three actually got a "Recommended" check mark from the magazine. To be recommended a car must have good crash test scores and good "Predicted Reliability."

The Nissan 350Z, BMW Z4 and Lexus SC430 were recommended. Those cars finished in the bottom half of the point rankings, however.

The magazine didn't have sufficient data to gauge reliability for seven of the 14 cars. Of the other seven, three had "Poor" reliability. Those were the Corvette Z06, the Corvette convertible and the Mercedes SL550.

The Mercedes SLK350 was rated as having "Fair" reliability.

Results of the test will appear in the magazine's October issue.

For more details on the eight highest-priced cars in the latest test and a look at the full rankings, see our galleryexternal link.

Photos: Consumer Reports Supercar Testexternal link


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