Skip to main content

Whether you drive a genuine sports car, a sporty sedan, or a sport-inspired SUV, there are certain features that it would need to feel like a “driver’s car.” For example, a Chevy Corvette has all of the makings of a true driver’s car; like paddle shifters, tight-steering, and a low-slung ride. However, there are some cars on the market that masquerade as driver’s cars that really aren’t. In that case, here are five features that every true driver’s car really needs.

1. A manual or a dual-clutch transmission

2022 Toyota GR86 manual transmission
2022 Toyota GR86 manual transmission | Toyota

Let’s face it, any driver’s car needs a manual transmission to be considered a “real” one. There’s nothing like rocking a stick and working a clutch to shift into the next gear right at the redline. It’s almost a religious experience whether you’re on the street or on a race track.

However, many automakers have been phasing out manual transmissions from their sporty sedans and coupes (what’s left of them). In that case, a dual-clutch transmission and paddle shifters will do as well.

2. Active exhaust option

2023 Chevrolet Corvette Z06 exhaust
2023 Chevrolet Corvette Z06 exhaust | Chevrolet

An active exhaust allows the driver to change the exhaust tone and output at the touch of a button inside of the car. You’ll typically find it in higher-end sports and luxury cars and the best part about it is that an active exhaust allows the car to be quiet when needed and loud when you want to be obnoxious. It essentially opens up a valve in the exhaust system to make it freer-flowing when activated and closed when it’s not. Of course, true drivers will leave it open all of the time, despite what their neighbors think of them.

3. Launch control

Although you may never get into a stoplight drag race, it’s still fun to have a car with a launch control feature. Launch Control allows the driver to rev the engine up from a standstill to a certain RPM in order to launch the car quickly and easily off the line. Of course, we recommend using it on the track only, but it’s not uncommon to use it to catapult your car onto the freeway from time to time.

4. An adaptive suspension

BMW i8
BMW i8 | Sonu Mehta/Hindustan Times via Getty Images

The ability to soften or firm up a car’s suspension at a moment’s notice is a welcome feature in any true driver’s car. Going on a long road trip? Stick in “comfort” mode and relax. Want to take on the twisties at your local canyon? Firm things up by sticking it into “sport,” that way, you’ll be able really to feel the car.

5. A manual handbrake

A manual car handbrake
A manual car handbrake | Wikimedia Commons

Most new cars in today’s market use electronic handbrakes, which makes sense because they can engage automatically for safety. However, any real driver’s car needs a manual handbrake for the ability to get sideways when the mood feels right. It’s just too bad fewer and fewer new cars are coming equipped with them.

Driver’s car features

Ultimately, if you’re looking for the ultimate driver’s car, then you’ll likely have to buy an older Corvette, Mustang, or Nissan GT-R to adequately fill your needs. However, if you can find a car that has at least a few of these features, then it can pass as a driver’s car. Just don’t go sliding around in a Toyota Corolla. No matter what you think, it’s not a true sports car, even if it does have paddle shifters.


The 2020 Mazda MX-5 RF Is a Sophisticated Driver’s Car