5 Things to Look For During a New Sports Car Test Drive

Are you planning to buy a new Chevrolet Corvette as a weekend toy? Are you thinking about possibly driving a sports car every day? If you answered “yes” to either of those questions, then you may want to prepare yourself before going on any test drives. After all, sports cars may be cars, but they are different beasts when you have to live with them every day.

1. Pay attention to the way the car handles

A 2018 Porsche 991 Carrera T sports car driving on the narrow mountain roads of Col de Turini in southeast France
A 2018 Porsche 991 Carrera T sports car driving on the narrow mountain roads of Col de Turini in southeast France. | Rich Pearce/Total 911 Magazine/Future via Getty Images)

Whether you are planning to drive a sports car every day or just on occasion, it’s a good idea to pay attention to the way the car handles. That doesn’t just mean that you should note how well it can hang on to the road in a 90-degree turn, but also how well it handles bumps and other road imperfections. After all, if you’re going to live with it for a number of years, you should make sure that it’s comfortable enough for your liking. Otherwise, you could get tired of it sooner rather than later.

2. How well does the engine respond to your throttle inputs?

2021 Lexus LC 500 Engine | Joe Santos, MotorBiscuit
2021 Lexus LC 500 Engine | Joe Santos, MotorBiscuit

MotorTrend notes that another important thing to look for when test driving a sports car is how responsive its engine is. Any proper sports car should respond to your throttle inputs well and it’s important that you pay attention to how quickly the car revs up and down when driving it.

3. How does the transmission operate?

A 1991 Porsche 911 Turbo 3.6 sports car driving on a rural road.
A 1991 Porsche 911 Turbo 3.6 sports car driving on a rural road. | Daniel Pullen/Future Publishing via Getty Images

In addition to the car’s handling characteristics and throttle response, it’s also important to note how well the car shifts. If the car has a manual transmission, then pay attention to how the shifter feels when going through the gears in addition to the clutch actuation. After all, those two components contribute to the entire sensation of driving a stick shift.

If the car has an automatic transmission, then pay attention to how quickly the car shifts through the gears at different speeds. Also, note what RPM the engine sits at when cruising on the highway. These little nuances can play heavily into how much you’ll enjoy the car years down the road.

4. Are the vehicle’s driving dynamics adjustable?

The 2009 Nissan GT-R at the 2008 New York International Auto Show at the Javitz Center.
The 2009 Nissan GT-R at the 2008 New York International Auto Show at the Javitz Center. | Brian Ach/WireImage

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Most cars on the road today allow the driver to adjust its driving dynamics on the fly. With a simple twist of a knob or a push of a button, a sports car’s ride can be stiffened up, its steering made sharper, and its throttle response more responsive. However, other cars like the Nissan GT-R allow for more parameters to be changed, which can play a factor in whether or not the car is right for your needs.

5. How is the car’s ride height?

 2020 Chevrolet Corvette is on display at the 112th Annual Chicago Auto Show at McCormick Place.
2020 Chevrolet Corvette is on display at the 112th Annual Chicago Auto Show at McCormick Place. | Raymond Boyd/Getty Images

You’re driving a sports car, so of course, it’s going to ride low to the ground. But how low is it? Can you comfortably get up your steep driveway or over parking lot speed bumps without busting a kidney? If so, then you can probably live with it every day or at least on the weekends. If the car’s ride is too low or too stiff, then you may want to reconsider buying it.

Can you test drive a sports car?

Yes, you can test drive just about any sports car in the market today. However, just know that some of the higher-end dealerships that sell Porsches, Audis, or Ferraris may actually require a credit check before you do so. Those dealers want to make sure that you’re not wasting their time. Otherwise, have fun with it. Ultimately, it’s not too often that you buy a sports car to play with, so it’s best to make the test drive count.

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