With the slight bit of controversy slowly bubbling up around R&T calling the new 911 Turbo a "supercar," I think it's time to ask this question: What really makes a car a supercar?

Is it the sheer performance? If so, the Nissan GT-R, 911 Turbo, and pretty much every purpose-built track machine out there is a supercar. That's obviously not the best way to look at it.

The exclusivity? If that's the metric, maybe you could call the Juke R a supercar, or even a Boss 302 'Stang could be one. Neither of those are supercars, I think we can agree.

Price? Supercar, a Rolls Royce Phantom ain't.

Absurdity? I find nothing super about the Morgan 3-Wheeler.

Lustworthiness? Well, while I truly and deeply desire to own an Audi RS2, that doesn't make it a supercar.


I think, then, that it is the combination of factors - the amalgamation of competing forces into a single product - that makes a supercar super. And in no particular amount is any one truly necessary, though supercars often share certain aspects (high price, low number of seats).

So, is the new 911 Turbo a supercar because it performs like a supercar? I think to say this is to dilute the meaning of the word. It's taking a feeling, something we can only vaguely articulate even as car people, and commoditizing it into something it should not be. Supercars are foremost about a feeling.


Cars like the 911 Turbo, the Nissan GT-R, and track-built weapons like the Ariel Atom are, by contrast, deeply concerned with a concrete justification for existence. They work to show you their value - you are paying for performance, for something fast. That's not a supercar, it's just a really fast car.

A supercar should be something that, despite its flaws, has a certain exotic appeal that is intangible. It should be something you'd have to think twice about actually owning. Whether or not a particular supercar is something you personally find appealing is an entirely different discussion, but I think this is really the meat of the issue: a supercar should drive people to controversy, not seek to satisfy everyone. No one looks at a 911 Turbo and goes "well, that's just offensive."