Total Car Score’s Total Performance Car Surprise

If the agitation generated in places ranging from Detroit to Germany to Tokyo by the Total Car Score Top 10 High-Performance Cars for 2012 was somehow captured as energy, there would be a sufficient amount, no doubt, to power the vehicles on that list for a considerable distance, despite the fact that the average MPGs the collective group is in the mid-teens.

If the agitation generated in places ranging from Detroit to Germany to Tokyo by the Total Car Score Top 10 High-Performance Cars for 2012 was somehow captured as energy, there would be a sufficient amount, no doubt, to power the vehicles on that list for a considerable distance, despite the fact that the average MPGs the collective group is in the mid-teens.

When you think of the #1 high-performance car, you might think Mustang or Boxster. But according to this automotive ranking and comparison website that uses an aggregate scoring model, you’d be thinking about the wrong thing.

#1: The Infiniti IPL G Coupe.

Huh?

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IPL is for “Infiniti Performance Line.” There are two variants of this limited-edition model for 2013, one with a 7-speed automatic or one with a 6-speed manual. Both have a 348-hp, 3.7-liter engine. What’s notable is that this #1 performance car isn’t nose-bleed expensive: the MSRP for the 2013 with a manual is $50,500. Even the unlimited edition versions of the car aren’t all that visible: according to Autodata, through June, a total 6,991 G37 and G35 coupes were sold in the U.S. Thus, the surprise that that car must generate among those responsible for high-performance cars at their respective firms.

The balance of the list is:

2. Mercedes-Benz E63 AMG

3. Cadillac CTS-V

4. Ford Taurus SHO

5. 2012 Chrysler 300 SRT8

6. 2012 Dodge Charger SRT8

7. 2012 Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT8

8. 2012 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1

9. Chevrolet Corvette

10. Ford F-150 SVT Raptor

No Mustang. No Porsche. And while the people at Nissan are undoubtedly happy about the G, really, no Nissan GT-R?

That is an incredibly solid showing from Chrysler. Which may be not an entirely good thing, in this era of “responsible driving.” And while one might question whether high-performance cars really matter nowadays, Total Car Score CEO Karl Brauer argues they do: “Performance models sell in relatively low volumes, so automakers can justify the image boost they provide against the small hit they cause to Corporate Average Fuel Economy statistics. There’s also a technology play here. Performance cars are often on the leading edge of vehicle research and development work, and this work eventually benefits the entire model line.”

However, while these performance cars may provide a halo for the other vehicles in a showroom, isn’t it possible that they could have a counter effect on some consumers, as in, if someone associates the Pentastar products just with SRT8s, might they not forego a visit to a dealer because they’re interested in, say, fuel economy, and they might assume that all Chrysler/Dodge/Jeep has to offer are fast, comparatively thirsty vehicles?

What’s more, while OEMs can afford to spend more on everything from shocks to valves for the low-volume performance cars, nowadays there is more concentration on high-efficiency powertrains—I’m guessing Nissan spent considerably more on the LEAF powertrain than on the high-performance V6 in the G—so as budgets become more constrained, where’s the biggest long-term benefit?

Maybe the real play would be in developing a kinetic energy capture device for agitated automotive product managers.