posted on January 20, 2021

A trio of high-octane escapes for the stuck-at-home blues

The past year has found millions of us at home, dialing into virtual meetings, organizing our sock drawers, experimenting with sourdough starters. Yearning for an escape, many of us would like nothing better than to have a reason to get out of the house. Going for a drive can lessen cabin fever, rekindle our spirits, and safely reconnect us with the sights and sounds outside.

Today we showcase three cars cut from a different cloth, vehicles that can channel our inner enthusiast with razor-sharp handling and supernatural driving dynamics. While driving a car booked on Turo on a track is prohibited, these cars are strongly recommended for scenic byways and winding canyon roads.


Ottoline’s 2016 BMW M4 GTS (Austin, TX)

We start with a little-known variant of a renowned sports car. Though the BMW M4 debuted a year prior, the Munich engineers wasted no time releasing a special edition for 2016 called the M4 GTS. Limited to 700 units, it was one of the most exclusive BMW M-cars ever made.

Its hood, roof, and other parts were constructed from carbon to maximize the power-to-weight ratio. BMW replaced the rear seat with a roll bar, added lighter doors, and swapped the front seats for racing buckets. The GTS shaved 200 pounds off the M4 in total.

Its first-of-its-kind water-injected engine churned out 493 hp. This M4 GTS can lap the Nürburgring in just 7:28 minutes while retaining the comfort and amenities expected by luxury owners, making it a superb introduction into hardcore sports car territory.

Lotus Exige S

Josh’s 2007 Lotus Exige S (Olathe, KS)

Lotus’ founders knew that to make a fast car, it needed more than power. Lightness is Lotus’ key trick for maneuvering through corners. The Lotus Exige is a perfect example of this, landing on US shores in 2007, driving like nothing else on the road.

The Exige S is somewhat of an enigma. Shorter, lower, and lighter than a Mazda Miata, it uses a 220 hp Toyota four-cylinder engine. It rides inches off the ground, and there are few passenger indulgences beyond radio and air conditioning. And with an MSRP of $60,000, it didn’t even have the price tag of a real exotic.

Yet, its monocoque chassis, independent suspension, and a treasure trove of motorsport technology makes the mid-engine Exige S feel like a street-legal go-kart, out-handling cars several times its price.

Porsche Cayman GT4

David’s 2106 Porsche Cayman GT4 (Columbia City, IN)

Produced for the 2016 model year, this Cayman GT4 is rare, with fewer than 1,000 units sent to the US. A compact coupe with stunning performance, the GT4 takes the qualities drivers loved in the Cayman and turns the volume up. Way up.

Porsche sourced the steering rack, front axle, shock absorbers, and other handling components from the 911 GT3. A custom aerodynamic kit and rear spoiler gives the GT4 a staggering 220 pounds of downforce, keeping it planted to the tarmac. Though the Zuffenhausen carmaker has been in the process of making most of its engines smaller thanks to turbocharging, the GT4 relies on a glorious naturally-aspirated flat-six making 385 hp. The howl released from the exhaust as it blasts through tunnels is primeval.

Matt is a freelance writer based in Los Angeles. When not daydreaming about Mazda Miatas, he is probably cooking or reading.