LOOKING FOR EVIDENCE of American exceptionalism? Two of the most exciting performance cars of the year are from right here in the U.S.A. The 2017 Corvette Grand Sport is the ’Vette for the gentleman racer. It features the razor-sharp suspension, ultra-grippy tires, and aggressive bodywork of the top-of-the-line Corvette Z06 but forgoes that car’s 650-horsepower supercharged engine in favor of the base model’s 460-hp V-8. Sound like a downgrade? It’s not—the Grand Sport is all about balance. It’s the kind of car that rewards precision driving, on the road and at the racetrack.
And it’s no slouch, roaring to 60 mph in just 3.6 seconds, at a price that’s about $14,000 less than the $80,000 Corvette Z06. The 2017 Ford Focus RS is America’s answer to the oh-so-European “hot hatch,” an economy hatchback endowed with a devilishly powerful engine. Here, that means a 2.3-liter turbocharged four-cylinder kicking out a raucous 350 hp. Tricky torque-vectoring all-wheel drive helps this sneaky $35,900 four-door zip from zero to 60 in 4.6 seconds and rocket around turns like it’s glued to the pavement. Prefer some drama in the corners? Drift Mode lets you live out your tire-smoking fantasies—but only if you’re on a closed course.