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2014 Shelby GT500: Performance leadership continues for 2014, as the Ford Shelby GT500 produces 662 horsepower from its aluminum 5.8-liter supercharged V8, making it the industry's most powerful production V8 engine. (07/01/2013)

Adobe Photoshop CS6 (Windows);Ford

I'm having a hard time deciding how to turn hard-earned income into tire smoke, rumbly noises and fun. I am saying goodbye to my 2011 Jaguar XF in hopes of finding a little less stately refinement. I see two possible avenues: a hot hatch (VW GTI or Ford Fiesta ST) or a sports coupe (BMW 2-Series or Toyobaru). – Dave from Montreal

Cato: Our man Dave is roasting on the spit of a midlife crisis. Of course, he could find the antidote in a racier version of the XF, the XFR – 510 supercharged horses and a ride firm enough to both loosen fillings and flatten out the snakiest of roads.

And $88,000. Dave's hot hatches are half that.

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Vaughan: You have a point here, Cato. Ditching the Jag for a souped-up Ford Fiesta? How many Jag owners actually know what a Toyobaru is? Maybe we have to crank Dave up a little more.

Cato: A Toyobaru refers to the Subaru BRZ and the Scion FR-S. A nice little sports car, the one developed by Subaru, but not enough oomph for Dave.

No, Dave, you want to head straight over to the Chevy shop and count out $52,745 for the 2014 Corvette Stingray. Worth every penny.

You could spend all of that on a Dr. Melfi type – Tony Soprano's shrink – and still end up an emotional and psychological wreck. Like Tony. Or you could light your 'Vette's tires and tune in the symphony of a 455-horsepower V-8 as you row through a snappy seven-speed manual. Best therapy you'll ever have, Dave.

Vaughan: Yep, the new 'Vette should cure Dave. For the dough, this is one incredible machine.

People buy German stuff for twice the money that won't perform like the Stingray. Such is the price of snob appeal. However, Dave is asking about Ford Fiestas and Veedubs and the Toyota/Scion/Subaru, so snob appeal isn't a big issue for him.

The Fiesta ST ($24,999) is peppy but rough-riding and noisy. The Volkswagen GTI ($30,375) is still the old version from 2008 and the Toyota Scion FR-S ($26,450) and/or Subaru BRX ($27,295) are no match for the 'Vette – but it is about half the money.

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Cato: If it's not the 'Vette, Dave should have a run in the updated Subaru WRX. Get it with the sport package for $32,495, six-speed manual included. The engine is the same 268-hp turbo four sold last year, but the steering, handling, braking and overall responsiveness are superb. The boxer engine's low centre of gravity matters, as does the excellent all-wheel-drive system.

Or a Mustang. I know, a new "global" 'Stang is coming this fall, but so what? Dave, you should think about going all-in with a Shelby GT500 ($61,699). Let me spell it out for you: six hundred and sixty-two horsepower.

A beast of a car. You want to make smoke? Here you go. Lease it for three years and when your time is up, you'll be ready to take the measure of Ford's new pony car. This is an option, Dave. The right car with limited commitment.

Vaughan: That Shelby thing, it's a carnival act.

I'm not overly impressed with that Fiesta ST, but there is a Focus ST for $29,999 that is quite a little performance car.

You remember when we went ripping around in one, Cato? With a 252-hp turbo and fantastic sport seats, it's a great driver's car. But it is still a Focus – one of the most common cars in the world and if Dave's needs are psychological, as you suggest, maybe a Focus just won't cut it.

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Cato: Okay, let's clear away the rubble of this discussion. This Subaru WRX should be a contender. It's a real performance car and the stealth design means Dave will fly under the radar. That's the sensible option, but for the 2015 version, you'll need to wait until Subaru has cleared out remaining 2014s.

The wild and crazy choice is the Shelby. It'll chew up pavement like nothing else. It's raw and loud and mean and the likes of it are getter rare, buried by changing tastes and government regulations about fuel economy.

So that brings me to the 'Vette. You have my prescription, Dave. This'll cure you.

Vaughan: Thank you, Dr. Freud. I concur.

Jeremy Cato and Michael Vaughan are co-hosts of Car/Business, which airs Thursdays at 8:30 p.m. on Business News Network and Saturdays at 11:30 a.m. on CTV.

The all-new, seventh-generation 2014 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray.Mueller/Chevrolet 

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HOW THEY COMPARE

 

2015 Subaru WRX

2014 Ford Shelby GT500 coupe

2014 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray coupe

Wheelbase (mm):

2650

2720

2710

Length (mm):

4595

4811

4493

Width (mm):

1795

1877

1877

Height (mm)

1495

1412

1240

Engine:

2.0-litre four-cylinder, turbocharged

5.8-litre V-8, supercharged

6.2-litre V-8

Output (horsepower/torque)

268/258 lb-ft

662/631 lb-ft

455/460 lb-ft

Drive system:

All-wheel drive

Rear-wheel drive

Rear-wheel drive

Transmission

Six-speed manual

Six-speed manual

Seven-speed manual

Curb weight (kg)

1483

1744

1496

Fuel economy (litres/100 km)

9.8 city/7.0 highway using regular fuel

14.2 city/8.4 highway using premium fuel

12.2 city/6.9 highway using premium fuel

Base price

$32,495

$61,699

$52,745

Source: car manufacturers

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