Cheapest cars with launch control

Cheapest cars with launch control DEFAULT

You don't have to pay a bundle to get a car that offers driving excitement. These are 2017's 10 most affordable performance cars.

High-performance cars aren't always expensive. This list looks 2017's most affordable performance cars.

A talented performance car can turn even the most mundane commute into something memorable and sublime. Cars with superlative handling and awe-inspiring acceleration don't always come cheap, but there are choices available in this segment that provide lots of thrills for very little coin.

The 10 models that follow are the most affordable performance cars for 2017, presented in descending order to the least expensive model. We've defined performance cars as vehicles that have clearly been engineered to deliver improved handling and acceleration via an enhanced engine and component upgrades such as bigger brakes and a sport-tuned suspension. Prices reflect delivery and destination charges.

#10: 2017 Dodge Charger R/T

2017 Dodge Charger R/T

Priced at $35,885, the Dodge Charger R/T isn't short on muscle-car swagger. This performance-themed variant upgrades the Charger with 20-inch wheels, a sport-tuned suspension, bigger brakes, and a V-8 providing 370 horsepower and 395 lb.-ft. of torque. The engine is governed by an 8-speed automatic transmission.

#9: 2017 Dodge Challenger R/T

2017 Dodge Challenger R/T

With pricing that starts at $33,985, the Dodge Challenger R/T makes the already impressive Challenger even more awe-inspiring, adding 20-inch wheels, performance brakes and a mighty V-8 good for up to 375 horsepower and 410 lb.-ft. of torque. A 6-speed manual transmission is standard, and an 8-speed automatic is offered.

2017 Ford Mustang GT

The GT enhances the Mustang's capabilities with more sizable brakes, launch control for models with a manual transmission, and a robust V-8 engine that churns out 435 horsepower and 400 lb.-ft. of torque. Mustang GT buyers can select either a 6-speed manual transmission or a 6-speed automatic. Pricing starts at $33,545.

#7: 2017 Mini John Cooper Works

2017 Mini John Cooper Works

With a starting price of $31,750, the Mini John Cooper Works upgrades the beloved Mini Cooper with 17-inch wheels, Brembo brakes, a sport-tuned suspension and a turbocharged 2.0-liter engine good for 228 horsepower and 236 lb.-ft. of torque. A 6-speed manual transmission is standard, and a 6-speed automatic is also available.

#6: 2017 Fiat 124 Spider Abarth

2017 Fiat 124 Spider Abarth

New for 2017, the Fiat 124 Spider is a convertible based largely on the Mazda MX-5 Miata, and Abarth models provide a slight horsepower advantage and a sport-tuned suspension. The Fiat 124 Spider Abarth is powered by a turbocharged 1.4-liter engine with output of 164 horsepower and 184 lb.-ft. of torque and the powerplant may be paired with either a 6-speed manual or a 6-speed automatic transmission. Pricing starts at $29,190.

#5: 2017 Volkswagen Golf GTI Sport

2017 Volkswagen Golf GTI Sport

Priced at $28,815, the Volkswagen Golf GTI Sport is a performance trim of the Golf GTI. It adds larger brakes and boosts engine output by 10 horsepower. The Golf GTI Sport's turbocharged 2.0-liter engine unspools 220 horsepower and 258 lb.-ft. of torque, and it's paired with either a standard 6-speed manual transmission or an optional 6-speed dual-clutch automatic.

#4: 2017 Volkswagen Jetta GLI

2017 Volkswagen Jetta GLI

The GLI variant adds 18-inch wheels, upgraded brakes and a sport-tuned suspension to the Jetta's proposition, along with a turbocharged 2.0-liter engine good for 201 horsepower and 207 lb.-ft. of torque. A 6-speed manual transmission is standard, and you also have the choice of a 6-speed dual-clutch automatic. Pricing begins at $28,715.

2017 Ford Focus ST

The Ford Focus ST doesn't sacrifice comfort for performance, and it goes from visceral to refined in the blink of an eye. Performance brakes and 18-inch wheels are standard and pricing starts at $25,650. The hatchback is motivated by a turbocharged 2.0-liter 4-cylinder engine that generates 252 horsepower and 270 lb.-ft. of torque, and a 6-speed manual transmission shifts gears.

2017 Ford Fiesta ST

With 17-inch wheels, bigger brakes, quicker steering, a sport-tuned suspension, and a punchy turbocharged 4-cylinder engine, the Ford Fiesta ST has the goods to make performance dreams come true. The car's engine unspools 197 horsepower and 202 lb.-ft. of torque and comes standard with a 6-speed manual transmission. You can purchase a Fiesta ST for as little as $21,995.

2017 Fiat 500 Abarth

The Fiat 500 Abarth is what happens when you beef up a Fiat 500 with 16-inch wheels, upgraded brakes, sportier suspension tuning, and a more muscular powerplant. A 1.4-liter turbocharged engine lives under the hood, and it pumps out 160 horsepower and 170 lb.-ft. of torque when matched with the available 5-speed manual transmission. A 6-speed automatic is also offered. Pricing starts at $20,990.

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Motor Trend's Top 10 Launch Control-Equipped Cars

Have a Lust for Launching? Try Doing It in These Rides...

Today is your day to drive. Despite a hectic work schedule, shuttling the kids to and from school, and innumerable chores, you've managed to set aside a sliver of quality time to enjoy your newly delivered 2011 Corvette ZR1. That's Z-R-1 -- the mack-daddy of all Corvettes. Last year, you spent an entire week just mulling the color scheme: Arctic White with a Dark Titanium interior and Competition Grey wheels. She's your personal Bowling Green behemoth.

Finally, the twisties await. But just as the green hills fill the windshield, another local in his Ford Performance Parts-modified 2011 Shelby GT500 pulls up on the right. Well, well, well.

As you wait side-by-side at what seems to be the longest light ever, his supercharged 5.4-liter bellows, gulping air as if it were a prizefighter trained for this very bout. Your force-fed 6.2-liter bounces off its 6600 rpm limit, roaring menacingly. Bystanders run for cover. Mothers hide babies in their Range Rovers. It's a colossal clash of American muscle.

"Launch it well. Don't miss a shift. Launch it well. Don't miss a shift," you keep repeating. Below your right foot is more than 600 horsepower on the brink of explosion. The "launch it well" in particular has got you worried.

But then you remember that the ZR1's Performance Traction Management (PTM) system now comes with launch control. The Shelby doesn't. You engage PTM. So much for the 'Stang.

Given its name, launch control is pretty self-explanatory. The basic idea is to help operators achieve the best acceleration times and diminish the likelihood of a mistake and resulting damage to the vehicle. It's important to note, however, that launching puts enormous stress on the entire powertrain -- just ask a couple of Nissan GT-R owners.

More specifically, launch control helps to optimize a vehicle's straight line acceleration from a standing stop by utilizing a setup of tiny computers and sensors measuring wheel slip, throttle inputs, brake usage, transmission vitals, engine speed, etc. Each automaker's launch control system operates differently, yet ends up with roughly the same result.

For your enjoyment, we've collected a list of today's Top 10 rides equipped with a launch control-type setup. There are seven dual-clutch gearboxes on the list -- a testament to the transmission's efficiency and performance benefits. Only two single-clutch automated manuals (both from Audi family products) join the twin-clutches, and a single, regular old-fashion manual slushbox finishes off the list.

Enough with the chit-chat. On to the cars.

Audi R8 5.2 FSI quattro

Transmission: Six-speed manual, six-speed automated-clutch manual (R tronic)

Launch Control Operation (per owner's manual):
Manual Transmission:

  • With the engine running, press the "ESP OFF" button one time. The ESP indicator light in the driver information system display illuminates and the message "ESP sport" APPEARS.
  • Press the clutch and hold it down.
  • Engage the first gear.
  • Press the accelerator pedal all the way down until the engine speed remains steady at 6500 rpm.
  • Release clutch carefully.

Automated Manual Transmission (R tronic)

  • With the engine running, press the "ESP OFF" button one time. The ESP indicator light in the driver information system display illuminates and the message "ESP sport" appears.
  • Press the brake pedal with you left foot and hold it down.
  • Engage a gear.
  • Press the "SPORT" button on the selector lever cover.
  • Press the accelerator pedal with you right foot until the engine has reached a constant speed.
  • Remove your left foot from the brake.

Our Take:
Comparison: 2010 Audi R8 vs 2011 Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG vs 2010 Porsche 911 Turbo

It was the Audi R8 5.2, though, that spurred each one of us into near-goofy giddiness. "Unbelievably good ride for a mid-engine supercar," says Loh. "None of the Porsche's harshness, none of the SLS's rough edges." "DIOS! What a machine," says Kiino. "So many positives, I hardly know where to begin. Calm, cool, and collected at triple-digit speeds -- 180 mph feels like 120. As effortless to drive as a VW Golf." The Audi's V-10 owns seemingly limitless torque reserves; just ease down on the throttle, even in sixth, and the forward surge is instantaneous. The exhaust wail at wide-open throttle will restyle your hair. The cabin, trimmed in gorgeous carbon fiber, is far and away the trio's most modern and attractive. And that exterior shape...well, no wonder Iron Man loves it more than free WD-40.

MT 0-60 mph Acceleration: 3.4 seconds

Claimed 0-60 mph Acceleration: 3.7 seconds


Transmission: Seven-speed dual-clutch (M Double-Clutch Transmission with Drivelogic)

Launch Control Operation (per owner's manual):
Launch Control is available when the engine is at operating temperature, i.e. after driving continuously for at least 6 miles/10 km.
1. Press the brake while the engine is running.
2. Deactivate Dynamic Stability Control DSC, refer to page 89.
3. Select sequential model with Drivelogic drive program 6
4. With the vehicle stationary, press the selector lever forward and hold. A flag symbol appears in the instrument cluster
5. Press the accelerator down all the way. The engine speed when driving off is controlled.
6. If you wish, you can adjust the drive-off engine speed by up to approx. 500 rpm.

  • Increase the drive-off engine speed by approx. 100 rpm: press the lever beyond the resistance point.
  • Decrease the drive-off engine speed by approx. 100 rpm: pull the lever beyond the resistance point.
  • Reset the drive-off engine speed: press the lever upward or downward.

7. The vehicle accelerates when you release the selector lever. Keep the accelerator pressed all the way down.
8. The transmission shifts up automatically as long as the accelerator is pressed all the way down.

Launch Control only becomes available again after a certain distance has been driven.

Our Take:
First Test: 2008 BMW M3 DCT

There's also a launch-control function, accessible only when the transmission is in track mode. You push and hold the shift lever forward until a checkered-flag motif appears on the dash. Take your foot off the brake and flat-foot the gas while holding the shifter forward, and the revs will rise to a fixed point (and those race-savvy BMW engineers allow you to choose a number between 4600 and 6100 rpm, using the cruise-control lever, to take into account the available traction). Then simply let go of the shifter, and keep your right foot buried. The DCT automatically machine-guns through the first five gears as you power down the quarter.

MT 0-60 mph Acceleration: 4.1 seconds

Claimed 0-60 mph Acceleration: 4.5 seconds

Bugatti Veyron

Transmission: Seven-speed dual-clutch (Ricardo DCT)

How to Operate (per Bugatti official):

  • Depress and hold the brake
  • Select drive and then first gear
  • Press the Launch Control button
  • Depress the throttle (the pedals are offset to the right)
  • Wait for the revs to stabilize at 3000
  • Then release for full acceleration fun

Our Take:
First Test: 2006 Bugatti Veyron 16.4

Ahead of you, 1320 feet is about to be eviscerated. Hold the brake, select drive and then first gear. Press the launch-control button, nail the throttle (the pedals are offset to the right), and wait for the revs to stabilize at 3000. Then release--you're doing 60 mph in approximately this much time: 2.7 seconds. There's no wheelspin. The car simply disappears as a V-8-like bellow frantically tries to keep up. At 30 mph, the 4530-pound Veyron is pulling 0.99 g.

The quarter mile passes in 10.4 seconds at 139.9 mph, but at 137, our ride height sensors notice the hydraulic suspension adjustment already lowering the chassis and pitching the nose slightly as the rear wing rises and angles itself. The sensation is completely unfamiliar, as the thrust against your back doesn't seem to fade with speed, flummoxing any sensible guess at what the peak velocity might be. 200 mph? 300 mph? Who knows? This thing might never stop.

MT 0-60 mph Acceleration: 2.7 seconds

Claimed 0-60 mph Acceleration: 2.7 seconds (depending on edition)

Chevrolet Corvette ZR1 with Performance Traction Management (PTM)

Transmission: Six-speed manual (Tremec TR6060)

Launch Control Operation (per owner's manual):
Launch Control is only available when the following criteria are met:

  • Competitive Driving Mode is selected (except ZR1) or any of the Performance Traction Management modes are selected (ZR1). The TCS light comes on the instrument panel and the appropriate.
  • DIC message displays.
  • The vehicle is not moving.
  • The steering wheel is pointing straight.
  • The clutch is pressed and the vehicle is in first gear.
  • The accelerator pedal is rapidly applied to wide open throttle.

The Launch Control feature will initially limit engine speed as the driver rapidly applies the accelerator pedal to wide open throttle. A smooth, quick release of the clutch, while maintaining the fully pressed accelerator pedal, will manage wheel slip. Complete shifts as described in Manual Transmission Operation on page 3-32.

After the vehicle is launched, the system continues in Competitive Mode (except ZR1) or Performance Traction Management (ZR1).

Our Take:
First Test: 2009 Chevrolet Corvette ZR1

Drive a 600-horsepower Dodge Viper SRT-10? Better move out of the way, bub. Launched well (and that means enough revs to keep the blown 6.2L V-8 from bogging but not so many revs that you simply whirl the rear tires into black jam), the 638-horse ZR1 blitzes from 0 to 60 miles per hour in a scalding 3.3 sec (versus 3.7 for the Dodge). Once those huge rear 335/25ZR-20 Michelin Sport PS2s are well and truly hooked up, though, the ZR1 really gets down and dirty. The quarter-mile flashes by in just 11.2 seconds at a trap speed of 130.5 mph (at that point the Viper is doing 124.4 mph). By the second half of the quarter-mile, the ZR1 is running away from almost every other automobile we've ever tested. The sound? Imagine an IndyCar being flat-footed around the Brickyard by a screaming Sam Kinison. "

MT 0-60 mph Acceleration (without PTM/Launch Control): 3.3 seconds **

Claimed 0-60 mph Acceleration: 3.4 seconds

** We haven't tested the 2010 Chevrolet Corvette ZR1 with Launch Control, but stay tuned.

Ferrari California

Transmission: Seven-speed dual-clutch automatic

How to Operate (per Ferrari official):

  • Turn the CST traction control off
  • Depress brake pedal and hold
  • Press "launch" button until it beeps
  • Depress and hold throttle
  • When revs rise to around 3000 rpm, lift off the brake
  • Hang on and keep the car pointed straight

Our Take:
First Drive: 2010 Ferrari California

And, boy, can it play road racer! Turn off the CST electronic nanny; you're on your own; all electronic controls apart from ABS are neutered. Deploy launch mode-further proof this Ferrari is no soft-centered sports car. Race up and down those Sicilian mountain roads, the Ferrari now digging in its heels when most rivals would be dancing gently on their toes; the steering is beautifully linear; those big carbon ceramic discs strong and eager. Power hard out of the tight corners, the rear tires yelping, your buttocks and backside now deep in the embrace of the leather seat, feed in the opposite lock and hold the Ferrari in a power slide as you gently dial up more horses to those spinning back alloys with their yellow-and-black prancing horse hubs.

MT 0-60 mph Acceleration: 3.5 seconds

Claimed 0-62 mph Acceleration: 4.0 seconds

Lamborghini Murcielago LP670-4 SuperVeloce

Transmission: Six-speed automated-clutch manual (e-gear)

How to Operate (per Lamborghini official):
"Maximum Performance Start" mode:

  • Vehicle is stopped.
  • Engage first gear.
  • Deactivate traction control system by pushing "TCS" button once (located on front center console).
  • Activate "CORSA" mode by pushing "CORSA" button once (located on front center console). CORSA mode provides faster throttle response, quicker shifting and deactivates automatic upshifting at redline.
  • Floor accelerator pedal as quickly as possible.

Our Take:
First Test: 2010 Lamborghini Murcielago LP670-4 SuperVeloce

As corner speeds rise, an otherworldly balance descends on the chassis, as the drivetrain, aerodynamics, and suspension begin working together beautifully. The SV will arrow through 50-mph bends at twice that velocity, feeling like it's bolted to the tarmac, talking to you the whole way around-and for the first time in a Murcielago, it's not whispering threats of grievous bodily harm. You never sense you're about to be overtaken by that big V-12 behind you midway through a turn, even if you have to lift off or the camber changes suddenly. Gone is the faint whiff of menace that has always made the Murcielago-and the Diablo and Countach before it-among the trickiest of supercars to drive fast. You don't need to fear the LP670-4 SV. You can trust it.

...The car's biggest weakness, though, is the single-clutch electronically actuated manual transmission. Even in Corsa mode, it's slower than the state-of-the-moment dual-clutch manuals, with much more variability in shift quality -- full power first-second and second-third shifts thump home harder than a Mike Tyson right cross -- and you'll get only a handful of launch-control starts before the clutch cries uncle and demands a rest. The E-Gear system is still quicker than a conventional stickshift when you're driving the SV fast -- Lambo test drivers prefer it -- but you have to remember to treat the paddles like devices that move real pieces of metal instead of video-game controllers. Feathering the gas slightly on critical upshifts helps smooth forward progress.

MT 0-60 mph Acceleration: 3.2 seconds

Claimed 0-62 mph Acceleration: 3.2 seconds

Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG

Transmission: Seven-speed dual-clutch (AMG SpeedSHIFT DCT)

Launch Control Operation (per Web tutorial):
To engage Race Start:

  • Close the doors of your SLS.
  • Make sure the engine and transmission have reached operating temperature.
  • While the vehicle is stationary, move the steering wheel to the straight ahead position.
  • Switch on "ESP Sport" by pressing the ESP button in the lower center console and select transmission position "D. "
  • Depress the brake pedal and keep it depressed.
  • Now, turn the selector switch in the lower center console to "RS. "
  • The multi-function display shows "RACE START CONFIRM, PADDLE UP."
  • Confirm "Race Start" by pulling the right gearshift paddle.
  • The multi-function display shows "RACE START AVAILABLE. DEPRESS ACCELERATOR. "
  • Fully depress the accelerator pedal while keeping the brake pedal depressed.
  • The engine speed increases.
  • In the multi-function display, the message "RACE START. RELEASE BRAKE TO START" appears.
  • Now release the brake, and keep the accelerator pedal fully depressed.
  • The SLS pulls away at maximum acceleration.
  • Race Start deactivates once the vehicle reaches a speed of approximately 50 km/h (31 mph).
  • The driving program "Sport Plus" and "ESP Sport" remain active.

Our Take:
Comparison: 2010 Audi R8 vs 2011 Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG vs 2010 Porsche 911 Turbo

The big Benz, motivated by a handbuilt, naturally aspirated 6.2-liter V-8, has none of the 911's turbo lag (even with twin screws the Porsche needs a blink to reach full power). Instead, when you plant your right foot, it simply detonates. And then you're in Idaho. "I've got it!" says Loh. "The SLS actually sounds like a flaming, nitromethane-powered chainsaw cutting through a solid rocket booster." Kiino sums up his impressions of the AMG's exhaust note in one word: "eargasmic." While the Gullwing, like the Porsche, sports a dual-clutch seven-speed, it's not nearly as lightning-flash quick. "Compared with the Turbo, shifts in the SLS seem to require a few extra tenths," says Kiino. "Painful milliseconds when you're in attack mode. "

MT 0-60 mph Acceleration: 3.6 seconds

Claimed 0-60 mph Acceleration: 3.7 seconds

Mitsubishi Evolution X MR Touring

Transmission: Six-speed dual-clutch automatic (TC-SST)

Launch Control Operation (per First Test):

  • Put transmission into "Drive. "
  • Hold transmission mode in "Sport" until "S-Sport" appears on instrument display.
  • Depress and hold brake with left foot.
  • Depress and hold accelerator with right foot until engine speed hits 5000 rpm.
  • Release brake.

Our Take:
First Drive: 2010 Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution MR Touring

Running upgrades to the TC-SST six-speed dual-clutch transmission mean all new MR Evos are apparently the fastest of the 10th generation. Mitsubishi claims the MR and Touring will consistently hit 60 mph in under five seconds. A bold claim (and one we'll have to test) since the last dual-clutch Evo we tested (2008 MR) managed only a 5.2-second blast.

What we do know is that, in Sport and Super Sport modes, the Touring we drove still drops rev-matched downshifts like a mechanized Makinen. Even better, TC-SST trans served up quick, yet velvety smooth shifts around town, at low speeds -- something few of these fancy dual-clutches seem to be able to manage. At this price point, the Evo has arguably the best dual clutch on the market.

MT 0-60 mph Acceleration: 5.2 seconds (2008 Evo X with TC-SST)

Claimed 0-60 mph Acceleration: 4.9 seconds (est)

Porsche 911 Turbo

Transmission: Seven-speed dual-clutch automatic (Porsche Doppelkupplungsgetriebe, aka PDK)

How to Operate (per owner's manual):

  • Launch Control should only be used when the engine has reached operating temperature.
  • "Sport Plus" mode must be switched on (light emitting diode in button is on and "SPORT PLUS" is displayed on the steering wheel).

1. Press the brake with your left foot.
2. Quickly press the accelerator down fully (kickdown activated) and hold it.

  • The engine speed will level off at around 5000 rpm.
  • "Launch Control active" appears on the steering-wheel display.

3. Release the brake within a few seconds.

  • Remaining stationary for a long time with "Launch Control active" can lead to overloading of the transmission.
  • To protect the transmission, the engine power is then reduced and the "Launch Control active" process is cancelled.

Our Take:
Comparison: 2010 Audi R8 vs 2011 Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG vs 2010 Porsche 911 Turbo

Fast? This 911 is OMG-WTF-BBQ-the-other-two fast," says Loh of the Turbo. Kiino has a similar view: "Don't floor the Turbo unless you've got both hands on the wheel and you're completely in a let's-go-warp-speed mode. This thing is a monster under full boil-feels like there's a jet engine strapped to the roof." Most of that speed owes to the dual-blower, 500-pony 3.8-liter six, but some is also due to the sublime seven-speed PDK twin-clutch paddle-shift transmission -- which each of us agrees is about as close to perfection as the Venus de Milo or maybe even "Caddyshack. "

MT 0-60 mph Acceleration: 2.8 seconds

Claimed 0-60 mph Acceleration: 3.4 seconds

Porsche Cayman S

Transmission: Seven-speed dual-clutch automatic (Porsche Doppelkupplungsgetriebe, aka PDK)

How to Operate (per owner's manual):

  • Launch Control should only be used when the engine has reached operating temperature.
  • "Sport Plus" mode must be switched on (light emitting diode in button is on and "SPORT PLUS" is displayed on the on-board computer).

1. Press the brake with your left foot.
2. Quickly press down the accelerator fully (kickdown activated) and hold.

  • The engine speed will flatten out at around 6500 rpm.
  • "Launch Control active" is displayed on the on-board computer.

3. Release the brake within a few seconds.

  • Remaining stationary for a long time with "Launch Control active" can lead to overloading of the transmission.

In order to protect the transmission, the engine power is then reduced and the "Launch Control active" process is cancelled.

Our Take:
First Drive: 2009 Porsche Cayman S PDK

This thing is simply exquisite -- a thoroughbred racehorse in metal, a partner in road-gobbling that borders on the magical, more a 320-horsepower driving glove than a car. Stare as hard as you like, you'll never find the grooves that just gotta be there in the road to make an automobile handle like this. The risk Porsche engineers have taken all along with the Cayman is that, sooner or later, they'd dial its performance up so high its natural advantage in mid-engine balance and trimmer-scale would finally propel it into outshining the iconic 911 Carrera. Personally, I think that moment has arrived. Lithe on the road, fluidly seductive in appearance, and positively alive in your hands: It's now, in my humble opinion, very simply the best sports car in the world.

MT 0-60 mph Acceleration: 4.4 seconds

Claimed 0-60 mph Acceleration: 4.8 seconds



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Here's How Launch Control Works

Here's How Launch Control Works - Blog

Launch control is now a must in any serious performance car in production. Heck, even the current Renault Clio RS comes with a fully-functioning launch control system! Drag events are now full of supercars that appear to get the perfect launch time after time, leaving most manual clutch-dumpers in their wake.

Made famous by multiple videos online of Nissan GTRs sending people’s faces into serious levels of contortion, now nearly every supercar will come standard with a slightly different form of launch control each. So how do these systems work and how do they manage to accomplish near-perfect acceleration?

First of all, a launch control system has multiple jobs to complete to get a car off the line as efficiently and quickly as possible. It needs to eliminate wheel spin and hop, maximise useable power, weight transfer and traction and – in forced-induction powertrains – it has to build boost to a required level.

The Nissan GTR shot to internet fame with its ferocious launch control antics

In the majority of cars, one has to engage a specific driver mode within the traction control settings to initiate launch control. Once the setting has been selected, the brake needs to be held down for a given time before the throttle can be floored. The rev counter then hits a predetermined limit, creating a spine-tingling rasp emanating from the exhaust. Then it’s up to you to step off the brake from which point the throttle is specifically applied to allow for the least amount of wheel spin and maximum acceleration.

Most of this performance trickery comes down to the programming within the cars ECU. The brake pedal effectively works as a trigger mechanism, with a sensor telling the ECU to engage the clutch to get the car going.

The car’s computer also will have a pre-set rev limiter which cuts ignition to ensure that the engine cannot reciprocate any higher. This limit has been calculated by the engineers who programmed the ECU, finding the maximum torque output through to the wheels that will make for the fastest acceleration.

You may presume that the car should simply be red-lined to initiate the fastest start possible, but when powertrains are creating as much torque as they do in the current crop of performance cars, the wheels would simply spin up and waste vital turning the tyres into molten rubber on the road surface. Most rev limiters therefore are set to around 3500-4500rpm, which will naturally dip slightly once the torque has been released to the wheels.

While that is all happening at the engine side of things, the transmission also has a big role to play to convert the fury under the bonnet to a ridiculous 0-60mph time. Dual-clutch transmissions are the norm when it comes to launch control systems, as they allow for more seamless and faster upshifts than a single clutch system. A wet dual-clutch also manages to cope well with the heat created by the torque inputs, allowing efficient heat transfer when using the correct transmission fluid, thus protecting the clutches and transmission from overheating. This makes the DCT capable of countless launches with no real danger of transmission warning lights!

To initiate launch control, traction control normally has to be switched off but is automatically re-engaged to shuffle power around for the perfect launch

The clutches within the DCT are ‘prepped’ to receive maximum torque once the brake is released, thus allowing for the exact torque output to reach the wheels as programmed into the ECU. The ABS system then comes into play – especially in all-wheel drive cars – braking whichever wheel is slipping to maximise traction. It is this computer trickery that makes for a much quicker launch than if you were to simply floor the throttle from zero revs, hoping for the best.

Although launch control has wormed its way into supercar spec sheets worldwide, it is most effective on those that are turbocharged or supercharged specifically. By allowing the engine to reach a rev limit at standstill, launch control systems allow a turbocharger to spool up in preparation for launch, thus allowing for a much higher power output from the engine than from a regular launch. This however should not be confused with turbocharger anti-lag which essentially creates small explosions in the exhaust system just ahead of the turbocharger to keep it spooled.

Although launch control is an extremely effective way of launching a car, it has to be said that the art of launching a car manually is completely eradicated from the driving experience. So although your quarter-mile time may be better and your tyres saved, it takes away a large part of petrolhead motoring that many of us will savour. Would you be happy with a launch control system on your car? Or are you much happier balancing that clutch drop yourself and hooking up the engine and transmission in perfect harmony?

Comment below with your thoughts!

How To Launch A Manual Transmission Car

These Affordable Cars Are Perfect For Track Days

Taking a race track over the weekend after a busy week can be refreshing. However, despite the need for speed and comfort, affordability is often the first thing potential owners consider when buying a sports car.

Sure, cars generally are a bit costly when it comes to purchasing and maintenance. But car enthusiasts will always be true to themselves; they’ll find any possible means to have fun. Luckily, the used automobile market has provided the best options to beat these constraints, and now, one doesn’t have to break the bank to turn up for the track.

The automakers are producing a whole bunch of affordable cars perfect for the racetrack. They are fun to drive. And by fun, it simply means exploring the adventure when the need calls.

RELATED: 10 Ordinary Cars That Are Surprisingly Fun To Drive

Gearheads will find a track-capable and cheap to maintain the car to meet their passion. And here are ten affordable supercars that are track-friendly.

8 2020 Ford Mustang Ecoboost

Designed with significant features, the 2020 Mustang Ecoboost is the sportiest car ever. The 2.3-liter turbo engine adapted from the Ford Focus RS produces 332 horsepower and 350 lb-ft of torque.

Many questions emerged about how a 2.3-liter 4-cylinder engine would power a Mustang, but the vehicle proved to be the fastest and high performing after hitting 60 mph in 4.5 seconds.

Surprisingly, Ford recalibrated the vehicle to work with a ten-speed automatic and an optional 6-speed manual transmission.

The engineers upgraded its brakes and aerodynamic features from Mustang GT. Furthermore, they added a larger twin-scroll turbo compressor and a bigger radiator, making it a high-performing rear-wheel-drive model.

RELATED: Here's How Much A Classic 1966 Ford Mustang Is Worth Today

7 2004 Corvette C5

The Chevrolet Corvette C5 is adorably balanced and comfortable for track use. The standard LS1 V8 engine puts the C5 among the best modern muscle cars many gearheads would love.

The engine produces 350 horsepower and 375 pound-feet torque on six-speed manual transmissions, and a 360 pound-feet of torque when paired with automatic transmissions.

It’s apparent, whether equipped with manual or automatic speed, the potent LS1 V8 engine is muscular enough to grace the track day.

RELATED: Here's What Makes Paul McCartney Love His C5 Corvette

6 2019 Volkswagen Golf GTI 2.0 SE

The Volkswagen Golf GTI 2.0 SE is arguably one of the best sports cars VW has ever manufactured. Its 2.0-liter turbo engine produces 228 hp and 258 lb-ft of torque.

The seven-speed transmission upgrade from six-speed and a dual-clutch automatic offered quicker and smoother shifts. More notable advancements were the launch control and automatic GTIs stop/start fuel-saving technology.

Safety features such as six airbags, 4-wheel anti-lock disc brakes, and post-collision brake system are added advantages that make the car track friendly.

RELATED: 5 Reasons Why You Should Buy A Porsche GT3 RS (5 Reasons Why The McLaren 600LT Is Actually Better)

5 2020 Chevrolet Camaro 1LS

The new Camaro 1LS is powered by an inline four-cylinder engine that produces 275 horsepower and 295-pound feet of torque, granting the vehicle acceleration of 0-60 mph in 5.4 seconds.

Apart from the high-performance engine, safety hasn’t been overlooked. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration safety report, the 2020 Chevrolet Camaro 1LS scored a five-star on various tests. The advanced safety features include; 4-wheel ABS, stability control, post-collision safety system, and child seat anchors. The best part is that this all comes at a $25,000 price.

4 2019 Honda Civic Type R

With a 2.0-liter, direct-injected VTEC turbo four-cylinder engine, this car develops a whopping 306 horsepower. The new Civic Type R is available six-speed manual transmission with automatic rev-matching. Furthermore, the vehicle is designed with adjustable suspension, Sport, and +R modes, making it the perfect car both for daily use and track days.

With this mode, Honda worked hard to make the cabin a more comfortable place, adding new buttons, volume knobs, and equipping it with steering controls and a revised switch for the electronic parking brake.

RELATED: This Is The Best Honda Civic Type R Interior Feature

3 2020 Subaru BRZ tS

Every car enthusiast had a feeling Subaru BRZ tS was coming back in 2020. The model didn't change much since the 2017 version. In fact, it barely changed at all. But why mess with perfection? It still sports that same amazing 4-cylinder boxer engine producing 205 horsepower and 156 lb-ft of torque and offers amazing balance in the corners.

The changes include the STI-tuned suspension and improved brakes that are going to noticeably improve its track performance as well as some cool external design bits to make it stand out from the previous model years. Additionally, the 2020 Subaru BRZ tS is available with optional six-speed manual and six-speed automatic transmissions.

RELATED: Mercedes-AMG GT R Challenges Lambo Huracan In The Half-Mile

2 2020 Mazda MX-5 Miata

Track cars need to be fast and comfortable to be fun, and the Miata has proven capable in this environment after the 2020 mechanical upgrades.

As such, any car enthusiast looking for a track beast on a budget will look at none other than the 2020 Mazda MX-5 Miata. This adventure king feels comfortable and fast in nearly all experiences, with a 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine producing 181 horsepower hauling its lightweight body.

The car is rear-wheel driven and equipped with optional six-speed manual transmission or a 6-speed automatic transmission operated with paddle shifters.

1 2020 Toyota Corolla SE 6MT

It’s unbelievable how well this four-door Toyota Corolla can handle the track. But this SE trim is genuinely track-friendly. The SE 6MT is equipped with a six-speed manual transmission, definitely making it a sporty car.

Its 2.0-liter inline-four engine produces 168 horsepower at 6600 rpm and 151 lb-ft of torque at 4800 rpm. This power is channeled to the front axle. Additional features include a power slide moon roof with a sliding sunshade.

If you're a Corolla lover, you’ll recognize its sport mesh grille, rear spoiler, metallic side skirts, dual exhaust pipes, and 18-inch alloy wheels.

NEXT: 10 Expensive Sports Cars That Have No Place On The Race Track


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Cars with control cheapest launch

In April's issue, C/D examined the "Disrupters," the people, products, and the technology advancements that have helped reshaped the automotive industry. –Ed.

From the April 2020 issue of Car and Driver.

Using your own two feet to balance an engine's torque with the traction available at the tires will always be deeply satisfying. Which is to say: It's fun as hell to perform the perfect hole shot and rip from fully stopped to real fast in a blink or three. But properly launching a car without electronic assistance takes great skill. And even then, the very best drivers are still only human.

Whether or not technology is as artful in practice as our own efforts, launch-control systems have unquestionably helped us get off the line quickest in far fewer attempts than we could have on our own. Consider Porsche: Its PDK dual-clutch automatics feature the crown jewel of launch control. Starting with the 2010 model, launch control took the 911 Turbo from a mid-three-second car to a sub-three-second car. The C8 Corvette Stingray just joined the sub-three-second club, too, and it wouldn't have gotten there without launch control—although moving the engine certainly helped.

We often associate launch control with dual-clutch transmissions, but the technology was born in racing and trickled into production cars with single-clutch automated manuals. Ferrari, Lamborghini, and BMW made excellent use of it starting in the early 2000s. Launch control isn't just reserved for six-figure cars. The Audi RS3 can match the 60-mph time of a pre-launch-control 911 Turbo. Even the people's sport commuter, the VW Golf GTI, gets this tech when you opt for the autobox.

Sure, occasionally a driver's footwork can match or better the results of silicon processors and hydraulic actuators. And we lament the managed decline of manual transmissions as a byproduct of progress. But when it comes to launch-control technology and how effectively it can help propel most modern performance vehicles from a dead dig, it's hard to argue with the results of a little computer assistance.

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HOW TO DO LAUNCH CONTROL IN ANY CAR (with or without launch control)


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