In this modern era of performance cars, in which time-warping speed is as easily attainable as turning up the radio, we’ve become numb to outright speed. Take the BMW M8 for example; it’s capable of some of the most incredible performance you’ll find on four wheels but it’s about as thrilling as sitting in a plush leather recliner in first class. So modern enthusiasts have begun to chase more analog thrills and, in this new comparison from EVO, we see three cars that can do just that go head-to-head.

This test groups three very different cars together, from very different price brackets, but they all do the same one thing really well — thrill their driver. The E92 BMW M3 GTS, 2006 MINI JCW GP and the Renault Sport Megane R26.R are some of the most exciting, stripped-out, pure driver’s cars you’ll find with license plates. So which one is best?

To be honest, all of them. That might seem like a cop out on EVO’s part but it’s true. When compared to today’s modern world of performance cars, these three make any sports car on sale today seem big, clunky, slow and dimwitted. Especially the E92 BMW M3 GTS, when compared to the same cars from its own brand.

Powering the M3 GTS is a stroked version of the same V8 that powered the standard E92 M3. So for GTS duty, it was bumped to just about 4.4 liters and made 444 bhp, which is about the same as a current M4 Competition. That might not sound like a lot but it’s enough when you consider how lightweight and stripped out the M3 GTS is.

There are no back seats, it has an orange roll cage, there’s no radio, no sat-nav, a carbon fiber roof, carbon fiber aero, lightweight glass and a titanium exhaust. While it still weighed around 3,500 lbs, its chassis tweaks and upgrades made if feel so much lighter than that. When you look at the M3 GTS against BMW’s current limited-run track special, the BMW M2 CS, the latter ends up looking like a stuffed pig.

All three cars in this test are outstanding machines but it’s probably the E92 BMW M3 GTS and Renault Sport Megane that are the best. They both prove that power and performance metrics are meaningless. A great sports car is a great sports car because it gets your heart rate up, because it makes your spine tingle with joy and excitement. These cars do that far better than any modern car can.

[Source: EVO]