One typical small and affordable performance car is the Subaru BRZ. This little sports coupe comes with a signature flat-four naturally aspirated engine that produces 205 HP out of 2.0 liters. The BRZ is a light and nimble coupe and the secret is in the position of the engine. Since Subaru uses flat-four engines, the center of gravity is lower than with regular inline four cylinders. The lower center of gravity means the car is planted to the ground.
That helps the driving dynamics by allowing the car to handle better. Equipped with a six-speed manual gearbox, the BRZ is a pure driver’s car that offers lively performance and an engaging drive. The 0 to 60 mph sprint takes 6.7 seconds while the top speed is 145 mph. With the affordable price and those performance numbers, the BRZ is a highly desirable model. Also, since they developed the BRZ in cooperation with Toyota, the BRZ and Toyota GT86 are practically twins, just with different badges on the grille.
This car is the epitome of the perfect driver’s car even though it isn’t available in the USA. If you’re familiar with the classic Alpine, you will instantly recognize the shape and the idea behind this fabulous car. It’s a small, lightweight sports coupe with a rear-mounted engine and rear-wheel drive. This car is capable of providing driving excitement and unparalleled road holding and feel.
This small coupe weighs just over a ton and has a 1.8-liter turbocharged four-cylinder behind the driver powering the rear wheels. The power is more than adequate at 252 HP running through a seven-speed dual-clutch gearbox. The specifications sound fantastic and acceleration times are under five seconds. They just released this car, but it’s doubtful that it will arrive on U.S. shores anytime soon.
At one point Pontiac thought a rear-wheel-drive sedan would help them fight their European competitors. The G8 was a good idea and with Pontiac’s redesign and small-block V8 engines, it was quite an effective performance sedan, too. The base engine was a solid 3.5-liter V6 with 256 HP, but the real deal was the G8 GXP with a 6.2-liter V8 and 415 HP. Also, they fitted the G8 with high levels of standard equipment, as well as a long list of optional extras.
Unfortunately, the G8 came too late so customers just weren’t ready to accept a performance sedan that could beat the overpriced European models. After years of anemic models, front-wheel-drive economy cars, or minivans of the ’90s, Pontiac lost its performance image, so only a handful of buyers remembered what the company was famous for. So when they finally presented a car of reclaiming the title of a performance brand, they ran out of time. In two years, Pontiac sold just over 30,000 G8s.
When you see the RS badge on an Audi, you know a special car is in front of you. For decades since the legendary RS2 from the early ’90s, Audi has been producing crazy fast wagons in the A4 and A6 range. They equipped them with the most powerful engines the company had, along with the renewed Quattro all-wheel drive for enhanced traction and performance. Unfortunately, the RS wagon range is not available in the USA, but it still deserves a place on this list for its sheer beauty, power, and uniqueness of the package.
The latest RS6 model is an elegant station wagon powered by a twin-turbo 4.0-liter V8 engine that delivers 605 HP. The Quattro intelligent all-wheel-drive system is responsible for putting power to the ground and the final result is astonishing. The 0 to 60 mph time of 3.9 seconds in a station wagon that can carry five people and their entire luggage is truly magnificent.
The swan song of SVT supercharged Mustangs is the 2013 Shelby GT 500. This glorious muscle car had a 5.8-liter supercharged V8 pumping out 662 HP and 631 lb-ft of torque. At the moment, this was the most powerful American-made V8 engine and a proper beast of an engine. Installed in RWD with a live axle platform, it was a tire smoke generator.
However, besides its burnout and show potential, it was also a serious performance machine. A 0 to 60 mph sprint took only 3.5 seconds and the $50,000 Mustang could embarrass a $250,000 Ferrari in a stoplight drag race. Buyers loved this overpowered Mustang, and despite it being discontinued, it’s still the king of the hill among Mustang fans.
The first year for the modern GTO was 2004. It met universal praise from buyers and the car press. The design wasn’t exactly new or aggressive, but the GTO had a muscle car form and street presence. Under the hood was an LS1 5.7-liter V8 with 350 HP. That was enough performance to be one of the hottest American cars for the 2004 model year.
The target sales figure was 18,000 and Pontiac sold almost 14,000, which could be considered a success. Even though they withdrew this model from the market in 2006, this was the last GTO and that’s why prices will probably go up soon.
In October 2000, BMW introduced the E46 M3. It featured an all-new engine, drivetrain, and components. Since then, it’s been regarded as one of the finest BMW M cars and the perfect driving machine. All M cars are a blast to drive, but the E46 M3 was a big improvement over the E36 M3 from the ’90s. Also, it’s one of the last analog sports cars you can buy.
With a 343 HP straight six-cylinder engine, almost ideal weight distribution, great chassis, six-speed manual transmission, and respectable performance, the E46 M3 soon won the hearts of car enthusiasts all over the world. It was a sales success as well, and one of the best second-hand performance cars today.
This list wouldn’t be complete without a proper hot hatch. There are lots of interesting compact cars with high power to choose from, new or used. In most cases, when it comes to the hot hatch class, the newest and fastest is always the best choice. But today, we’ll tell you about one forgotten gem, the Golf R32.
In 2003, Volkswagen took the Mk4 body shell and installed the best hardware it had in the early 2000s. That meant the R32 had intelligent all-wheel drive, a 240 HP 3.2-liter V6 engine, a luxury interior and a host of electronic aids. All of this makes the R32 the definitive future classic and an extremely capable everyday car. Be sure to buy one now while they are still affordable.
There were fast SUVs before Jeep introduced the Trackhawk, and there will be more long after they discontinue it. However, this glorious machine deserves a place on this list for two reasons. First, it has the 707 Hellcat Hemi engine under the hood. Second, with a 3.4-second 0 to 60 mph time, this makes it faster than some supercars.
The Trackhawk is a brutal machine that’s highly unusual and influential. It’s a proper muscle car SUV. It shows how a high horsepower Hemi engine can make anything a proper muscle car, even a full-size SUV.
In 1999, along with the new and redesigned generation of F-150 trucks came the new Lightning. This time, it was much meaner-looking, aggressive, and packed much more firepower. Ford installed its 5.4-liter V8 with a supercharger that was good for 360 HP at first and 380 HP later. This was much more than the previous model as well as any truck on the market at that moment.
The performance numbers were sublime since the Lightning could accelerate from 0 to 60 mph in five seconds and top 140 mph. Those figures were more suited to a Porsche 911 of the period than to a regular pickup truck that could tow or carry cargo, just like other F-150s.
This was not the first M5 station wagon and hopefully, it won’t be the last. However, the M5 E61 Touring was the fastest, most glorious of all performance station wagons. Sadly, they only made 1,025 of them, ending production in 2010. BMW presented its E60 M5 with one of the best naturally aspirated engines ever made. It was the high revving 5.0-liter V10 with 507 HP they derived from BMW’s Formula One unit.
To fight Audi’s fast wagons, BMW decided to make a Touring version of the M5 and offer it with a manual transmission. The result was a manual BMW M5 station wagon delivering 507 HP with a six-speed manual. The 0 to 60 acceleration time was just 4.5 seconds with a 205 mph top speed.
The RS is one of the most powerful four-cylinder cars on the market. But for the first time, it is available as a regular production model to U.S. buyers. The new Focus RS has a 2.3-liter turbocharged unit that delivers 345 HP to all four wheels, making it a capable hot hatch beast.
Also, its performance is incredible. To go from 0 to 60 mph, it takes the RS only 4.7 seconds with top speeds of 165 mph. This kind of performance deserves special packaging. So the Focus RS has a unique front spoiler, bulged fenders, and side skirts. Just looking at this furious compact will tell you this is a genuinely fast Ford.
In 2013, Alfa Romeo introduced the 4C. But nobody expected such a car from Alfa Romeo. The 4C was a “junior supercar” with a carbon-fiber tub, cramped interior, and lightweight construction. However, it had a four-cylinder turbocharged engine.
The heart of the 4C is that tiny, 1.8-liter engine with a turbocharger that delivers 238 HP to the rear wheels. The performance numbers are very impressive. The Alfa Romeo 4C can accelerate from 0 to 60 mph in 4.7 seconds and top 160 mph.
The R is the top-of-the-line Golf with a powerful four-cylinder turbocharged engine and all-wheel drive. In fact, it delivers a brutal performance for a family hatchback. The R version is the derivate of the mighty R32 Golfs from the early 2000s. And those featured the 3.2-liter naturally-aspirated V6 engine.
However, the latest versions feature a smaller, more powerful 2.0-liter turbo-four which delivers almost 292 HP. As you can expect, the performance is quite brutal for what is basically a family compact. To get from 0 to 60 mph takes 4.5 seconds and this car can top 155 mph, which is amazing.
The latest addition to the powerful four-cylinder car club is the fifth generation Honda Civic Type R. The new performance Civic looks like every racer’s dream with numerous spoilers, scoops, and air vents all over the body. The aggressive design, great performance, and JDM appeal make this Civic a valuable and highly sought-after addition to the hot hatch class.
Honda has resisted the temptation to turbocharge its performance engines for a long time. However, the Civic Type R has exactly that under the hood just like any other competitor in its class. The 2.0-liter turbo-four delivers 306 HP and can propel this nasty-looking Civic Type R from 0 to 60 mph in 4.9 seconds. Best of all, it can top 170 mph.
Inspired by the wild SVT Cobra Rs from the ’90s, the 2003 model didn’t have the name “R” since they didn’t limit production. Also, it was available to the buying public rather than just racecar drivers and private teams. However, this SVT Cobra was an interesting, important model for the Mustang dynasty and muscle car mythology because it featured two firsts.
The first new feature was the factory-supercharged engine and the second was the independent rear suspension. The Special Vehicles Team took a standard 4.6-liter block and mounted different heads and a supercharger to get 390 HP and 390 lb-ft of torque. To handle all that power and torque, Ford equipped the SVT Cobra with an independent rear suspension similar to the first Ford GT. The suspension maintained the stability at high speeds and hard launches, helping this Mustang handle like a dream. The 0 to 60 mph time took only 4.7 seconds, making the SVT Cobra a drag strip terror. Ford offered this model in 2003 and 2004, building around 20,000 of them in a coupe and convertible form. Despite being almost 17 years old, these cars still hold high prices on the used car market.
In 2014, Dodge presented the Hellcat, and the muscle car community went crazy. The reaction was expected since the 6.2-liter supercharged V8 with 707 HP is a legit monster of a muscle car that shouldn’t be released on the streets. But Dodge did just that, allowing the public to buy one of the fastest, most powerful muscle cars ever built. Despite being overpowered in any aspect, the Dodge Charger Hellcat is surprisingly easy to drive and can even be docile at low speeds.
It is only when you press the throttle to unleash the fury of its 707 supercharged horsepower that you will feel the brutality of the Hellcat package and all the power going to the rear wheels. The 0 to 60 mph times are in the high three-second range and the car can top 200 mph. So, is there better proof that the legend of the Dodge Charger as a muscle car is alive and well? This car is ready to keep the muscle car segment interesting in the 21st century.
Debuting in 2016, the newest American muscle four-door car is the compact but immensely powerful Cadillac ATS-V. With this model, Cadillac attacked the Mercedes C Class and BMW 3 Series with a modern executive sedan. The Cadillac ATS-V comes with recognizable styling and brutal power.
Under the hood is the twin-turbo 3.6-liter V6 engine with 464 HP and 445 lb-ft of torque. That’s enough to launch the ATS-V from 0 to 60 mph in just 3.7 seconds with top speeds of an astonishing 189 mph. Even though the ATS-V doesn’t have a V8, it’s still a proper muscle car and available in a two-door form as well.
The regular production Mustang GT is a capable and rewarding car, so Ford scored a hit when it introduced the current generation in 2015. The Performance Pack 2 and Shelby versions showed the real potential of the IRS-equipped platform. However, Ford decided to widen its appeal, and not by adding more power, but by adding even more style and a touch of myth.
The third Bullitt special edition is the 2019 model Ford based on the GT. This means the Bullitt Mustang has the same 5.0-liter V8 with 460 HP but only came as a six-speed manual. Also, the Bullitt has a unique paint job, wheels, and interior trim to copy the legendary 1968 Bullitt Mustang Steve McQueen drove in the car cult classic, Bullitt.
Just when drivers thought Chevy had abandoned adding more power to the C7 Corvette and was concentrating on holding the already powerful car, Corvette creators surprised them with the insane 2019 Corvette ZR1. This version of the C7 Corvette has just been released.
It features an improved Z06 chassis, suspension, and drivetrain as well as an absolute beast of an engine. The 6.2-liter heavily supercharged LT4 engine pumps out 755 HP and 527 lb-ft of torque. It sends all that power to the rear wheels through an automatic or manual gearbox, making the Corvette ZR1 a beast for the streets.
It seems that every new generation of the Shelby GT500 pushes the envelope even further. Each model delivers so much power it’s hard to comprehend. Just look at the latest 2020 model. From the outside, it looks like a menacing Mustang with a new front fascia, scoops, spoilers, special paint, and carbon wheels. But the real surprise lies beneath the metal.
The massive 5.2-liter supercharged V8 engine delivers 760 HP and sends it to the rear wheels through an intelligent 10-speed automatic. This interesting combo makes the new GT500 the perfect combination of old-school muscle and modern technology. The result is even more astonishing. It takes just 3.3 seconds to get to 60 mph with a 180-mph top speed. Of course, such firepower comes with a hefty price tag. In this case, it costs almost $100,000 fully loaded. These are the top 21st century classics you can buy today. Which one was your favorite? Be sure to snap it up before prices soar.