Ford Focus ST
The third generation Ford Focus was a great economy compact car. However, when Ford introduced the ST model in 2012, car buyers got an almost perfect hot hatch. And under the hood was a 2.0-liter four-cylinder with a turbocharger and 252 HP.
They perfectly tuned the car, so it represented a fantastic balance between performance and everyday usability. The Focus ST is popular because it’s the perfect daily commuter car, as well as driving enthusiast’s dream on the weekends. But best of all, with a base price of just $26,000, the ST is a great deal.
Mitsubishi Evo X
Even though Mitsubishi discontinued it, the Lancer Evo X is a legend among performance car enthusiasts. For sure, the automotive world misses this long-lasting series of four-door sedans with four-wheel drive and powerful four-cylinder turbocharged engines.
The latest version, called the Evo X comes with a 2.0-liter turbo engine delivering 291 HP. Experts say the engine’s output is more likely around 320 HP, but Mitsubishi markets it as 291 HP. However, the performance figures were astonishing. The 0 to 60 mph acceleration time is 4.5 seconds and the Evo X can almost top 160 mph.
Fiat 124 Abarth Spider
One of the most stylish roadsters currently on the market is the Fiat 124 Spider. They introduced the original 124 Spider in 1966. But now, 50 years later, Fiat has presented the new version with charming retro-futuristic styling. And best of all, Fiat added lots of interesting features and a chassis from the Mazda Miata/MX-5.
Fiat installed its own engine in the form of a tiny 1.4-liter turbocharged four-cylinder. The displacement may be small, but this engine is big on power, producing 164 HP. And that is good enough to launch this small roadster from 0 to 60 mph in 5.8 seconds. Also, it can achieve 130 mph in the Abarth trim level.
Audi S3 Sedan
Available as stealth compact sedan, the Audi S3 is rocket they disguised as a family car. Under the hood is 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine with 296 HP and all-wheel drive. This combo is extremely capable. In fact, the S3 Sedan can jump to 60 mph in just 4.8 seconds.
Also, it delivers an electronically-limited top speed of 155 mph. Those numbers were supercar territory just a few years back. And they show how far those four-cylinder engines have come.
Mini John Cooper Works
Mini was always a benchmark car in terms of driving dynamics, precision steering and a pure hot hatch feel. And the newest John Cooper Works edition doesn’t disappoint. With its 228 HP four-cylinder engine, it is a capable urban runabout.
The acceleration from 0 to 60 mph is achievable in just 5.9 seconds while top speed is 140 mph. And that is more than enough to run away from most V8 engines.
The Honda S2000 is a true driver’s car with all the important features. They include its lightweight construction and ideal weight distribution. And they added a powerful, rev-happy engine and razor-sharp handling. But the best news, they took all of that and put it in an elegant open-top package.
Under the hood is a 2.0 or 2.2-liter four-cylinder engine with 240 HP, which was the main selling point of the car. This little gem of an engine features a 9,000-rpm redline and four valves per cylinder. But most importantly, it has the famous Honda V-Tec system that provides its power in high rpms with a wonderful screaming sound.
Dodge Neon SRT-4
Dodge introduced the Neon SRT-4 in 2003. And it was one of the best and the most affordable performance cars in America at the time. They transformed the compact Neon into a pocket rocket by adding a 2.4-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine.
It produces 230 HP to propel Neon from 0 to 60 mph in just 5.4 seconds. However, many owners tuned their Neon SRT4 as soon as they left the dealership. In fact, some owners even managed to squeeze over 400 HP from its 2.4-liter engine.
A hidden gem in the BMW coupe range is the 230i. And although it’s not as powerful as the mighty M2, it is almost as fast. Look under the hood, and you’ll find a 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine with a turbocharger that produces 248 HP.
With its compact dimensions, proper weight balance and rear wheel drive, the 230i delivers an impressive performance. For instance, the 230i is capable of reaching 60 mph in 5.3 seconds, topping 155 mph.
In the early â80s, Carroll Shelby teamed up with Dodge to create his version of the compact Omni. Dodge named it the Omni GLH and it was a proper hot hatch as well as one of the best affordable performance models in those days. Nobody expected Dodge could produce a hot hatch to beat their European competitors, but with Shelby’s help, they did just that.
Shelby took the 2.2-liter four-cylinder and added a turbocharger to produce a total output of 175 HP. Also, the Omni GLH could go from 0 to 60 mph in less than seven seconds. And that was not only impressive, but it was also highly competitive for the times.
Volvo V60 Polestar
The V60 Polestar is an interesting station wagon, as well as one of the best driving cars in its class. As the successor to the classic 850 R Wagon, the V60 brings elegance, quality and craftsmanship. In fact, Volvo managed to put power, stealth and performance in their exclusive Polestar package.
Under the hood is 2.0-liter turbocharged and supercharged four-cylinder engine with 345 HP and intelligent all-wheel drive. This combo is capable of 0 to 60 mph times of just over five seconds. Yet it still provides a decent fuel economy and functioning, just as any regular Volvo station wagon.
Ford Mustang SVO
Ford’s Special Vehicle Operations (SVO) department introduced a special Mustang SVO for 1984. It featured a 2.3-liter turbocharged four-cylinder with 175 HP, which was quite the power output for a small engine. As a light car, the â84 Mustang SVO was hot at the moment.
The package included four-wheel disc brakes, a stiffer suspension and sharper steering, transforming the little Mustang into a capable sports car. For 1985, the SVO upped the power to an impressive 205 HP. And that turned the eyes of the motoring public to those third-generation Mustangs.
These are the top 30 cars with four-cylinder engines that are faster than a V8. Have you found your favorite? If you buy one of these, be sure to check the speed limit since you’ll be tempted to drive faster.