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Best Four Door Sports Sedan
Sports and supersaloons have a tough job providing supercar thrills without compromising practicality – here are a few that have perfected the package
It’s not hard to see the appeal of sports and supersaloons. They combine the practicality, comfort and usability of a family car with the engaging handling and powertrains of a more exciting performance car.
So while they might lack the glamour and style of an equivalent sports car, sports saloons still have a very distinct appeal of their own. This is in no small due to the motorsport heritage attached to many of our favourite examples, but mostly it’s because they appeal as everyday propositions, rather than weekend wheels.
Now in its sixth generation, the BMW M5 is still strutting its stuff, but it no longer has the sector to itself. A whole host of manufacturers have jumped on the bandwagon. Not all sports saloons are the same, however, and as our countdown shows the modern sports saloons come in all shapes and sizes.
What’s The Best 4 Door Sports Car
- Alfa Romeo Quadrifoglio
- Jaguar XE SV Project 8 Touring
- Mercedes-AMG E63 S
- BMW M5
- Porsche Panamera GTS
- Mercedes-AMG C63 S
- Audi RS7
- BMW M8 Competition Gran Coupe
- Mercedes-AMG GT63 S
- Mercedes-AMG CLA45 S
Best 4 Door Sedan Sports Car
Alfa Romeo Giulia Quadrifoglio
The Alfa Romeo Giulia Quadrifoglio has long been a firm evo favourite since it’s introduction in 2017, but as of 2021 the model has been given a light refresh with some fresh interior trim pieces and a new infotainment system. AdvertisementAdvertisement – Article continues below
Crucially, the hardware that has defined the Quadrifoglio has remained as before, dominated by its superb 90-degree twin-turbo 2.9-litre V6 that kicks out 503bhp. It’s mated to the rear wheels via an eight-speed auto that’s controlled from a pair of flamboyantly large aluminium paddles. The body is equally exotic, with pumped bodywork that features a lightweight mix of carbon fibre and aluminium body panels only barely concealing sophisticated double wishbone suspension, multi-way adaptive dampers and those telephone-dial wheels. Oh, and did we mention it was developed by the same man that brought us the Ferrari 458 Speciale?
On the move the Alfa’s Ferrari DNA isn’t hard to spot. The big giveaways are the wrist-flick quick steering and surprisingly supple ride. Yet it’s the car’s poise, balance and grip when really pushing on that leaves the deepest impression – this is a tremendously fast and accomplished machine that’s more engaging than anything else with four doors. Sure the optional carbon ceramic brakes lack manners at low speed and the engine lacks some aural drama (although it’s brutally fast), but these niggles can’t detract from what is a sublime saloon.
Jaguar XE SV Project 8 Touring
One look at the Jaguar XE SV Project 8 and you’ll be instantly aware that this is no ordinary Jaguar XE. From the bespoke bodywork only barely containing its widened tracks to the extensive use of carbonfibre across everything from its bumpers, bonnet and roof, and not to mention the quite incredible baritone bark from its V8 engine, there are saloons with performance addenda attached, and then there’s the Project 8
Jaguar’s Project 8 was developed by JLR’s Special Vehicle Operations, yet has taken the mandate of creating this special edition model to the next level. To do this, SVO took the 5-litre supercharged AJ V8 from its larger models and shoehorned it into the XE’s compact engine bay. Only the engine isn’t just a carry over from other flagship models, but one with a bespoke tune of 592bhp, making it the most potent application in the JLR group.
To accommodate the substantial rise in power over the standard XE, SVO paid attention to almost every component under the skin, from unique driveshafts and axles, bespoke motorsport-derived coilover springs and dampers, rose-jointing in the suspension and forged wishbones. The results are quite spectacular, the Project 8 being less of a derivative and instead a bespoke, all-wheel drive supercar crammed into an XE bodyshell. 29
Mercedes-AMG E63 S
If you had to sum up the Mercedes-AMG E63 in one word, then ‘bombastic’ would just about cover it. Like many AMG products, it’s the engine that dominates the E63’s driving experience, with the twin turbo V8 delivering performance and noise in equal measure. Yet the AMG is far from being a one-dimensional driving device and as you scratch beneath the surface you’ll find deep reserves of talent and ability.AdvertisementAdvertisement – Article continues below
Perhaps the most intriguing aspect of the latest E63 is its 4MATIC all-wheel drive system, which features the hooligan ‘Drift Mode’, which disconnects the front axle and allows you to vaporize a set of Michelins on the rear axle in minutes. Yet it’s arguably when left to its own devices that the transmission impresses most, as it manages to combine the feel and balance of a rear-driver with stupendous traction when the going gets slippery.
Equally impressive is the way the Mercedes disguises its bulk, with absolute body control, impressive grip and quick steering allowing you to hustle it beyond what a near-2 ton saloon should be capable of. And of course, there’s something laugh out loud hilarious about a car as refined and spacious as the big Benz that’ll also rattle off the sprint to 60mph in well under four seconds. Oh, and you can get it in estate guise, which instantly gives an extra 10 points in the street cred ratings.29
BMW M5 Competition
The BMW M5 is the evergreen entrant in this class – one that has long defined the term supersaloon. While the lead it held over rivals has eroded over the years in many ways, the latest M5 Competition remains just that little bit more pure to the brief.
It’s perhaps unsurprising to see the mechanical convergence at the top of the class, most now feature twin-turbocharged V8 engines, all-wheel drive and eight-speed automatic transmissions, but there’s something different to the M5’s character. Delve into its dynamic repertoire and you’ll find that despite its anodyne steering and meek soundtrack, that the harder you push the better it gets.
Really study the specification and you’ll spot why – its coil-sprung suspension might lack the variability of its air-sprung rivals, but it reveals an innate connection with the road surface when you properly load the chassis into corners.
Switch the all-wheel drive system to its more heavily rear-biased, or indeed full rear-wheel drive modes, and the car doesn’t lose any composure. Instead, you unveil that satisfying high speed traction that the electronically controlled locking rear differential is able to generate. The real magic only reveals itself at these higher levels – beyond the comfort level of most, if not all, direct rivals. The M5 is not the most instantly satisfying super saloon, the E63 is more rambunctious, an Audi RS6 more accessible, but when pushed onto a higher plane neither can compete. 29
Porsche Panamera GTS
Is the Porsche a high performance four-seater coupe, a super saloon or a luxurious limousine with an outrageous turn of speed? Regardless of how you view it, there’s no denying the Panamera GTS is a deeply impressive piece of kit. Despite its size and weight it still goes and handles with the alacrity you’d expect from a car bearing the Porsche badge.
Like the BMW M5 and Mercedes-AMG E63, the Panamera is powered by a twin-turbocharged V8 that squeezes out 473bhp, which is good for 0-62mph in 3.9 seconds and will merrily haul the Porsche along at 186mph. Yet it’s the breadth of performance that’s really dizzying, with 457lb ft of twist available at just 1,800rpm. As a result it doesn’t matter what gear you’re in or what speed you’re doing, the Panamera simply takes off in a manner that suggests the super unleaded has been swapped for dilithium crystals. And yet, these figures are quite a way off those BMW and AMG figures, not to mention the latest Panamera Turbo S, and yet why we’ve chosen the GTS is for good reason.
That’s because so many modern supersaloons are not just fast, but a little too fast to really enjoy them on the public road. The GTS’s lesser power figure doesn’t feel underpowered, and has all the character of its rivals, but allows you to enjoy the noise and drama of its V8 just that little bit longer. You can specify the chassis up to Turbo S levels if you wish, but on its standard chassis the GTS feels a superbly rationalised package, and is a fair chunk less cash to boot.29
Mercedes-AMG C63 S
If you can’t stretch to the Mercedes-AMG E63 (and at the best part of £100k with choice options that’s understandable), then the C63 S is a more than capable stand in. With 503bhp, the C-Class is around 100bhp shy of its big brother, but its lighter and more compact body means it’s nearly as fast where it counts. More importantly, its twin-turbocharged 4.0-litre V8 features the same soundtrack that moves from canal boat bilge pump chug at idle through to full-blooded NASCAR bellow when worked hard. Few relatively sober-suited saloons attract more attention.
The meaty steering is quick and precise, and there’s plenty of front end bite, allowing you to place the car with confidence. Perhaps most surprising is the traction available on the exit of a bend, the combination of wide rubber and a clever electronic differential helping to fire you explosively along the next straight. Of course, this is still an AMG, so turning off the traction control and pinning the throttle will result in some localised and very heavy fog in your rear view mirror, but such is the Merc’s balance that these lurid, showboating slides are hilarious rather than heart-rate raising.
When you don’t want to play the hooligan, then the C-Class is every bit as easy to live with as C220d. Yes the ride’s a little firmer and the thirst of fuel is quite a bit more alarming, but in all other respects its a practical, reasonably roomy and well-equipped family saloon. It just so happens to have an alter ego that makes Mr Hyde look like Mr Bean.29
Audi’s first RS7 always felt a little flat-footed and undercooked despite its impressive performance capability, but this new version has taken on a subtler yet even more capable tune. While it might share a familiar 592bhp twin-turbocharged powertrain with its predecessor, the new RS7’s changes lie in its superb new chassis, especially when fitted with the optional Dynamic Ride Control and carbon ceramic brakes.
When fitted, these two elements help turn the RS7 into an absolute weapon on the road, with a level of compliance and total traction that makes use of every horsepower. This pace across the road doesn’t come at the expense of high-speed body control either, as it’s crosslinked dampers do a superb job of controlling its 2-ton mass. The rear-wheel steering then kicks in to give the near 5-meter long hatchback incredible agility, with a light but accurate steering rack. And while the uprated brakes make short work of the RS7’s mass, a bigger effect is felt in the reduction of unsprung weight right where the big Audi needs it.
Push to the absolute limits on track and things can get a little scrappy, but on the road where most buyers will inevitably keep it and the RS7 finally offers the sort of all-weather performance it always promised.29
BMW M8 Competition Gran Coupe
BMW’s M8 Competition Gran Coupe ostensibly takes the M5 Comp’s package and slips it into a longer, lower and wider package, which has both its pros and cons. On the negative, the M8 is actually the heavier of the two, and despite being able to sit lower down in the chassis, it can feel the more cumbersome of the two, especially on cramped UK roads.
Its wider tracks and new geometry have made its handling ever so slightly more opaque at low speeds too, only highlighting the lifeless steering which can make it a tricky car to drive in the upper reaches of its dynamic window on the road, initially.
It’s that word initially which is key here, however, as like the M5 but to an even more astute level, the M8 Competition reveals its true self over time, and with acclimatisation. That lower driving position which at first inhibits soon brings you closer to the action, its lower centre of gravity gives unlocking even more grip and agility. This is a car one needs time to acclimatise to, as underneath its shortage of feedback is a super saloon with composure and adjustability beyond that of rivals like the RS7 and Porsche Panamera.29
Mercedes-AMG GT63 S
Similar in concept to the M8 Competition above, the AMG GT63 S takes the familiar powertrain and chassis from the more traditionally-shaped super saloon and relocates it within a longer, lower body shell. In the GT63 S’s case, the powertrain does feature a subtle 20bhp advantage over the lesser E63 S, but despite its insinuated connection to the AMG GT supercar, also shares its chassis and underlying structure with the E-class.
Yet, the GT63 S packs an even bigger punch, both in terms of its outright performance, and capability of its chassis. The sheer speed the GT63 S is able to pile on from its immense engine defies its mass, while the braking performances from its vast carbon rotors and the turn in from its glued in front axle facilitate this supernatural ability.
But while this sheer capability impresses, it feels somewhat less satisfying than some rivals, making you feel like you’re being pummeled by the car’s ability without entirely involving you in the process. It’s also big, and feels it on British roads, outsizing most single-carriageway roads by simultaneously brushing the white lines on the road edge and cats eyes in the road center. Like so many other big hitters in this list, with space and acclimatisation the GT does let you in, but does so at the expense of feedback and enjoyment. As a hot rod though, the GT appeals in much the same way as the E63S, only with an extra £40k tacked onto the price tag. 29
Mercedes-AMG CLA45 S
How far can we push that notion of a super saloon? Read the specifications and you’d think that any 414bhp, all-wheel drive saloon with a dual-clutch transmission and torque-vectoring rear differential would cut the mustard, and yet this one has a four-cylinder mounted sideways under its relatively short bonnet.
So while it may be a smaller interpretation of the iconic super saloon, there’s no doubting its place given the impressive performance it’s capable of. It’ll reach 62mph in just 4sec in any weather and cover ground at an incredible pace, but it’s the fluidity and sophistication of which it does so that’s so impressive.
Unlike its sterile predecessor the new CLA45 is a much finer instrument. It flows with the road surface in its gentler damper modes, the steering accurate and while not full of feedback reveals the front end’s tenacious grip levels. Its rear end can both be loyal to the front or get involved with proceedings with either a subtle lift or a prod of its torque vectoring differential under power. It’s a superb tool, and one that channels more than a bit of 90s WRC homologation special about it, all wrapped up in a sleek package.
10 best sport sedans for 2021 and 2022
When you want a sports car, but need four doors
JOEL STOCKSDALENov 11th 2021 at 7:00AM
Even as the world buys more and more SUVs, sedans remain popular enough, and people still like to combine four-door practicality with driving fun. And buyers looking to do that are spoiled for choice. So we’ve rounded up our picks for best sport sedans to help you with your shopping.
Listed alphabetically, this list addresses sedans from all price, powertrain and body style segments. That means we’ve included cars from affordable to spendy, gas-powered to electric, rear- to all-wheel drive, and traditional four-door to liftback. To have made it to this list, these cars had to be oriented to fun driving and have a low, sedan-like shape. So not only are these our favorite sport sedans, there’s one here for just about any pocketbook or other preference.
Alfa Romeo Giulia
Why it stands out: Punchy four-cylinder; astounding power from Quadrifoglio; light and nimble character; awesome shift paddles
Could be better: Clunky infotainment; sub-par switchgear
We start this list with one of the most predictable inclusions: the Alfa Romeo Giulia. Yes, it’s a stereotype that the Italian sport sedan is fun to drive, but the fact is, well, it is. The Giulia comes standard with a turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder making 280 horsepower, making it one of the most powerful four-cylinders in the segment. It’s paired with a snappy and smooth eight-speed transmission and either rear-wheel or all-wheel drive.
The engine is lively and torquey, if a little short of revs, and the chassis feels super-light. The steering is eager and the car jumps into corners. We also highly recommend getting a version with the enormous and superb aluminum paddle shifters that make clicking through gears much more entertaining. And on the topic of the interior, it’s attractive, but the various switches and knobs feels a little cheap, and the infotainment system is clunky.
Of course there’s also the incredible Giulia Quadrifoglio. It gets a Ferrari-derived twin-turbo 2.9-liter V6 making 505 hp, and it’s rear-wheel drive only. It’s one of the best driving cars on the planet with clear, talkative steering, loads of grip, and a nimble feeling. And obviously it’s darn fast with all that power. You’ll need to be pretty well off to afford its base price that tops $80,000, though.
BMW 3 Series and M3
Why it stands out: Lots of powertrain options; sure handling; available manual in the M3
Could be better: Slightly steep base price; numb steering; no manual; questionable styling
While it has faltered in the past, the small luxury sport sedan benchmark is in much better form in its current iteration. And there are many things that make the 3 Series appealing. It’s available with a turbo four-cylinder, a plug-in hybrid four-cylinder, or a few different versions of a turbocharged straight-six. It also boasts a great interior with high-end materials and highly comfortable seats. The infotainment is also responsive with crisp displays, though a little menu-heavy. And of course, every version has a quick and fun chassis.
The base 330i model gets a 255-hp turbo 2.0-liter four-cylinder. It’s very responsive and makes great low-down torque. The eight-speed transmission, versions of which appear in all the 3 Series models, is fast and smooth, and one of the best in the segment. Steering is pretty numb, but the chassis is stiff and eager to corner. The BMW rides very well, too. For a bit more power, there’s the plug-in hybrid that makes 288 hp and has up to 22 miles of electric range. It doesn’t cost much more, either.
The four-cylinder models are solid, but the six-cylinder cars are, unsurprisingly, more exciting. The M340i’s turbo six-cylinder makes 382 hp. It also gets upgraded suspension, brakes and an electronically-controlled limited-slip differential. Then there are the M3 models that increase power to 473 hp for the base model, and 503 hp for the Competition. They also get additional suspension, braking and transmission upgrades to make for some astounding sports sedans to rival the Alfa Romeo Giulia Quadrifoglio. The base M3 also boasts one of the only manual transmissions in the segment. With a base price that tops $70,000, it’s not cheap, but it’s quite a bit cheaper than the Alfa.
Why it stands out: Extremely communicative steering and chassis; healthy four-cylinder options; powerful Blackwing model; available manual transmission
Could be better: Interior is a bit bland; manual only on the Blackwing; base four-cylinder isn’t particularly inspiring
The 21st century has been a time of reinvention for Cadillac as it transitioned from floaty barges to world-class sport sedans. The Cadillac CT4 represents one of the last internal combustion Cadillacs, and it’s a superb example of the breed with excellent handling, impressive refinement, and the availability of an incredible halo model.
There are three basic iterations of the car, starting with the base turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder making 237 hp or a 310-hp turbo 2.7-liter four-cylinder. Above that is the CT4-V with a 325-hp version of that 2.7-liter engine, and the monster CT4-V Blackwing with a 472-hp twin-turbo V6. Only the Blackwing is available with a six-speed manual transmission, and the four-cylinder cars are the only ones available with all-wheel drive.
If you can, we recommend stretching to at least one of the 2.7-liter models, but every CT4 is extremely composed and responsive in its moves, with immense communication. It’s one of the most engaging cars in the segment. And of course, the Blackwing improves things immensely, and is a rare manual option in the high-end compact sport sedan segment. It’s so good, one of our editors actually ordered one. If that’s not a ringing endorsement, we don’t know what is.
Why it stands out: Massive available power; amazing sounds; smooth and responsive transmission; stylish design; fast and functional infotainment system
Could be better: Weak fuel economy; dated and relatively small interior with subpar quality; non-SRT models aren’t very sporty; all-wheel-drive only available with the V6
The Dodge Charger isn’t exactly a conventional sport sedan, but that’s a big part of the appeal. You can’t really get big rear-drive sedans with big, naturally aspirated V8s anywhere else. And they’re paired with a velvety transmission and wrapped in curvy, aggressive bodywork. Shockingly, they’re even pretty good to drive when cruising or hitting corners thanks to compliant suspension and surprisingly good grip. Sure, it’s still heavy and the steering isn’t particularly responsive, but it’s not bad, and the powertrain’s endless charisma makes up for any shortcomings. Just check out our comparison of an SRT 392 with a Kia Stinger GT (the latter of which you’ll find farther down the list). Plus, the Charger offers lots of power for the money, especially the V8s: the 370-hp R/T, 485-hp Scat Pack, 707-hp Hellcat and 797-hp Hellcat Redeye. Those are absurd power figures for their price point and/or just absurd power figures, period.
Of course, it’s not entirely positives with the Charger. The cabin, while packing a quite good infotainment system, is dated, a bit cave-like and not as spacious feeling as you would expect from such a large car. All-wheel drive is only available with the V6, which is actually a solid engine, but doesn’t feel particularly sporty. And of course the V8 models that you want for fun driving get, well, sub-optimal fuel economy (every V8 model gets less than 20 mpg combined). Still, the Charger is a unique and character-packed vehicle for not much money that’s worth your consideration.
Why it stands out: Excellent bang for the buck; extremely powerful V6; great styling; brilliant chassis; user-friendly infotainment
Could be better: Cramped back seat; transmission could be sharper
Our final sedan from the small luxury sport segment is probably the best value, the Genesis G70. It comes with either a turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder making 252 hp, or a beefy twin-turbo 3.3-liter V6 making 365 hp. Both come standard with an eight-speed automatic and rear-wheel-drive, with all-wheel drive as an option. And pricing starts around $38,000 for the four-cylinder, and $43,000 for the V6. So for basically the same price as the four-cylinder Alfa or BMW, you can have some serious hp. Or if you want the four-cylinder, you can have a healthy discount.
The low price doesn’t mean the Genesis sacrifices on quality or driving fun. The V6 in particular is a blast. It feels underrated, with the two turbos pinning you to the seat when they spool up. The chassis is rock-solid, balanced and communicative. The transmission feels a beat behind those used in the Alfa and BMW, but doesn’t get in the way of enjoying the car. The four-cylinder isn’t as exciting, but the chassis is just as good, and the lighter engine makes it a bit more nimble.
The interior materials could be a little nicer, but panel gaps are tight and everything feels solid. The infotainment system is far easier to use than either of the European cars on this list, too. And the G70 is even better looking now than when it came out. If you’re looking at a fun sedan from this segment, you can’t ignore the G70.
Honda Civic Si
Why it stands out: Affordable price; excellent fuel economy; spacious interior; loads of convenience and performance features; standard manual transmission
Could be better: Low on power; no automatic transmission option; styling not for everyone
It may be the most affordable sport sedan on this list, and is actually soon to be replaced, but that doesn’t mean the Civic Si should be ignored. The outgoing model started at around $26,000 and was extremely value-packed both on the performance and convenience fronts. The turbocharged 1.5-liter four-cylinder made 205 hp, which is certainly on the low side for this group of cars, but it was paired exclusively with a six-speed manual transmission and a real, mechanical limited-slip differential. It also had upgraded suspension with adjustable stiffness, and the whole car was light, responsive and nimble. It also got some flashy body work and stylish seats inside the spacious interior. Plus, it was efficient with a combined fuel economy rating of 30 mpg.
The upcoming 2022 Civic Si is very similar (pictured above right), with a retuned version of the same turbo engine. It now makes slightly less power at 200, but it makes more power in other parts of the rev band. The manual and limited-slip differential stick around, but now there’s more customization with drive modes, and even a variable exhaust system. The same set of convenience features carries over, too. The car also takes advantage of other new-generation Civic upgrades such as the nicer interior, vastly improved infotainment system, and generally improved chassis. It’s a bit more expensive at about $28,000, but will likely still be a great and affordable sport sedan.
Why it stands out: Excellent value; seriously stylish; lots of interior room; hatchback versatility; great chassis
Could be better: Could have a nicer interior; transmission could be sharper
The Kia Stinger is closely related to the Genesis G70 we’ve already talked about, and that means that all the basic goodness still applies. But there are, of course, differences. The most obvious of which is the body style. It’s notably larger than the G70, and its fastback roofline disguises a practicality-enhancing hatchback. It’s arguably even better looking than the conventional G70, and interior space benefits from the extra size, too.
It gets similar powertrains, too, but not identical. The base model gets a turbocharged four-cylinder, but it’s a larger 2.5-liter unit making 300 hp. The twin-turbo V6 is basically the same and makes 368 hp. Both are coupled to an eight-speed automatic and either rear-wheel or all-wheel drive. The V6 is still the most exciting, and feels just as strong as in the G70, and the chassis is just as well-balanced, making for a highly-entertaining experience. In a comparison, we even preferred the Stinger GT to the more powerful Charger Scat Pack (also listed above). It was a close one, though.
Compared with its G70 cousin, the interior of the Stinger isn’t as nice, but it’s still stylish, and as we’ve said before, it’s much more spacious. And being a Kia and not a Genesis, it’s more affordable. The four-cylinder starts around $37,000, while the V6 starts around $44,00, just above the Genesis version. The V6 Stinger does come standard with a limited-slip rear differential, an option on the Genesis.
Why it stands out: Porsche handling; throaty V8s; available plug-in hybrid models; hatchback practicality
Could be better: Expensive; snug back seat; touch-operated interior controls and air vents
It’s hard to talk about sporty cars without bringing up at least one Porsche, if not more, and the same applies with sedans. The Panamera is a brilliant example, and one that offers an impressive array of flavors. At the base of the range is the more sedate twin-turbo V6 model with 325 hp, which still gets it to 60 mph in a brisk 5.3 seconds. And at the top is the Turbo S E-Hybrid with a whopping 690 hp from its electrified and twin-turbocharged V8. That’s not even the only hybrid variant, as you can have the V6 paired with the plug-in hybrid system with 455 or 552 hp. And each plug-in has between 17 and 19 miles of electric range available, depending on trim. You can add all-wheel-drive, too, as you can with most of the Panamera line-up.
And the reason you’ll want one is just how excellent it is to drive. It has pinpoint-accurate steering with hefty, but not heavy, weight. It corners flat and tells you what’s happening. It takes off with authority in the higher-power forms, and the transmission shifts instantly with no disturbances. And it does it with a quiet, comfortable interior and surprising practicality thanks to its liftback (there’s even more space if you get the Sport Turismo wagon). The V8 models provide the most aural excitement, but it certainly isn’t required for a good time. Key drawbacks are that it’s rather heavy, the back seat is snug, and prices are hefty both to start and for the massive options list.
Why it stands out: Fully electric; incredible performance; Porsche handling, steering, build quality
Could be better: Official range isn’t amazing; quite expensive; tight back seat
A great sports sedan doesn’t have to dramatically burn gasoline, as proven by the positively amazing Porsche Taycan. Every version of it is fully electric, with the base version featuring a single motor and rear-wheel drive, and higher trims offering two motors and all-wheel drive. And they come in fast, faster and fastest versions. The base one makes 321 hp, the 4S makes 429 hp, the Turbo and Turbo S make 616. All of these models can deliver more power briefly, and that’s the main difference between the latter two, which have “overboost” maximum outputs of 670 and 750 hp, respectively.
All of them obviously provide oodles of immediate torque — the regular Taycan will push you against the seat while the Turbos will try to crush you. And the rest of the driving experience is pretty much exactly what you expect from a Porsche. The steering is perfectly weighted, precise and provides reasonable feedback. There’s hardly any body roll and it feels neutral and balanced. Despite the weight of the batteries, it feels like a lighter, smaller car. Range is between 199 and 225 miles depending on model, though we’ve found that it can easily outperform the EPA numbers.
The interior is typical Porsche, too; well-crafted with good materials, but a bit plain on the design front. Interior space is a bit tight for rear occupants due to its narrow door opening and low, swoopy shape. Pricing is also classic Porsche, with the Turbo S topping $186,000 before any options. But the base model starts at a far more reasonable $84,000. In 4S and Turbo that’ll be deep into six digits with options. We would actually recommend the entry-level models that are still very fast and loads of fun, but for far less money than the Turbo models. And if you need more space, there are the Sport Turismo wagon versions.
Why it stands out: Lots of power for the money; standard all-wheel drive; standard manual transmission
Could be better: Base model is light on convenience features; CVT isn’t particularly fun; a bit thirsty; low-rent interior
One of the other more budget-oriented sport sedans here is another value-packed car. The Subaru WRX comes standard with a turbocharged 2.0-liter flat-four making 268 hp. It’s paired with a six-speed manual transmission, but if you need something that shifts itself, it is available with a CVT. That being said, if you can, we’d suggest going for the manual. Not only is it more fun, it’s more efficient with a combined fuel economy of 23 mpg versus 21 for the CVT. And like every Subaru besides the BRZ, it has all-wheel-drive. And of course it has upgraded suspension and a wider body than its cousin the Impreza.
In practice, the WRX has amazing grip and feels fairly neutral under throttle thanks to its all-wheel-drive system. The engine is definitely of the old-school turbo persuasion, so it’s mellow until the boost builds, and it comes on in a big rush higher up the rev band. Keep it revved up, and it’s very responsive and rewarding. The even more powerful WRX STI makes 310 hp and feels peakier, due to its even older 2.5-liter engine. But it gets additional suspension tweaks, Brembo brakes and a mechanical limited-slip center differential with adjustable front and rear power distribution.
At less than $30,000, it’s pretty affordable, though it’s a bit spartan as far as features, but there are better equipped trim levels available for a bit more money. The STI is about $10,000 more expensive to start. All WRX models do suffer from a rather dated, cheap-feeling interior, though with really nice seats. But if you’re more concerned about performance than comfort, the WRX is a great option. It’s also worth noting that a fully-redesigned model is on the way with a very similar drivetrain, but a much improved interior. It is pictured above right