Just a few years ago if you wanted a really fast car you also needed to break the bank and head over to V8 or bigger engines. Now, outputs of more than 300 horsepower are coming from mundane four-cylinder applications.
Power and speed is not the panache of utterly-expensive rides, thanks to a myriad of technologies such as direct fuel injection, turbocharging and other advances that allow a wide choice of body styles, vehicle dimensions and powertrain options. While the performance features are not regulated by government standards – unlike fuel economy for example – it’s not so hard to find the models that can deliver spectacular 0-60 mph times and great track times without requiring an arm and a leg. Naturally, when shopping for a fast production car you should set up a budget – we stopped at the $50,000 mark – and then also research and consider engine output, torque, vehicle weight and other factors. Ultimately, because we’re all different, we also decided to deliver a wide choice of body and powertrain options from fast sedans to quick convertibles.
With no particular order to handle them, we should tell you upfront the priciest are also those most likely to deliver the best acceleration times – for example the 2016 BMW M235i performance convertible will hit 60 mph in 4.4 seconds and ask more than $46,150 for it, while the equally springy Mercedes-Benz CLA45 AMG sedan will be even costlier at $48,500. For some $47,795 you can also consider the brand new 2016 Ford Shelby GT350 Mustang, which stands to fight against the $45,995 Dodge Challenger SRT. We haven’t forgotten the Japanese competitors: you can have a 2016 Nissan 370Z Nismo starting at $41,990 if you like the coupe form, a cheaper Subaru WRX STI (starting at $34,695) if you need a sedan or a Infiniti Q50S from $43,650 if you also want to add luxury to the mix.