At Foreign Affairs Motorwerks we tend to focus on extreme performance. We talk super cars, ultimate luxury and polarizing styling. But what about the everyday hero? By this we mean cars that come close (and even beat some super cars) straight off the mass production line. We mean the wolves in sheep’s clothing of the mainstream automotive world. Let’s take a look at a few of our favorite everyday performance cars (15 to be exact):
1. Nissan 370Z
What better to begin with then the infamous Z car. Datsun (as Nissan used to be called) started this lineage way back in the early 1970s with the Datsun 240Z which is in our opinion, the finest Datsun ever made. One recently sold for $310,000. So there must be something in the decades old recipe to which the 370Z still holds true; send the 330 horses from the 3.7l v6 through a 6-speed stick shift straight to the back wheels.
2. Mazda 3 Sport
From the stable that produces the evergreen Miata comes something a little more ordinary, or is it really? Couple a 2.5L four to a manual (stick shift) box and wrap it in a four-door sports guise. Voila, you have a car that is both practical and fun to drive. Sort of like a modern-day BMW e30.
3. Fiat 500 Abarth
Those enthusiasts that are stuck in urban environments, there is nothing more annoying than not being able to nip in and out of traffic. Enter the 500 Abarth. A two-door pocket rocket, the tiny 1.4 liter turbocharged four, sips gasoline while easily providing the 160 horses to get your pulse racing. The best part? You can park almost anywhere. (We still recommend the stick shift version though.)
4. Honda Civic Type R
The Civic R’s lines are anything but conservative, so if you are looking for something aggressive that still has four doors (!) this is it. Nothing revs quite like a Honda and once you realize this it isn’t so surprising that they’ve gotten 306 horsepower and 295 lb-ft of torque out of a two liter four. It makes an absolute laughingstock of super car owners gas mileage, and you can take the dog and all the groceries with you.
5. Audi RS6 Avant
Quattro anyone? Here is a true sleeper. Not only can it take the kids, their buddies and all the hockey kit, but it can also get to 60 mph in just 3.6 seconds. An extremely practical car, and great tourer various spec packages are available which allow different tuning of the 4-liter twin-turbo V8 and battery hybrid system. The base model just reaches 155mph while the top spec (Dynamic Package Plus as Audi call it) will let you do 190mph (just don’t tell your wife).
6. Tesla Model S P100D
The most established electric sports car (no, the Nissan Leaf is not a sports car) that is available at a relatively reasonable price. With an absolutely killer 0-60mph time of 2.3 seconds and gorgeous styling, this American beauty makes more than the planet feel good.
7. Subaru Impreza WRX STI
The Japanese are absolute wizards at making a seemingly mundane four door sedan wipe the smile off the face of the competition when it comes to a challenge. Subaru are probably the best at this especially with their longstanding rallying heritage and superb all-wheel drive systems. The Impreza’s 305 horses and top speed of 159mph may not be impressive but put it through the corners hard or drive a gravel road and you’ll quickly realize why this car is so popular.
8. Dodge Charger Hellcat
Classic American muscle cars are few and far between these days. Without the stratospheric price of the Mustang, the Hellcat has a stiff suspension and a 6.2l V8. Put pedal to the metal and you’ll get from 0-60mph in 3.5 seconds, just don’t expect the ride comfort of a Ford Fairlane.
9. BMW M5
BMW has generations of practice in perfecting their recipe of sporty yet practical cars and the M5 is an excellent representation of this. Big, comfortable cruiser, yet push it and the twin turbo V8 will trot out its 591 horses and do a 3.2 second 0-60mph run. With 553 lb-ft of torque this beast is as comfortable on the track as it is doing long distance.
10. Jaguar F-Pace S
You have to admit, this is one SUV with looks and power. At the top of the range we have a 3-liter supercharged V6 motor with 380HP that will do a 0-60mph in 5.1 seconds. While this might not be groundbreaking, the superb road holding of the AWD system coupled with the frugal gas mileage of 20mpg combined, more than make up for it.
11. Audi RS3
Since before quattro in the 80’s Audi have loved their 5-cylinder power plants and the RS3 is no different. With a 0-60mph of 3.5 seconds and excellent handling characteristics, you’ll get a Lamborghini killer for less than a fifth of the price.
12. Ford Focus RS
This is one good looking hot hatch. We love the aggressive styling and pin sharp angles. It’s one of the few in its class that actually has the power to match its stellar appearance, doing 0-60 in just under 4.7 seconds. With 350 hp and 350 lb-ft of torque on tap coupled to an AWD system with a stick shift, this is the modern-day pony car.
13. Jeep Grand Cherokee Trackhawk
Sharing an engine with the Hellcat we mentioned above, 707 horses of V8 goodness is absolutely ludicrous in a SUV. Even if you’re not one for the track, this will make an absolute beast of a road tripping or towing vehicle.
14. Mercedes CLA 45 AMG
We couldn’t leave Daimler-Benz out of the mix, now could we? Featuring a rather small 2-liter engine for such a large car, the Merc is nonetheless impressive, producing 382 hp and 354 lb-ft of torque. This is enough to propel you from 0-60mph in 4 seconds. Where it truly shines though is in its comfort and long-distance performance.
15. BMW X5 M
SUVs just aren’t supposed to be fast. Someone at BMW clearly didn’t get the memo when they created the X5. With 567 hp and a 0-60mph time of 3.8 seconds, if you blink you may well miss the exquisite styling of this beast.
We hope you’ve enjoyed our compilation of everyday performance cars that have more to give than meets the eye. This is by no means an exhaustive list, as there are many other marques (even Toyota) that make surprisingly quick vehicles. The best car is the one you drive, so remember to give it some love and visit Foreign Affairs Motorwerks for any of your servicing needs.