As car enthusiasts, we are often puzzled. Sports cars are great, but sometimes they come with a small caveat; a total lack of practicality. Some are better than others, but in general, buying a performance car means sacrificing practicality and everyday usability. This problem can be solved by a performance car occupying one garage space, and a practical SUV or minivan occupying the other garage space.
But it doesn’t always have to be that way. Step into the sports sedan. This car segment, while increasingly looking like it’s about to bend, offers all the benefits, practicality and practicality of a sedan, but with an added performance kick. Sports sedans are rare in the modern auto world, but a glance through the pages of history shows there are plenty of excellent offerings out there, and they’re just begging to be taken for a ride.
11/11 Mercedes-Benz C55 AMG
Every day it seems that AMG’s 55 era will be fondly remembered, and all the cars that have used the 55 engine will become future classics. Most people are smitten with the E55 AMG of this era, or maybe the CLK and CL 55 AMG. But somewhere in there, the (relatively) small C-Class in 2005 also got the 55 AMG treatment.
The C55 AMG was introduced towards the end of the W203 C-Class’ run, intended to replace the experimental C32 AMG. Power came from a naturally aspirated 5.4-liter V8 with 362 horsepower and 376 lb-ft of torque. You’d be hard pressed to find any of these in the ads, but if you do, it’s a great buy; a subtle performance car with tons of power, good features and also quite reliable.
10/11 Volvo S60 Polestar Engineered
Talk about hard to find in the ads. Even though Volvo has spun off Polestar into an electric brand, they still didn’t want to leave the performance car market. So they arranged for Polestar to play with some of their models, most notably the S60.
Rather than an inline-five or even an inline-six, the S60 Polestar takes a different and much more complicated approach; a twincharged four-cylinder combined with a plug-in hybrid component. The result is 415 horsepower and 494 lb-ft of torque. It’s more mature than, say, an M3, but it’s an effortlessly cool sports sedan and no one will know what they’re looking at. Until they jump a hole in the air.
9/11 Cadillac CTS-V (first generation)
Back to the more affordable spectrum of sports sedans. In the 2000s, Cadillac was desperate to stick it to the Germans. They realized they couldn’t possibly do that without a performance-oriented version of their mid-sized CTS sedan.
This led to the introduction of the CTS-V in 2004. In addition to some visual upgrades (and wheels with six lug nuts, for some reason), the CTS-V was embellished with an LS engine pulled straight from the Corvette. As with so many other LS-equipped GM products of the time, it first used the 5.7 LS1 V8, then the 6.0-liter LS2 V8 was introduced in 2006. Both engines were mated to a standard six-speed manual transmission.
8/11 Lexus IS F
On the other side of the world, Lexus faced a similar situation during the same period; they wanted to keep it to the Germans too, and they too realized they needed a performance sedan to rival the M3 and Audi RS4. The smaller IS sedan was chosen as the testing ground for this project.
The IS F started with the Lexus F brand. Under the hood was a naturally aspirated 5.0-liter V8 with 416 horsepower and 371 lb-ft of torque, which produced a fantastic sound from the signature stacked exhausts. Lexus IS F technically only lasted one generation, and you can still get one on the used market for a good deal. It also contains something that the Germans of the time just didn’t have; reliability.
7/11 Maserati Quattroporte
There is one very important thing to note if you are considering this generation of Quattroporte. by all means to prevent the early models with the horribly clunky DuoSelect semi-automatic transmission. That was the least of their problems, but the DuoSelect transmission was the most notable; jerky, unresponsive and unreliable.
From the 2008 facelift, the DuoSelect was eschewed in favor of a much-improved ZF conventional automatic transmission. With that, the Quattroporte was finally the sports sedan that Maserati had always intended. If you can put up with the maintenance and reliability of a Maserati, the Quattroporte is a pretty solid sports sedan to buy.
6/11 Genesis G70
Genesis was first launched in 2015 and promises a lot as a luxury brand. Their new GV70 crossover definitely tops it off, and the same goes for the G80 sedan and the GV80 mid-sized SUV. The smallest sedan in the lineup, the G70, always seemed a little left behind.
But Genesis put together an extensive facelift for the 2022 model year to bring it in line with the other models in terms of design. Not only does the G70 look fantastic (although the show-stopping Shooting Brake isn’t coming to North America), but under the hood it’s essentially a Kia Stinger, which we happen to love. Win win.
5/11 Dodge Charger Hellcat Widebody
Dodge recently announced that the Hellcat models will be canceled after 2023. That means this is your last chance to buy the last real American muscle cars left. The Charger Hellcat has been revived a bit for 2020, with the widebody being the only way to get it.
Even though the Charger is actually 15 years old now, the Hellcat Widebody is just pure madness; a 707 horsepower 6.2-liter supercharged V8, 0-60 in about 3 seconds and a top speed of nearly 200 mph. Don’t expect razor sharp handling on the Charger track, but if you just want some good old-fashioned fun, few sedans can come close.
4/11 Alfa Romeo Giulia Quadrifoglio
After a long hiatus, Alfa Romeo finally returned to North America a few years ago. They also happened to bring one of the best sports saloons of the moment. The Giulia Quadrifoglio is a true old-school sports sedan in every way, and it’s a shame no one is buying it.
A 503 hp 2.9-liter turbo V6 powers the rear wheels via an 8-speed automatic or a six-speed manual transmission. Amazingly, the manual is only available in North America. The V6 sounds fantastic, and this is one of the most complete sports saloon packages in every way.
3/11 Ford Taurus SHO
This one is a bit of a left field choice. The Taurus went out of production a few years ago, and it was initially Ford’s midsize sedan, before becoming a full-size sedan. The SHO name goes way back, and it was only natural for Ford to bring it back for this generation.
The SHO used a 3.5-liter EcoBoost V6, with two turbos strapped in for good measure. It was good for 365 horsepower and 350 lb-ft of torque, which was sent to all four wheels. Everyone seems to be sleeping on the potential that the Taurus SHO has; they’re a dime a dozen on the used market, they’re a lot of fun to drive, and that engine can handle a lot more than 365 horsepower and 350 lb-ft.
2/11 Audi RS4 (B7)
The B7 generation was the first RS4 that Audi officially offered in North America, having skipped the previous RS4 Avant. In North America, the B7 RS4 was offered as a sedan or convertible, but unfortunately still not a car.
Power came from a 4.2 liter naturally aspirated V8 with 414 hp. That power was sent to all four wheels via a mandatory six-speed manual transmission. No DSG or S-tronic here. While the RS4 didn’t offer the same hooliganism as the M3 or C63 AMG, it was still a fantastic, understated sports sedan.
1/11 BMW M3 (E90)
You just can’t talk about great sports sedans without mentioning the BMW M3. It’s one of the most iconic sports sedans of all time, and it’s just begging to be ridden hard. While most M3s came with a six-cylinder engine, the E90 generation shown here was the first and only M3 to be powered by a V8.
That V8 was a 4.0-liter, with 414 horsepower and 295 lb-ft of torque. That torque figure may seem a little low, but the M3’s V8 screamed its way to a red line of 8,300 rpm. These can still be found for a decent price, but they are getting expensive. When fitted with the manual transmission, this is truly one of the best sports sedans you will ever be in.