sports cars represent some of the most desirable vehicles on the market, but they are also some of the least practical. Cramped rear seats - if any - and a tight squeeze to access them often see shoppers skipping over svelte coupes in search of more user-friendly sedans.
Automakers have realized that there is a growing market for high performance sedans that offer at least as many driving thrills as their two-door cousins. As a result, there are now a number of vehicles out there that could be termed “four-door sports cars.” Let’s take a look at 10 of the most appealing four-door sports cars currently available in the United States.
Photos courtesy of respective manufacturers
01. 2011 Mazda RX-8
The 2011 Mazda RX8 is one of the most unique four-door sports cars on this list because to the untrained eye to automobile clearly displays the lines and form of a coupe. The Mazda RX8 hides its extra set of rear-hinged doors just behind the front two, and while they may appear small they do an exceptional job of easing entry into the automobile’s rear passenger area.
In addition to its practicality, the 2011 Mazda RX8 also offers a taut chassis, light curb weight and a sport tuned suspension that helps it to maintain Mazda’s reputation for building well-handling automobiles. Underneath its long hood is another unusual feature: a 1.3-liter rotary engine that offers either 212 horsepower (when found in six-speed automatic form) or 232 horsepower (when equipped with a six-speed manual). Torque is rated at 152 lb-ft. Despite its modest power output, the RX8 is still capable of reaching 60 miles per hour in seven seconds from a standing start.
02. 2011 Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution
The 2011 Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution owes a huge debt to Mitsubishi’s long history in the World Rally Championship, where small sedans featuring big power slug it out on rally stages across the globe. The Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution offers a 2.0-liter, four-cylinder engine that pumps out 291 ponies and 300 lb-ft of torque thanks to the use of a turbocharger. Buyers can choose between either a five-speed manual transmission or an advanced six-speed dual clutch automated manual unit featuring steering wheel-mounted paddle shifters.
Helping send the Evolution’s turbo fury to the pavement is a computer-controlled all-wheel drive system that can actively manage torque between individual wheels, adjusting not just to prevent traction loss but also in order to improve cornering ability. This helps the Lancer Evolution sprint to 60 miles per hour in just 4.9 seconds. The Mitsubishi also comes with Brembo brakes and a performance suspension system.
03. 2011 Subaru Impreza WRX STI
Like the Lancer Evolution, the 2011 Subaru Impreza WRX STi also draws from rally heritage, with Subaru historically having been an active participant in this segment of the motorsports universe. The Subaru Impreza WRX STI can be found in both four-door hatchback and four-door sedan editions, providing buyers with a choice of exterior styles and interior cargo volumes.
The 2011 Subaru Impreza WRX STI employs a turbocharged, four-cylinder engine that generates 305 horsepower and 290 lb-ft of twist from its 2.5 liters. Matched with a six-speed manual transmission and all-wheel drive, the vehicle is able to blow past 60 miles per hour in only 4.5 seconds. The automobile features Brembo brakes and a race-inspired suspension system, and the STI’s all-wheel drive system offers an active center differential that can be controlled by the driver from within the vehicle in order to adapt to various traction situations.
04. 2011 Cadillac CTS-V
The 2011 Cadillac CTS-V is a mid-size luxury sedan that has been given a complete performance makeover, transforming it into a true four-door sports car competitor. At the heart of the Cadillac CTS-V’s transformation is its 6.2-liter, supercharged V-8 engine – borrowed from the Chevrolet Corvette ZR1 – that puts out 556 horsepower and 551 lb-ft of torque. Drivers can choose to manage that power themselves through a six-speed manual transmission or rely on the abilities of an available six-speed automatic. The zero to 60 time for the sedan has been logged at an exceptional 3.9 seconds.
The 2011 Cadillac CTS-V also comes with features such as Recaro sport seats, a magnetically adjustable suspension system and Brembo brakes. These features help the CTS-V overcome its hefty curb weight and turn in solid lap times as well as rapid slalom passes.
05. 2011 Volkswagen GTI Four-Door
The 2011 Volkswagen GTI is the pocket rocket edition of the Volkswagen Golf compact hatchback. Setting the Volkswagen GTI apart from the standard Golf are several important changes that have been designed to give the small car a sporty punch, including the installation of a turbocharged, 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine that produces 200 horsepower and 207 lb-ft of torque.
Also along for the ride is an optional six-speed dual clutch automated manual transmission (with a traditional six-speed manual provided as standard equipment), and a tighter suspension system that is more in tune with transmitting road feel through the steering wheel and responding to driver inputs.
06. 2011 Jaguar XFR
The 2011 Jaguar XFR is the high performance edition of Jaguar’s XF luxury sedan, and it grafts serious sports car features onto the four-door automobile’s already taut platform. The Jaguar XFR sees its standard V-8 engine replaced with a supercharged version that cranks out 470 horses and 424 lb-ft of torque from its 5.0-liters of displacement. A six-speed automatic transmission is only available gearbox for the XFR, and it provides a manual shifting option by way of steering wheel-mounted paddles.
The 2011 Jaguar XFR can reach 60 miles per hour in 4.5 seconds, which places the comfortable sedan squarely in sports car territory. Oversized brakes, an adaptive suspension system and a limited-slip rear differential also contribute to the sedan’s aggressive character.
07. 2011 BMW M3 Sedan
The 2011 BMW M3 sedan is the four-door edition of one of the most popular premium sports cars on the market. The BMW M3 sedan provides all of the same creature comforts and interior room as the standard BMW 3 Series sedan, but also injects a significant amount of performance that elevates the vehicle above its more pedestrian sibling.
The 2011 BMW M3 sedan offers a locking rear differential, a track-tuned suspension system and the availability of a Competition package that includes electronic adaptive shock absorbers and special stability control software. The vehicle is powered by a 414-horse, 4.0-liter V-8 engine that also generates 295 lb-ft of torque. A six-speed manual transmission is included free of charge with the BMW M3, but buyers can also elect to sample the brand’s seven-speed dual clutch automated manual for even faster gear changes.
08. 2011 Audi S4
The 2011 Audi S4 is the German luxury brand’s hot rod edition of its popular A4 sedan. The Audi S4 is known for its quattro all-wheel drive system, which sends 60 percent of engine torque to the rear wheels in order to give the vehicle a more sporting feel without compromising traction. The vehicle also offers a stiffer suspension system than the standard A4, as well as more aggressively-sized brakes.
Motivating the 2011 Audi S4 is a 3.0-liter V-6 that makes use of a supercharger to grind out 333 horsepower and 325 lb-ft of torque. The Audi is offered with either a standard six-speed manual transmission or an optional seven-speed dual clutch automated manual. The sedan can reach 60 miles per hour from a standing start in just under five seconds.
09. 2011 Mazda MAZDASPEED3
The 2011 Mazda MAZDASPEED3 takes the four-door compact hatchback platform used by the MAZDA3 and gives it an entirely different character thanks to the installation of a very stiff suspension system, a limited-slip front differential and a turbocharged engine.
The 2011 Mazda MAZDASPEED3 extracts 263 horsepower and 280 lb-ft of torque from its 2.3-liter, four-cylinder mill. A six-speed manual transmission is the only available gearbox that can be used to harness all of that output, but the vehicle also comes with 18-inch wheels and high performance rubber to help maintain traction. The MAZDASPEED3 can hit 60 miles per hour in 6.3 seconds, putting it near the top of the compact hatch class.
10. 2011 Lexus IS F
The 2011 Lexus IS F represents the first effort by Lexus to break into the high performance four-door premium sports car club that has been traditionally dominated by German manufacturers. The Lexus IS F transforms the Lexus IS entry-level sedan platform through the introduction of upsized brakes, an aggressively-styled body kit, a lowered suspension system and an entirely fresh drivetrain.
The 2011 Lexus IS F sees an eight-cylinder engine stuffed under its hood in place of the regular Lexus IS’ six-cylinder unit. Displacing 5.0-liters, this motor is good for 416 horsepower and 371 lb-ft of torque, which are sent to the vehicle’s rear wheels through an eight-speed automatic transmission that features manual paddle shifters for drivers who prefer to slam through the gears themselves. The IS F is capable of blazing to 60 miles per hour in only 4.8 seconds.