Typically, the phrase “sport sedan” evokes the image of a BMW, an Audi or a similarly pricy Teutonic four-door automobile. In reality, there are a number of fun-to-drive sedans that rise above the standard commuter car fare while maintaining an MSRP of below $40,000. The mix of German, Japanese, American and yes, even Swedish sport sedans at this price point make for an intriguing alternative to traditional options inhabiting the segment. It also gives buyers the chance to get behind the wheel of something truly different from what their equally successful colleagues might be driving. Let's take a look at 10 sporty sedans that won't break the bank.
1) 2015 Buick Regal
The 2015 Buick Regal, when found in GS trim, represents the formerly staid premium brand's first legitimate foray into sport sedan territory in decades, and though the Regal has been around for several years, it just keeps getting better. The Buick Regal boasts a turbocharged, 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine under the hood that generates 259 horsepower and 295 lb-ft of torque, matched with a standard six-speed manual transmission (a six-speed autobox is available as an option). The GS trim level also brings with it a stiff suspension system, bigger Brembo brakes, and an adaptive suspension system that offers three different modes, including a Sport setting. All-wheel drive is optional on the 2015 Regal.
2) 2015 Honda Civic Si
The 2015 Honda Civic Si compact sedan has long been the hottest edition of one of the most popular entry-level cars on the market. The Honda Civic Si sedan is built around a high-revving, 2.4-liter four-cylinder motor that has been tuned to provide 205 horses and 174 lb-ft of torque. A six-speed manual transmission sends this output to the vehicle's front wheels, which are aided and abetted in their mission to put power to the ground by way of a limited-slip differential. Sporty suspension components, aerodynamic improvements, and a boy-racer interior treatment help to round out the sedan's most appealing features.
Photo Credit: Benjamin Hunting
3) 2015 Chrysler 300
The 2015 Chrysler 300 is a full-size sedan that is every bit as capable as it looks, with plenty of power underneath the new front and rear end exterior updates. The Chrysler 300C is gifted with superior body control for a vehicle of its size, and its suspension never sees it loafing through corners at higher speeds. The real advantage of opting for the 300C or 300S trim level, however, is access to the vehicle's optional 5.7-liter Hemi V-8 engine, which develops a hearty 363 horsepower and 394 lb-ft of torque. The 2015 Chrysler 300 can be had in both rear-wheel and all-wheel drive editions, and a new eight-speed automatic transmission is included with either layout.
4) 2015 Ford Taurus SHO
The 2015 Ford Taurus SHO demonstrates what can be achieved when applying a sports sedan philosophy to a full-size car. This version of the Taurus comes standard with all-wheel drive, which is key to harnessing the 365 horsepower and 350 lb-ft of torque that come screaming out of its twin-turbo 3.5-liter EcoBoost engine, paired to a six-speed automatic transmission. The SHO Performance package allows drivers to turn off stability control as well as test the limits of track-ready brake pads.
5) 2015 Volkswagen Jetta GLI
The 2015 Volkswagen GLI represents the most fun-to-drive member of the compact Jetta sedan family. The sporty Volkswagen GLI features a chassis that has been designed to offer a more responsive ride than that of the standard Jetta (thanks in part to a multi-link rear suspension system) and it also comes with sport seats and a turbocharged, 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine. With 200 horsepower and 207 lb-ft of torque on tap, the GLI offers lively acceleration as well as the availability of a six-speed manual transmission or a six-speed dual-clutch automated manual that provides even quicker gear changes than the traditional unit.
6) 2015 Subaru WRX
The 2015 Subaru WRX has some of the most athletic looks in the sport sedan segment and the attitude to back them up, thanks to the grip provided by its standard all-wheel drive system as well as plenty of power. Subaru dropped the Impreza name from this model for 2015, helping the WRX stake its own territory. The 2015 WRX boasts 268 horsepower and 258 lb-ft of torque thanks to its new 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine, boosted by a twin-scroll turbocharger, an intercooler, and direct fuel injection. The 2015 WRX comes with either a six-speed manual or a new continuously variable transmission option.
Photo Credit: Megan Green
7) 2015 Volvo S60
The 2015 Volvo S60 is an often-overlooked sport sedan competitor, but it delivers an unexpected level of thrills wrapped in a practical, though recently refreshed, package. Buyers of the 2015 S60 have a few important choices to make; the sedan is offered with two new, more efficient drivetrains, but for now, they are only available when the S60 is equipped with front-wheel drive. Opting for Volvo’s all-wheel drive system means sticking with the tried-and-true drivetrains, such as the 3.0-liter turbocharged six-cylinder that produces a healthy 300 horsepower and 325 lb-ft of torque - more than a match for vehicles like the less well-endowed Audi A4.
8) 2015 Acura TLX
The all-new 2015 Acura TLX was designed to replace Acura’s TL and TSX, so this sedan is under quite a bit of pressure. The liberal use of LED lighting is one of the TLX’s standout features, providing a look that’s high tech yet upscale. The base trim is powered by a 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine, paired to a new eight-speed dual-clutch gearbox, good for 206 horsepower. Stepping up to the 3.5-liter V-6 yields 290 horsepower, put to the ground courtesy of a nine-speed automatic transmission. Both options should help Acura retain its audience in the sport sedan segment.
9) 2015 Infiniti Q40
The 2015 Infiniti Q40 sedan is an entry level model that was designed to help the brand hold its own against the competition from Germany, so it should come as no surprise when it delivers a high level of sporty performance to go with its curvy good looks. The Infiniti Q40 sedan provides a 3.7-liter V-6 that is good for 328 horsepower and 270 lb-ft of torque, and while all-wheel drive is optional, a seven-speed automatic transmission is standard. The Q40's platform has been specifically designed to balance luxurious comfort with precise road-holding ability, placing the affordable car in the upper echelon of compact premium sedans.
10) 2015 Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution GSR
The 2015 Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution GSR is a street-legal rally machine that makes our list of fast and affordable cars by way of its motorsports credibility and ultra-precise handling. The Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution GSR, which is in its final year for 2015, starts at $34,495, and it delivers 291 horsepower and 300 lb-ft of torque from a 2.0-liter, turbocharged four-cylinder engine. A five-speed manual transmission shunts this output to all four wheels via the car's advanced all-wheel drive system, which in turn allows the compact sedan to hit 60 mph in 4.4 seconds. Stepping up to the still-inexpensive MR trim adds the wrinkle of a six-speed, dual-clutch automated manual gearbox.