The best AWD (All-Wheel Drive) sports cars don’t just offer extra traction designed to give them four-seasons status in your fleet – they also leverage their additional drive wheels to enhance their overall performance no matter what the weather might be like. In fact, for some companies, all-wheel drive has become the preferred method for corralling gobs of horsepower with a minimum of drama. Although a rear-wheel drive layout might remain the gold standard for pure driving feel, there’s no arguing with the exceptional handling and mind-blowing acceleration offered by the best all-wheel drive sports cars. Let’s take a quick look at 10 of the best all-wheel drive sports cars on the market.
Photo Credit: Subaru
1) 2016 Subaru WRX STI
The 2016 Subaru WRX STI was redesigned just last year to present sports car fans with a stiffer chassis, more aggressive suspension tuning, and a fresh torque vectoring system. The result is the most focused version of the Subaru WRX STI to have ever been offered in America, despite the fact that it maintains the same drivetrain as it did the year before, and the updates still help the car feel fresh. The Subaru sedan’s 2.5-liter, turbocharged four-cylinder generates a respectable 305 horsepower and 290 lb-ft of torque, and managed by the car’s standard six-speed manual transmission, it’s enough to launch the AWD WRX STI to 60 mph in less than five seconds.
Photo Credit: BMW Media
2) 2016 BMW 435i xDrive
The 2016 BMW 435i xDrive walks the line between luxury coupe and sports car, but with a willing turbocharged six-cylinder engine under the hood and a platform that still remembers how to tango in the corners, you can’t count the 4 Series out. The secret to the success of the BMW 435i xDrive is its 3.0-liter turbo straight-six, a long-serving mill that is rated at 300 horses and 300 lb-ft of torque. A six-speed manual transmission is the best way to sample the BMW’s charms, although an eight-speed autobox is also available.
3) 2015 Audi RS 5
The 2015 Audi RS 5 is a ferocious all-wheel drive sports car that provides four passenger accommodations just in case you want to take your family with you on a hot lap or two. Based on the same bones as the still-potent S5 coupe, the Audi RS 5 ups the ante by installing a 450-horsepower, 4.2-liter V-8 engine under the hood. Also capable of generating 317 lb-ft of torque, this motor allows the RS 5 to reach 60 mph in 4.3 seconds. A seven-speed dual-clutch automated manual is the only transmission choice available with the Audi. It’s available in coupe and cabriolet body styles, but as there's no 2016 edition of the RS 5 on the menu, interested buyers should get 'em while they last.
4) 2015 Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution
Caveat: Yes, the popular Evolution version of the Mitsubishi Lancer has been discontinued for 2016, but it remains a sought-after gem. Like the WRX STI, the Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution can count on a rally car heritage as the roots of its blistering tarmac performance, even though 2015 marks its final year of production. Built around a sophisticated AWD system that features a computer-controlled center differential, the Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution is equipped with a turbocharged, 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine. In stock trim this unit pushes out 291 horsepower and 300 lb-ft of torque, and buyers can decide whether they want to shift the gears themselves via a five-speed manual transmission (GSR trim), or step up to the six-speed automated manual provided by the Lancer Evolution MR. Either way, 60 mph arrives from a standing start in roughly five seconds.
Photo Credit: Benjamin Hunting
5) 2015 Ferrari FF
Even as the release date for the revamped 2016 Ferrari FF draws near, details are scarce, so we'll focus on the still-available 2015 version. The Ferrari FF is notable not only for being the first AWD vehicle produced by the Maranello-based automaker, but also due to its status as the only factory-built Ferrari wagon. Some might call it a hatchback, but the four-seat 2015 FF has a distinctly family-oriented feel – at least, until you turn the key on its 6.3-liter, 12-cylinder engine. At that point, 651 horsepower and 504 lb-ft of torque wake up the neighbors and facilitate a sprint to 60 mph in just 3.7 seconds. From a transmission perspective, the Ferrari is a bit complicated: its all-wheel drive system is in play until fourth gear, after which the automatic box disengages the front wheels and sends power exclusively to the rear until the top, and seventh, cog is reached.
6) 2016 Lamborghini Aventador
The 2016 Lamborghini Aventador tops out at 217 miles per hour. Once you’ve absorbed that detail, it’s time to move on to the fact that the AWD Lamborghini Aventador’s massive 6.5-liter V-12 thunders out 691 horsepower and 509 lb-ft of torque, figures that are impressive enough to combine with its lightweight design and help it achieve 60 mph in 2.9 seconds. That’s less time than it took you to read the previous two sentences. A seven-speed automated manual gearbox comes with every version of the Aventador, which is offered in coupe and only slightly-less-quick cabriolet editions.
7) 2016 Nissan GT-R
Want Lambo-like performance, but can’t scrounge together the nearly half-million dollars or so that it takes to park an Aventador in your driveway? Enter the 2016 Nissan GT-R, a high tech marvel that is nearly as fast as its Italian rivals at roughly a fifth of the price. The Nissan GT-R’s trick AWD system is a big part of its ability to break the three-second barrier on the way to 60 mph, but one also has to consider the efforts of its twin-turbocharged, 3.8-liter V-6. With a full-throttle exhaust note that makes the coupe sound like it is traveling through time, along with 545 horsepower and 463 lb-ft of torque, the GT-R is a sight to behold as it runs through its dual-clutch automatic transmission’s six forward gears. Look for the GT-R NISMO edition, which achieves 600 horsepower along with further refined suspension and aerodynamics.
8) 2016 Audi TTS
The redesigned 2016 Audi TTS provides AWD coupe enthusiasts with a fun-to-drive option. The Audi TTS is a stylish compact sports car that adds a tighter suspension setup and a hotter engine to the already-appealing TT package. The 2.0-liter, turbocharged four-cylinder engine offered by the Audi provides 292 horsepower and 280 lb-ft of torque, which are substantial improvements over the same engine's specs in last year's model. A six-speed dual-clutch automated manual is the only transmission found on the Audi’s options sheet.
Photo Credit: Porsche
9) 2016 Porsche 911 Turbo S
The 2016 Porsche 911 Turbo S is an absolute monster of a car, one of the scariest yet civilized sports models on the road today. The Porsche 911 Turbo S is scary because of its formidable 560-horsepower, 3.8-liter twin-turbocharged six-cylinder engine (which also maxes out at 553 lb-ft of torque with overboost), but civilized due to its gentlemanly around-town demeanor and kid-friendly rear seats. Put the hammer down, however, and the veneer of respectability melts away with the all-wheel drive, seven-speed dual-clutch automated manual Turbo S hitting 60 mph in 2.9 seconds.
Photo Credit: Volkswagen of America
10) 2016 Volkswagen Golf R
The 2016 Volkswagen Golf R takes what everyone already likes about the Golf TDI – compact proportions, well-tuned suspension, turbo power – and adds a standard AWD system. More power is in the mix, too, with the Volkswagen Golf R’s 2.0-liter, four-cylinder turbocharged motor grinding out 290 horses and 280 lb-ft of torque managed by either a six-speed manual or a six-speed dual-clutch automated manual transmission.