There's a difference between a fast car and a quick car. It's not the most objective of assessments - after all, someone who's used to the most powerful exotics could consider a more common model like a Mustang GT to be outside the realm of “fast” - but in general, a quick car is one that has a bit more pep than the average commuter without crossover over into the sport category. Quick cars can be a lot of fun to drive, and most of them aren't that expensive when compared against true sports cars and sport sedans. Let's take a look at 10 quick cars that might surprise you with their performance.
1) 2015 Chevrolet Sonic RS
The 2015 Chevrolet Sonic RS is the sportiest version of the subcompact car, but the Bowtie didn’t add any extra power to this special edition hatchback. Instead, the Chevrolet Sonic RS gains rear disc brakes, a more aggressive body kit, a stiffer suspension system, and top-drawer standard equipment. Under the hood, the RS comes with the Sonic's optional 1.4-liter, turbocharged four-cylinder engine, which offers 138 horsepower and 148 lb-ft of torque. Matched with the RS model's closer-ratio six-speed manual transmission, the little turbo mill can send the RS to 60 mph in a spirited eight seconds - not bad for a car in the $20,000 range.
2) 2015 Audi TT
The 2015 Audi TT might seem like an unusual choice to follow the Sonic RS, given their vastly different places in the automotive universe. Still, for all of its dramatic styling, the base Audi TT is much more of a quick car than a fast car, leaving most of the high-speed shenanigans to its TT RS cousin. The entry-level Audi TT boasts a 211-horsepower, turbocharged four-cylinder engine that displaces 2.0 liters. Also capable of generating 258 lb-ft of torque, all-wheel drive and a six-speed, dual-clutch automated manual transmission help the TT reach 60 mph from a standing start in 6.3 seconds - quick enough to be fun, but still in the shadow of several of its Teutonic competitors.
3) 2016 Mazda Mazda6
The 2016 Mazda Mazda6 is the brand's mid-size family sedan, although the car maintains the same sporty DNA that can be found in more traditional performance offerings like the Miata. This means that the Mazda Mazda6 has some handling chops to go with its quickness. A 2.5-liter, four-cylinder engine is standard with the four-door automobile, and it produces 184 horsepower and 185 lb-ft of torque managed by either a six-speed manual or a six-speed automatic transmission. A relatively lightweight design ensures a sprint to 60 mph in just 7.5 seconds, which only ten years ago would have been considered sports car territory.
4) 2015 Hyundai Veloster Turbo
The 2015 Hyundai Veloster Turbo certainly looks the part of the hot hatch, especially when ordered with its optional matte gray paint scheme. Performance-wise, however, the Hyundai Veloster Turbo is better termed a quick car, albeit one that is fun to hustle through the corners as long as the driver is judicious with the management of its six-speed manual transmission. A 1.6-liter, turbocharged four-cylinder rests between the Hyundai's front fenders where it produces 201 horses and 195 lb-ft of torque.The pace to 60 mph with a hard launch in the Veloster Turbo is just a few ticks shy of the Mazda6, checking in at 7.7 seconds.
5) 2015 Subaru BRZ
The 2015 Subaru BRZ has been lauded by the automotive press as one of the most entertaining and affordable sports cars to come down the pipe in quite some time. Why, then, does it earn a spot on our list of quick cars? Simply put, the Subaru BRZ isn't all that fast, relying on its superb chassis, its low-mass design, and the willingness of its engine to explore the upper rev range in order to draw buyers in. The BRZ's 2.0-liter, horizontally-opposed four-cylinder engine is good for 200 horsepower but only 151 lb-ft of torque, which means that acceleration off of the line is not exactly blazing fast. The Subaru BRZ, when equipped with its six-speed manual transmission, can reach 60 mph in seven seconds.
6) 2015 Volkswagen Beetle R-Line 2.0T
The 2015 Volkswagen Beetle R-Line 2.0T isn’t necessarily the first car that comes to mind when thinking of quick VWs. While the GTI might dominate the public perception of VW's sporty offerings, this version of the Beetle - which shares a similar platform - is essentially just as much car, and a bit more under the radar. Outfitted with a 2.0-liter, turbocharged four-cylinder engine, the Beetle leaps off of the line with 210 horsepower and 207 lb-ft of torque. Buyers get the choice between either a six-speed manual or a six-speed, dual-clutch automated manual transmission, with the latter sending the coupe to 60 mph in about 6.5 seconds.
7) 2015 Fiat 500 Turbo
The 2015 FIAT 500 Turbo strikes a balance between the tortoise-like entry-level version of the subcompact hatchback and the more brutal - and incredibly loud - Abarth model. The Fiat 500 Turbo swaps in an appropriately-turbocharged version of its 1.4-liter, four-cylinder engine, giving it 135 horsepower and 150 lb-ft of torque (a significant upgrade from the base 500's 101 ponies and 98 lb-ft of twist). A five-speed manual handles the shifting duties for the 500 Turbo - no automatic available for this go-kart - and when pushed hard the Fiat can achieve a 0-60-mph time of eight seconds.
8) 2015 Kia Optima SX Turbo
The 2015 Kia Optima SX is another family car with a secret. The SX trim level of the Kia Optima gives mid-size sedan shoppers a more engaging ride through the introduction of a sport suspension system, 17-inch rims, and even steering wheel-mounted paddle shifters for its six-speed automatic transmission. In the engine bay, the Optima SX Turbo gains a 2.0-liter, turbocharged four-cylinder engine in place of its base four-banger, and with 274 horsepower and 269 lb-ft of torque on tap the Kia can be counted on to scoot all the way to 60 mph in a very respectable 6.5 seconds.
9) 2015 Mitsubishi Lancer Ralliart
The 2015 Mitsubishi Lancer Ralliart isn't the fastest version of the compact sedan - that honor goes to the Lancer Evolution. The Mitsubishi Lancer Ralliart is certainly quick, however, and it also comes with the bonus of an all-wheel drive system that helps the car find traction for the hole-shot. With the foot to the floor, the Ralliart summons all of the 237 turbocharged horsepower and 253 lb-ft of torque that its 2.0-liter, four-cylinder engine can produce, and its six-speed dual-clutch automated manual transmission helps the car attain 60 mph in 5.8 seconds. These numbers verge on “fast car” territory.
10) 2015 Chrysler 300
The 2015 Chrysler 300 is a full-size sedan that is anything but slothful in the performance department. The Chrysler 300 is available with the choice of either a V-6 or a V-8 engine, and in order to get the quickest acceleration out of the car it's mandatory to go with the Hemi eight-cylinder unit. The 300's 5.7-liter mill produces 363 horsepower and 394 lb-ft of torque - impressive numbers to be sure - and the 300 recently got updated with an eight-speed automatic transmission for faster acceleration and shifting.