There comes a time in many a driver’s life when the need for a practical, four-door automobile trumps the desire for a sleek sports coupe. That being said, the current crop of high performance sedans offers a number of go-fast options that don’t sacrifice daily utility in the pursuit of thrills. In fact, many of today’s best sports sedans trump the dedicated sports cars of ten years ago in terms of acceleration and handling, while coming out way ahead when it comes to comfort and features. It also seems as though there are super sedans out there in every category of the market, ranging from compact rally stars all the way up to plush luxury cruisers.
Let’s take a look at five high performance sedans that won’t leave you pining for a more traditional sports car when the road gets twisty.
The 2011 Ford Taurus SHO seems to defy convention, a full-size domestic sedan that manages to deliver both solid fuel economy and impressive performance without leaving behind any of the features that have made the standard Taurus such a popular family car. The Ford Taurus SHO is built around a 3.5-liter, twin-turbo EcoBoost V-6 engine that churns out 365 horsepower and 350 lb-ft of torque, sent to all four wheels through a six-speed automatic transmission that offers manual shift control. A stiff sport suspension system helps to keep the SHO under control through the corners, and the sedan’s prodigious power sees it hitting 60 miles per hour from a standing start in just 5.2 seconds.
The 2011 Jaguar XF is a beautifully-styled example of British engineering that coddles drivers in the lap of Jaguar’s traditionally opulent luxury features and equipment even while it threatens to tear their faces off with its relentless power and buttoned-down cornering capability. The Jaguar offers three V-8 engine options: a 300 horsepower, 4.2-liter unit, a 385 horsepower, 5.0-liter motor and a supercharged edition of the 5.0-liter that provides 470 horses and 424 lb-ft of torque. Rear-wheel drive, the Jaguar XF with the supercharged mill leaps to 60 miles per hour in 4.9 seconds and offers drivers the chance to bang through the gears of its six-speed automatic transmission themselves using steering wheel-mounted shift paddles.
The 2011 Chrysler 300C has been significantly redesigned for the current model year, and it now offers its unique mixture of premium features and excellent power in the context of a modernized platform. Although not intended to carve through canyons, the Chrysler 300C makes up for its heft by virtue of its 5.7-liter HEMI V-8. 363 horsepower come alive under the hood of the 300C, and the HEMI also offers up more than 390 lb-ft of twist. Currently, the 300C is matched with a five-speed automatic transmission, but an eight-speed auto unit has been tapped to take over later this year. Owners of the full-size Chrysler can expect to zoom past the 60 mile per hour mark in 5.4 seconds when launching from a standing start.
The 2011 Audi S4 provides a balance between European luxury and the road-hugging performance of an all-wheel drive super sedan thanks to its carefully-tuned suspension system and a supercharged, 3.0-liter V-6 engine that quickens the pulse thanks to 333 horsepower and 325 lb-ft of torque. Audi might have dialed back the rawness of the S4, but the end result is a much more palatable daily driver that doesn’t take a backseat to any of the competitors in its class when it comes to fun and adrenaline-inducing performance. A six-speed manual transmission comes standard with the car, as does a torque bias that sends 60 percent of the S4’s engine output to the rear wheels. A seven-speed, dual-clutch automatic transmission can also be ordered with the Audi, and the sedan’s zero to 60-mph time clocks in at 4.9 seconds.
For those who are willing to step outside of the premium fold and access a different type of high performance sedan that trades comfort for on-the-edge handling, the 2011 Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution is the perfect ride. The Evolution’s road manners are certainly more brutal than any other car on this list, but the four-door compact car is also smaller and more nimble than many of its competitors. Its advanced all-wheel drive system is fed by a turbocharged, 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine that develops 291 horsepower and 300 lb-ft of torque, and drivers of the technology-laden Mitsubishi can choose between either a five-speed manual transmission or a six-speed dual-clutch automatic. The Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution matches the Audi S4’s 0-60 time of 4.9 seconds.