2018 Lamborghini Huracan Performante front three quarter hero green ・ Photo by Lamborghini
There are many advantages for vehicles that come with all-wheel drive, but normally being light in weight isn’t one of them, as all-wheel-drive systems require more components than two-wheel drive layouts. That’s unfortunate, as there are some obvious benefits of reduced weight including quicker acceleration, better handling, and improved fuel economy.
Thankfully there are some relatively lightweight all-wheel-drive models out there, and to help narrow down the field, we have created a list of the 10 lightest cars with all-wheel-drive. Whether you’re looking for something economical, something practical, or something sporty, we’ve got you covered in the next few pages with the ten models arranged in order of their curb weights from highest to lowest.
The mid-size 2018 Subaru Legacy is the largest and heaviest car on our list, weighing in at 3,514 pounds in its most basic 2.5i configuration. Power comes from a 175-horsepower 2.5-liter boxer four-cylinder engine backed by a continuously variable transmission, and while performance isn’t exactly sporty with a 0 to 60 mile per hour run that takes almost 9 seconds, the Legacy boasts top-notch safety credentials and fuel economy is very good with a combined rating of 29 miles per gallon (that’s the second best on our list, despite the Legacy’s extra size and weight.) If you’re looking for a lightweight all-wheel-drive family car, the Legacy is a great place to start your search.
Photo by Subaru
Though the compact 2018 Ford Focus RS is one of the heaviest cars on our list with a curb weight of 3,460 pounds, its 350-horsepower turbocharged 2.3-liter four-cylinder engine (mated exclusively with a six-speed manual transmission) is more than up to the task of getting it moving. Top speed is 165 miles per hour and 60 mph arrives in less than five seconds, making it the fastest of the mainstream hot hatches. Unfortunately, that emphasis on performance results in fairly dismal fuel economy with a combined rating of only 22 miles per gallon, but that’s unlikely to put off most prospective buyers. And if you are a prospective buyer then act fast - this is the last year for the Focus RS.
Photo by Ford
The compact and stylish 2018 Mercedes-Benz CLA 250 4MATIC Coupe (as coupe-ish as anything with four doors can be at least,) is the next vehicle on our list coming in with a curb weight of 3,395 pounds. Under the hood is a 208-horsepower turbocharged four-cylinder engine backed by a seven-speed dual clutch automatic transmission, a combination that’s good for a 6.8-second sprint to 60 miles per hour and a reasonable 27 miles per gallon in the combined cycle. The CLA is fun to drive, and though the ride can get a bit firm many will welcome the trade-off for the car’s sporty handling.
Photo by Mercedes-Benz
Thanks to the extensive use of lightweight materials the BMW i8 has a curb weight of only 3,384 pounds and manages to make our list of the 10 Lightest Cars with All-Wheel Drive, even with the extra mass of its plug-in hybrid system. Updated for 2019, the BMW i8 features some exterior tweaks, a newly available roadster model (though it is around 130 pounds heavier) and an updated drivetrain with a larger battery that increases the electric-only range to 18 miles. The extra battery size also allows the electric motor in the front axle to produce 141 horsepower (up 12 from last year) while the mid-mounted turbocharged three-cylinder still makes 228 horsepower for a combined total of 369 horses.
Photo by BMW
With a curb weight of 3,362 pounds, the compact 2018 Audi A3 Sedan TFSI Quattro takes sixth place on our list of the 10 Lightest Cars with All-Wheel Drive thanks partially to the use of aluminum for items such as the hood and front subframe. Propulsion comes from a 220-horsepower turbocharged four-cylinder engine paired with a six-speed dual-clutch automatic which work together get the A3 to 60 miles per hour in 5.8 seconds while using a reasonable 27 miles per gallon in the combined cycle. An all-wheel-drive A3 Cabriolet is also available, as are high-performance S3 and RS 3 versions, though they are all considerably heavier than the base A3.
Photo by Audi
Lamborghini lists the curb weight of the 2018 Huracan Performante as 3,047 pounds, but unlike most other manufacturers Lamborghini lists the dry curb weight, which is the weight of the car without any fluids, and we estimate that the car would weigh around 3,300 pounds wet. Still, that’s pretty light, and with a mid-mounted 640-horsepower normally-aspirated V10 backed by a seven-speed dual-clutch transmission it’s good for a 0 to 60 mile per hour time under three seconds, and a top speed of more than 201 mph. As you’d expect, fuel economy is atrocious but If you’ve got the money to spend the Huracan is by far the quickest car on our list of the ten lightest cars with all-wheel drive.
Photo by Lamborghini
The compact 2018 Volkswagen Golf R is the lightest of the all-wheel drive hot hatchbacks with a curb weight of just 3,300 pounds (with the six-speed manual transmission version, the seven-speed dual-clutch auto version is slightly heavier at 3,373 pounds.) Combine that relatively low weight with an eager 292-horsepower turbocharged four-cylinder engine, and you end up with a 0 to 60 mile per hour time of just under five seconds and a combined fuel economy rating of 24 miles per gallon (or 25 mpg with the auto.) The all-wheel-drive system means that there’s an enormous amount of grip, and handling is as good as you’d expect from a high-performance Golf (or maybe even better.)
Photo by Volkswagen
Yes, another Volkswagen Golf is on our list, but this one is completely different in character. Despite having a curb weight of only 3,199 pounds (for the base S trim with a six-speed manual transmission) the 2018 Volkswagen Golf SportWagen is a practical compact station wagon with 30.4 cubic feet of cargo volume (or 66.5 cubic feet with the rear seats down.) The turbocharged four-cylinder engine produces 170 horsepower which can get the SportWagen to 60 miles per hour in around seven seconds, and averages 26 miles per gallon in the combined cycle. If you want something a bit tougher the Alltrack is essentially a slightly more rugged version of the SportWagen, though it’s also 200 pounds heavier.
Photo by Volkswagen
With a curb weight of just 3,164 pounds, the 2018 Audi TT Coupe is a relatively lightweight all-wheel-drive sports car. The turbocharged four-cylinder engine pumps out 220 horsepower which is sent to all four wheels via a six-speed dual-clutch transmission. The TT is plenty quick and fun to drive, with the sprint to 60 miles per hour taking only 5.3 seconds, and it’s also reasonably efficient for a sports car with a combined fuel economy rating of 26 miles per gallon. A convertible and higher performance TTS and TT RS versions are offered, though unfortunately, they are all markedly heavier. If a non-exotic lightweight all-wheel-drive sports car sounds good to you then the TT is worth a look.
Photo by Audi
The lightest car on our list is the 2018 Subaru Impreza 2.0i Sedan with a curb weight of 2,974 pounds (when equipped with the five-speed manual transmission, cars with the continuously variable transmission are heavier.) The normally-aspirated four-cylinder produces 152 horsepower and can get the Impreza to 60 miles per hour in around nine seconds. Not surprisingly It’s also quite efficient, with a combined fuel economy rating of 27 miles per gallon (again with the manual, the CVT is rated at an even more impressive 32 mpg.) The 5-door models are slightly heavier than the Sedan, and the higher performance WRX and WRX STI models are even heavier still.
Photo by Subaru