As priorities change and life takes its own divergent route, so too does the consumer’s need for a small, agile vehicle. The emergence of family and friends, and the lust for a more palpable driving experience, causes a vast majority of the population to turn away from their two-door upbringing — looking instead toward the roomy, secure, and dependable realm of the sedan. But where the quintessentially-quick coupe offered an immaculate, responsive driving experience, most sedans harbor the unsavory downfalls of a regular vehicle, including weight, boat-like handling, and poor fuel economy. This can serve as an unattractive trait to the prospective buyer — especially those who are making the transition from a powerful, nimble coupe into the realm of the larger platform. So, amidst dwindling sedan sales and the consumer outcry for more exhilarating options, the world’s leading manufacturers went back to the drawing board.
In the past few decades, the sedan has remained relatively stagnant — offering class-leading dependability in light of a more “tame” driving experience, overall. But the question of performance inevitably arose: why can’t a sedan possess all of the same horsepower, precision, and quality of its popular two-door counterpart? With the question of identity arising more frequently than ever before, manufacturers shifted their focus toward the creation of a luxurious four-door that could still burn up the blacktop at a moment’s notice — thus, the sport sedan was born. Utilizing the industry’s latest technologies, engine variants, and aerodynamic styling, the sedan began its transition into the realm of the high-performance vehicle — eventually becoming just as, if not more, powerful than its counterpart. Below, we’ll outline the best sport-oriented, performance sedans that you can find on the lot, right now — giving you everything you need to know about the class-leading variants that have made the family-oriented vehicle fun again. So buckle up, shift into gear, and let’s dive headfirst into our picks.
Alfa Romeo Giulia
Alfa Romeo has a name that’s about as recognizable as a finely-crafted Rolex watch, and if we’re comparing the two, the brand’s Giulia might just be the perfect parallel to make. This Italian 2.0-liter packs an astonishing wallop with its 280 horsepower, turbocharged engine, giving the sedan a healthy 5.7-second 0-60, as well as lively handling through tightly-wound corners, straights, and hill climbs. The Giulia is, perhaps, one of the most nimble luxury sport sedans on the market today, and for every different type of driver, the platform delivers an unrelenting experience that blends the brand’s luxurious image with the sporty spirit of smaller offerings.
The Audi S4 is a well-rounded sedan that carries the manufacturer’s aspirational modern-day design on its back, boasting a turbocharged 3.0-liter, 354 horsepower V6 engine, and a slew of high-quality peripherals that give it an iconic German style. To bring the tried-and-true sedan in line with the brand’s newly revised models, an updated version of the S4 was released in 2015, dressing the company’s newly-released B9 powertrain in an angular facade — giving it an adversarial presence on the roadway, while deviating from the typically curvaceous Audi formula. To meet the vehicle’s heightened performance standards, multi-piston calipers, quad tailpipes, and an adapted HSI (Hot Side In) engine layout mirror that of the brand’s top performing vehicles, the S6 and S7, for even greater gumption.
BMW M6 Gran Coupe
BMW’s M6 might have begun its reign as one of the company’s top performing coupes, but, following an industry-wide expansion into the realm of the sporty 4-door sedan, the German company sought to solidify its standing with a rambunctious new variant. Thus, the M6 Gran Coupe was born — a 560-horsepower twin-turbo powerhouse that utilizes the same luxurious sheet metal as its smaller variant, but with a widened wheelbase to accommodate additional seats and doors. The 4.4-liter V8 is as monstrous as they come, offering drivers a stupendous 3.7-second 0-60 and exceptional dynamic behaviors thanks to the car’s well-tuned suspension, optional ceramic brakes, and sculpted aerodynamic exterior.
The Cadillac CTS-V was already royalty among many of the United States’ luxury sedans, boasting a well-known chassis what would eventually become one of the most powerful vehicles released in the past decade. On the heels of its predecessor, Cadillac’s decision to admit the CTS-V-Sport into the fray has surely proven the Detroit-based company’s dominance even further. Borrowing the famed LT4 V8 engine from Chevrolet’s powerhouse sports car, the Corvette Z06, this large, barreling behemoth sports an ostentatious 640 horsepower (and 640 lb-ft of torque), making it one of the most powerful sedans on the roadway. While the original CTS-V is near-undrivable on the traditional American blacktop due to its over-the-top power, the V-Sport brings everything into the realm of the manageable, providing all of the positive attributes of its successor, without all of the excessive numbers. To complement the Sport’s powerplant, a finely-tuned chassis and Aisin transmission keep everything in order.
The Dodge Charger has a long-running history as one of America’s top-performing muscle cars, and in today’s market, it’s one of the only remaining platforms to still pay homage to its roots. The car’s R/T variant is perhaps the best value you can find when it comes to a powerful, pony-pounding sedan, bringing an unhinged 370-hp, 5.7-liter V8 into the mix, alongside an eight-speed automatic transmission and standard rear-wheel drive. If you’re looking for a car that can hold its own on the track, while also being able to taxi around family and friends on the weekend, you’ll be hard pressed to find a car that does it like the Charger — especially when you’re in the market for aggressive styling, an over-designed interior, and a gigantic Hemi under the hood.
The Genesis G70 is a car that’s received such high praise from the automotive industry, it would be blasphemous to not include it in our guide. While it’s not as sporty (looking) as the rest, it won’t let you down if you’re looking for a fun, exhilarating platform that’s been outfitted with the industry’s latest intuitive luxury additions. The car’s beefy V6 twin-turbo produces 365 horsepower and 376 lb-ft of torque, giving sport-oriented drivers all of the performance they’ve been looking for in a large luxury sedan, while the implementation of Genesis’ eight-speed automatic transmission ensures an immersive experience that lets you focus on driving, while the car’s computer handles the rest. If you’re looking for more of a purist approach, the G70 also comes in a 252 horsepower, 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder, which is the only option to boast a manual transmission. While it’s not as powerful as its V6 counterpart, the inclusion of a tactile shifting experience might just be what you’re looking for in a sport-oriented sedan.
Honda Civic Si
Honda’s “boy racer” platforms have always gotten a bad rap — but, if you ask us, the iconic Japanese manufacturer has placed a well-informed focus on the revitalization of its cars over the past decade. While the Civic Si still boasts a number of abnormal, Honda-esque styling options, the 205-horsepower, turbocharged four-cylinder more than makes up for it — offering drivers a fun, light, and affordable option for everyday commuting. Honda stays true to the purist mindset with these vehicles, offering a manual-only experience that can’t be beaten, alongside the Si’s reliable, well-built chassis and unquestionable value. Sure, the car might seem like it’s on the low end of the spectrum, horsepower-wise, but at a curb weight of only 2,890-pounds, you’ll be hard pressed to find a more agile sedan. Re-tuned steering capabilities, adaptive damping, and a stiff suspension all lend themselves well to the overall performance capabilities of Honda’s latest offering, giving drivers an exemplary experience in a compact, reliable, and affordable package.
Lexus ES 350 F Sport
Lexus has long been a manufacturer that knows how to design great looking cars, and with the in-house tuning performance to match, some of their offerings have become the go-to choice for enthusiasts who are looking for a hint of style and grace. The ES 350 F Sport is one such offering, bringing a roomy, comfortable, and powerful addition to the manufacturer’s extensive catalog. Precise steering, handling, and chassis control are the names of the game when it comes to the ES 350 F Sport, which boasts a naturally aspirated, 3.5-liter V-6 that can produce upward of 302 horsepower and 267 lb-ft of torque. Thanks to the vehicle’s well-built eight-speed automatic transmission, the sedan can rocket from 0-60 in under seven seconds (6.6, to be exact). That, alongside the implementation of paddle shifters on the wheel, should be able to give you the exhilarating driving experience you’ve need — at least when it comes to a formidable four-door sedan that can also carry family and friends on the weekends.
Mazda 6 Sport
Mazda’s midrange offerings are a drop in the bucket when it comes to the brand’s extensive catalog, but the 2019 Mazda6 Sport sets itself apart with sporty new styling, additional engine performance, and a reevaluated interior. Aside from having industry-leading technologies, the Sport boasts an affordable price of entry, making it an agreeable option that still fulfills niche areas like power, performance, and handling with ease. The vehicle’s 2.5-liter, four-cylinder engine is capable of a modest 187-227 horsepower (depending on the package) — and while that output may pale in comparison to the other platforms on this list, the Sport’s 26/35 mpg capacity and attractive handling more than compensate for its lack of power.
Mercedes-Benz AMG E-Class
It might seem a little unfair to put Mercedes’ AMG E-Class on our list of best sport sedans — after all, the 603-horsepower monstrosity boasts performance capabilities that are on par with many of the market’s top supercars — but we’ll leave our bias at the door. That being said, the E-Class (and the E63 S 4Matic, in particular) is a force to be reckoned with while looking into upper-echelon four-doors. Superb handling, above-average suspension qualities, and an agile power relay come courtesy of the AMG’s impeccably built ECU, while a twin-turbo 4.0-liter V8 provide all of the blistering speed, power, and acceleration you could ever want from an all-wheel-drive vehicle — especially true when swapping between the car’s Sport, Sport+, and Race modes. For the rear-wheel-drive aficionados out there, you’ll be happy to hear that Mercedes-Benz hasn’t forgotten about their niche consumers — there’s even a “Drift” mode that transitions the car from a grippy all-wheel-drive commuter into a slide-ready variant.
As with every iteration of Subaru’s flagship sports car, the WRX still retains all of the brash refinements (or lack thereof) associated with its predecessor, boasting an insanely fun all-wheel-drive platform that’s lacking in the aesthetics department. Regardless of the car’s debatable interior and its subjectively drab exterior, the WRX’s design terminology pulls heavily from its rally roots — something that most buyers will find attractive from the get-go. Fans of the all-wheel-drive car won’t be let down by its gutsy 268-hp turbocharged 2.0-liter flat-four engine and six-speed manual transmission, both of which lend themselves to endless hours of exhilarating fun on the windiest roads around. A firm suspension system and great handling capabilities pair well with the WRX’s best-in-class acceleration from 0-60, which clocks in at just under 5.5-seconds — truly admirable for an all-wheel-drive, 4-door platform.
Tesla Model S
Tesla’s Model S is truly a game changer when it comes to the sedan market, boasting a veritable slew of high-performance technologies and the looks to match. On top of the vehicle’s class-leading all-electric drivetrain, gratuitous range, and undeniable handling, the inclusion of semi-autonomous and remote-control driving features are truly revolutionary, giving drivers who are willing to spend the cash one of the most intriguing vehicles on the road today. As with most electric vehicles, the Model S doesn’t suffer from the downfalls of the traditional drivetrain, bringing an insanely responsive, 2.4-second 0-60 and 155 mph top speed to the forefront of the sedan world. Breakneck speeds and a 285-mile range aren’t the only things that make this car the most interesting on our list of top sport sedans, but they’re surely a deciding factor for those who want a “little bit more” from their everyday driver.
12 Best Cars For Winter
Now that you’ve seen the best sedan offerings for the current segment, head over to our guide on the best cars for winter to see a dozen weather-ready four-door offerings aimed to combat the toughest season of the year.