In this great nation, if you’re motivated, goal-oriented and a bit lucky, perhaps you’ve reached a point in life where you have a lot of things worked out. Solid job, stable relationship — you might even own a home. So a couple years ago you sprang for that sports car or sexy convertible you always wanted — why not, right? Well, what if talks about the future and family start cropping up?
The (Mature) Need for Speed
Take it from us — once conversations about starting a family begin, you’ll soon realize that 2-seaters and rally-inspired shoeboxes of youth might not be the most practical modes of transport anymore. However, it’s not all bad news. There are plenty of options for those driven parents (or potential parents) who feel the need to put the hammer down now and again — safely, of course. What follows are some of the fastest, most powerful and sportiest options in the midsize sedan market right now.
Alas, 2017 is slated to be the last production year for the Chevrolet SS, but the world’s loss can be your gain as prices drop to “I shouldn’t . . . but maybe I should” levels. With a 415-horsepower LS3 V8 engine, a no-cost optional 6-speed manual transmission, and rear-wheel drive with GM’s Magnetic Ride Control, the SS is a machine out of time — a true muscle car. When it’s not just plain screaming, this thing screams “You’ll never have an opportunity like this again.”
BMW M6 Gran Coupe
Don’t lie: The second you found out you had a baby coming you popped online to check M5 prices. Didn’t find the new M5, did you? That’s because — at least for now — the M6 Gran Coupe occupies the M5 slot in BMW’s lineup. Don’t despair, though, because the M6 Gran Coupe brings the numbers: its 4.4-liter M TwinPower Turbo V8 packs 560 horsepower and 500 lb-ft of torque, helping the car peg 60 mph in 4.3 seconds (4.1 if you have the automatic, but come on — there’s a 6-speed manual transmission available, and you’re getting it).
Of the Euro midsize performance luxury sedans, Audi’s S6 is the most understated in appearance. Don’t let its restraint lull you into thinking the S6 is in any way boring; Quattro all-wheel drive lets you max the fun factor with a 450-horsepower turbocharged 4.0-liter V8 year-round. And with a wide powerband for its 406 lb-ft of torque, you’ll be having a lot of fun.
A lot attention gets paid to the most absurdly overpowered models from Mercedes-Benz’s AMG performance brand, making it easy to overlook a great middle-ground model such as the E43 AMG. But get over its muscular siblings and you’ll note that the E43 AMG still has a 396-horsepower biturbo 3.0-liter V6 engine, 4MATIC all-wheel drive, AMG performance brakes, and 4.5-second zero to 60 mph capability — it is by no definition “soft.” That said, if you need more, there’s always the 577-horsepower 590 lb-ft AMG E63 S wagon.
A classic “sleeper,” the 189-horsepower 2.4-liter inline 4-cylinder engine of the Accord Sport may not be overwhelming, but the available 6-speed manual transmission makes a world of difference versus the CVT. Somehow, the Sport is fun to drive. If you’re the “no replacement for displacement” type, the Accord EX-L V6 adds a 3.5-liter engine good for 278 horsepower and 252 lb-ft of torque, more robust stabilizer bars, and slightly tighter steering. Although there is no manual transmission option, you’ll get a 6-speed automatic instead of the CVT.
The KODO : Soul of Motion design era of Mazda vehicles has been all about punching up. The Mazda6 may be the best example of this, offering stylish design inside and out, a well-thought interior and engaging driving dynamics. And those dynamics are the story here — the SKYACTIV 2.5-liter engine rates at 184 horsepower and 185 lb-ft of torque. Not exactly world-shaking figures, but when combined with the available 6-speed manual transmission, there’s plenty of fun to be had in the 6.
The Chevrolet SS may be on its way out, but modern American muscle is far from dead. The Cadillac CTS-V lives on, shaking the earth with 640 horsepower and 630 lb-ft of torque from its supercharged 6.2-liter V8 engine. The CTS-V is meant to be enjoyed as much on the track as in the neighborhood; with a 3.7-second zero-to-60-mph time and 200-mph top speed, you’ll need a track to take advantage of everything this car can do.
Ford Fusion Sport
Ford’s Fusion Sport tends to get lost in the shadow of the recently revived Taurus SHO, but it’s worth a serious look. The Fusion Sport takes the standard Fusion up a notch or two with the 2.7-liter EcoBoost V6 engine normally found in the F-150 pickup truck. In the Fusion Sport, the EcoBoost V6 produces 325 horsepower and 380 lb-ft of torque. Throw in all-wheel drive and Ford’s continuously controlled damping system and you have a solid sleeper sedan.
The XF midsize sedan offers all the luxury and performance expected from Jaguar. A supercharged 3.0-liter V6 engine produces 340 horsepower and 332 lb-ft of torque — enough to propel the elegant XF from zero to 60 mph in 5.2 seconds. For those who are looking for a little more, the XF S bumps the horsepower to 390 while adding Jaguar’s Adaptive Dynamics system and 20-inch wheels. A nice touch is Jaguar offering the XF with either rear- or all-wheel drive.
Kia Optima SX
Kia’s star is on the rise in the United States, due in large part to the popularity of the Optima sedan. Well-equipped at all trim levels and reasonably priced, the Optima’s only knock may be its lack of grunt. The SX takes the Optima a turbocharged step in the right direction: its 2.0-liter inline 4-cylinder engine provides 245 horsepower and 260 lb-ft of torque. A sport-tuned suspension and 18-inch wheels help the Optima SX handle its extra power.
Lexus GS F
The styling on this era of Lexus GS may be love it or hate it (especially with the extra-aggro F-Sport trim), but the GS F delivers where it counts. A 467-horsepower 5.0-liter V8 engine, rear-wheel drive with torque vectoring, a 4.5-second zero-to-60 mph time, F-Adaptive variable suspension, and available 4-wheel Brembo brakes justify the GS F’s angry face — save the smile for yourself.
Some kudos should go to Acura for keeping things simple when it comes to choosing a TLX. Rather than having a litany of trim levels that save the big engine for the top tier, Acura lets you decide whether you’d like its 2.4-liter inline four cylinder or the 3.5-liter V6 — and the latter is what we’re interested in here. At 290 horsepower with Acura’s Super Handling All-Wheel Drive system and various packages available, the TLX doesn’t make you jump through hoops to have a good time.
Alfa Romeo Giulia Quadrifoglio
Alfa Romeo’s Giulia Quadrifoglio is a shot across the bow of the German performance sedans, neighborhood noise ordinances and reason itself. The 505-horsepower 2.9-liter V6 engine is basically a Ferrari V8 with a couple of cylinders lopped off, and it packs the unholy racket to prove it. Don’t look for concessions here: rear-wheel drive, an active aerodynamic front splitter, a carbon fiber hood and roof, and active suspension make this one hardcore sedan. The Giulia Quadrifoglio is the new hotness.
The new Volvo S90 would make this list based on looks alone; it’s really, really ridiculously good-looking. The S90 is more than just a pretty face. The base T5 trims sport a turbocharged 2.0-liter inline 4-cylinder turbocharged engine with a more-than-respectable 250 horsepower and 258 lb-ft of torque. Stepping up to the all-wheel drive T6 variants adds a supercharger to the 2.0 liter, giving it two forms of forced induction and bumping the figures to 316 horsepower and 295 lb-ft of torque.
The Infiniti Q70 is one of those cars you might never think about but find yourself always noticing on the highway. Underneath its stylish exterior is either a 3.7-liter V6 engine or an available 5.6-liter V8, with the V8 rated at 420 horsepower and 417 lb-ft of torque. Rear-wheel drive is standard, with all-wheel drive optional. A Performance Package adds bigger brakes and wheels all around.
The Ghibli is reestablishing Maserati in the United States with a combination of comfort and elegance in the interior and Italian snarl under the hood. That gorgeous Ghibli sound comes from its Ferrari-built twin-turbocharged 3.0-liter V6 engine, available either with 345 horsepower and 369 lb-ft of torque or 404 horsepower and 406 lb-ft. Either way, if you’ve heard it you love it already, and if you haven’t keep an ear out — it’s a sound you won’t soon forget.