For those fortunate souls considering the purchase of a high-performance car, it’s understood that in order to have hellacious horsepower you’ll be sacrificing much to the fuel gods. And in many cases this is true. Ultra-high-performance vehicles from Ferrari, Bugatti and Lamborghini are among the worst gas guzzlers worldwide. However, there are exceptions. We’ve identified a number of high-performance mystical machines that can be enjoyed without constant stops for fuel. Our bar for this list: All vehicles are rated at or above 20 mpg on the highway — certainly not the level of a Toyota Prius, but respectable considering the performance rewards. Keep in mind that actual results may vary, depending on the amount of lead in your right foot.
16 mpg city/ 20 mpg hwy/ 17 mpg combined/ 18 mpge
The McLaren P1 is one of the most advanced supercars in the world. This exotic boasts a 3.8-liter twin-turbo V8 engine that puts out an impressive 727 horsepower. But wait, there’s more. McLaren has teamed this potent powerplant with an electric motor that adds 176 horsepower for a total output of 903 horses. It reaches 60 mph in less than three seconds and can achieve a top speed of 217 mph — certainly not your typical hybrid. The P1 can travel almost seven miles on electric power alone, which clearly helps improve overall fuel economy.
12 mpg city/ 21 mpg hwy/ 15 mpg combined
Where the McLaren uses a small V8 hybrid system, the Viper goes for more brute force. Under this beast’s long hood is an all-aluminum 8.4-liter V10 engine pushing out 645 horsepower and 600 lb-ft of torque — the most torque generated by any naturally-aspirated sports car engine in the world. Engine tweaks for the 2015 model year increased horsepower as well as fuel economy. Not terribly efficient, but getting 21 mpg out of that monster engine is quite remarkable.
13 mpg city/ 21 mpg hwy/ 15 mpg combined
Historically the name Rolls-Royce has been associated with luxuriously large sedans piloted by snooty chauffeurs. The brand has changed over the years, and recently came out with the all-new Wraith. This uniquely-styled fastback is the most powerful car ever to come from Rolls-Royce, sporting a 6.6-liter V12 engine that produces 624 horsepower. Weighing in at more than 5,000 pounds, the Wraith can still reach 60 mph in a mere 4.4 seconds. The 8-speed automatic transmission helps with fuel efficiency, which explains how this cruiser can achieve up to 21 mpg.
Maserati Gran Turismo
13 mpg city/ 21 mpg hwy/ 16 mpg combined
There’s nothing like driving an Italian sports car, and the Maserati Gran Turismo certainly doesn’t disappoint. The 4-seat coupe will turn heads with its elegant lines, and if the beautiful styling doesn’t attract, passersby will definitely take notice of the sound. The exhaust note on the Maserati is one of the best manmade sounds in the auto industry, and it originates in the Ferrari-built 4.7-liter V8 engine. The 454 horses are enough to reach 60 mph in about 4.5 seconds while returning more than adequate fuel economy.
Ford Shelby GT350
14 mpg city/ 21 mpg hwy/ 16 mpg combined
There are Ford Mustangs, and then there is the Shelby GT350. Residing at the top of the Mustang lineup, the GT350 dates back to the original introduction in 1965. This new version is basically a track car made street legal, featuring a MagneRide suspension, lightweight aluminum hood, stiff alloy wheels and a driver-oriented cockpit. At the heart of the GT350 is the most powerful normally-aspirated Ford production engine ever — a 5.2-liter V8 putting out 526 horsepower and 429 lb-ft of torque. The fact that this powerful Mustang can achieve more than 21 mpg is nothing less than remarkable.
14 mpg city/ 21 mpg hwy/ 17 mpg combined
The Huracan may be at the entry point of the Lamborghini lineup, but it is still worthy of this legendary marque. In keeping with Lamborghini tradition, the Huracan is a 2-seat sports car with the engine located behind the driver. While the Huracan can hold its own at the track, like its predecessors it is designed as a road car. But just because it is easy to drive and offers reasonable fuel economy doesn’t mean it makes sacrifices in performance. Huracan is powered by a 5.2-liter V10 engine putting out 610 horsepower to all four wheels — good enough to reach 60 mph in around three seconds, with a top speed in excess of 200 mph.
Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat
13 mpg city/ 22 mpg hwy/ 16 mpg combined
When Dodge announced the specs of this supercharged Charger Hellcat, we thought they were kidding. Happily they were dead serious. The Hellcat is one of the fastest and most powerful 4-door sedans in the world with a top speed of 204 mph, besting much more expensive offerings from its European competition. All this is possible courtesy of a 6.2-liter supercharged HEMI V8 engine that puts out an incredible 707 horsepower while creating the most resonant music of V8 exhaust combined with supercharger whine. With an EPA rating of 22 mpg on the highway, this could make the perfect motorhead family sedan.
Chevrolet Corvette Z06
15 mpg city/ 22 mpg hwy/ 18 mpg combined
Corvette has been the flagship sports car of the Chevrolet lineup since it was introduced in 1953, so to say that this Corvette Z06 is the most capable production ‘Vette ever is pretty significant. The Z06 has performance stats and specs that put it in leagues with some of the most extreme sports cars on the market. Power comes from a 6.2-liter supercharged V8 putting out 650 horsepower. Sixty mph comes up in less than three seconds, the quarter mile is dispatched in less than 11 seconds and the Z06 can stop from 60 mph in less than 100 feet. Add to that a highway fuel economy rating of 22 mpg and you have a very impressive package.
Mercedes-AMG GT S
16 mpg city/ 22 mpg hwy/ 18 mpg combined
AMG has been the specialty arm of Mercedes-Benz for years, building high-performance versions of the brand’s luxury models. But in the last few years AMG has been building standalone models such as the current AMG GT S. With classic sports car styling in a modern design, the AMG GT S is ready for the road or track with a powerful 4.0-liter twin-turbo V8 putting out more than 500 horsepower. The quick-shifting 7-speed dual-clutch gearbox delivers excellent performance as well as more-than-respectable fuel economy. Driver and passenger ride in a beautiful but functional cabin, complete with Nappa leather trimmed sport seats, high-end Burmester sound system, and an available panorama sunroof.
16 mpg city/ 22 mpg hwy/ 18 mpg combined
If you are looking to attract attention and have the means to get one, a McLaren 650S is certainly up to the task. The sexy coupe (or spider) is gorgeous in person, and opening the single-hinge dihedral doors adds another level of exotica. But what will really turn heads is pushing the start button — the roar of the 3.8-liter twin-turbo V8 is intoxicating. And like a true exotic, that small V8 puts out an extraordinary 641 horsepower and 500 lb-ft of torque — good enough for a sprint to 60 mph in just 2.9 seconds with 100 mph coming up in 5.8 seconds.
14 mpg city/ 23 mpg hwy/ 17 mpg combined
German automaker Audi offers a number of high-performance cars, but the flagship R8 is a true exotic sports car. With eye-catching lines and a mid-engine design, the R8 features quattro all-wheel drive and is available as a hardtop or convertible Spyder. The V8 is the base-level R8 but is certainly no slouch — the 4.2-liter V8 puts out 430 horsepower and 316 lb-ft of torque. The R8 is also available with more powerful V10 engine, but the V8 teamed with the S tronic transmission achieves the best fuel economy.
Jaguar F-TYPE R
16 mpg city/ 23 mpg hwy/ 18 mpg combined
One of the sexiest cars on the road today, the F-TYPE is the latest sports car to come from Jaguar. And while all F-TYPEs look great, it’s the ‘R’ that resides at the top of the lineup. The aural reward for pushing the gold start button is one of the best exhaust notes the industry, bringing to life the supercharged 5.0-liter V8 engine. Power is rated at 550 horses — more than enough to get this coupe or convertible moving to 60 mph in under four seconds, made even easier with the full-time all-wheel drive. But the car is quite comfortable and enjoyable just cruising on a road trip — and 23 mpg is certainly a nice bonus.
Nissan GT-R NISMO
16 mpg city/ 23 mpg hwy/ 19 mpg combined
The current Nissan GT-R arrived in the States in 2008, but the car was already legendary among enthusiasts, who had put many virtual miles on “Godzilla” via Gran Turismo on Sony PlayStation. And while it can be difficult to live up to a virtual legend, the GT-R accomplishes that — and more. The twin-turbo V6 puts out 600 horsepower — which is plenty — but how the GT-R makes use of that power is even more impressive. Handling and acceleration are in line with exotics costing several times the price, and the GT-R NISMO is currently one of the fastest production cars around the famed Nurburgring track in Germany.
Ferrari California T
16 mpg city/ 23 mpg hwy/ 19 mpg combined
With pricing at $198,973, the California T is the least expensive entry into Ferrari ownership — in fact, it is the only new Ferrari with a base price below $200,000. But a “base” Ferrari is still worlds above most other sports cars. Named for the open-top Ferraris from the 1950s, the California T features a retractable hardtop that opens in 14 seconds. The California reaches 60 mph in considerably less time — about 3.5 seconds — thanks to the 3.9-liter turbocharged V8 putting out 553 horsepower.
Subaru WRX STI
17 mpg city/ 23 mpg hwy/ 19 mpg combined
If you ever wanted to drive a rally car, this is about the closest you can get and stay street legal. The STI is the top performance car in the Subaru lineup with a 305-horsepower turbocharged engine sending power to all four wheels. Active Torque Vectoring and a Vehicle Dynamics Control system help send the car in the direction intended while putting more power to the pavement (or dirt, snow, or any other surface). The Subaru Intelligent Drive (SI-Drive) system allows the driver to alter the vehicle performance characteristics depending on the situation, including Intelligent mode which is more likely to achieve that rating of 23 mpg.
Bentley Continental GT V8 S
15 mpg city/ 25 mpg hwy/ 19 mpg combined
Getting any kind of respectable fuel economy in a vehicle like this is quite an amazing feat. A “vehicle like this” refers to the Bentley’s heft — the GT weighs in at more than 5,000 pounds. You would think that getting this beast moving quickly would also be a bit of a challenge, but not when you put a 528-horsepower twin-turbo V8 under the bonnet. With full-time all-wheel drive and a quick-shifting 8-speed automatic transmission, the GT can reach 60 mph in just 4.3 seconds with a top speed approaching 200 mph.
Porsche 911 Carrera (PDK)
20 mpg city/ 28 mpg hwy/ 23 mpg combined
Since its initial introduction in 1963, the Porsche 911 has become the most iconic sports car on the planet. Now in its 7th generation, the 911 is just as recognizable now as it was at the beginning. The Carrera is the initial entry into the 911 lineup, featuring a 3.4-liter horizontal 6-cylinder engine residing, as it always has, at the rear of the car. With 350 horsepower on tap, the 911 can hit 60 mph in around 4.6 seconds, but it is the perfect balance and handling that has always set the 911 apart from the competition. Achieving up to 28 mpg makes the 911 a nearly perfect daily driver.
Chevrolet Corvette Stingray
17 mpg city/ 29 mpg hwy/ 21 mpg combined
Unlike the Z06, the standard Corvette has to make due with a mere 455 horsepower from its 6.2-liter V8 engine. According to GM, this makes the Corvette the most fuel-efficient sports car available with more than 450 horsepower (excluding hybrids — see the top entries in this list). Available as a coupe or convertible, the standard Corvette is still capable of hitting 60 mph in less than four seconds — the perfect combination of performance and efficiency.
Porsche Cayman S
21mpg city/ 30 mpg hwy/ 24 mpg combined
Considering the specs of this small Porsche, it’s surprising to see an EPA rating of 30 mpg next to the Cayman’s top speed of 175 mph. In addition to these impressive stats, the Cayman S is great fun to drive, just as you’d expect from a Porsche. Motivation in the Cayman S comes from a 325-horsepower 3.4-liter flat-six cylinder engine teamed with either a 6-speed manual transmission or the 7-speed Porsche Doppelkupplungsgetriebe (PDK) automatic transmission.
Volkswagen Golf R
23 mpg city/ 30 mpg hwy/ 26 mpg combined
There are numerous trims of the VW Golf, but it’s the R that sits at the top of the stack. In fact, with its 292-horsepower turbocharged engine the R is the most powerful Golf Volkswagen has ever sold. Power is sent to all four wheels via VW’s advanced 4Motion all-wheel drive system. When cruising or coasting, the system can disengage the rear wheels for improved fuel economy; however, when needed, the rear wheels can re-engage in fractions of a second. Golf R can be equipped with either a 6-speed manual or 6-speed dual-clutch gearbox — the latter offers better city mpg and considerably quicker sprints to 60 mph.
22 mpg city/ 32 mpg hwy/ 26 mpg combined
The Boxster received a major redesign a few years ago that made the small mid-engine roadster longer, wider and lighter — making for improved handling and excellent performance. The base-level Boxster gets by with a 265-horsepower 2.7-liter flat-six cylinder engine teamed with either a 6-speed manual or 7-speed PDK automatic. It used to be that to get the most out of a sports car the manual transmission was the proper choice, but the PDK shifts so quickly that it produces better acceleration (.3 seconds faster to 62 mph) as well as improved fuel economy.
Alfa Romeo 4C Spider
24 mpg city/ 34 mpg hwy/ 28 mpg combined
Alfa Romeo continues its slow return to the U.S. market with the introduction of the 4C Spider. The new roadster follows the 4C coupe and the rare 8C that started Alfa’s rebirth in the states a few years ago. The 4C Spider features a carbon fiber monocoque chassis which not only increases structural rigidity — important in a topless sports car — but makes the car very light. Combine that with a small but powerful 1.7-liter turbocharged engine producing 237 horsepower and you have the makings of an incredibly entertaining ride.
Mazda MX-5 Miata
27 mpg city/ 34 mpg hwy/ 30 mpg combined
The MX-5 is all new for the 2016 model year. This 4th-generation Miata sticks with the formula of being lightweight, balanced and an absolute blast to drive. While the MX-5 offers the lowest power rating in this list — just 155 horsepower from its 2.0-liter engine — the little roadster can hold its own on any twisty road or track. Miata is available with either a 6-speed manual or automatic — the automatic is rated at 36 mpg on the highway, but for the driving enthusiast, a Miata is meant to be driven with a manual transmission.
Porsche Panamera S e-hybrid
23 mpg city/ 29 mpg hwy/ 25 mpg combined/ 51 mpge
The first hybrids on the market used an electric motor supplementing a small gas engine to achieve great fuel economy — but delivering very little performance. But if you combine a more powerful electric motor with a supercharged V6 engine, you can improve fuel economy and not give up on performance, which is exactly what you get from the Panamera S e-hybrid. The first plug-in hybrid from Porsche, the Panamera has a total of 416 horsepower which moves this big 4-door to 60 mph in just over five seconds. It can also reach 84 mph on all-electric power, and can travel more than 20 miles without burning any gasoline.
Porsche 918 Spyder
20 mpg city/ 24 mpg hwy/ 22 mpg combined/ 67 mpge
The future of high-performance sports cars, the Porsche 918 is one of the most fuel-efficient sports cars in America as well as one of the fastest — certainly an unlikely combination. Power comes from a 4.6-liter V8 engine teamed with two electric motors for a total combined output of 887 horsepower put down to all four wheels. Performance stats are stunning — 60 mph comes up in just 2.5 seconds, 124 mph comes up in 7.3 seconds and top speed is 214 mph. Even more impressive is the handling — the 918 is one of just a few production cars to complete a lap of the famed Nurburgring track in Germany in less than 7 minutes. All this and an outstanding 67 mpge (miles per gallon of gasoline-equivalent) — a very impressive sports car.
28 mpg city/ 29 mpg hwy/ 28 mpg combined/ 76 mpge
The BMW i8 may be the most futuristic car on the road. It looks like something we’d all be expecting to drive 50 years in the future, and it has the powertrain to match. Anyone looking at the i8 knows it’s something special, even if they’re not into cars. And that’s before opening the doors, described by BMW as a “scissor door design with lifting and turning function upward toward the front.” The rear wheels are powered by a 228-horsepower 3-cylinder turbo engine, while the front wheels get motivation from a 129-horsepower electric motor. Combined output of 357 horsepower and 420 lb-ft of torque moves the AWD i8 to 60 mph in around 4 seconds. The future is certainly looking good.