There is certainly some ambiguity and debate involved in deciding what parameters you should consider for a list of the best performance cars. Right off the bat, some would think of supercars or even hypercars.
However, any vehicle that exhibits above-average abilities in acceleration, top speed, cornering, and braking can be considered a performance car. So it’s not just about searching for the most powerful or most exotic cars out there, let alone the most expensive cars. We try to cover a little of everything here, including cars that the average person can aspire to own.
So, since there are so many cars that could fit this category, it becomes somewhat difficult to put together a list that could satisfy everyone. That said our best performance cars list comprises everything from supercars to high-tech sports cars and even hot hatches.
There’s something for anyone who’s just looking for an exciting driving experience without worrying so much about numbers or labels.
2021 Audi S4
Unlike the previous Audi S4, the 2021 model takes on a much sportier face and of course, improved performance. It departs from the S-Line package with a honeycomb-finish grille, larger air intakes with brushed aluminum-type inserts, 19 “wheels, and aluminum mirror caps. Like all A4s, it features a new design for the headlamps, and trunk lid.
The Audi S4 debuts the 10.1” screen with a new interface – it says goodbye to the knob – and with renewed graphics. In addition, like the latest launches of the brand, it supports online services, natural voice commands, and Car2X Safety systems.
Being the most equipped version, the S4 2021 includes a light and rain sensor, automated parking system, digital instrument panel, Bang & Olufsen 3D sound, driver’s seat with massage function, sunroof, wireless charger for phones, and Matrix LED headlights.
However, the best cover letter is, without a doubt, its mechanics. The Audi S4 is powered by a 3.0-liter turbo V6 engine, capable of generating 354 hp and 368 lb-ft, distributed between both axles by Audi’s Quattro all-wheel-drive system and an eight-speed Tiptronic automatic transmission. According to Audi, the S4 can hit 60 mph in just 4.7 seconds.
Without being the most exciting sports sedan on the market, the S4 offers a perfect harmony between elegance and sportiness.
2021 Mercedes AMG A45 S
The universe of sports hatchbacks comprises all kinds of specimens, from those who only flirt with the term hot-hatch, to those who take speed seriously. At the top is the Mercedes-AMG A 45 S.
AMG gave the A45 S an aesthetic treatment that does justice to its dynamic capabilities. Regarding an A-Class, you will identify the A45 S by a different grille, fascia with larger air intakes, diffuser with four tailpipes, 19” wheels, and the Night AMG package with gloss black finishes.
The Mercedes-AMG A 45 S has the world’s most powerful turbocharged four-cylinder engine that with 2.0 liters can generate with 421 horsepower and 368 pound-feet of torque. It works in tandem with an eight-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission and a 4MATIC all-wheel-drive system to hit 60 mph in just 3.9 seconds.
One of the key points of the A 45 S is the electronics behind its all-wheel drive capabilities. The system can send up to 50% of the power to the rear axle when the front tires cannot handle power or ensure grip. The rear axle features a system called AMG Torque Control that ensures good cornering and the ability to offer a drift-specific drive mode.
The new A 45 S is not only considered an entry level model to the world of Mercedes-AMG but also an example of a dynamic, high performing car.
2021 Nissan 370 Z
The Nissan 370Z it’s not a car for everyone, not even for all lovers of sporty driving. It remains one of the few vehicles whose value lies in its ability to recreate the sensations of the sports cars of yesteryear.
One highlight of the 370Z is its clean and minimalist design, which is defined by fluid lines and a front recognizable from a distance thanks to elements such as its spiky headlights. Contrary to other sports that seek to project elegance or that bet on a vigorous figure, this car keeps things simple without too much effort.
The interior of the 370 doesn’t fall short of its commitment to evoking the sports cars of yesteryear. However, this could be a real problem for those who expect a good level of comfort and high quality of materials. Within its price range, it’d be possible to find other interiors with a superior interpretation in almost all areas.
The 2021 Nissan 370Z is available in Touring trim with a 3.7-liter V6 engine producing 332 horsepower and 270 pound-feet of torque. The Nismo variants bet on the same block but adjusted to deliver 350 horsepower and 276 pound-feet of torque. In either case, it’s possible to get a 6-speed manual transmission or a 7-speed automatic with manual mode.
2021 Ferrari Roma
The Ferrari Roma is a coupe from the Italian brand with an elegant inspired design that pays tribute to the great GTs from the band of the prancing horse. Ferrari itself affirmed the Roma is inspired by the ‘Dolce Vita’, something that is clear in various details, such as the smooth shapes of its aerodynamic bodywork or, above all, the front set that is low and sharp, the grille has a mesh effect and appears to blend into the bodywork, and very slim headlamps.
The profile is very athletic, characterized by large wheels, a long hood, and a gentle drop from the roof. And most importantly, its handling and performances are exemplary. Basically, very Ferrari.
The interior of the Ferrari Roma accommodates four passengers, the pilot has a huge digital dashboard, a multifunction steering wheel, and a vertically oriented tactile center console; while the co-pilot has another screen from which to control the climate control or the infotainment system.
Its engine is the award-winning 3.8 V8 biturbo that develops 620 horsepower at 7,500 rpm and a torque of 560 lb-ft. The engine is mated to an 8-speed dual-clutch automatic DCT gearbox.
Thanks to this combination, The Ferrari Roma can hit 60 mph in 3.4 seconds, with a maximum speed of 199 mph.
2021 Aston Martin Vantage
Aston Martin is synonymous with performance and sophistication. Each model offers a defined style and capabilities and the newest iteration of the Vantage is no exception.
Aston Martin is part of a group of manufacturers that are dedicated to transmitting exclusivity to their customers. To achieve this, it’s necessary to maintain a defined style that can also be renewed without losing its character. This is what Aston Martin achieved with the Vantage, a car that seeks to refresh the brand without losing all the elements that distinguish the British manufacturer.
The Vantage joined Aston Martin’s lineup in 2005, since then it had not received substantial design changes until the current generation introduced in 2020. The result is a two-seater coupe with a clean, even minimalist appearance that takes up some characteristics of the Aston Martin DB11.
The interior of the 2021 Aston Martin Vantage combines the appearance of a performance car with the comfort of a luxury car. Keep in mind that this is a two-seater car, so the interior offers just the necessary space for the driver and co-driver to enjoy the ride.
The Vantage’s engine is a 4.0-liter twin-turbo V8 that generates 503 horsepower and 503 pound-feet of torque, and an 8-speed ZF automatic transmission. These elements make the car reach 60 mph in just 3.5 seconds.
2121 BMW M2 Competition
The BMW M2 Competition is the smallest member of the M family. It’s a coupe with a robust silhouette and an aggressive front end. The M2 is one of the purest sports cars BMW has ever made, keeping many features that newer-generation cars have lost: rear-wheel drive, manual transmission, and a purely gas-powered powertrain.
We can say with total certainty that the M2 Competition is one of the most enjoyable performance cars you can find. Its most radical version called CS Manual will blow your mind. It comes with a black grille, huge air intakes with honeycomb fabric in the fascia, a lip at the bottom of this area, and a functional air inlet in the hood.
On the side, there are more details in black with a glossy finish, super light-alloy wheels, red brake calipers, and hyperventilated discs both in the front and in the rear. The side mirror caps are finished in carbon fiber.
But what is really thrilling about this car is not so much its style or equipment, but the driving experience it offers. The M2 Competition comes with a powerful 3.0-liter twin-turbo inline 6-cylinder engine capable of generating 450 horsepower and 405 pound-feet of torque. These figures allow you to accelerate from 0 to 60 mph in just over 4 seconds and reach a top speed of 174 mph.
2021 Porsche Cayman
Porsche takes sportiness seriously, proving that all segments can be fun. The 718 Cayman is the entry model for the German brand, being a benchmark for its excellent driving sensations and specifications. It comes with many features designed to offer a complete experience behind the wheel and comfort for the driver and passenger. It’s a model to start, but it’s also complete and perfect for purists.
Inside, the 718 Cayman it’s a car with many excellent quality elements but it’s important to mention that since it’s a mid-engine model, it only has enough room for the driver and passenger since there’s no rear row. Interior equipment includes air conditioning with active carbon filter, electric windows, dual-zone automatic climate control, 2-way fully electric sports seats, as well as Sport Chrono Package.
Its engine features a 2.0-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder block that generates 300 horsepower and 280 pound-feet of torque, a 7-speed PDK transmission, and rear-wheel drive. Thanks to these specifications, its driving is responsive and very exciting, so you can take the 718 Cayman to the track any day of the week.
Yes, its price is high, but the exciting driving experience makes it totally worth it. For this reason, the 2021 Porsche 718 Cayman is an excellent car to start in Porsche with all the benefits of the brand’s sporting heritage.
2021 Yaris GR
There are faster, more powerful, and better-equipped sports hatchbacks than the Toyota GR Yaris, but none of them are quite as faithful to the original concept of a hot-hatch. Toyota is the only one that still respects the three-door body and that dared to inject so much power into a car just 13 feet long.
To understand what makes it so special, we must refer to its specifications. The GR Yaris is practically the same car as that takes part in the WRC: a three-door hatchback powered by a 1.6-liter turbo engine, 261 horsepower, and 273 lb-ft of torque that distributes its power to four wheels via a six-speed manual transmission.
This new Yaris offers its customers a package comprising a pair of Torsen limited-slip differentials to distribute the power between the left and right wheels, and 18” wheels with Michelin Pilot Sport 4S 224/40 tires.
The all-wheel-drive system that the brand baptized as GR-FOUR distributes power very differently depending on the selected driving mode: Normal (60:40), Sport (30:70), and Track (50:50).
In the end, all the special components of GR Yaris including structural reinforcements, suspension, brakes, seats, and all-wheel drive, don’t affect too much on the final weight thanks to the use of lightweight materials. The Yaris GR completes 60 mph in 5.2 seconds and reaches 143 mph as its top speed.