RAC Cars News


Low profile fast cars

By raccars Published

Audi SQ5

Can you tell that some of these ordinary looking vehicles are really fast cars?

Performance cars used to be aggressively obvious, boasting colourful decals, giant spoilers and huge air intakes. These days manufacturers tend to go for an 'iron fist in a velvet glove' approach, and cars can look quite unobtrusive while packing massive power under the bonnet. The following fast cars all look pretty low profile but all have mind-blowing performance.

Fast cars flying under the radar

Volkswagen Golf GTI

The Golf GTI is a well-known performance car but modern versions look far more conservative than they used to. There's over 200bhp under the bonnet from a four cylinder two litre turbo engine, sitting above a lively and carefully balanced chassis. It comes with a dual clutch automatic transmission or a six speed manual and is capable of getting you to work in a hurry without drawing too much attention to yourself. The Golf R is even more powerful but still understated in appearance, with a rally car's ability to make a twisty road beg for mercy.

Audi SQ5

Crossovers or SUVs are not usually known for their speed, which means it's easy to underestimate the SQ5, normally seen flying past you like lightning on the motorway. With a licence-endangering 350bhp to play with, it's as fast as it is practical, with a roomy and comfortable interior. The SUV's characteristic elevated ride height and all-wheel drive mean it's quite handy in the rough too.

Mini Cooper JCW

Don't be fooled by its fashionable appearance - the JCW version of the Mini puts substance right up there with style. There's 225 bhp of firepower under that short bonnet and a super agile chassis, making this a genuine pocket rocket. The Mini Cooper S is slightly less powerful than the JCW but still pretty rapid.

Audi S6

The S6's dignified appearance hides a twin turbo V8 with a seven speed dual clutch transmission, perfectly designed for high speed autobahn cruising. With 443bhp it's immensely powerful but quiet, discreet and very plush.

Fiat 500 Abarth

Like the Mini, it's easy to dismiss the Fiat 500 Abarth as a fashion accessory thanks to its retro appearance and bright coloured paintwork. However it's far more potent than your average city car thanks to a four cylinder 1.4 litre turbocharged engine tuned to provide up to 158bhp and a suspension system set up for speed. With such a lightweight bodyshell, that's a fearsome amount of fun to be had.

Mercedes-AMG E63 Wagon

Like SUVs, estates are rarely seen as the performance option but the fire breathing E63 comes with a twin turbo V8 producing almost 570bhp. It's one of the fastest and most opulent load luggers out there. Rumour has it that Mercedes is planning an even more powerful version for 2017.

Tesla Model S P90D

Almost eerily quiet, the Tesla Model S is about as low profile as fast cars get. You may not hear it coming but you can't miss it swooping down on you in the rear mirror, with an electric powered 751bhp instantly accessible from its electric powertrain. This is the car which is showing the world how electric powertrains could be a viable prospect to replace the combustion engine one day.

Jaguar XJR

The imposing XJR uses the F-Type R's 542bhp supercharged V8, a 5.0 litre monster of an engine driven by a slick eight speed automatic gearbox. Aluminium construction makes it light on its feet even if it looks unwieldy, making it a fast and posh saloon to give the German brands a few sleepless nights.

Volvo V60 Polestar

It's a long time since Volvo estates have been staid and boxy. The V60 Polestar is a sleeper sports car with four wheel drive, turbo and superchargers and 357bhp - great for the school run and the race track. Numbers are limited so get in quick.

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