WALL ST. CHEAT SHEET/ AUTOS
For this list, the price range has been pushed out further to allow for the largest engine options of the American muscle cars to get in the mix.
Horse for horse and dollar for dollar, it’s tough to top the pony cars in this category. Automakers around the world usually go for sportier, less weighty models like the hot hatch to deliver powerful acceleration with smaller engines.
12. Ford Focus ST ($23,625)Ford has gotten mostly rave reviews for its Focus ST hot hatch. Just a glance at the engine specs are enough to get excited. The turbocharged direct-injection 2.0-liter EcoBoost engine hits a maximum 252 hp and 270 lb-ft of torque.
This power quotient is enough to power the Focus ST from 0-60 in 6.6 seconds, according to tests by Edmunds. Sure, the Mustang may be able to take it on the open road, but when there’s a tight parking spot in town the ST has its number.
11. Scion FR-S ($25,470)Treasured by drivers who love performance that doesn’t break the bank, the Scion FR-S shows off what Toyota’s performance division does best. The FR-S (and Subaru BRZ, its mirror image) are equipped with 2.0-liter engines capable of 200 hp. With , Edmunds took the FR-s from 0-60 in 6.5 seconds, putting it neck-and-neck with the Focus ST.
10. Infiniti Q50 ($37,150)Refined in appearance but pretty darn fast, the Infiniti Q50 fits the bill for car lovers of multiple stripes. Speed-wise, the Q50 gets its potency from the 3.7-liter V6 under the hood. Capable of 328 hp and 269 lb-ft of torque, that was enought to hustle from 0-60 in 5.5 seconds – better than the Mustang V6 in Edmunds testing, and looking awfully pretty while doing it.
9. Dodge Charger R/T ($30,695)Can a muscle car have four doors? Dodge says it’s possible and presents the Charger R/T as an example of how it works. The 2015 model has a slightly less aggressive appearance than the outgoing Charger, but there is no shortchanging in the power department.
Chargers in the R/T trim house the 5.7-liter Hemi engine that packs a wallop. How fast can 370 hp and 395 lb-ft of torque take this Charger? Edmunds got from 0-60 in 5.4 seconds in rear-wheel-drive models.
8. Hyundai Genesis R-Spec ($29,350)When David Mamet used Hyundais as a point of mockery in Glengarry Glen Ross (1982), he wasn’t referring to the Genesis R-Spec. This hot coupe does damage with its 3.8-liter V6 engine, capable of 348 hp.
That powertrain sent the R-Spec from 0-60 in 5.3 seconds in Edmunds testing. With that type of performance, it would be enough to give the character a run for his money in the BMW he drove to berate the poor salesmen in the film.
7. Nissan 370Z ($29,990)Sporting a 3.7-liter V6 like its corporate sibling the Infiniti Q50, the Nissan 370Z gets even better output. In fact, it peaks at 332 hp, which enables the 370Z to go from 0-60 in 5.1 seconds, according to Edmunds testers.
Approaching the five second mark for this sprint is an achievement for any ride, but the Nissan 370Z is getting it done at a base price below $30,000.
6. Subaru Impreza WRX STI ($26,295)One of the most undercover speed demons available, the Subaru Impreza WRX STI Subaru delivers exceptional speed for a strict budget. Peak performance numbers stand at 305 hp and 290 lb-ft of torque. Edmunds testers used that force to sprint 0-60 in just 5.1 seconds. Pending the outcome of testing on new models in 2015, that may put the WRX STI in the top five under $40K. Here’s the rub: its MSRP is below $27K.
5. Volkswagen Golf R (est. $34,000)It may not be on the market with a price at press time, but the feisty 2015 VW Golf R is about to make hay under $40K. It sports a turbocharged 16-valve inline-four capable of 290 hp and 280 lb-ft of torque.
Car and Driver took it 0ut for testing and estimated the 0-60 mph run between 5.0 and 5.3 seconds (quarter-mile between 13.7 and 13.9 seconds) with a top speed of 130 mph.
4. Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution GSR ($34,995)The Mitsubishi Lancer Evo GSR does speed unlike any four-door sedan in this price range. It houses a four-cylinder turbo engine capable of 291 hp and 300 lb-ft of torque. That system was capable of flying 0-60 in 4.9 seconds during tests run by Edmunds drivers. There is a reason this car is so popular on the aftermarket. It’s a beast in sedan clothing.
3. Chevy Camaro SS ($33,355)The American muscle car revival is real. In fact, the Detroit automakers (Italian-owned or not) are bringing all-new models of their legendary muscle car set to market for the 2015 model year. Chevy’s Camaro SS is one of the most explosive models in the sub-$40K price range.
It packs a thunderous 6.2-liter V8 capable of 426 hp and 420 lb-ft of torque. Edmunds testers ran the 2014 Camaro 0-60 in 4.8 seconds. This test is subject to review on roadways all across the land. The SS is unlikely to lose two races in a row.
2. Ford Mustang GT ($32,025)The upgraded 2015 made its debut at gala events around the world in December 2014, but the outgoing model is no slouch. In fact, the 2014 Mustang GT on the market remains one of the fastest (if not the fastest) on sale below $40K.
Sporting the 5.0-liter V8, the GT is capable of 420 hp that delivers pure exhilaration. Tests by Edmunds sent the Mustang V8 0-60 mph in 4.7 seconds. Until further notice, this acceleration (dollar for dollar) has no equal.