Everyone wants their car to have a powerful engine, but would you believe us if we told you that having a powerful engine in small cars are better than having these big engines in huge cars? Well, it has a lot to do with the power to weight ratio. And if you have a big engine on a small car, you are likely to have more speed on the car, and a better performance. A lot of performance enthusiast actually prefer to purchase small cars with turbo engine power. Initially, as you would see, this meant putting a V8 engine into a small car chassis, but now they are placed into subcompact vehicles with four-cylinder or V6 engines.
Coming up with people who added huge engines to small cars to modify them would be a bit difficult to come by, but we could come up with manufacturers who have added huge engines to tiny, subcompact and compact cars. Some of these cars go way back to the ’60s and some of these cars are as new as 2019 models that are yet to go on sale. Here are twenty examples of tiny cars that have huge engines. Some you may want to buy, and others may be too old and expensive for you to get your hands on.
20 Sunbeam Tiger
Who is Sunbeam and what is the Tiger? The reason you may not be familiar with the Sunbeam Tiger is that it is a classic British manufactured car designed with American car designer and race car driver Carroll Shelby.
The car was produced from 1964 to 1967 and under its hood is a V8 engine that was either 4.3-liters or 4.7-liters.
The manual transmission would have done a lot to assist with the speed of this lightweight vehicle. If you ever go to the UK and attend one of their classic car shows, you are going to see a variant of this car on display.
19 Daimler SP250
The Daimler is another classic of the ‘60s brought to us from the Brits. At the time, the Daimler company obviously looked for the largest engine it could find. This engine was found in the 2.5-liter iron block V-8 with 140hp. The specs may not sound impressive, but the car weighed only 940 kg and it was one of the biggest engines of the time. The car also had a twin carburetor that helps the Daimler to accelerate to 60 miles per hour in 8.9 seconds. The car has a top speed of 124 mph which is not too bad for a car of the ‘60s.
18 Renault Clio V6
The Renault Clio V6 was an insane car with a rear engine. The car was described as being one of sheer lunacy as the engine was placed into where the rear seat and trunk should be.
Despite the shock by consumers, the engineering did provide some pretty interesting weight distribution.
This unique design allowed the car to accelerate from 0 to 60 mph in 6.2 seconds with its V6 engine and its maximum speed was 146 mph. Unfortunately, this car was only in production between 2001 and 2005, and they were low volume production cars, so getting your hands on this may be hard.
17 Ford Capri Perana
You may not have heard of this car before, because it was exclusive to South Africa. Ford outfitted this car with a Mustang V8 engine instead of a four-cylinder and V6 engines. Ford wanted to improve the performance of the car, and they did improve the car significantly because it was able to the 1970 and 1971 South Africa touring car championships. The US market didn’t get a V8 engine on their Capri or a, but at least they had the Ford Mustang. Top speed of this car was 141 mph and acceleration from 0 to 62 mph took place in 6.7 seconds.
16 Fiat 500 Abarth
The 500 Abarth is one of the least expensive fast rides that you can get your hands on with an Italian flair. It retails at $18,990 with incentives and has an eager 1.4-liter Multi Air turbocharged engine with up to 160 hp and 170 pound-feet of torque.
This all helps with acceleration along with its lightweight Fiat Abarth chassis with Koni performance.
If you want old school, you can commit to the five-speed manual transmission or get yourself a six-speed automatic transmission. This car will accelerate from 0 to 60 in 6.9 seconds which is not too bad for the small car.
15 Ford Focus RS
Seeing the Ford Focus on this list would have probably seemed unlikely to you as the Ford Focus is better known to be a family friendly car. Why would you put a powerful engine in a family car? Well, the RS version of the car is definitely sportier with its hatchback and rear spoiler. It is one of the best in class with its 2.3-liter Eco Boost engine that has 350 horsepower and 350 pound-feet of torque. This model is paired with a six-speed manual transmission and all-wheel drive. It runs from 0 to 60 mph in 4.6 seconds and has a top speed of 165 mph.
14 Tramontana R
This speed machine received a lot more attention for its looks than for its speed. It boasts a twin turbo V-12 engine that gives it more than enough power to outrun its looks.
If you can get past the looks long enough to have a seat in the car, you will be glad you did because a drive in the car can embarrass a lot of Italy’s well-known sped machines.
The car has room for two and gets from 0 to 62 mph in 3.6 seconds. This beast has a top speed of more than 202 miles per hour, which is not too bad for an ugly car.
13 AC/Shelby 427 Cobra
The Cobra is the definition of a sports car, and also a muscle car. It brings to the table a 3.9 to 1 stock power to weight ratio and packs monster power in a smallish body. What makes it stand out on the list is its Ford V8 engine that came in 4.3 or 4.7- liters depending on the model that you got your hands on. If you are very much interested in getting a small car with a huge engine, the AC Cobra should be your first choice for several reasons, you get a top speed of 165 mph on its standard model or 185 mph on the competition model. Another plus is that the car is a classic.
12 Subaru WRX STI
Like Honda, Subaru is generally associated with speed. In terms of the performance of sport compact vehicles, the WRX STI is a legend. Its engine gives 310 horsepower and 290 lb-ft of torque.
It has a 2.5-liter flat four engine that uses a single turbocharger and a top-mounted intercooler.
The transmission is six-speed manual and equipped with Subaru’s all-wheel-drive system. It accelerates to 60 mph in 5.3 seconds and has a top speed of 159 mph. You will pay a little under $40,000 for the standard model of the 2019 version, but you get what a high-performance vehicle that is small.
11 MINI John Cooper Works Hardtop
This Mini is the latest and the greatest. The John Cooper Works (JCW) hardtop is powered with a 2.0 liter direct-injected twin-scroll turbocharged engine with a variable cam timing technology. This technology was copied from their parent company BMW. The engine produces 228 horsepower and 236 pound-feet torque. Buyers can get this car in a six-speed manual or a six-speed automatic transmission. The car is a front-wheel drive vehicle, and it covers 0 to 60 mph in 6.1 seconds. The automatic gets you there in 5.9 seconds. These speeds are not bad, but you would expect a lot more for a car that is priced at $33,000.
10 VW Golf R
The last vehicle you would expect to have a large engine is the Volkswagen Golf. The car is a subcompact, and it wouldn’t be a car that you would expect to run, but the Golf R is the best of Volkswagen’s performance line.
It features the 4Motion all-wheel-drive system and a 2.0-liter turbocharged engine with 292 horsepower and 280 pound-feet torque.
The drivers have a choice of a six-speed manual transmission or a seven-speed DSG twin-clutch automatic transmission with paddle shifters. The Golf R goes from 0 to 60 in 4.8 seconds and has a top speed of 150 mph.
9 Ford Fiesta ST
The Ford Fiesta ST is a small car, and one of the hottest on the market. The car is powered by a turbocharged and direct-injected 1.6-liter EcoBoost engine. This subcompact Fiesta ST delivers 197 horsepower and 202 pound-feet of torque. Engine power goes to the front wheels of this vehicle through the six-speed manual transmission. The Fiesta can make the 60-mph run in 6.7 seconds and can hit a top speed of 143 mph. These specifications are not too bad for a car that costs $20,160 for the base model that comes with 17-inch wheels.
8 BMW M2
The M2 is one of the smallest cars of BMW’s M series with its two doors. The car comes equipped with a 3.0-liter twin turbocharged inline 6-cylinder engine that gives it a horsepower rating of 365 and 343 pound-feet torque.
If you’re getting this car, it comes with a choice of 6-speed manual transmission or a 7-speed twin clutch automatic transmission.
The car is rear-wheeled drive and accelerates to 60mph in 4.3 seconds with the manual and 4.1 seconds with the automatic. Usually, the top speed for this car is 156 mph, but if you attend BMW’s one-day performance driving course, the top speed limit would be raised to 168 mph.
7 Honda Civic Type R
Everyone likes Honda Civics because they are compact, yet powerful cars that help to quench your need for speed at a budget price. The Honda Civic Type R comes with a 2.0-liter single-scroll turbocharged engine that has a rating of 306 horsepower and 295 lb-ft of torque. It has three modes of drive systems; normal, sport and +R settings. It comes with a six-speed manual transmission, so if you’re not a fan of manual, it’s not the car for you. This car accelerates to 60 mph in 4.9 seconds and has a top speed of 170 mph. The rear wing also makes the car nice to look at.
6 Nissan 370Z Nismo
The performance model of this car is the GT-R but the 370Z may just be the model that you want to get. The car is small, but its performance is significant. Under its hood is a 3.7-liter aspirated V6 engine that comes certified with 350 horsepower and 276 pound-feet of torque.
This edition has a six-speed manual transmission and the clutch is a high-performance one, making it a pleasure to drive.
This car gets from 0 to 60 mph in less than 5 seconds and can take its driver to a top speed of 155 mph. The car can also be purchased in a seven-speed automatic.
5 2019 Hyundai Veloster Turbo
The Veloster is a high-performance compact car. The car is small but boasts a powerful 1.6-liter turbocharged engine that has 201 horsepower and 195 pound-feet torque. The best thing about this car is that you have the option of choosing a six-speed manual transmission or a seven-speed with EcoShift twin-clutch automatic. The Veloster can get to 60 mph in 6.2 seconds and it has a top speed of 145 mph. The 2019 model of the car has a multilink rear suspension that helps to improve its handling and it has a lower overall weight making it faster.
4 Aston Martin V12 Vantage S
Someone at Aston decided to put on of the world’s largest engines in the company’s smallest car. This person may well be deserving of a 5-star dinner. Creating a V12 Vantage is a lot, but the engineers decided to be a bit more extra an created an ‘S’ variant which is one of the fastest cars Aston has ever made. The vantage has a 6.0-literV12 engine under its hood. This engine takes it from 0 to 62 mph in 3.9 seconds and gives it a top speed of 205 mph. When the car went into production, only two Aston Martin’s had gone quicker.
3 Seat Leon FR
This Spanish-made hatchback may not be as quick as other cars but its pretty easy to handle and maneuver, and it has sharp handling. The car has a diesel engine on it, making it super fuel efficient with a range of 350 miles.
The diesel engine has turbocharged direct injection and they are available in either 1.6 or 2.0- liters.
With the Leon FR, you can accelerate from 0 to 62 mph in 6.4 seconds time, which is still faster than some of the cars on the list. The top speed though id 155 mph. So, the Leon FR may just be the car you want to consider.
2 Suzuki Swift Sport
Suzuki Swift Sport is a fun, small car that is cheap to buy and run. You can get your hands on one of these vehicles for about $20,000. This mini car sports a 1.6-liter turbo engine that revs, naturally aspirated DOHC VVT four-cylinder engine with an 11.1:1 compression ratio. It produces 123 hp and 109 pound-feet of torque. With this car, you have the option of a six-speed manual transmission or a seven-speed CVT transmission with manual mode and paddle shifters. The Sport has an acceleration speed to 60 mph in 7 seconds and has an estimated topspeed of 130 mph.
1 Hennessey Venom
If you know race cars, you would know that the Hennessey Venom is a high-performance sports car. Its manufacturer is based in Texas, Hennessey Performance Engineering. This car’s design is based on the Lotus Exige/Elise.
Only 13 of these units were produced in either Coupe or Spyder models.
The car is one of the best because it has a 427-CU inch 7.0- liter engine. The engine is also twin-turbocharged LSX V8. The car set records with the Guinness World Record for the fastest production car to go from 0 to 186 miles per hour in 13.63 seconds. Pretty impressive for a small car.
Sources: jalopnik.com, drivetribe.com, autobytel.com, holtsauto.com