The thing about fast cars is that they usually look fast, really fast. The exteriors, the aerodynamic shapes, the wheels, the proximity to the ground, all of it tells you that you're looking at a fast car. Take for example the Lamborghini Gallardo. This is a car that will attract all the attention of the police.
Then we have the low key cars, sleepers that occupy the sidelines. These are fast cars that have hidden their super powerful performance under their unremarkable exteriors. Low key cars and their deceptive exterior features let the garish sports and muscle cars attract all the attention of the cops. And the fact is these low key cars are way too fast for the cops to catch them.
This is a list of 24 of these low key cars, and proof that fast cars don't have to look fast. They don't need to have aggressive styling with a spaceship design to hit 150+ miles per hour. The formula is straightforward; you won't find a flashy sports car on this list, no wacky performance machines, and no souped-up mods. These are ordinary cars, and that’s why they’re called low key cars.
24 Chevrolet SS
Modern drivers don't want to spend a fortune and blend in with the rest of the world. And that's precisely why the Chevrolet SS experienced such a low number of sales, and why we can't leave it out of this list.
With its ordinary-looking exterior, the Chevrolet SS is a rear-wheel-drive car with a V8 engine capable of producing 415 horsepower.
With an automatic transmission, the Chevrolet SS can accelerate from 0-60 miles per hour in less than 5 seconds, and it has an electronically limited top speed of 160mph.
23 Mercedes-Benz 500E
Before Mercedes Benz acquired AMG to handle the performance vehicle department in the company, the designers and engineers in the E-Class division decided to build a performance car. But instead of making one from scratch, they beefed up the existing 500E. The result was a road bullet powered by a 5.0L V8 engine coughing out 322bhp. For an ordinary person, you’d never think that the nicely finished Mercedes-Benz 500E would hit 170mph. The last production of this was in 1994, but you can still find a well-maintained one in a used car showroom.
22 Hyundai Genesis R-Spec
This one is somewhat confusing because we have three versions of the Hyundai Genesis model. The first one is the Hyundai Genesis Coupe which is known to be very fast and attractive, and then the docile Hyundai Genesis Luxury sedan. Forget about these two, let’s focus on the Hyundai Genesis R-Spec, a superfast sedan with a 5.0L V8 engine producing 425hp. Offered between 2012 to 2014, the Hyundai Genesis R-Spec accelerates from 0-60mph in 5 seconds. It’s a rare car, but if you need it, you can get it.
21 2007 Volvo s80
When we say that looks can be deceiving, this is the perfect car for that description. The Volvo s80 has a very dull appearance, but under the hood of that boring exterior sits a potent 4.4L V8 engine spitting out 325 horsepower. And not just that, this is a Yamaha built engine that was built during a time when Volvo was in collaboration with Ford. And Ford had already collaborated with Yamaha to produce the V8 engines for Taurus SHO. The Volvo s80 can accelerate from 0-60mph in 5.7 seconds.
20 2007 Mercedes-Benz R63 AMG
The Mercedes Benz R63 AMG is one of the most hilariously understated performance cars. Can you imagine that this ugly R-Series Mercedes has a 6.2L engine? Yeah. That is insanity with the AMG engineers.
The potent engine that comes with this car can produce 507 horsepower, and 60mph is achieved in 4.7 seconds.
Does that not remind you of a sports car with a muscle car engine? The problem with the R63 is that it’s too ugly and its power hasn’t been able to outdo the laughter that follows it everywhere it goes.
19 Mazdaspeed 6
The Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution and the Subaru Impreza WRX STI, with 270 and 300 horsepower respectively, were renowned sports sedans of the mid-2000s. Everyone knows about these two, but did you know about their competitor Mazdaspeed 6? Of course, you don't, because this low key sports sedan didn't have a sports car body. But it did come with a 270 horsepower engine. Just like its competitor sedans, the Mazdaspeed 6 had a 6-speed manual transmission, and it reaches 60mph in 5 seconds.
18 Saturn VUE V6
The 2007 Saturn VUE V6 is among the biggest low key cars of all time. It's a small-sized SUV that, out of a sophisticated agreement between GM and Honda, was fitted with the Honda Pilot's 3.5L V6 engine.
Honda Pilot is a midsized SUV while the VUE V6 is a small-sized SUV.
It's actually shorter than a Honda Civic, and if you got the front-wheel-drive with 250HP, you'll do 60mph in 6 seconds. That sounds like more of a sports car than a small compact SUV.
17 Mercury Marauder
Mercury produced the first performance car by the name the "Marauder" in 1960. It was an improved version of the Galaxie. 40 years later, Mercury built the 3rd generation Marauder from the sister car, the archetypical cop car. From its design and features, the Marauder became one of the greatest low key cars of all time. It is built with some of Ford's powerful parts like the 300 horsepower V8 engine from Ford's Mustang Mach 1, and some additional components from the Ford Police Interceptor.
16 Ford SVT Contour
The Ford Contour was produced in three versions; the base GL, the large luxury sedan, and the SE sport. The base contour was a good car. Ford went ahead and offered the Ford SVT Contour in a decision that was aimed at producing a powerful car with a performance level similar to SVT Cobra Mustang and the Ford Focus. The result was a 2.5L V6 car with 195HP. This car can go to 60mph in 7 seconds. Despite the perfect handling and the Recaro seats, no one looks at this car twice.
15 Audi RS6
This is the ultimate low key car that no one cares about. The Audi sedan has such a dull bodywork that it has managed to hide its power from the general public for most of its life. And if you're not really into cars, you'll pass by the Audi RS6 in a parking lot, not to realize that under the hood of that nothing body sits a potent V10 engine that was initially built for a Lamborghini Gallardo with 570 horsepower.
14 Ford Taurus SHO
Many consider this the ultimate sleeper car because of the engine. Can you imagine a supercar with a potent Yamaha superbike engine, one or two other super-fast aspects, and no one wanting anything to do with it? Well, that is Ford Taurus SHO. Its third-generation creation was built with a V8 Yamaha engine. Just try to imagine all these impressive features, but when you come back from your imagination, you'll still meet the same boring Ford Taurus SHO.
13 2010 BMW M5 Touring
Apart from the Wagon body design, the E61 M5 Touring almost looks identical to the E60 M5 sedan. It's the wagon body, however, that cemented the E61 M5 as one of the best low key cars in history.
Its performance is incredible, it's very fast, and has an all-around outstanding driving experience.
60mph takes only 4 seconds. Its potent 5.0L V10 engine produces a whopping 500 horsepower at 9,000rpm. The BMW M5 Touring wagon is one of the best sleeper cars of any generation.
12 2003 Volkswagen Passat
The Volkswagen Passat W8 4Motion is one of the best cars that the company has ever created. Unfortunately, it's also among the cars that lived large for a very short time. How we wish VW were still offering it. In a very short period after its launch, everyone knew that there was a beast hidden behind this very ordinary looking sedan. Under the hood was a strong motor capable of lifting the car from 0-60mph in 6 seconds.
11 2007 Lexus IS 350
Toyota created this machine to compete with BMW’s 3-Series. At least, this was the original positioning of the Lexus IS 350. And with its 306 horsepower engine, this sports sedan almost took out the BMW during several road tests.
Eventually, it settled comfortably into second place.
The IS 350 clears the first quarter mile in 13.5 seconds, and every sports car enthusiast will tell you that's not a thing to take lightly. It has a very dull body design though.
10 2014 Chevrolet Spark EV
Even in the world of electric vehicles, this car doesn't sit anywhere close to being a car most people will recognize. And that’s exactly why we have it in this list of low key cars that will zip past a police car. It’s surprisingly fast, and within 7 seconds it’ll accelerate from 0-60mph. If you can’t think of this clearly, picture an Acura NSX, or a Lexus IS 350F because neither of these cars can brag of being faster than the Chevrolet Spark EV.
9 2010 Acura TL SH-AWD
This is not the first performance car from Acura, yet none of them are renowned for speed. This car has been performing in the background for a long time, and maybe it's time the world knows what Acura can really do. The 2010 Acura TL SH-AWD is a performance-driven, muscular road beast powered by a monstrous 305 horsepower engine. It clears the first quarter mile in 13 seconds. The TL SH-AWD is one of the greatest performers of all time with an underdog badge.
8 2004 Pontiac GTO
The Pontiac GTO sold quite well during its time. And so General Motors decided to relive the glory by bringing back this road-ripper. The GTO was built with parts from different corners with the Australian Holden Monaro providing the reliable chassis and the interior, and the 400 horsepower engine coming from Chevy Corvette. The result was a 6-speed manual transmission that looked like a Chevrolet Cavalier. If you could only manage to get past its looks and see the inside, you’ll have yourself a low key fast car that will never get you a speeding ticket.
7 2014 Infiniti Q70 5.6
From the way it looks, this large family Infiniti will get you thinking it's an ordinary car with a V6 and a front-wheel-drive system. Well, brace yourself for a performance car.
The Q70 5.6 packs a massive 5.6L V8 engine under the hood, and comes with two options of either a rear-wheel-drive or an all-wheel-drive system.
Its 470hp and 417lb/ft of torque are capable of lifting the Q70 from 0-60mph in 5 seconds. Its excellent looking bodywork makes the Q70 its hiding point.
6 2006 VW Phaeton W12
The VW Phaeton W12 looks so much like an aggressive Passat. What it's got going for it is that it has managed to hold and maintain a position at the top. But not many know about its real power. Its chassis shares the same VW Group D1 platform with Bentley Flying Spur and the Continental GT. It comes with a 6.0L 444 horsepower engine, and free from the electronic speed limiter the VW Phaeton W12 can hit a top speed of 170mph. This low key car costs only $12,000.
5 Ford F-150 2.7L EcoBoost
Station wagons are the best getaway cars, but pickup trucks can be just as good. The cops will never suspect it from the parking lot until it hits the road. And that’s why these fast trucks will forever be low keys. The Ford EcoBoost is a lot more than a family carrying vehicle that you go shopping with. And it’s the 365hp engine that pushes this huge truck through a quarter mile in 14.6 seconds. A car that can attain the 0-60mph acceleration in 5.9 seconds is definitely worthy of being called a muscle truck.
4 Honda Accord EX-L V6 Coupe
Even if every other company is taking it slow with their production of midsize sedans, Honda isn't, and that’s why we have the Accord EX-L V6 Coupe on this list.
Its optional 3.5L V6 engine sitting under the hood makes it a genuine low key speed demon that can accelerate from 0-60 miles per hour in 6 seconds.
The motor spits out 278 horsepower and 251 lb-ft of torque. It also comes with an optional 6-speed manual transmission. It's a family sedan outside, and a powerful sporting machine inside.
3 Volvo S60 R
Well, here's another Volvo in the list of the best low key cars of all time, the Volvo S60 R. While it looks like any other luxury sedan on the road, the S60 is fitted with a turbo that boosts the power from the 5-cylinder engine to 300 horsepower, and 300 lb-ft of torque. It is an all-wheel-drive machine that comes with a 6-speed manual transmission, and an optional driver-assist feature. Removing the driver assist from the advanced settings gives you all the control.
2 2012 Toyota Sequoia SR5
This being a Toyota, you don't need any explanation, you know it is a perfect fit for this list.
Its slow-looking and boring exterior hide a potent V8 engine capable of 310 horsepower.
That's enough to push this vehicle from 0 to 60 in 7.4 seconds, and it clears a quarter-mile in 15 seconds. Surprisingly, this big road machine also comes with optional nitrous, if the average speed is not enough for you.
1 2010 Nissan Altima Sedan
This low key Altima sedan has a reputation in Japan. It is a four-door sedan that for many years, with its 270 horsepower engine, has been capable of either hiding from the police by blending in on the road, or showing them dust even if it gets noticed. Just look at the picture above, and imagine such a car accelerating from 0 to 60 miles per hour in under 6 seconds. As if that’s not impressive enough, the quarter mile is cleared in 13 seconds. You’ll never see this one coming.
Sources: autotrader.com, thrillist.com, zeroto60times.com, ranker.com