Every person's dream is to own a car that checks off the boxes for performance as well as aesthetics. However, to achieve the delicate balance between the two, there needs to be a certain trade-off. A car owner can go for a more exotic look, or invest more in the performance department. Trying to obtain the best of both worlds is an impractical task.
A car that looks as if it would shatter the speed limit before the driver has even applied the throttle will no doubt pique the interest of the cops more than those which appear to be everyday vehicles. If you have committed the folly of actually bulking the performance of such a car, usually through aftermarket mods, then you should be prepared for serious consequences. A general method of bypassing such issues is by converting your car into what is known as a “sleeper”. A sleeper is a car which gives the look of an ordinary vehicle while packing some extraordinary power under the hood.
On the other end of the scale, car enthusiasts will go for a purely aesthetic upgrade which will incidentally trigger the cop’s interest. A balance has to be achieved to satisfy both demands. Let us look at 25 such examples of vehicles which not only quench the need for speed but also render being pulled over pretty much impossible.
25 Buick Grand National
Customers do not expect performance when it comes to Buick. However, in 1982 Buick delivered perhaps its most famous product, the Grand National, in remembrance to its success in Nascar.
According to Top Speed, the Grand National started out with a 3.8-liter V6 engine which pumped out 200 horsepower, a decent amount for its time.
The power output increased to 235 horsepower, to 245 horsepower, and eventually to 276 horsepower in 1987 in a limited edition Grand National X. The Grand National arrived in a black paint job which gave it a menacing look and was considered one of the few true muscle cars of its era.
24 Audi RS2 Avant
First hitting the market in August 1994, the Avant is not a car one would consider inexpensive, given it had a starting price of approximately $60,000. According to Digital Trends, the Avant was manufactured concurrently by two German companies in Porsche’s plant located at Zuffenhausen, Germany. Pumping out 315 horsepower and over 300lbs.ft of torque, the Avant was capable of doing 0-60 mph in under 5 seconds. With an electronically limited top speed of 155 mph, the Avant is a prime example of a beast hidden underneath an otherwise underwhelming appearing family car.
23 Mercury Marauder
First appearing on the scene in the 60’s and retired in 1970, the original Marauder’s identity of huge power mixed with refined elegance went out of fashion until its reincarnation in 2003.
According to Buzz Drives, the new, revamped Marauder not only featured overwhelming power thanks to a new V8 engine cranking out 302 horsepower but also combined that with a reworked suspension.
The end result was a product packing serious potential hidden under the guise of a worthwhile cruiser. The DOHC engine powered the Marauder from 0-60 mph in roughly 7 seconds.
22 BMW Alpina B7 Biturbo
Featuring heavy revisions to its powertrain, the Alpina B7 has a top speed of 205 miles per hour, thanks to its 4.4-liter twin-turbocharged engine pumping out 600 horsepower and nearly 600 lbs.ft of torque. According to Auto Car, the B7 also debuted a new direct intercooler system to better manage engine temperatures, allowing the B7 to carry on with greater loads for longer periods of time. Equipped with an 8-speed manual gearbox and a rear-wheel drive system, the B7 can sprint from 0-60 mph in a mind-numbing 4 seconds. The B7 also features extra chassis tuning options for active roll suspension.
21 Volvo V70 R
When a conversation about fast cars is going on, chances are slim to none that they would include Volvo in them. With a starting price of $33,700, the V70 eschews traditional Volvo standards to deliver a station wagon delivering nearly 300 horsepower and a 0-60 mph capability in under 6 seconds.
According to Auto Car, the V70 suffers from a mismatch between its chassis and its power output.
The car has a rough, uneven feel even on relatively smooth roads. Although the seating is fairly comfortable and spacious, it is not enough to warrant the price tag of the Volvo.
20 Mazda Speed 6
With a starting price of $22,845, the Mazda 6 concept was unveiled at a car show in 2002 while the fully-fledged model was put on sale in the latter half of 2004. The Mazda 6 featured a six-speed manual gearbox and a 4-cylinder turbo engine delivering 274 horsepower to an all-wheel-drive system. This gives the Mazda 6 the ability to reach 0-60 mph in 5.5 seconds, all the while retaining the aesthetics of a tame animal. The Mazda 6 is referred to as a small family sedan by Buzz Drives but has been reintroduced as an upgraded Mazda 3 thanks to its powertrain and a revised suspension.
19 Cadillac CTS-V Wagon
Debuted in 2002, the CTS is currently in its third-generation model. According to Digital Trends, the CTS-V Wagon remains one of the most stunning looking wagons manufactured by a U.S based Company. Powered by a 6.2-liter V8 cranking out over 550 horsepower, the CTS-V can do 0-60 mph in a lightning-fast 4 seconds, enabling it to reach a top speed of 185 miles per hour.
The CTS-V comes loaded with a vast array of interior features to go along with its superlative performance.
It houses a 12.3-inch infotainment system coupled with a Bose Surround Sound audio system and 4G LTE connectivity, making the CTS-V an excellent hybrid of performance and practicality.
18 Ford Taurus SHO
With a price tag of $42,975, the SHO is the sixth model of the Taurus family of vehicles introduced in 2010. According to Edmunds, the SHO delivers a smooth and quiet driving experience and an above average trunk capacity, which unfortunately is not retained by its rather puny interior spacing. The SHO also suffers from a sluggish experience while negotiating turns. On the plus side, however, the SHO is big on power. The SHO features a 3.5-liter V6 EcoBoost engine capable of cranking out 365 horsepower and 350 lbs.ft of torque delivered through an automatic six-speed transmission.
17 Bentley Mulsanne
Introduced in 2015, the Mulsanne is not a car to be considered for those on a budget. Costing a staggering $338,325, the Mulsanne nonetheless combines luxury with all-out power.
According to Car and Driver, the Mulsanne is fitted with a 6.75-liter V8 twin turbo engine capable of pumping out 530 horsepower and a ferocious 811 lbs.ft of torque
The interior comes with a myriad of luxury options such as real wood trim, soft leather upholstery and a built-in cooler for champagne. The Bentley Mulsanne is an ideal option for those who can afford to dazzle in ruthless performance with a touch of elegance.
16 Volkswagen Golf R
For those not in the loop, the Golf R may appear to be a regular compact hatchback, with an absence of fins or wings to give the notion of performance. However, it is anything but as such. Equipped with a 4-cylinder 2-liter turbocharged engine capable of putting out 300 horsepower and 295 lbs.ft of torque, the Golf R comes in both manual and automatic configurations. Combine all that and you get a car capable of putting out 0-60 mph in 5.2 seconds and a top speed of over 150 miles per hour. This power is coupled with superior handling capabilities, which will bring a smile to your face at every turn.
15 Chevrolet Malibu SS
The roaring exhaust of the Malibu SS gives an indication that it is not a traditional boring Malibu. According to Buzz Drives, the Malibu is set apart from most family sedans thanks to its V8 engine cranking out nearly 415 horsepower. Combine this with a drivetrain consisting of a six-speed manual transmission and a rear-wheel drive system, the Malibu SS with its reworked magnetic suspension is a car packing serious potential. Unfortunately, Chevrolet has terminated the production of the SS model after 2017. Therefore, it will not be possible for customers to get their hands Chevy Malibu SS model for the foreseeable future.
14 Saab 9-2 AX Aero
Powered by either a 2.0-liter turbocharged engine delivering 227 horsepower or a 2.5-liter engine producing 165 horsepower coupled with an all-wheel-drive system, the 9-2 AX Aero is the first ever Saab assembled in Japan. According to Auto Car, the Saab owner GM holds a twenty percent stake Fuji Heavy Industries, the parent company of Subaru. This means that the 9-2 AX Aero is developed exclusively in Japan which affords the company a greater capacity to economize. With more silent exhaust notes and a paucity for flashy bodywork, the AX Aero is fundamentally a Subaru WRX, costing upwards of $23,000.
13 Audi RS6 Avant
With a hefty price tag of $104,600, the Avant does not give the impression of a vehicle possessing unruly power within its confines. The RS6 was first created in 2002. It was fitted with a 4.2-liter V8 twin turbo engine which made the RS6 a competent car for the quarter-mile. The RS6 raised eyebrows with its 2008 model which was equipped with a V10 configuration. This V10 had a displacement of 5 liters and pumped out 571 horsepower, a specification often mistaken to be correct for the Gallardo. The current version of the RS6 went back to its roots to a V8 configuration engine with a displacement capacity of 4 liters producing 552 horsepower for the standard trim and 596 horsepower for the performance trim.
12 Lotus Carlton
The Lotus Carlton initiated its production run in 1990, with the manufacturer’s aim of creating a saloon capable of achieving speeds beyond 170 miles per hour. According to Buzz Drives, the Carlton was initially a product of Vauxhall and started out as one of their products, the Opel. It was only when the Lotus merged with Vauxhall’s parent company, General Motors, did the Carlton start to take shape.
With a price tag of $63,200, the Carlton took the title of world’s fastest sedan thanks to some quite astonishing performance figures.
Powered by a 3.6-liter turbocharged engine delivering 377 horsepower, the Carlton could do 0-60mph in under 5.5 seconds and a 0-100-0 in a staggering 17 seconds. Couple that to a top speed of 180 miles per hour, the Carlton is the very definition of speed demon unnoticeable to a cop’s eye.
11 Mercedes Benz 500E
The 500E was the first ever collaborated effort between Mercedes and Porsche, two German powerhouses not known to see eye to eye. According to Motor1, the 500E underwent partial development at both manufacturer’s plant. Porsche undertook the challenge of working and strengthening the chassis which would then be delivered to the Mercedes plant. It was there that the paint and interior would be finalized and would be sent back to Porsche for developing the drivetrain. The entire manufacturing phase took over 18 days but delivered extraordinary results. The 500E was equipped with a 5.0-liter V8 engine which had been revised to produce 322 horsepower enabling it to reach 0-60 mph in under 6 seconds and a top speed of 155 miles per hour.
10 Volvo 850
The 850 was a collaborative effort between Volvo and Porsche and first burst on to the scene in 1992. According to RAC, the 850 is a true family car, packing the performance of a sports car.
Packed with a 2.5-liter turbocharged engine producing nearly 250 horsepower, the Volvo 850 was capable of reaching speeds up to 150 miles per hour.
From its production run of 1992 to 1995, the 850 was available in a front-wheel drive system only, however, starting from 1996, an all-wheel-drive system was made available as well. In 1995, a special version of the 850, called the 850R was rolled out which featured a slightly reworked turbo to crank the output up to 300 horsepower.
9 Dodge Neon SRT-4
The SRT-4 was no ordinary Neon. According to Car and Driver, the SRT-4 reached 60 miles per hour from a standstill in 5.6 seconds, while 100 miles per hour took 13.8 seconds. With a quarter-mile time of 14.2 seconds and a top speed exceeding 153 miles per hour, the SRT-4 was a different breed to the rest of Neon’s lineups. The SRT-4 achieves these figures thanks to a reworked 2.4-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder engine capable of delivering 125 horsepower and 245 lbs.ft of torque. To compensate for the added heat generated due to this reworked turbo, the SRT-4 features an intake set into the front-left fender.
8 Chevrolet Cobalt SS
With a base price of $22,000, Chevrolet introduced the Cobalt SS in 2005. The SS came in two trims: the base sedan in a 2.2-liter engine producing 145 horsepower and the more enthusiastic 2.0-liter supercharged variant delivering 205 horsepower.
According to Car and Driver, this translated into the Cobalt SS having a 0-60 mph time of 6.1 seconds, while reaching 100 mph took an extra 10 seconds.
With a top speed of 140 miles per hour, the Cobalt SS provided decent fuel economy of 23 miles per gallon for in city driving.
7 Saab 9000
Making its debut in 1985, the 9000 was a five-door executive car that was powered by a 2.0-liter turbocharged engine producing 136 horsepower. The 9000 underwent a revision in 1991, where it received a makeover to its suspension and an anti-lock braking system. The engine was upgraded to a 2.3 liter-engine which could produce 220 horsepower. The biggest feature of the 9000 was that they were extremely sturdy, reliable, and the engine could be tuned to produce in the region of 600 horsepower while not having to worry about the internals not being able to handle the power, making the 9000 a super choice for tearing up the asphalt.
6 Acura TL
The Ohio-manufactured sedan may not possess the most appealing visuals(from stock) however, it delivers a big bang for the buck in terms of technology and luxury. With a starting price of $36,950, the Acura TL comes packed with a 3.7-liter, V6 which produces up to 305 horsepower and 273 lbs.ft of torque, delivered through an all-wheel-drive system. This enables the TL to accomplish 0-60 mph in 6.2 seconds with a top speed limited to 125 miles per hour. The TL features a well-crafted interior however, that is mitigated by the fact that it is absolutely cluttered with buttons, making for a quite unintuitive experience.
5 BMW 760Li
It was 2013 when BMW unleashed the latest flagship of one of its most popular 700 series models: the 760Li. According to Edmunds, the 760Li featured various engine options as well as a plug-in option.
With a price tag of $156,700, the top end version is a 6.6-liter V12 twin turbo engine capable of pumping out 601 horsepower and 553 lbs.ft of torque.
This meant that the 760Li was capable of superb acceleration figures even in the face of the 760’s rather hefty size. For the hybrid plugin option, the only available drivetrain is the all-wheel-drive system, unlike the V8 turbocharged option which can be added to either an all-wheel or rear-wheel drive car.
4 Tesla P85D
Electric cars may not be of everyone’s taste, however, there is no disputing the fact that they are just as capable of going as fast or faster than gasoline vehicles. Enter the Tesla P85D, debuting in 2015 which completely changed the landscape for acceleration figures. According to Car and Driver, the P85D featured two motors working in conjunction to deliver an all-wheel-drive capability. The front motor was rated at 225 horsepower and a rear motor, to drive the rear wheels was rated at 470 horsepower, combining the two gives the P85D a total power output of 691 horsepower. This propelled the P85D from 0-60 mph at a quite astonishing 3.2 seconds.
3 Honda CRX
One of Honda’s shortest production series, the CRX had a production run of 3 years from 1984 to 87. According to Road and Track, Honda split its iconic civic series into three cars, which incorporated the CRX and was meant to tackle Tokyo-level traffic. This meant that the base model of the CRX was 1.3-liter 4-cylinder engine producing a paltry 60 horsepower.
It wasn’t until 1985 that Honda provided a bulkier engine alternative, with a 1.5-liter 4 cylinder in-line capable of pumping out 91 horsepower to lower the 0-60 miles per hour time to 8.5 seconds.
A popular choice among the enthusiasts, the CRX would undergo major revisions such as incorporating a turbo and weight reduction, lowering the CRX’s curb weight to 1,820 pounds. This meant that the CRX would potentially ramp up to 300 to 400 horsepower.
2 Dodge Grand Caravan
With a starting price of $27,645, the Grand Caravan is one of those no-nonsense family minivans. A 3.6-liter V6 power gives bad boy nearly 300 horsepower, a top speed of 113 miles per hour, and a fuel economy of 17 miles per gallon in city driving. Equipped with a front-wheel-drive system, the Grand Caravan has the 0-60 mph capability of under 8 seconds. According to Car and Driver, the Caravan fuses power with a luxurious and spacious cabin which can seat up to seven passengers. The Caravan is one of those vehicles that will leave you surprised when it rips away from a traffic signal.
1 Ford SVT Contour
The SVT is an acronym for Ford’s Special Vehicle Team. The Contour combines a tall body and a soft suspension. Rather than giving the experience of bouncing around, Car and Driver notes that the Contour, in fact, keeps the body well planted in the face of tight curves.
On the flip side, however, the Contour suffers from excessive understeer which translates to the front tire spinning helplessly under application of power.
The Contour provides a comfortable ride experience at lower speeds however, the interior is not something of everyone’s liking. The seats get approval but criticism is often thrown towards the excessively large distance between the seat and the steering wheel, making it a hassle to keep your foot close to the gas and brake pedals. Yikes.
Sources: caranddriver.com, topspeed.com, topgear.com