Let’s say you’ve got an insatiable appetite for speed but you also have other responsibilities like three kids, a golden retriever, volunteer work on weekends and other domestic duties.
We hear you loud and clear and feel your pain. But just because you need sensible transportation doesn’t mean you have to completely sacrifice performance at the altar of practicality. Oh no…
There are actually plenty of highly entertaining vehicles on the market right now that are guaranteed to put a smile on your face, one so lasting that you can go for a drive on Monday and still have a grin for the rest of the week. These models span the market from luxury vehicles to family sedans, SUVs to pickup trucks; some of them are even quite affordable, but others not so much.
Dodge Charger Hellcat
One of the easiest recommendations we can make is the Charger Hellcat. This full-size sedan packs the heat of two fully-operational nuclear reactors, well, maybe not that much power, but its supercharged 6.2-liter Hemi is an absolute beast. This Dodge has 707 horses on tap but that’s not its only parlor trick. It also comes with four doors, a spacious back seat and 16.5 cubic feet of luggage space. With a base price around 64 grand how do you argue?
Mercedes E63 AMG Wagon
But let’s say you need even more luxury and interior space than a Hellcat can offer. Well, Chrysler’s old partner turned ruinous overlord is happy to oblige. The Mercedes E63 AMG wagon is as fast as it is practical thanks to a zero-to-60 time of 3.6 seconds and more than 57 cubic feet of cargo space. Delivering that explosive performance is a 5.5-liter twin-turbo V8 that puts out 577 hp and 590 lb-ft of twist. It’s paired with a special seven-speed automatic transmission that features a wet clutch instead of a traditional torque converter. All told it’s roomy enough that you could start a jug band and go on tour across the country. Base price is around $104,000.
Subaru WRX STI
Of course not everyone can afford to drop 100 G’s on a new ride. Fortunately, there are some practical and attainable performance cars on the market today. One such car is the Subaru WRX STI. This small sedan starts around $35,000, serves up an energetic 305 ponies and comes with a six-speed manual transmission. Upping its versatility factor, this car comes standard with Subaru’s famous Symmetrical All-Wheel-Drive system, which means the WRX STI is ready for just about any kind of driving.
Volkswagen Golf R
Arguably even more practical than the boxer-brandishing STI is Volkswagen’s Golf R. This hot little compact is graced with a commodious hatchback, one that endows it with a metric ton of interior space, or more specifically around 53 cubic feet of junk-ingesting room. Beyond that it’s powered by a 292-hp, 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine that’s matched to a lightning-fast six-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission. Like the Subaru, torque is routed to all four corners for maximum grip. Throw in subtle design, a luxury-car interior and lots of features and it’s easy to fall for this VW. Base price is around 37 grand.
Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT
All-wheel drive is all well and good, but some people need serious off-road capability and that’s something these systems cannot deliver. For true mud-slinging, a Jeep is just about perfect, but not just any model. How about one that’s as competent on the racetrack as it is on the Rubicon trail? The brand’s Grand Cherokee SRT features a 6.4-liter V8 engine that puts out 475 horses, all of which are harnessed by an eight-speed automatic transmission. A full-time four-wheel-drive system ensures you can go practically anywhere, nearly 70 cubic feet of cargo volume means you can take just about anything along for the ride. Sixty miles an hour can be yours in just 4.8 seconds; base price is less than $66,000.
Ford F-150 Raptor
But sometimes you need an open bed, which the Grand Cherokee can not offer unless you possess a reciprocating saw. Eliminating the need to slice and dice is the Ford Raptor. This ground-pounding pickup is certifiably badass, with copious ground clearance, dedicated hardware and the power to back it all up. Under the hood it features a 6.2-liter V8 that delivers 411 ponies and 434 lb-ft of torque. All told, this SVT F-150 is fast, tough and extremely desirable.
Ahoy, matey! Ready to set sail on the SS Chevrolet? Er, we mean the Chevy SS? This large sedan is similar to the Charger Hellcat in several ways. It’s got a big engine up front, a rear-wheel-drive architecture underneath and plenty of space inside. But mixing things up it comes with a special magnetic suspension system and you can even get one with a manual transmission, an honest-to-goodness six-speed. Horses measure 415 and are provided by a 6.2-liter V8.
The previous vehicle may be a touch old school (not that there’s anything wrong with that), but our next suggestion is entirely more technical. The Audi RS 7 features a 4.0-liter, twin-turbocharged V8, a highly advanced powertrain complete with an eight-speed self-shifting gearbox and quattro all-wheel drive. All told it’s packing more heat than Mexican drug cartels, 560 hp to be precise. This “four-door coupe” can seat four adult passengers in reasonable comfort and hold a fair amount of stuff thanks to its lift-back rear end. But perhaps best of all it drives amazingly well, looks gorgeous and can hit 60 miles an hour in just 3.7 seconds. Base price is around 109 grand so you practically have to sell drugs to be able to afford one.
The Porsche Panamera is a big sedan, a car with a long wheelbase and a generous back seat. But just because it’s of the larger persuasion doesn’t mean it can’t thrill the driver. In Turbo S guise, it’s got a force-fed 4.8-liter V8 engine with 570 horses. When equipped with the Sport Chrono package it can hit 60 MPH in 3.6 seconds, nipping the RS 7 by a tenth of a second. Top speed is 192. Is that fast enough for you? Regrettably that extra speed compared to its four-ring rival is going to cost you. This car is priced around 180 large. Ouch!
BMW X5 M
Providing space, speed and style, BMW’s X5 M seems to have it all. A 4.4-liter twin-turbo V8 delivers 567 hp and 553 lb-ft of torque. That’s enough to make it their most powerful engine ever developed for an all-wheel-drive vehicle. Harnessing that goodness is an eight-speed automatic transmission. Despite having nearly 77 cubic feet of luggage space the X5 M can go from zero to 60 in four seconds flat.