They’re the complete opposite of sleepers: cars that look fast, but aren’t.
You can’t blame an automaker for wanting to design a car that looks fast, even if it doesn’t have what it takes under the hood. But some cars are so stylish and sporty-looking that it can be surprising to find out just how sluggish they are.
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So we decided to take a look around and pick out the top 10 cars that look fast, but you would just be surprisingly disappointed once you get behind the steering wheel. Did we miss any? Let us know in the comments.
10. Porsche Cayenne
If you see a Porsche badge on a vehicle, it’s perfectly understandable that you would believe it packs plenty of performance under the hood. But that’s really not the case with the Porsche Cayenne, which looks fast for an SUV. But here’s the thing, the standard model goes zero to 60 mph in 7.3 seconds and has a top speed of 142 mph, making it slow by Porsche standards. The entry-level Cayenne is powered by a 3.6-liter V6 engine with 300 horsepower and 295 pound-feet of torque, which might sound like enough, but it really isn’t if you consider how heavy it is. If you really want to go fast in a Cayenne, the Turbo or GTS will do the trick.
9. Hyundai Veloster
Hyundai once offered the Tiburon, another car that looked faster than it really was. But since the Tiburon was discontinued, now it’s the Veloster’s curvy and bold styling giving the impression of speed. But then you’re sorely disappointed when you hear the standard Veloster has a 1.6-liter four-cylinder engine with just 132 hp and 120 lb-ft of torque. There is also a Turbo model with a 1.6-liter turbocharged four-cylinder mill churning 201 hp and 195 lb-ft of torque, which is more respectable, but still isn’t fast enough to match its sporty style.
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Mazda’s Kodo design language has resulted in some very attractive, sporty-looking cars and the Mazda6 is no exception. The popular sedan is easier on the eyes than a Toyota Camry, but its sleek styling makes it appear much faster than it is. Under the hood is a 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine providing 184 hp and 185 lb-ft of torque, and if you’re hauling an entire family, then it’s not going very fast anytime soon.
Rumor has it, however, that Mazda’s new 2.5-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine fits in the Mazda6’s engine bay, so the Japanese automaker could be looking at making the sedan as fast as it looks.
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7. Toyota Celica
It’s a real shame the Toyota Celica went out with a whimper instead of a bang. The last model looked like a legitimate sports car, but its performance was a massive disappointment. In the U.S., the Celica GT had a 1.8-liter four-cylinder engine with a meager 140 hp and 125 lb-ft of torque, and even the more powerful GT-S only had 180 hp and 133 lb-ft of torque. To put that into perspective, the Scion tC has 179 hp and 172 lb-ft of torque, and no one considers the tC to be a fast car at all.
6. Dodge Dart
Even its name alludes to speed, but the Dodge Dart is anything but fast. To further rub salt in the wound, the American automaker tags the Dart as a “fuel efficient compact car,” despite its styling. For the same brand that has the Dodge Viper and the insane Hellcat engine, it’s almost appalling that the Dart comes standard with a 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine with a laughable 160 hp and 148 lb-ft of torque. There are other engine options, however, with a 1.4-liter turbocharged unit providing 160 hp and 184 lb-ft of torque, while a 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine has 184 hp and 174 lb-ft of torque. Dodge tragically calls the 2.4-liter a “powerhouse,” but the automaker isn’t fooling anyone.
5. Mitsubishi Lancer GT
The biggest problem the Mitsubishi Lancer has is that it looks like an Evolution. What’s worse is that the Evolution model has been phased out, so now this mundane sedan carries a heritage of high-performance, turbocharged power but only has a standard 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine with 148 hp. Even at the top of the range, the GT model sports a 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine with 168 hp, a far cry from the Evolution’s 291-hp turbocharged engine.
4. Mazda MX-5 Miata
The latest iteration of the Mazda MX-5 Miata is one attractive looking roadster. And like the Mazda6 before on the list, the new Miata definitely looks the part of being fast in ways previous generation models didn’t. And it can be fast, but just not in a straight line — corners are where the Miata shines. With a 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine with 155 hp and 148 lb-ft of torque, the MX-5 Miata isn’t going to blow the doors off any other cars on the road, but its advantage is when the roads get twisty. It would be difficult to find someone that argues the MX-5 Miata isn’t fun to drive. The MX-5 doesn’t need to be that fast because it is so light and engaging.
3. DeLorean DMC-12
The DeLorean DMC-12 may have been made famous because of Back to the Future, but there was nothing truly fast about the car itself, even though it looked the part with its gullwing doors. The original vehicle came equipped with a 2.8-liter V6 engine that made around 130 hp. But the good news is, it’s making a comeback with its original design and DMC is talking to a couple of suppliers so that it can install a modern V6 powerplant that will offer between 350 to 400 hp. Maybe then, the DeLorean will finally go as fast as it looks, even though its styling is terribly outdated for the modern era.
2. Honda CR-Z
When the Honda CR-Z was first announced, Honda enthusiasts were drooling at the possibility that the compact hatch would be a true successor to the CR-X. But alas, the CR-Z turned out to be a hybrid and even then, it didn’t do such a great job at getting amazing fuel economy, returning 39 mpg on the highway. And although it had a sporty, aggressive design, the CR-Z has a meager 130 hp and 140 lb-ft of torque with a six-speed manual transmission, and only 127 lb-ft of torque with the CVT. The paradoxical car was neither sporty or fuel efficient and is probably why it has been discontinued from the automaker’s lineup.
1. Scion FR-S / Subaru BRZ / Toyota 86
When it comes to modern sports cars, there are very few that look as fast as the Scion FR-S and Subaru BRZ. The FR-S will soon be known as the Toyota 86, but that doesn’t change the fact that so many are disappointed in its straight-line performance. With a 2.0-liter Boxer engine under the hood, it produces 200 hp and 151 lb-ft of torque in the BRZ, while the 86 will get 205 hp and 156 lb-ft of torque. Neither are terribly impressive and although it’s a fun car to drive and handles great, the fact that it just isn’t fast has left enthusiasts wondering what could have been.