All-wheel drive. For those who live in climates where there is snow and ice, most people gravitate towards that technology in their cars. It’s one of the reasons why crossovers and SUVs are so popular.
You don’t have to drive a crossover to have the safety and security of all-wheel drive. If you want a sporty ride with all four wheels powered, there are plenty of options to choose from.
In a sports car, all-wheel drive helps as much in the dry as in the elements. If a car starts to slide, power to the front wheels can help you get things back into shape. It’s extra security to keep you out of the crash barriers.
In a high-horsepower car, it even helps you accelerate faster. Some of the sports cars on this list can accelerate to 60 mph in less than 3 seconds. That’s only possible with all four wheels providing power and traction.
ALSO SEE: Top 5 Best AWD Hatchbacks: 2019
We’ve compiled a list of some of the best AWD sports cars you can buy at a variety of prices. Some of the cars on this list are textbook, “traditional” sports cars, but others are sporty cars that are a bit practical. There are important differences between sports cars and sporty cars …
That’s OK because some of these non-dedicated sports cars are faster around a track or on a back road than a pure sports car. They’re just as light and just as fun. That’s the point of a sports car – to have fun.
Every car on this list is definitely fun.
When it comes to all-wheel drive performance, many enthusiasts gravitate towards the Subaru WRX and the STI. In a lot of ways, these vehicles were the original performance all-wheel-drive rockets in North America.
It’s easy to see why. Not only were they around when the tuner culture exploded in North America, but they have a history steeped in rallying. Still today there’s no faster way to navigate a rally course than with an STI.
The WRX is also affordable and will be all-new early next year. If that’s not enough, the STI gets 310 horsepower and a clever center differential for the best traction on all surfaces.
It’s the benchmark.
Tesla has built a reputation for making high powered, ludicrously quick accelerating vehicles, and the latest Model S Plaid is the best yet. With peak horsepower set at a mind boggling 1,020, the Plaid can accelerate from 0 to 60 mph in just 1.99 seconds. Tesla claims it can reach a top speed of 200 mph as well.
More than just a straight line warrior, the Plaid can also hold its own when the road bends as evident by the car’s recent accomplishments at the famed Nurburgring race track.
Being the only all electric car on this list, the Models S is indeed the oddball of the group, highlighted perfectly by its unusual yoke steering, uh, wheel.
Subaru’s all-wheel-drive sports car offerings are fun, but they’re not particularly comfortable for a daily driver. The point of a hot hatch is to be able to take care of you during the week and also be fun on the weekend.
Volkswagen’s Golf R is that car that competes against the other two. Its 292-horsepower isn’t the most in the group, nor is its 280 lb-ft of torque. But combined with some clever engineering from VW, the car more than keeps up.
Build quality and features put the Golf R competitively positioned in this segment for price, but with Audi-like refinement and technology. It also has a more restrained look than the other sporty compacts in this segment.
Plus, a 6-year bumper-to-bumper warranty in the United States means you can have carefree fun.
You might be thinking, “isn’t a Dodge Challenger a muscle car?” Dodge will even say that it is, but the Challenger GT deserves a spot on our list.
The Challenger GT is all-wheel drive and only comes with a V6 making 305 horsepower. It uses a ZF-sourced 8-speed automatic, which tends to be a joy to use. It’s the only AWD muscle car on the market right now.
The all-wheel drive comes straight from the Charger Pursuit police car and biases power to the rear wheels. It’s still a heavy ride, but it’s easy to slide around corners in the wet or in the dry. It’s a sports car that you can drive all year round right out of the box – you don’t even need different tires.
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Sharing the same platform as the Golf R, the Audi RS 3 cranks up the performance. On board is a truly epic 400 horsepower turbocharged five-cylinder engine. Don’t let the sedan body fool you, this car is a sports car through-and-through.
MORE INFO: Audi RS 3 Review
Audi’s five-cylinder engine has its origins in rallying, like many of these all-wheel-drive performance cars, and has a sound unique to the configuration. If you opt for the performance exhaust, you’ll be convinced you’re driving a rally car.
Audi’s smallest sports car comes with all-wheel drive. The TT is sometimes referred to as a baby supercar. It is possible to order a ton of different options and even get a convertible.
There is even the five-cylinder turbo that’s in the RS3, which will get the small coupe from zero to 60 mph in 3.5 seconds.
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Unlike the cars mentioned so far, the TT is a two-door only. There is a rear seat in case of an emergency on the coupe models, but it’s more for storage than passenger comfort.
It’s an automatic transmission only car, but it will bring a smile to your face.
Jaguar’s two-seat coupe and roadster are some of the prettiest cars on sale, and they can be had with all-wheel drive.
ALSO SEE: Top 10 Best Sports Cars for the Money
Available in a few trim levels, there is either a 575-horsepower supercharged V8 or a 380-horsepower supercharged V6. The V6 with the sports exhaust has a unique soundtrack unheard of from other cars and moves along quite well.
Unfortunately, if you want the four-cylinder or the manual transmission, you have to get rear-wheel drive, but the ZF-sourced 8-speed automatic is one of the best in the business.
When journalists first drove the Nissan GT-R, they proclaimed it to be “Godzilla.” This king of the sports cars was a force of nature with a sophisticated all-wheel-drive system and a massive turbocharged engine.
It’s received incremental updates over the years, and the Pure trim level now houses 565 horsepower, a six-speed dual clutch automatic transmission, and a launch control system that feels more like a rocket launch than acceleration.
Why so much hyperbole for the GT-R? Because even as it gets old, it’s still one of the best bang-for-your-buck sports cars on the planet.
Most Porsche 911s are rear-wheel drive. But if you opt for a Carrera with a 4 in the name, you get all-wheel drive.
The world’s most iconic sports car comes in coupe, convertible, and Targa forms with differing power levels from a turbocharged flat-6 engine. Buyers can opt for a 7-speed manual transmission or Porsche’s epic PDK automatic.
The regular Porsche 911 is a sports car for backroad adventures. The 911 Turbo models are also that, but they can also take you across the country in speed and comfort.
Even though almost all 911s are turbocharged, only a select few get a Turbo badge and name. Those two models are some of the fastest-accelerating cars on the planet.
The 911 Turbo starts with 540 horsepower. The S models are more expensive but up the power to 607 horsepower. Turbos are blisteringly quick but have the comfort you’d expect from a long-distance cruiser.
The first-generation NSX was lusted after by many because it was a reliable alternative to an Italian sports car. You could use it every day.
The new car is a technological tour-de-force with a hybrid assist system that debut at 573 horsepower and a top speed of 191 mph.
For 2022, the NSX is on a farewell tour, with a special 600 hp Type-S edition to mark the car’s final days. If it has to go out, at least it is going out with a bang.
Topping the range for Audi performance, the R8 comes in a variety of V10-powered flavors depending on your needs. The standard rear-wheel drive V10 coupe comes with 562-horsepower for the U.S. version. But upgrade to the all-wheel drive version and power jumps to 602 hp.
The mid-engine sports car sends most of the power to the rear wheels for on track performance but can shift the power forward if things get scary.
The V10 on board is basically the same engine in the more-expensive Lamborghini Huracán.
The Huracán is Lamborghini’s entry-level supercar. It’s powered by the same V10 that appears in the Audi R8 V10 Plus, making 602 horsepower. It also uses a dual-clutch automatic for shifting duties, sending power to all four wheels.
Because Lamborghini is owned by Volkswagen, which also owns Audi, much of the technology in this Italian supercar works well. There’s a Lamborghini version of Virtual Cockpit for the instrument cluster and infotainment.
Though the Huracán shares a lot with the R8, the cars are set up for completely different buyers.
Don’t want the coupe? You can get it in a convertible, or a more driver-focused Performante trim.
There are few cars left on sale, sports car or not, that are powered by a naturally aspirated V12 engine. The AWD Lamborghini Aventador is one of those cars.
A standard Aventador has 691 horsepower sent to all four wheels via a single clutch automated manual. The car is big, wild, and intense. It’s extroversion on wheels.
The Huracán is the sports car you can take to the track and have a good time. The Aventador is a car that you need to know what you’re doing to get the most out of. But if you do, it’s epic.
While one could argue that a pickup truck can’t be a sports car, it’d be a shame to leave such a performer off of an all-wheel-drive performance list.
It has an all-wheel-drive system that doubles as a truck four-wheel drive setup when it needs to. It has a 450-horsepower engine that shares most of its components with the Ford GT supercar. It has a Baja mode that enables anti-lag on the engine, which is racing car technology.
Ford calls the Raptor the “911 of trucks,” and it’s a vehicle that feels at home on pavement or blasting 100 mph through the desert. Many supercar garages have a Raptor in them, and for good reason.
There are other high-performance automobiles out there with all-wheel drive that you probably think should be on a sporty car list. While we tried to keep the list limited to sports cars and some fun sporty cars, there are a few more that we feel are worth mentioning.
The new BMW M5 CS for example, is a more focused version of the midsize family performance car. With 627 horsepower, it’s a welcomed addition.
Mercedes-AMG is no stranger to high-powered, all-wheel-drive performance cars. Most of the cars wearing that badge are all-wheel drive and tremendously quick. Many would be worth being on the honorable mention list, but we’re going to limit it to just one – the E63 S wagon.
Why? Because this family station wagon has optional carbon ceramic brakes and can keep up with Porsches on race tracks while being loaded down with kids. It’s a bonkers car in every way possible.
Audi RS models, including some already on this list, all come with all-wheel drive. They also have big, family versions that are fast even If they aren’t sports cars. For our honorable mention here, we’re going to gush over the RS7.
It’s hatchback design makes it practical while it’s coupe-shape make it look attractive. Buyers can also get one with over 600 horsepower.
Finally, one could argue that the Bugatti Chiron isn’t a sports car, but it’s sportier than many vehicles on this list and has 1,500 horsepower. Not including the fastest car in the world on a list of fast all-wheel-drive cars would be negligence.
Sure, it’s a $3,000,000 car and they’re only going to build 500 of them total, but it still all-wheel drive and worthy of mention.
ALSO SEE: Top 10 Japanese Sports Cars of the ’90s
November 5th, 2021 – update Subaru WRX STI text for accuracy. Replace Ford Focus RS with Tesla Model s Plaid. Updated Volkswagen Golf R image and text for accuracy. Updated Dodge Challenger GT test for accuracy. Updated Audi RS 3 image and text for accuracy. Updated Audi TT text for accuracy. Updated Jaguar F-Type image and text for accuracy. Nissan GT-R text updated for accuracy. Updated Porsche 911 Turbo image and text for accuracy. Updated Acura NSX image and text for accuracy. Updated Audi R8 image and text for accuracy. Updated Ford F-150 Raptor image and text for accuracy. Updated Honourable mentions section, removed some content and updated images for accuracy.
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