Great Four-Door Sports Cars / Sport Sedans for Any Budget
Even as more buyers shun the body style, we may be at peak sedan.
The phrase "four-door sports car" made the leap to enthusiast vernacular from the pages of a marketing handbook—Nissan first dropped the phrase in reference to the 1989 Maxima and brought it out of mothballs again with that car's 2016 redesign. And yet it manages to apply to an entire range of fast four-doors on sale today. Indeed, despite recent talk of the sedan's imminent death, now is perhaps the best time in history for lovers of quick, practical cars.
This list is a taste of the rainbow of choices for the speedy-sedan enthusiast, although it's by no means exhaustive. The rules are simple: To be a proper "four-door sports car" a vehicle needs to have four actual doors and a more or less three-box shape. That excludes hatchbacks and wagons, and of course anything with a more crossover-like ingredient list is right out. The "more or less" hedge on the classic three-box sedan shape is a necessary concession to today's design themes, wherein the rear notch is often smoothed out in the name of "coupe-like" looks and, of course, in service of Our Dark Master, aerodynamics. Read on for some of our favorite fast sedans:
2020 Subaru WRX and WRX STI
For a certain set of people, the first sporty four-door car to come to mind is unquestionably the Subaru Impreza WRX. A decade ago, it would have shared stage space with the Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution, but its foil is long gone and the WRX—and its hotter STI variant—remain. And they are, despite some feature creep and size bloat, better than ever, especially in top-tier form like the recent WRX STI Type RA and the new-for-2019 (and eye-wateringly priced) WRX STI S209.
- Base price: $28,395
- Power: 268 hp @ 5,600 rpm
- Torque: 258 lb-ft @ 2,000-5,200 rpm
- Curb weight: 3,294 lb (base)
- 0-60 mph: 6.2 sec (base)
- Top speed: 155 mph (WRX), 174 mph (STI)
2020 BMW M3
Not the grandaddy of the sport sedan class, but perhaps the poster boy. If there's a model with a deeper fan base or a richer motorsports history, it probably doesn't have four doors. Sure, the M3 didn't always have four doors, and the current car is perhaps not the most inspiring in the history of the M3, but it's still a monstrously quick car, rewarding good drivers without penalizing the less skilled too harshly. And that turbocharged engine is a monster.
- Base price: $67,495
- Power: 425 hp @ 5,500-7,300 rpm
- Torque: 406 lb-ft @ 1,850-5,500 rpm
- Curb weight: 3,575 lb (base)
- 0-60 mph: 4.1 sec (est, manual), 3.9 sec (est, DCT)
- Top speed: 155 mph
2020 Nissan Maxima
The OG four-door sports car, or, as Nissan styles it, 4DSC. Pitted against the best of the sport-sedan class, the new 2019 Nissan Maxima clearly lags behind; after all, it's at the lower end of the power spectrum, quite a bit less expensive than most, and built to appeal to a broader market than the hard-core enthusiast sector. All of that said, the Maxima is still quite fun to drive, and driven well on a closed course, can hang a lot closer to the top-tier cars of the class than you might think.
- Base price: $35,175
- Power: 300 hp @ 6,400 rpm
- Torque: 261 lb-ft @ 4,400 rpm
- Curb weight: 3,559 lb (base)
- 0-60 mph: 5.8 sec
- Top speed: 133 mph
2020 Infiniti Q50 Red Sport 400
A perpetual also-ran in by-the-numbers performance tests, the Infiniti Q50 is nonetheless a very entertaining car to drive when considered on its own, particularly in 400-hp Red Sport 400 guise. Be sure to stay away from the drive-by-wire steering option on any Q50 if you're seeking maximum satisfaction; it's a good system, with some advantages, but it still doesn't fully replicate the feel or predictable nature of proper power-assisted mechanical steering.
- Base price: $55,275
- Power: 400 hp @ 6,400 rpm
- Torque: 350 lb-ft @ 1,600-5,200 rpm
- Curb weight: 3,685 lb (base)
- 0-60 mph: 4.5 sec
- Top speed: 153 mph
2020 Tesla Model 3 Performance Dual Motor AWD
What's this, an electric car amongst proper sport sedans? Aye, knave, for the hot version of the Model 3 is a proper sport sedan. Sure, it's quick, but does it handle? We used the top-line Model 3 Performance Dual-Motor AWD variant to beat a very well-driven Civic Type R in an L.A.-area autocross competition—in our first stint behind the wheel. So, yes, it handles. It's not the most fully sorted in terms of overall chassis dynamics, but the instant-on torque, all-wheel drive, and low center of gravity give the Model 3 some inherent architectural advantages over the rest of the class.
- Base price: $57,195
- Power: 450 hp
- Torque: 471 lb-ft
- Curb weight: 4,086 lb (base)
- 0-60 mph: 3.2 sec (est)
- Top speed: 162 mph
2020 Mercedes-AMG C63 S
Brash, loud, and tail-out, the Mercedes-AMG C63 S leaves zero room for doubt about its intentions—and it lives up to them. It's not the most razor-honed track weapon in the sedan class, but it's not far off at all. Better still, under the natty European outfit beats the heart of a Stoplight King, thanks to a 4.0-liter, twin-turbocharged, 503-hp take on the same engine that powers the AMG GT supercoupe. Whether you're laying rubber or laying down times, the C63 S is a solid pick.
- Base price: $75,700
- Power: 503 hp @ 5,500-6,250 rpm
- Torque: 516 lb-ft @ 2,500-5,000 rpm
- Curb weight: 3,874 lb (base)
- 0-60 mph: 3.8 sec (est)
- Top speed: 180 mph
2020 Kia Stinger GT
If you're surprised to find a Korean car on this list, you should really get out more. In fact, Kia's sister brand Hyundai has a couple of cars that could have made this list, too (remember, it's not exhaustive). Whatever your preconceptions may be, the Kia Stinger GT was made to break them. Like the Maxima, the Stinger GT is definitely a bit less polished than some of the cream of the sedan crop, at least in terms of overall dynamics and limit behavior. There is much, however, to enjoy just shy of the limit, including the rowdy twin-turbo V-6 engine that delivers a satisfying surge of thrust whenever the driver desires, and a chassis tune that combines comfort with steady-state cornering prowess worthy of the autobahn.
- Base price: $40,295
- Power: 365 hp @ 6,000 rpm
- Torque: 376 lb-ft @ 1,300-4,500 rpm
- Curb weight: 4,005 lb (base)
- 0-60 mph: 4.8 sec
- Top speed: 167 mph
Speaking of the autobahn, the Porsche Panamera was literally made to rule the German highways, especially in top-spec Turbo S form. But even if you're in the base V-6, the Panamera's expertly tuned steering and suspension receive the same attention to detail lavished on the brand's sport coupes. The result is a large executive sedan that drives like a considerably smaller, lighter car, without compromising ride, comfort, or luxury. If you have the dosh, the Panamera is perhaps the best all-rounder in the group.
- Base price: $88,550
- Power: 330 @ 5,400-6,400 rpm
- Torque: 331 @ 1,340-4,900 rpm
- Curb weight: 4,001 lb (base)
- 0-60 mph: 5.4 sec (est)
- Top speed: 164 mph
2020 Audi RS3
Compact, aggressively adorable, and available in a range of bright colors, the Audi RS3 is perhaps the friendliest-looking of the hot four-doors. But don't let the endearing style fool you: The snarling turbo five-cylinder under the hood packs 394 horsepower of bite. That, together with Quattro all-wheel drive and a seven-speed dual clutch gearbox make the RS3 good for a 3.6-second zero-to-60-mph run. With all of that, it almost doesn't even need to handle well—but it does that, too.
- Base price: $57,195
- Power: 394 hp
- Torque: 354 lb-ft
- Curb weight: 3,593 lb (base)
- 0-60 mph: 3.6 sec
- Top speed: 155 mph