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Top 15 Cars That Look Fast, But Really Aren't

Motor Trend logo Motor Trend 11/26/2014 Jason Udy

Sometimes automakers release cars with stunning lines or sporty intentions, but the powertrain or handling doesn't always live up to the exterior's hype. Here are cars that look faster than they really are.


Honda CR-Z

2015 Honda CR Z Front Three Quarter View 2© Provided by MotorTrend 2015 Honda CR Z Front Three Quarter View 2 Billed as a sporty hybrid, the Honda CR-Z appeared to be a successor to the sporty (handling) Honda CRX Si of the late 1980s and early 1990s. The two-seat hybrid hatchback failed to deliver on its exterior's go-fast promise. Powered by a 1.5-liter four-cylinder mated to an electric motor, the CR-Z makes just 130-hp and 127 or 140 lb-ft of torque when mated to the CVT or six-speed manual, respectively. Despite its hybrid powertrain and relatively light weight, its 31-25/38-39 mpg city/highway rating isn't much better than other small non-hybrid cars. Honda Performance Development has jumped in to help the situation, offering bolt-on products to increase the CR-Z's power.

Scion FR-S and Subaru BRZ

2013 Scion FR-S 10 Series© Provided by MotorTrend 2013 Scion FR-S 10 Series With a focus on suspension tuning and handling, the Scion FR-S and Subaru BRZ are some of the most capable autocross cars straight off the dealer lots. But their straight-line acceleration doesn't quite live up to the exterior's sporty styling. While the pair can deliver a 0-60 mph sprint in the low 6.0-second range and a quarter-mile pass in the high 14.0-second range, their slippery profile would suggest much quicker acceleration. Automatic-transmission-equipped cars are significantly slower. The 200-hp (151 lb-ft) 2.0-liter boxer four-cylinder is begging for optional forced inducted engine from the factory. Toyota, are you listening?

Hyundai Veloster Turbo

2014 Hyundai Veloster Turbo© Provided by MotorTrend 2014 Hyundai Veloster Turbo With its funky asymmetrical door layout, aggressive hood, and stubby rear end, the Hyundai Veloster Turbo hatchback turns heads. But its powertrain is lackluster. Even with a 201-hp, 195 lb-ft 1.6-liter turbocharged inline-four cylinder and six-speed manual, the Veloster Turbo needs nearly 7.0 seconds to reach 60 mph, and it finishes the quarter mile shortly after the 15.0-second mark. The Turbo model gets a slightly tweaked steering system, marginally larger front brake rotor, and standard 18-inch alloy wheels, but no suspension upgrades. A base Hyundai Veloster is even slower with a naturally aspirated 132-136-hp 1.6-liter I-4 engine.

Chevrolet Sonic RS

2015 Chevrolet Sonic RS Sedan Parked© Provided by MotorTrend 2015 Chevrolet Sonic RS Sedan Parked Compared to more pedestrian variants, the Chevrolet Sonic RS gets sportier front and rear fascias and rocker panels, revised foglights and grille insert, RS emblems, a larger rear spoiler, and unique dark-finish 17-inch alloy wheels. Inside, there are upgraded seats, a flat-bottom steering wheel, and aluminum pedals. But the 138-hp 1.4-liter turbocharged I-4 is unchanged from lesser trim levels. Manual transmission versions get revised gearing for a sportier feel. Still, the underwhelming powertrain doesn't live up to its upgraded looks. The Sonic RS sedan takes more than 8.5 seconds to reach 60 mph and more than 16.5 seconds to finish the quarter mile.

Mitsubishi Lancer GT

2014 Mitsubishi Lancer GT© Provided by MotorTrend 2014 Mitsubishi Lancer GT The Mitsubishi Lancer GT sports a Ralliart-inspired front fascia and standard 18-inch alloy wheels and automatic headlights, and HID headlights are available. Despite its aggressive looks, the Lancer GT is saddled with a 168-hp, 167 lb-ft 2.4-liter four-cylinder mated to either a five-speed manual or a CVT. With the CVT, the Lancer GT takes more than 8.0 seconds to reach 60 mph and nearly 16.5 seconds to saunter to the end of the quarter mile. While we expect the manual transmission to inject some sport into the Lancer GT, it's unlikely to make any groundbreaking difference.

Nissan Juke

2012 Nissan Juke Exterior Front Quarter© Provided by MotorTrend 2012 Nissan Juke Exterior Front Quarter With its funky styling and aggressive fender flares, the frog-eyed Nissan Juke looks much faster than it is. While the 188-hp, 177 lb-ft 1.6-liter turbocharged four-cylinder, CVT, and torque-vectoring all-wheel drive make it fun to drive, the hard data doesn't lie. The Nissan Juke needs more than 7.0 seconds to reach 60 mph and nearly 16.0 second to finish the quarter-mile sprint. If you can't resist the Juke's funky styling, save up for the more powerful 215-hp Nismo RS variant.

Dodge Dart

2015 Dodge Dart Limited© Provided by MotorTrend 2015 Dodge Dart Limited The Dodge Dart may be one of the most aggressive-looking sedans among the non-sporty variants of the compact segment, but its performance doesn't live up to its bold sneer. Three four-cylinder engines are available: a 160-hp 2.0-liter, a 160-hp turbocharged 1.4-liter, and a 184-hp 2.4-liter engine. Depending on engine, the Dart gets to 60 mph in just over 8.0 seconds to nearly 10.0 seconds and finishes the quarter mile in the low 16.0-second to low 17.0-second range.

Mini Cooper Coupe

2014 MINI Cooper Coupe© Provided by MotorTrend 2014 MINI Cooper Coupe Although the third-generation Mini Cooper Hardtop (hatchback) has already hit the streets, the second-generation-based Mini Cooper Coupe is still on sale. With its chopped roof, sloping roofline, and double rear spoilers, the two-seat Mini Cooper Coupe flaunts the sportiest body style. Like the (previous) hatchback it's based on, the base Mini Cooper Coupe is powered by a naturally aspirated 1.6-liter I-4 making 121 hp and 114 lb-ft of torque. With the six-speed manual, an identically equipped Mini hatchback took just more than 8.0 second to reach 60 mph and almost 16.5 seconds to finish the quarter mile. A more powerful S version with a 181-hp turbocharged engine drops those times by about 1.5 seconds.

Lexus CT 200h

2015 Lexus CT 200h© Provided by MotorTrend 2015 Lexus CT 200h Despite its sport wagon-like look and the automaker's aggressive spindle front grille, the Lexus CT 200h hybrid is anything but sporty. With a combined 134 hp from its 1.8-liter Atkinson cycle four-cylinder and electric motor, the CT 200h takes just over 10.0 seconds to hit 60 mph and more than 17.5 seconds to finish the quarter mile. It does, however, return an EPA-rated 43/40 mpg city/highway rating.

Nissan Versa Note SR

2015 Nissan Versa Note SR Front Side View© Provided by MotorTrend 2015 Nissan Versa Note SR Front Side View The Nissan Versa Note SR is the most aggressive-looking trim in the hatchback's model lineup. It comes with a more aggressive front end, 16-inch alloy wheels with black accents, a unique roof spoiler, and orange trim on the seats. Sadly, the SR is powered by the same drivetrain as lesser variants. Power comes from a 109-hp 1.6-liter I-4 mated to a CVT. The Versa Note SR takes nearly 10.5 seconds and 18.0 seconds to get to 60 mph and finish the quarter mile, respectively.


2015 Mazda6 Front Three Quarter View 3© Provided by MotorTrend 2015 Mazda6 Front Three Quarter View 3 The Mazda6 may have the most sensuous shape among its peers. That being said, the Mazda6 is the only midsize family sedan that doesn't offer a turbocharged four-cylinder or six-cylinder option. The sole engine offering is a 184-hp 2.5-liter inline-four. One would think that the Mazda6 sedan's saving grace would be the availability of a six-speed manual, but the six-speed automatic is actually slightly faster. The Mazda6 can reach 60 mph in the mid to high 7.0-second range and finishes the quarter mile in the mid to high 15.0-second range. The Mazda6 is one of the best handling cars in the segment.

Fiat 500 Abarth

2014 Fiat 500 Abarth© Provided by MotorTrend 2014 Fiat 500 Abarth While the pint-size Fiat 500 Abarth has the same 160-hp 1.4-liter turbocharged I-4 as the larger Dodge Dart sedan, the engine doesn't back up the boy racer body add-ons and obnoxiously (in a good way) loud exhaust. Despite weighing just over 2,500 pounds, the 500 Abarth takes nearly 7.0 seconds to reach 60 mph and a little over 15.0 seconds to finish the quarter mile. While not the slowest car on the list (and significantly faster than the Dart), its aggressive bodywork and loud engine note suggest a bigger punch.

Toyota Corolla

2014 Toyota Corolla LE© Provided by MotorTrend 2014 Toyota Corolla LE Not since the mid-1980s rear-drive AE86 Corolla has the compact Toyota been considered sporty. Although given a makeover with a bold new front end, powertrain upgrades for the 2014 Toyota Corolla are modest at best. A revised version of the previous generation's 1.8-liter I-4 is rated 132 hp and 128 lb-ft. Hooked to a CVT, the engine eventually gets the Corolla to 60 mph in the high 9.0-second range, and it takes nearly 17.5 seconds to finish the quarter mile.

Scion tC

2014 Scion tC© Provided by MotorTrend 2014 Scion tC Before the FR-S arrived, the Scion tC was the sportiest car in the youth brand's lineup. For 2014, the tC got revised styling to better connect it to the then-new rear-drive FR-S. Despite its more aggressive front fascia and headlights, the 179-hp 2.5-liter I-4 engine carried over. With the six-speed manual, the tC can reach 60 mph in just under 7.0 seconds and finish the quarter mile in about 15.5 seconds.

Chevrolet Impala

2014 Chevrolet Impala© Provided by MotorTrend 2014 Chevrolet Impala Compared to the previous rental-car generation, the 2014 Chevrolet Impala offers a much sportier look with a bold front end and curvy rear haunches. While the Chevrolet Impala is available with a 306-hp 3.6-liter V-6, the base engine in the full-size sedan is a 195-hp 2.5-liter I-4 with just 187 lb-ft — not much power for a nearly two-ton sedan. Despite a fuel-mileage penalty, the 3.6-liter is the engine needed to back up the Impala's svelte new looks.

Top Cars That Look Fast But Isnt© Provided by MotorTrend Top Cars That Look Fast But Isnt

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