Sport sedans are typically assumed to be the forte of German manufacturers like Mercedes Benz, BMW and Audi. Sometimes, British marques like Jaguar and Bentley are factored in. However, when it comes to sport sedans, the following are criminally underrated—despite being face-melting fast and just as comfortable as…a non-melting face. Here goes.
Typically known for making staid, safe sedans, Volvo's 850R took a standard 850 sedan and dialled everything up to 11. A 2.3 litre 5 cylinder turbo motor produced 250 HP and 258 lb-ft of torque, while a six-speed manual allowed drivers to make full use of power. The estate version was more popular, but the sedan, with its three-box design, had a distinctive presence.
Subaru Legacy B4 Blitzen
When Subaru moved away from using the big, heavy Legacy in rallying and started using the Impreza, they didn't really stop making hot road-going versions of the mid-size sedan. We're glad, because the world got the quirky, super-fast madness that is the Legacy B4 Blitzen. With a name that translates into lightning, you expect performance. How does 280 HP and 253 lb-ft from a turbo boxer 4 sound?
Chevy Impala SS
The end of the muscle car era saw a lot of American manufacturers move away from big, powerful RWD sedans and start making econoboxes. In the 90s, almost all big American manufacturers had a body-on-frame sedan with big V8s under the hood, for sale as fleet cars. The Chevy Impala SS was a rarity, transformed thanks to the LT1 V8, which gave it 260 HP and 331 lb-ft torque, along with sport tuned suspension and a bunch of other goodies
The Lotus Carlton happened as a result of Vauxhall wanting a sporty, fast car without spending the big bucks. Lotus was approached and given the basic Carlton mid-size sedan, to which the Brits attached two Garett T25 turbos while upping displacement from 3.0 litres to 3.6 litres. 377 HP and 350 lb-ft torque equalled a top speed of 180 MPH.
Nissan Cefiro A31
If you're the maker of the Z car and the Skyline and you want to make a fast luxury sedan, what do you do? You cram the basic engine, AWD system and rear suspension/drivetrain from a Nissan Skyline into a three-box four-door sedan, of course. The factory RB25DE might only have produced 200 HP and 188 lb-ft torque, but they were highly tuneable, making the A31 a drifters' favourite.
Mitsubishi Galant VR4
Before Evos and Imprezas were a thing, Mitsubishi and Subaru fought it out with Legacys and Galants. The Galant VR4 was a continuation of Mitsu's rallying heritage—a 2.5 litre twin turbo 6 cylinder motor and AWD, with 276 HP and 271 lb-ft torque, provided significant grunt and loads of tuning potential. Inside, there was leather and the typical luxury features you'd expect from Galants.
Another cop car turned hot rod, the Mercury Marauder got a supercharged 4.6 L V8 with 302 HP, sport tuned suspension, big wheels and a limited slip differential, not to mention the coolest name ever given to a car. The Marauder was basically little more than a hopped up Ford Crown Victoria (America's favourite fleet car), but that's what made it a fantastic sleeper car.