Luxury Cars – These Cheap-Looking Cars Are Actually Lightning-Fast
Often, judging a book by its cover can be very unfair and that counts for cars too. Far too often, customers have fallen for vehicles that look like sensational speed machines only to turn out to be slow duds. On the flip side are cars that look like slow sedans but drive and handle much better than someone would anticipate. It’s funny how some cars boast sensational engines under the humble hoods yet are still judged off their looks.
Sadly, in some cases, genuinely great cars were overlooked, and sales disappointments as customers ignored the reviews to write them off as cheap offerings. It’s too bad as many of them were top vehicles that are affordable, yet the cheap appearances drive customers off. These ten cars may look like cheap models but are truly fast in their start times and terrific in how they show some sleepers can roar awake on the road.
10 Volkswagen Phaeton V12 (0-60 MPH In 5.5 Seconds)
Its discontinuation would indicate the Volkswagen Phaeton was a disappointment and a case of a sedan posing as a “luxury” car. That isn’t deserved, as the Phaeton was surprisingly spry for a VW offering.
The engine options were a 4.2-liter V8 with 335 horsepower or an optional 6.0-liter W12 engine with 420 hp. It was better than an Audi A8, yet it never connected in North America. It’s worth finding as the Phaeton is a phantom beast for drivers.
9 2007 Volvo S80 (0-60 MPH In 5.7 Seconds)
The biggest sedan Volvo had at the time, the 2007 S80 was marred by some unattractive paint jobs and trims that hurt its overall appeal. And there was a lot of appeal with either a 235-horsepower 3.2-liter inline-6 or a 311-hp 4.4-liter V8.
That V8 is the one to look for as it transforms the S80 into a top speedster with under six seconds to hit 60 mph and pushing past 150 mph. The S80 is terrific in a seemingly slow car worth twice its price.
8 Kia K900 (0-60 MPH In 5.5 Seconds)
It may be labeled a “luxury” vehicle, but the Kia K900 doesn’t strike as one. Kia has much cooler offerings that promise both speed and luxury in a better exterior package, and the interiors seem cheap too. But the K900 does provide much better speeds than many other luxury cars.
The 365-horsepower twin-turbo V6. Its 376 ft-lbs of torque at only 1,300 RPMs holds to 4,500 RPMs easily. That means zero to 60 in five and a half seconds and proves Kia can surprise nicely.
7 Mazdaspeed 6 (0-60 MPH 5.4 Seconds)
As soon as the Mazdaspeed 6 came out in 2006, the consensus was “much better than it looks.” At first, it seems silly that Mazda (whose ads at the time promoted “zoom, zoom”) were pushing a drab sedan as a great ride.
It was one of the first North American cars to boast a direct-injection, turbocharged, gasoline engine to drive the all-aluminum 2.3-liter in-line four-cylinder to some great speeds. It proved that the “zoom” label was no joke.
6 2004-06 Pontiac GTO (0-60 MPH In 4.8 Seconds)
It’s downright baffling how some terrific cars fail to sell well. Perhaps the 2004-06 Pontiac GTO was hurt by the looks, which made it appear a slow sedan, not worthy of the GTO label. It’s too bad because the power was right out of a classic Pontiac muscle machine, the 5.7-liter LS1 packing 350 horsepower.
Yet, only 41,000 were moved in three years before it was axed. Maybe if it had the muscle looks to go with the power, this revival could have been a hit.
5 Buick Grand National Experimental (0-60 In 4.7 Seconds)
The Grand National Experimental was the last hurrah for the model, but it went out in style. Only 547 were built in 1987, and it appeared to be the typical Grand National with a bulky look lending itself to a rough ride.
The engine was upgraded, a 3.8L V6 rated for 276 horsepower at 4,400 RPM and 360 lb-ft of torque at 3,000 RPM. It made for a fantastic ride that proves Buick could create some fun speedsters in the ‘80s.
4 2007 Mercedes-Benz R63 AMG (0-60 MPH In 4.6 Seconds)
The R63 AMG doesn’t look like a hot Mercedes. It seems a bizarre combo of SUV and sedan, an unattractive look that seems perfect for the mom taking the kids to a soccer game. Get it running, and it’s one of Mercedes’ best offerings of that decade.
The 507-hp, 6.2-liter V8 can rev it to 60 mph in less than five seconds, and it feels much faster than its top speed of 155 mph. Ignore the looks, and this SUV can move better than some regular Mercedes speedsters of the 2000s.
3 GMC Lingenfelter Suburban (0-60 MPH In 4.6 Seconds)
Turning a Suburban into a speed machine seems ridiculous. It’s a decent SUV but also quite heavy, which hurts its performance and not flashy. But the GMC Lingenflter special is different as this 1994 model is outfitted with a 9.9-liter pushrod V8 intended for a speedboat.
This results in 550 hp and 705 lb-ft of torque. That means an SUV with incredibly zero to 60 times, and it’s only the tires keeping it from going much faster than 130 mph.
2 Chevrolet SS (0-60 MPH In 4.5 Seconds)
It’s odd how Chevrolet never saw the long-term potential in the SS. True, it appears the typical sedan, not flashy, and the kind of car for long-term use in the suburbs.
Under the hood is a 6.2-liter V8 engine, which puts out 415 horsepower and 415 lb-ft of torque with a six-speed manual or automatic transmission. The interior was nice, yet it’s odd a car with so much power never became the monster sales hit it deserved to be.
1 GMC Syclone (0-60 MPH In 4.3 Seconds)
If ever a truck should have been a hit and wasn’t, the GMC Syclone is it. For 1991, the specs were mind-blowing: A 4.3L V6 with 280 horsepower at 4400 pm. In 1991, this truck could outpace a Ferrari.
Yes, the new 2021 version has promise, yet the original Syclone looks like the typical ‘90s pickup but the heart of a racing powerhouse that’s transformed it from a failure to a legend.
Sources: jalopnik.com, motor1.com, hagerty.com, autowise.com
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