10 Cars that Aren’t as Fast as They Look
They might look fast, but they aren’t
Published July 1, 2018
Designing a car is a touchy subject, as looks often help buyers develop their first impressions. Many times, these first impressions are deceptive, as automakers make some cars look insanely sporty, but then equip them with powertrains that simply can’t cash the check the cars’ looks write.
We took a look back into the history of automobiles and picked out 10 cars that we felt best exemplified over styled cars that don’t have the performance to match their looks. Let us know in the comments if you think we missed a car, or if you simply don’t agree with a rig we put on this list.
Not only did the DMC-12 look like something straight from the future, but it was the automotive star of Back to the Future. This futuristic look also made it look a hell of a lot faster than it really was.
Under its hood was a 2.7-liter V-6 engine that mustered up 130 horsepower. This low power output made the DMC-12 far slower than it looked, as it took 10.5 seconds to hit 60 mph and topped out at 109 mph. That explains why Marty always needed so much road to hit 88 mph…
The Mitsuoka Orochi was likely one of the most polarizing cars in the world, as its insane looks were loved or hated, nothing in between. There was, however, no denying that its looks oozed supercar, but looks are often very deceiving.
The Mitsuoka Orochi’s 3.3-liter V-6, which it shared with notorious performance models like the Toyota Camry and Toyota Highlander Hybrid, produced just 230-ish horsepower. To make matters worse, the Orochi tipped the scales at a flabby 3,400 pounds, giving it a power-to-weight ratio similar to that of the Toyota Solara.
The Pontiac Fiero was one of the many cars that GM built in the 1980s but never realized its full potential. Sure its V-6-powered GT trim was decent, but the majority of the Fieros on the road have the 2.5-liter four-cylinder that produced as little as 98 horsepower.
This horrifically low output resulted in 0-to-60 sprints that took more than 10 seconds.
The CR-Z launched in 2011 with a marketing campaign talking about how sporty this hybrid was. As with many ad campaigns, this was nothing but hyperbole, as its 1.5-liter engine and electric motor combined to produce just 122 horsepower and 128 pound-feet of torque.
Its sporty, CRX-like look added fuel to the fire that this would be a quick little hybrid rig. Well, that was a lie too, as it took more than eight seconds to hit 60 mph. The recent addition of an optional supercharger spices things up a bit, but the base model is still far slower than it looks.
When the Veloster first came out, it screamed hot-hatchback, thanks to its aggressive motorcycle helmet-inspired design and center-mounted exhaust. Unfortunately, its 1.6-liter engine had its priorities all mixed up, as it produced just 138 horsepower and 123 pound-feet of torque.
This low-powered four-pot resulted in a 10.2-second stroll to 60 mph, making it anything but a hot-hatchback. Hyundai somewhat redeemed itself with the introduction of the 201-horsepower Veloster Turbo, but even that is pretty slow for its class at 7.7 seconds to 60 mph.
Fiat 500 Abarth
Allow me to preface this with the fat that I think the Fiat 500 Abarth is one of the most fun cars in the world to drive. With that said, it is still far less powerful than its looks make it seem. Its turbocharged four-cylinder injects a respectable 160 horsepower into the aggressively-styled hatchback, but the result is a 0-to-60 time of just 7.1 seconds.
In its debut year, the Porsche Cayenne came with two V-8 engine options, keeping its performance in check with the badge on its nose. In its second year, however, Porsche added a 3.2-liter V-6 to the mix. This engine produced just 247 horsepower, putting the Cayenne on the crap list of many Porsche fans.
This terrible V-6 engine resulted in an un-Porsche-like nine-second 0-to-60 time. The 3.6-liter V-6 that replaced it wasn’t much better at eight seconds to 60 mph. In recent years, the base Cayenne and the Cayenne Diesel both have performance numbers that don’t quite match Porsche’s performance history, but they aren’t nearly as bad as the earlier models.
The Plymouth/Chrysler Prowler will continue to turn heads for many years, as it looks like it would be one of the fastest cars of its era. Under its hood is a completely different story, as it originally came with a 3.5-liter V-6 that produced just 214 horsepower. In 1999, the Prowler gained a new 3.5-liter V-6 that turned the juice up to 253 horsepower, which still didn’t match its outrageous looks.
With the higher-output V-6 in tow, the Prowler could hit 60 mph in 5.7 seconds, but it looked a hell of a lot faster than that.
If there is one black-eye on Porsche’s record, other than the original Cayenne V-6 that I mentioned earlier, it is the 914. This two-seat targa model saw life between 1969 and 1976, and it looked like a good performer. Its powertrain, however, told a different story, as it maxed out at 107 horsepower.
This most-powerful version of the 914 resulted in an 8.7-second cruise to 62 mph. The slowest version of the 914 was the 1,679 cc model that strolled to 62 mph in a lethargic 13.3 seconds.
Ferrari Mondial 8
Ah, the prancing horse. A logo that exudes sportiness and outrageous performance. Well, the 1980 to 1982 Mondial 8 was an exception to this rule, as it was the more “practical” Ferrari that with a 3.0-liter V-8 engine that produced just 214 horsepower and four seats.
This V-8 engine could muster up just enough oomph to get the Modial 8 to 60 mph in 8.2 seconds. Even Ferrari couldn’t avoid the power drain that the 1980s put on the automotive industry.