The Best Sleeper Cars That Shame Sports Machines Available Right Now
These Sleeper Cars Offer Performance Under the Radar
Published November 14, 2017
We all love sleeper cars. They usually are dignified people carriers, luxurious machines or just unsuspecting sedans that can, if needed, trash almost any previous generation supercar and put a smile on any face behind their wheel. Granted, BMW, with its line of M cars, was the epitome of the whole segment, but today, we seem to have an extremely diversified line of sleepers. Including Swedes and Americans.
Road and Track asked their readers which are the best sleeper cars? Remember, this is what their readers came up with, not us.
It is not likely that someone not linked to the car world would ever consider the Volvo to have some serious performance models. However, they’ve been doing it for decades. In our article about best first cars, you could even see the V70R. The V60 Polestar is, in every sense, its successor. But it is a whole lot better of a car.
362 hp can accelerate the wagon to 62 mph in 4.5 seconds. More importantly, you have to have it in black. As beautiful as that Polestar Blue finish is, it’s a dead giveaway. In black, it’s one of the best sleeper cars on the market, simply because it’s a gorgeous and powerful station wagon.
AMG was bound to reach this list. The E63 certainly fits the bill for being one of the most outstanding sedans ever. Yet, the latest version has so many AMG bits even a non-car guy could figure out something is off about this sedan. But, get it in white, forget about the carbon fiber trim pieces and it’s almost entirely inconspicuous. At least up until the point that the massive car rockets to 60 mph in less than 4 seconds thanks to a fantastically sick four liter churning out more than 600 hp.
Although a four-wheel-drive machine, the E63 comes with some proper features in the toy box, such as “Drift Mode”. You can probably figure out what that one does.
When you see the Ford Focus RS it is obvious it is all sorts of insane. Massive bumpers, wider fenders, massive wing, and intakes reveal it all. However, the roads welcomed an equally impressive car but without that much show. With almost 300hp on tap, fine 4Motion system, exceptional transmission and subtle body-kit, the Volkswagen Golf R is a sleeper. It truly is.
If you refrain yourself from choosing some sick paint option and colorful personalization, the Golf R will feel just like a regular Golf. Normal, inconspicuous and subtle.
BMW E39 M5
Here it is – the car that, more or less, defied the segment when it arrived all the way back in 1998. With a five-liter V8 developing 400 hp, this car can do wonders on one of the most accomplished chassis of the time. The BMW E39 is considered to be one of the best cars of all time and the M5 was the glorification of that ethos. When it came out, the BMW M5 was the fastest saloon car on earth.
Officially, the M5 could do 62 mph in 4.8 seconds and reach an electronically limited top speed of 155 mph. Unrestricted, some reported driving the BMW M5 E39 in excess of 186 mph.
This one is possibly the sleepiest of all sleeper cars noted on the list. The Ford Taurus SHO almost doesn’t differ from other Taurus cars. Yet, it differs where it matters. The 3.5 liter EcoBoost inside develops a staggering 365 hp.
The car is a massive sedan with a length of almost 203 inches. Regardless, the six-speed SelectShift automatic mated to that raspy EcoBoost can give the Taurus SHO proper pulling power. It’ll sharply move the two-ton beast to 60 mph in 5 seconds or so. Almost nobody outside of the car world knows this is anything more than a grandpa car, so you could surprise quite a few people when you stomp that accelerator.
Unfortunately, the last generation of the Mazda Mazdaspeed3 does not exist. However, that mighty 2.3 turbocharged engine that went in everything Mazda made ten or so years ago found its place under the hood of the last generation Mazda 3.
The car does not seem to be fundamentally different compared to other “civilian” variants, but one would be wrong to underestimate it. Sending all the grunt to the front wheels could lead the Mazdaspeed3 to some insane speeds. Sure, it did not always behave perfectly – especially in the bends under heavy gas pedal load. It will understeer. While the older models are more inconspicuous, the newer generation doesn’t make for good sleeper cars. The bodywork is just too obvious.
As far as wagons go, the Audi RS6 Avant is the one on the insane side of things. The only counterpart we can imagine right now is the Panamera Sports Turismo, and that one isn’t exactly a sleeper. This one is, though; its twin-turbo V8, Quattro all-wheel drive, fantastically subtle RS body kit and a “stealth finish” should make it the best wagon imaginable.
597 hp in the Performance version launch it almost into supercar territory. The Audi RS6 Avant will tackle anything off the line and probably beat it. High-end sports cars included.
Another sedan. This time from the US. The Cadillac CTS-V is a rare sight on the streets, but it is a weapon for mass destruction in terms of power and composure. The CTS-V makes a case with the Corvette Z06 features underneath. Including the engine. With 640 hp, the CTS-V is a sedan able to keep up even with the rarest of supercars.
The sublime machine is possibly the first American sedan to tackle the Europeans successfully.
This right here is one of the most profoundly overpowered SUVs on the market. It even does a pretty decent job of holding its own in the turns against more capable sports cars. This is the BMW X5 M, a big car with a 567 hp engine, all-wheel drive, and capability to reach 60 mph in 3.8 seconds. All that with 5,303 lbs. This is a grocery-getter that means business.
As far as sleepers go, this one might be the definition of the term as the M5 E39 was almost 20 years ago.
Coming directly from Australia, the Chevrolet SS sports an LS3 V8 with a manual transmission. Chevrolet Australia built the last one in May this year. This five-passenger car with a 415 hp engine and a whole lot of torque can do some real damage on the streets. Especially considering one could have it new for less than 50 grand. Some even go as far to say that the Chevrolet SS is a modern day BMW E39 M5. That is praiseworthy of kings.
Sadly, it was discontinued after the 2017 model year, and will probably depreciate in value for a couple of years before appreciating again. If you want one of these cars, wait a few years then see where the market is. Most people never even knew about this car, which makes it one of the best sleeper cars out there now.
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