Apex Predators: The Real Four-Door Sports Cars
A TWISTY ROAD, FOUR DOORS, AND NO LIMITS
If you want to have some fun on a twisting back road, but you can’t escape the practicality of a four-door arrangement, there is a whole class of super sedans to fit your needs. The best of the best have six- or eight-cylinder engines and often some kind of forced induction. These sedans mean business. To determine the absolute best sedans for carving up that canyon road, we turned to the fastest 10 cars ever to go around our figure-eight test course. If a sedan had more than one model in the top 10, we took only the fastest specification and noted where the other would have fallen.
2016 LEXUS GS F
None of the 10 best-handling sedans we’ve tested can be accurately called slow, but one was less fast than the others: the Lexus GS F. A 467-hp 5.0-liter V-8 sends power to the rear wheels of the Lexus, and a focus on accessible performance makes the GS F a blast to drive. The 2016 Lexus GS F we tested completed the figure eight in 24.3 seconds at 0.81 g (avg). The GS F is a fantastic dual-purpose sedan, with a willing track-ready personality in the more aggressive drive modes and a calm, comfortable driving experience that’s all Lexus in street modes. It’s also the only naturally aspirated sedan in our top 10.
2014 BMW M5
Back in 2014 we pitted the BMW M5 with a Competition Package (575 hp instead of 560 hp, for starters) against the big dog E-Class from Mercedes-Benz. The BMW lapped our figure eight in 24.3 seconds at 0.82 g (avg). One of the comments we had about the M5 was the bank vault-like stability at triple-digit speeds. Sharing a platform with the 7 Series will do that. We liked it and noted that the M5 is best with the Competition Package.
2014 MERCEDES-BENZ E63 S AMG
Just slightly better than the 2014 BMW M5 is the 2014 Mercedes-Benz E63 S AMG, which completed our figure eight in 24.3 seconds at 0.83 g (avg). The times are identical, but the E-Class posted a 0.01 higher average g. What the numbers don’t reflect is how much more confidence inspiring the E63 is over the M5: It communicates more to the driver about what the car is doing.
2016 AUDI RS 7
While this list is primarily about handling, it’s worth mentioning that until the dual-motor Tesla Model S came, the 2014 Audi RS 7 was the quickest thing with four doors we had tested to date, completing a 0-60 mph run in 3.2 seconds. While the 560-hp RS 7 was a straight-line bandit in that comparison, the figure eight revealed that it wasn’t quite as nimble as some of the others: 24.2 seconds at 0.83 g (avg) put it behind the others in the test but still put it in the top 10 of our fastest figure eight sedans to date. A 2016 RS 7 is shown here.
2016 CADILLAC CTS-V
The 2016 Cadillac CTS-V combines the brutal power and acceleration we enjoyed from the first CTS-V with quality that’s finally on par with the car’s German bogeys. The snarling supercharged 6.2-liter V-8 puts out 640 hp and helps the CTS-V make it around our figure eight in 24.2 seconds at 0.88 g (avg). On Ignition we even took one on a hillclimb race.
2015 MERCEDES-AMG C63 S
What do you get when you take a 503-hp twin-turbo 4.0-liter V-8 and stuff it in a C-Class tuned for performance? You get the Mercedes-AMG C63 S, which completed our figure eight in 24.1 seconds at 0.86 g (avg). The sound is brawny, the chassis is fantastic, but beware: When you switch off the traction controls the C63 is a handful.
2015 BMW M3
We tested a 2014 and 2015 BMW M3, both of which were within 0.1 second of each other on the figure-eight course. The 2015 model went around slightly faster at 24.0 seconds at 0.85 g (avg). We’ve often noted that the BMW M3 has lost the driver involvement “special something” that made the previous models so much fun. The drive to perform led BMW to make the M3 objectively impressive (fourth best sedan around our figure eight) but without much subjective fun.
2014 MERCEDES-BENZ CLS63 S AMG
The Mercedes-Benz CLS-Class was the sedan that started the coupe-like sedan craze. Many have followed, including Mercedes’ CLA-Class, the BMW 6 Series, and the Audi A7. The CLS63 S AMG has the distinction of not only starting the trend but also being one of the biggest baddest performers in the bunch. With a twin-turbo 5.5-liter V-8 churning out 577-hp the Mercedes CLS completed the figure eight in 23.9 seconds at 0.85 g (avg).
2014 PORSCHE PANAMERA TURBO
When the going gets fast and twisty, you’re sure to see a Porsche somewhere in the mix. And as the second quickest four-door to make it around our figure eight, the Porsche Panamera Turbo is no surprise guest. It posted a 23.7 second at 0.87 g (avg) run. That’s 0.1 second slower than a 2010 Ferrari 458 Italia. A four-door that’s in Ferrari territory! If anyone could do it, we’d have guessed Porsche, but you’ll be surprised by what just slightly out-gripped the Panamera Turbo around our figure eight.
2016 CADILLAC ATS-V
That’s right, the 2016 Cadillac ATS-V sedan takes the crown with this run: 23.7 seconds at 0.88 g (avg), just 0.01 g above the Panamera Turbo. The Porsche is a little bit faster on the straight sections, but a 722-pound weight difference in the ATS-V’s favor let the smaller sedan eke out a victory. The Sedan with an eight-speed automatic is our chariot of choice, since it’s the best handling iteration we’ve tested (better even than the coupe with a manual).