Everybody wants the very best of something if they can afford it. Clothes, watches, phones, and even cars. Super sports cars are some of the fastest and most exciting cars on the planet but most manufacturers like Lamborghini and Ferraris are very expensive for the average person to be able to afford.
Luckily, regular car manufacturers have performance divisions responsible for creating faster versions of their regular cars. These cars are more affordable than premium supercar brands and have great performance for their price.
1. Toyota TRD/GR (Toyota Racing Development/Gazoo Racing)
Toyota is known to be the most reliable car brand in the world. Sports cars aren’t really what they’re known for and most times seem to be behind the competition in various parts.
Toyota has had some very exciting times in recent years starting with the TRD with mainly focused on off-road upgrades for their SUVs and trucks. TRD also made some changes to their road cars but these were only cosmetic.
However, since the introduction of the GR brand in 2009 Toyota has brought some really exciting cars to the table. First was the re-introduction of the Supra name which is a phenomenal sports car. Then came the GR Yaris, GR 86, and GR Corolla. These are all regular model names in the Toyota line up which have been completely revised in the name of performance. The great thing is every one of these cars are affordable and are lots of fun.
2. Nissan NISMO (Nissan Motorsport)
GTR is the name that instantly comes to mind when we think about Nissan performance cars. Nismo has been around since 1984 and has been the arm responsible for Nissan’s racing cars and also Nissan sports cars.
The Nismo division has made performance versions of the Juke, Micra, Sentra, and even the Patrol SUV. But they’re most known for the affordable 350/370Z sports car and the supercar beating GT-R.
3. Lexus F (Flagship)
Lexus focuses more on Luxury and durability more than performance. But just like its parent company Toyota, they know a thing or two when it comes to making great sports cars. So when it comes to showing off the very best of what the team is capable of achieving, it’s the duty of the F team to take on that task.
Cars that receive the F badge are usually the very best versions of their regular vehicles. The very best car still remains the flagship LFA which features the most exotic materials and a melodious V10 engine. Other models include the IS F, RC F, and GS F all packing powerful naturally aspirated V8 engines that have some of the best sounds in the car industry. Since it’s also a Lexus these cars are highly reliable too compared to most sports car brands.
4. Subaru STI (Subaru Tecnica International)
While others focused on road and track performance, Subaru was busy dominating the rally stages. After many wins, they decided to incorporate some of that winning formula with their road cars.
The Impreza was the most notable to receive upgrades from the STI team. Other models like the Subaru Legacy and Forester received STi trims which are rare and sought after by Subaru Enthusiasts.
Their latest offerings are now found in the WRX formerly known as the Impreza and the little BRZ sports car. Sadly, as Mitsubishi did with the lancer, we might not be receiving any new cars from STI as it has been announced that the new WRX may not be getting an STI version.
5. Hyundai N
The new performance kid on the block comes from the Hyundai brand. For years they’ve lagged behind the Japanese competition in terms of alternatives to the more expensive and premium car brands. In recent years, not only has there been a leap in quality and technology for these vehicles but their performance cars are class-leading as well.
The N division gets its initials from 2 distinct places, the Nyamang district in South Korea and the Nurburgring. The N division R&D center is located at the Nurburgring where they develop and test their sports cars.
Models include the newly introduced i20 and i30N hatches to compete with the Golf and its counterparts. Regular models like the Veloster, Elantra, and Kona have also received N versions which make them sportier and faster.
6. Ford Performance
Ford has been making performance cars for almost 60 years now since the introduction of the Mustang. So they’re not new to making sports cars. The mustang has also been one of the top-selling sports cars in the world in recent years. But the brand did not have a dedicated tuning division until 1993.
SVT was formed in 1993, formerly known as SVO. They’re responsible for making powerful versions of cars in the Ford lineup. SVT vehicles included the Cobra, Focus, Contour, Lighting, First gen raptor, and FORD GT supercar.
In 2015, Ford decided to merge every racing division it had into one entity known as Ford Performance which is responsible for every performance ford being made today.
7. Dodge SRT (Street and Racing Technology)
This seems to be the recent trend with all Dodge-related vehicles. Everything that has a Dodge badge eventually gets a big V8 shoved under its hood and we’re not complaining. The best thing about it is they’re all under $100k except for the Challenger Demon.
SRT also makes performance versions for the Jeep brand. Cars like the Jeep track hawk have the same engine as the Hellcat. The new Ram TRX also has the same engine and is the most powerful and fastest stock truck from the factory.
Dodge’s performance vehicles tend to be the most valuable power-per-dollar vehicles as most rivals with similar power numbers would cost well over $300,000.
8. Jaguar and Land Rover SVO (Special Vehicle Operations)
The British may seem classy but the team at Jaguar Land Rover are pure brutes. SVO became the official name of the JLR group’s performance division. Responsible for turning luxury vehicles like the Range Rovers and Jaguar sedans into fire-breathing, thunder-clapping speed machines.
Regulations have always been tight in the EU so one wonders how the team at SVO still manages to make cars with big V8s that are louder than most American cars from the factory. Projects include the Range Rover Sport SVR, Jaguar F pace SVR, F type SVR, and special versions like the Jaguar Project 7 and Project 8.
9. Porsche GT
Porsche has always had a history in motorsport, so it comes as no surprise that they make this list. But they might be the most expensive car brand on this list as their cars command a higher premium than other cars on this list.
The 911 has always been a sports car since inception and the Cayman has followed suit. But Porsche has added more vehicles in its line up mainly SUVs. But the GT team has had their hand on those too. Sports cars like the 911 and Cayman have also been getting faster and more hardcore sharing race parts with cars from their GT3 and RSR counterparts.
Despite the premium on these vehicles, they punch way above their class competing with higher-priced vehicles.
10. Audi Sport
Audi has always been known for their dominance in Rally racing with their all-wheel drive system known as Quattro. That’s why when the high-performance division was first formed, it was known as Audi Quattro. They first produced high-performance all-wheel drive road cars using learnings from the rally program.
Under the Audi Sport division formed in 1983, RS cars like the RS2, RS3, RS4, RS5, RS6, RS7, TT RS, and R8 super have been made all using various performance upgrades and the Quattro all-wheel drive system. Even SUVs have not been spared, all receiving the RS treatment.
11. BMW M (Motorsport)
This may be the most iconic and recognizable performance division of any manufacturer today. Most people know BMW’s M division today because of the E30 M3 but the M had first made the M1 supercar before the M3 was made almost 8 years later. However, the success of the M3 has made the M division successful to this day.
Today, the M badge has made its way into every vehicle the brand makes from the M2 sports car all the way to the X6 SUV. Lower trim M performance packages are even available so you can have an M badge on any vehicle as long as it’s a BMW. But the very best performance is still retained for the true M cars like the M2, M3, M4, and M5.
12. Mercedes AMG
The best or nothing has been Mercedes’s slogan for years and it shows. Unlike BMW’s M, AMG started out as a tuner for Mercedes vehicles. They would take regular vehicles from the Mercedes lineup and add better performance to them. They tuned cars for other manufacturers like Mitsubishi. AMG was taken over by Daimler in 1999 and became an in-house tuner for the brand exclusively in 2005.
Today we know every car Mercedes has from the A class all the way to the S class has an AMG variant. These are the fastest versions of every car in the lineup. Cars like the C63, E63, and S63 directly rival any car BMW has to offer. The Luxury S class and G wagon brute also have more powerful AMG versions.
But AMG also has dedicated cars built from the ground up that aren’t in the regular lineup. These include the SLS AMG, AMG GT, and all new GT63 models.
You may want a fast car but you may not have over $100k to shell on a brand-new supercar. These manufacturers give you great options at a price point that’s accessible to most middle-income earners.