The 15 Fastest Four-Cylinder Cars

September 10, 2014
By

Volvo S60

You don’t always need a big engine to achieve big speed. Modern automotive technology has rounded the corner, and engineers have found ways to achieve incredible performance with less and less. These days, four-cylinder engines come in a myriad of different shapes and forms, and they are used to power some of the most popular and stylish cars on the road today. Cars aimed at the budget-minded consumer to luxury lovers are finding a new affinity for four-cylinder motors, and with good reason. Four-cylinder engines have evolved to the point where several models can use them to routinely hit speeds of more than 150 miles per hour. Several auto makers are starting to use the smaller motors to make some classic models more efficient, as in the case of some classic muscle cars like the Ford Mustang. As most consumers aren’t typically looking to push their cars to the limit, a four-cylinder engine is more than enough to get the performance they need. Here we take a look at the 15 fastest models that are outfitted with a four-cylinder engine. These engines come in different variations, such as inline-four and flat-four, and they were all included if they fit the criteria. Modified models and specially crafted one-offs were also excluded to maintain the integrity of the list and keep it to production vehicles only.


 

Volvo S60

Volvo S60

15. Volvo S60 — 135 mph

The Volvo S60 has been redesigned for 2015, complete with a turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine, coupled with an 8-speed transmission. Equipped to run with the heavyweights of luxury, the S60 is incredibly quick as well, topping out at 135 miles per hour. Volvo can take pride in the fact that it’s newest iteration received 5-star ratings from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration as well. When it comes to luxury, however, the S60 does lack where some of its competitors reign supreme. A cramped interior and fuel economy are a couple examples.


14. Acura TSX – 137 mph

Acura TSX

Acura TSX

Aiming to fill the hole that was left in hearts of Integra lovers, Acura’s TSX has made for as close an alternative as the brand offers. Boasting a 0-60 time of 7.8 seconds and reaching a top speed of 137 miles per hour, the TSX delivers more than enough to hit the open highways with the windows down. An ample 201 horsepower is produced by the 2.4-liter inline 4-cylinder engine, giving the TSX plenty of jump out of the blocks. The TSX holds up against several other models from the Acura lineup, and is the speediest of the four-cylinder options.


13. Subaru BR-Z — 145 mph

Subaru BR-Z

Subaru BR-Z

Subaru vehicles are known for outstanding capabilities on and off the road, but with the BR-Z, drivers are most likely to remember the sporty aesthetics. The BR-Z utilizes the physique of a sports car to hit top speeds of 145 miles per hour, behind 200 horsepower kicked out by the 2.0-liter Subaru Boxer 4-cylinder engine. It doesn’t get much more lightweight and nimble than the BR-Z, and if engineers can manage to squeeze even more speed out of it, it’ll challenge for the crown of four-cylinder vehicles.


12. Ford Mustang EcoBoost — 145 mph

Ford Mustang EcoBoost

Ford Mustang EcoBoost

A Ford Mustang with a four-cylinder engine? That’s right, Ford (NYSE:F) is taking steps to make it’s classic muscle car more appealing to the eco-conscious crowd. A more lightweight EcoBoost version of the Mustang is hitting the streets, and still jetting to incredible speeds of up to 145 miles per hour. Featuring a turbocharged four-cylinder EcoBoost engine, this Mustang variant comes with a price tag of less than $30,000, making it a relatively frugal and efficient ride.


11. Hyundai Genesis Coupe — 146 mph

Hyundai Genesis Coupe

Hyundai Genesis Coupe

Hyundai has grown into a favorite of drivers across the globe, and the company’s Genesis Coupe is nothing to sneeze at when it comes to performance. Available with a turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine, the Genesis Coupe can make 274 horsepower and jet to a top speed of 146 miles per hour. It’s expected to be short-lived, however, as Hyundai is reportedly looking to drop the four-cylinder option in favor of a V6 only model. Although it’s time is almost up, the Genesis Coupe is currently one of the ten fastest four-cylinder vehicles out there.


10. Hyundai Sonata SE 2.0T — 153 mph

Hyundai Sonata SE 2.0T

Hyundai Sonata SE 2.0T

Few four-cylinder vehicles deliver performance like a V6, but the Hyundai Sonata SE 2.0T gets the job done. This Sonata variant can reach a terminal speed of 153 miles per hour, along with sprint abilities that put it from 0-60 in just 6.1 seconds. That performance comes from a 274-horsepower turbocharged inline-4 engine, which is quite the outfit for a smaller commuter sedan like the Sonata. The combination of a smaller engine along with turbo abilities make the Sonata SE 2.0T an ideal vehicle for those who want speed along with great fuel economy.


9. Ford Focus ST — 154 mph

Ford Focus ST

Ford Focus ST

The Ford Focus has come a long way since its introduction in the late 1990s. The model has since been spun-off into a variety of different styles and trims, and even modified to produce some astounding speed marks. The Focus ST is the fastest to use a four-cylinder engine, specifically a turbocharged, direct-injection 2.0-liter EcoBoost. With that, it’s able to produce 252 horsepower and hit a top speed of 154 miles per hour.


8. Mercedes-Benz SLK 250 — 155 mph

Mercedes-Benz SLK 250

Mercedes-Benz SLK 250

Mercedes has updated its sporty SLK 250 model with a 201 horsepower turbocharged four-cylinder engine, making it one of the faster models to use such an engine. Along with several other cars, the SLK 250 tops out at 155 miles per hour. That speed comes paired with a six-speed manual gearbox for those so inclined, or a seven-speed automatic transmission. The newer models have been built a bit wider and roomier than their predecessors, although that has come at the expense of some of the car’s capabilities. As far as Mercedes sports cars go, the SLK 250 still gets top marks for speed and fun from a four-cylinder.


7. BMW Z4 — 155 mph

BMW Z4

BMW Z4

The entry-level model of BMW’s Z4 roadster comes standard with a turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine, producing 240 horsepower that can help it hit a top speed of 155 miles per hour. That speed mark, however, is under the electronic limiter, meaning that the car’s actual top speed is somewhere above the 155 mph threshold. The Z4 is also available in different variants that augment it with a six-cylinder engine, boosting the levels of performance to new heights. For the four-cylinder option, it still makes for one of the fastest vehicles available.


6. Audi TTS — 155 mph

Audi TTS

Audi TTS

Audi’s sleek luxury sports car has as much jump and quickness as anyone could hope four out of a four-cylinder vehicle. The TTS can hit a top speed of 155 miles per hour, putting it up there with models from Mercedes and BMW. The TTS’s dynamic performance comes from 2.0-liter inline-four cylinder engine, providing 265 horsepower. The 0-60 time is fairly quick as well, coming in at just under 5 seconds. The 2015 model is in its eight year of the current generation, and due for a redesign. However, for those looking for a quick, four-cylinder Audi, the TTS is the premiere choice.


5. Volkswagen Golf R — 155 mph

Volkswagen Golf R

Volkswagen Golf R

The Golf R, Volkswagen’s compact four-cylinder car, can hang with the faster cars available with some surprising results. The Golf R can reach terminal speeds of 155 miles per hour behind the power of a 2.0-liter TSI four-cylinder engine, producing 290 horsepower and jetting from a dead stop to 60 miles per hour in 4.9 seconds. The newest Golf R won’t see the light of day until the 2016 model hits the streets in 2015, but it’s expected to be well-worth the wait. Newer variants will have more horsepower and capability than older designs, and showcase enough speed to make it a formidable foe to any of its rivals.


4. Subaru WRX STI — 155 mph

Subaru WRX STI

Subaru WRX STI

For those looking to get off the beaten path, Subaru’s WRX STI may be the perfect four-cylinder driven car. The WRX is well-known for being a powerful and capable little sedan, and the newest variants are fully loaded with a 305 horsepower 2.5-liter turbo four, allowing it to reach terminal speeds of up to 155 miles per hour. The WRX STI can also match the quickness of many luxury sports cars within the four-cylinder realm as well, going from 0-60 in 4.5 seconds. Born to rally, the WRX STI can offer enough speed to satisfy the inner racer, but also the precision handling to handle tricky roads.


3. Mercedes-Benz CLA45 AMG — 155 mph

Mercedes-Benz CLA45 AMG

Mercedes-Benz CLA45 AMG

A fast and lean luxury car, the Mercedes-Benz CLA45 AMG can make 355 horsepower from a 2.0-liter twin-scroll turbo four. That’s a lot of power for a simple four-cylinder engine, and as a matter of fact, it’s the most powerful four-cylinder in production on the planet. That powerful little motor propels the CLA45 AMG to 155 miles per hour (which is likely limited), making it one of the fastest four-cylinder vehicles in the world. It can also reach 60 miles per hour from a standstill in a mere 4.2 seconds.


2. Mitsubishi Lancer Evo X — 157 mph

Mitsubishi Lancer Evo X

Mitsubishi Lancer Evo X

Now reaching its tenth generation, Mitsubishi’s popular Lancer Evolution X has solidified itself as one of the fastest four-cylinder-equipped cars on the planet. Capable of reaching top speeds of 157 miles per hour, the Evolution X is outfitted with a 2.0-liter turbocharged 16-valve I-4 engine, allowing it to hit sprints from 0-60 in 4.5 seconds. Horsepower peaks at 291, delivering more than enough power to get any speed-addict their thrills. The Evolution X comes in numerous varieties, but the four-cylinder option can hold up very well against many cars equipped with more powerful engines.


1. Alfa Romeo 4C — 160 mph

Alfa Romeo 4C

Alfa Romeo 4C

American drivers rejoice — the Alfa Romeo 4C is set to make its return to U.S. soil for the 2015 model year. The 4C can also claim the title as fastest four-cylinder car on the planet, hitting top marks of 160 miles per hour behind the power of 240 horses. The engine itself is a 1742 cc turbocharged four-cylinder, coupled with a dual dry clutch six-speed automatic transmission for seamless shifting. For American Alfa Romeo fans, the 4C has been a long time coming. For fans of fast, sleek cars loaded with sporty dynamism, the 4C offers the most speed a four-cylinder can offer.

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