There are many famous car manufacturers that dominate the lists of the best cars of each year. From BMW to Mercedes to Chevrolet, these names, among others, have become pillars of the automotive industry: you just can’t browse through a list without seeing at least one of them. While they do make great cars that deserve all the recognition they get, if you’ve been a car enthusiast for a while now then you probably know that not all great cars get the recognition they deserve.
It could be many reasons, like an exterior that doesn’t appeal to a lot of people, or another car released at the same time overshadowing this one. And sometimes it’s unexplained.
We thought we’d take a break from those other cars (that still deserve their good reputations!) and give more appreciation to the underrated ones. Here are the 15 best underrated performance cars on the market today.
15. Ford Mustang Cobra
Don’t make the mistake of dismissing the Ford Mustang Cobra as yet another Fox-body Mustang. Produced for one year only, the 1993 Mustang Cobra is popular among collectors today because it marked the end of the Fox-body Mustang generation. Aside from sentimental value, it has superior performance with a 0-to-60 of under six seconds.
14. Lamborghini Urraco
Hard to believe a Lamborghini is underrated, but it stands true for the Urraco. It was one of the best cars of the 1970s, with a 2-liter V8 producing 180 horsepower and a 0 to 60 acceleration of 7.5 seconds. The Urraco had great potential, but low build quality of the 1970s restricted its sales.
13. BMW 325is E30
If you’re seeking an affordable car from the BMW E30 range, you aren’t dreaming, it does exist. The 325is was produced between 1987 and 1991, and it’s equipped with a 2.5-liter straight six engine that produces a reliable 170 horsepower. Sure, there are more capable cars today, but it’s an E30, so we’re sold.
12. Alfa Romeo GTV6
The GTV6 was the successor to the popular Tipo 105, and it has a lot of interesting features. It ran on a 2.5-liter V6 engine that delivered 160 to 170 horsepower, and because of a transaxle gearbox, its weight distribution and handling were miles ahead of those of its contemporaries.
11. Chevrolet Corvette ZR1
The ZR1 is a C4 Corvette that outran a lot of supercars in the early 1990s. It owes this superior performance to the LT4 V8 from Lotus, which churns out 375 horsepower or 400 horsepower in later models. With improved suspension and gearbox, the ZR1 could go from 0 to 60 mph in just 4.5 seconds.
10. Volkswagen Golf R32
Looking for a speedy hatchback? You might be tempted to try newer models, but we think the Golf R32 is the right car for you. Produced in 2003, the R32 had the Mk4 body and a slew of cool features like all-wheel drive, luxury interior, and a 3.2-liter V6 engine producing an impressive 240 horsepower.
9. Lotus Esprit V8
The Esprit enjoyed a long production run from the early 1970s all the way to the early 2000s. The last Esprit was the Esprit V8, and it featured a lightweight body and high end British engineering that enabled it to produce 350 horsepower. It seems like a great investment in lieu of a mediocre 2020 SUV.
8. Alpine 610/GTA
One of the best sports cars to come out of France in the past 3 decades is the Alpine A610/GTA. Introduced in 1991, the 610/GTA had a 3-liter V6 that produces 247 horsepower and breezes it from 0 to 60 mph in 5.8 seconds. Somehow, it hasn’t captured a lot of American buyers.
7. Sunbeam Tiger
One of the forgotten gems that came out of Carroll Shelby’s brain is the 1964 Sunbeam Tiger. Shelby gave it a Ford 260 engine and a 289 V8 in later models, and he changed the game with its suspension and steering, making it one of the first British cars to offer proper sports cars performance.
6. Volkswagen Corrado VR6
The Volkswagen Corrado VR6 – although forgotten today – was the fastest Volkswagen on the market when it was released in the early 1990s. The Corrado VR6 dons an aggressive stance that complements the performance of its powerful 2.9-liter V6, which delivers 190 horsepower. It also had a modified front-wheel drive, suspension, and brakes.
5. Lamborghini Jarama
You shouldn’t expect a Lamborghini to have the label “budget car” associated with it by any means, but the Jarama still comes at a fraction of the cost of better known Lambos. Only 350 Jaramas were built between 1970 and 1976, which contributes to its high price tag, but also makes it a worthy investment.
4. Pontiac GTO
There’s barely anyone on the planet who hasn’t heard of the Pontiac GTO, but the 2004 to 2006 GTO didn’t make a lot of waves. Although it was a mechanically OK car with adequate performance and affordable pricing, the GTO’s exterior design was disappointing compared to the classic GTO look, which made it lose sales.
3. Dodge Viper RT/10
The Viper RT/10 is more popular than most of the cars on this list, but we are pleasantly surprised that it can be had for an affordable price. It was produced in 1992 and was widely popular due to its monstrous V10 and aggressive exterior design that added to an overall exciting driving experience.
2. Chrysler Crossfire SRT6
The negative reception of the 2004 Chrysler Crossfire overshadowed a great Crossfire version, which was the SRT6. It offered great performance with an AMG V6 engine that delivered 330 horsepower, as well as performance-tuned suspension and brakes. Several thousand SRT6s were made, and you can easily find one for sale.
1. Porsche 944 Turbo
The 944 Turbo is one of the most affordable Porsche cars you can get your hands on. It had a lot of interesting features, including a front-mounted 2.5-liter turbocharged engine that produced 250 horsepower, and its 0 to 60 acceleration is still impressive by today’s standards at only 5.9 seconds.