4 cylinders, 6 cylinders, 8, 12, 16…is there an end to this, or are we heading to 102 cylinders in 2050? The answer is no. At least that’s what I think. Technological progress is a funny thing: despite the fact that it’s all about conquering new highs and breaking ground, it never forgets about the roots and constantly rethinks all the previous achievements. And that’s true for the automobile industry like no other. Engineers these days are, hands down, the best at what they do and in the last couple of years they managed to turn the good-old 4-cylinder engines into mighty beasts: you’ve got all kinds of configurations, modifications, shapes and sizes. Furthermore, the modern-day 4-cyl units are powering some of the strongest vehicles on the market. And the range is quite impressive, too – you’ve got V4s making their way from the most affordable models all the way up to the luxury stuff. So, today we’ll talk about the fastest cars with 4-cylinder engines under those shiny hoods.
Taking Old Technology To New Highs
“Four-bangers” today are so good that they can easily hit that 150 miles per hour mark with a low-budget compact car, and the big-bad majors in the industry like Ford are using these units to reintroduce their classic cars, like the Mustang with the EcoBoost. Now, the majority of customers don’t really care if the powertrain consists of a 4-cylinder, a V6 or even a V8. All they need is good fuel-efficiency and a good winter start. However, the auto enthusiasts are quite…enthusiastic about the fact that a small engine can achieve such impressive results. And you’ve got all kinds of different scenarios with these units, including flat-four and inline-four variations, along with the much-needed turbochargers that allow to really push the boarders. In this article I’ve ranked the contestants according to their top speeds. Some folks like to measure in acceleration, others love to talk about horsepower, but I’m all about that max MPH (I will be listing the other characteristics too, though). The market of performance-strong rides with four cylinders in 2016 is bigger than ever, so, I guess we’re in luck! Alright, enough politics – let’s take a look at the fastest cars with 4-cylinder engines. I’ve got Ford, Chevy, Subaru and Alfa Romeo lined-up for you.
#1 – The Ford Mustang EcoBoost
Come on, a fast Mustang without a V6 powering it up? Aha, that’s exactly right. As it turns out, 4 cylinders are more than enough to make this legendary muscler reach for the sky. Last year the geniuses at Ford managed to do the impossible: they found a way to make the best muscle car ever equally sexy both for the gearheads and the ECO fans (hence the name). The Mustang features a turbocharged 4-cyl engine that’s good for 310 Horsepower, a top speed of 145 miles per hour and comes with a highly affordable price-tag of 25K+. Furthermore, if you throw a couple of additional grand in, you’ll get the performance package, which makes it one of the most attractive studs on the market, not to mention one of the fastest cars with 4-cylinder engines. I mean, what else is there to wish for? This is a strong, fast, low-budget Mustang that’s looks like a million bucks! Oh, and yes, it’s also quite fuel-efficient: the muscle car returns 31 miles per gallon on the highway and 22MPG in the city (25MPG combined). A dream-car, fellas, something to wish for on Christmas day.
#2 – The Chevrolet Camaro 2.0T
Chevy is Ford’s long-time rival – they’re like Batman and Joker, Flash and Zoom, Superman and Lex Luthor. I’m not sure who’s who, but you get the idea, right? Obviously, the General Motors subsidiary just couldn’t let the Blue Oval Brand win the 2016 elections and had to pack the all-new Camaro 2016 with a turbocharged 2.0-lit 4-cylinder. Chevy did certainly deliver with this one: with that 4-cyl unit that’s good for 275 Horsepower and 295 pound-feet of torque this particular Camaro is lighter than the V6- and V8-equipped rivals. Compared to the Mustang, it’s about 200 pounds lighter and that allows it to reach a top speed of 155 miles per hour and jump from zero to 60 miles per hour in 5.1 seconds. Pretty impressive for a car that can be yours for 25K, which basically makes it an entry-level model. The Camaro? Entry-level? It is what it is, and Chevy is ready to beat Ford on the American market with power, design and charisma. It’s the clash of the titans all over again, folks!
The Fastest Cars With 4-Cylinder Engines – #3, The Volkswagen Golf R
No, it’s not a mistake, and no, I didn’t mean to place another German brand here, like Porsche or Mercedes. The Golf R is not only one of the most practical, versatile and popular cars on the market, but, as it turns out, it can also be fast. Faster than the Mustang and the Camaro! However, when it comes to pricing, Volkswagen is a bit greedy (35K for the hot hatchback). On the other hand, it comes with a 2.0-lit 4-cylinder that’s capable of 292HP, is paired to AWD and can zing from standstill to 60MPH in 4.5 seconds. As for the max speed, you’ve got the same 155 miles per hour as with the Chevy stud. Still, when it comes to utility and family-friendliness, none of the muscle cars can compete with the golfer. Besides, you’ll get great handling, enough interior and cargo space to suit your fatherly duties and looks that perfectly mask the German’s mighty powertrain that makes it one of the fastest cars with 4-cylinder engines. So, next time you see a Golf R on the road, give it the thumbs up.
#4 – The Subaru WRX STI
If you’re looking for an alternative to the market-leaders, take a look at the WRX STI from the off-road-friendly Subaru. It has been one of the strongest sedans for a pretty long time. The brand-new edition is powered by a turbocharged 2.5-lit V4 that’s pumping out 305 Horsepower and racing on the same pace as the German princess we just talked about with an equal top speed of 155 miles per hour. Acceleration is identical, too: the Japanese stud sprints from 0 to 60MPH in 4.5 seconds. So, what’s different about the WRX STI? First of all, it’s got those royal rally roots and is equipped with AWD (all-wheel drive), which means you can drive this bad-boy wherever you want, whenever you want. It’s the ultimate machine for going rogue and surviving those blizzards, desert storms and maybe even the aliens. The only downside is the hefty price-tag of 33K. But for all those awesome features I’d say it’s quite a democratic offer. AWD, fast, quick, good-looking and edgy – the good stuff only.
The Fastest Cars With 4-Cylinder Engines – #5, The Alfa Romeo 4C
This hustler is constantly being called one of the best driver’s cars out there, and for good reason. While the industry is waiting on the Giulia to hit the world-wide dealerships, the 4C is keeping the market on lockdown. It comes with a turbocharged 4-cyl unit (1742cc) that’s putting out 240HP and going as fast as 160 miles per hour. This powertrain is mated to a dual dry clutch 6-speed automatic transmission for perfect shifting. The 4C took its time with the American release, but it did certainly deliver. If you’re looking for a sporty, fast, dynamical and gorgeous carbon-fiber model for 53K, the Alfa Romeo ride is probably your ideal pick and the best bang for your bucks. I can go for days talking about how great the 4C is and that the upcoming Giulia is going to be even greater, but let me just stop there and carry on with the list. We’re talking about the fastest cars with 4-cylinder engines, and the Alfa Romeo 4C is the most expensive and the best-looking model to date.
#6 – The Ford Focus RS
Alright, ladies and gents, Ford is back with a hot hatch to claim the throne and wear that crown. Back in the day the experts were amazed by how the Dearborn-based engineers could turn this compact cutie into the fastest 4-cylinder ride on the market – and they still are very much impressed, just like I am. For a price-tag of 35K the RS is super-expensive for the Focus, but for all the goodies that it’s got I say we have a pretty sweat bargain on our hands. Folks called it a superhatch, and the name sticked: you’ve got a turbocharged 2.3-lit 4-cylinder that’s constantly pumping out 350HP and 350 pound-feet of torque. It’s AWD and can go 0-to-60 in 4.7 seconds. Max speed is at 165MPH, good for the mighty sports cars. Ok, there you have it: of all the fastest cars with 4-cylinder engines the Ford Focus RS is the absolute champ. Share your thoughts in the comments and praise the God of cylinders!
Check out this video: Top 5: Most powerful four-cylinder cars