Here’s the thing about fast cars: They usually look fast. Think, for example, of the Lamborghini Countach, which looks so fast that its mere presence in a quiet cul-de-sac could cause suburban parents to craft a strongly worded letter to the homeowners’ association, or the BMW M3 — formerly a subtle-fast car — now adorned with giant wheels and blue brake calipers and aggressive styling and fender flares the size of a middle schooler.
But fast cars don’t always have to look fast. In fact, it is possible to drive a fast car that blends in and won’t be singled out by the police because it looks like something the makers of “Grand Theft Auto” would reject for being too unrealistic. Here are six examples.
Buick Regal GS
When you think of “fast,” you generally don’t think of Buick. In fact, when you think of “fast,” virtually every other word might come to mind before “Buick,” including words that don’t make sense. Toothpick. Marmalade. Harpsichord. However, the Buick Regal GS is the embodiment of a fast, invisible car. On sale in its most recent (and fastest) form since the 2012 model year, the Regal GS touts an impressive 270 horsepower and 295 lb-ft of torque — which it squeezed out of a tiny 2.0-liter 4-cylinder engine. And for a little while, you could only get it with a 6-speed manual transmission. If it wasn’t for the Regal GS’s huge wheels, no one would have any idea there’s a Buick sedan that’s sports-car fast. Find a Buick Regal for sale
It isn’t possible to publish a “fast cars that don’t look fast” story without referencing the Chevy SS. This is because the SS is the ultimate fast car that doesn’t look fast, the Babe Ruthian pinnacle of the “fast that doesn’t look fast” world. This is because the SS has 415 hp, a big V8, rear-wheel drive and the styling of a Malibu you’d rent at the airport Enterprise because they’re out of Chargers. Interestingly, this is probably the reason for the SS’s poor sales: Modern drivers don’t want to spend $47,500 to blend in on the road. If you don’t want people to know you’re driving a fast car until you’re bounding up the freeway on-ramp, few cars do it better than the SS. Find a Chevrolet SS for sale
Hyundai Genesis R-Spec
Everyone knows that the Hyundai Genesis Coupe is a rather fast, exciting car, while the original Hyundai Genesis sedan was a rather docile luxury vehicle that was bought by people who still read the newspaper. Did you know there was an R-Spec version of the original Genesis sedan with 429 hp? Offered from 2012 to 2014, it featured a 5.0-liter V8 in a car sized somewhere between the Chevy Malibu and the Chevy Impala. Naturally, the Genesis R-Spec sedan is rare, and also absolutely ridiculous, with a 0-to-60 mile-per-hour time of somewhere in the low 5-second range. Find a Hyundai Genesis for sale
Everyone knows about the 270-hp Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution and the 300-hp Subaru Impreza WRX STI, both of which were all-wheel drive, stick-shift, turbocharged high-performance sedan darlings of the mid-2000s. Did you know there was also a Mazda competitor? It was called the Mazdaspeed6, and it also brought 270 hp, all-wheel drive and a 6-speed manual to the table — just like its Mitsubishi and Subaru rivals. The difference: Unlike those models, it didn’t include a rear wing the size of an exercise bike. Instead, it flew under the radar — and I mean “flew,” as it did 0 to 60 mph in the mid-to-high 5-second range. Find a Mazdaspeed6 for sale
Ford Explorer Sport
No, we are not referring to the 2-door Ford Explorer Sport sold throughout the 1990s and early 2000s — a model I now call the “Ford Explorer Coupe.” (As in: “Hey! This junkyard is full of Ford Explorer Coupes!”) Instead, we’re talking about the modern Ford Explorer Sport, based on the current Ford Explorer and featuring an amazing 365 hp from its turbocharged V6. I’ve driven this thing, and the sensation is quite amazing: You stomp your foot down, the car accelerates at a frenetic pace, and you kind of think you’re in a hot hatchback — until you glance in the mirror and realize there are seven seats in this thing. Ford says it goes from 0 to 60 mph in 6 seconds flat. I believe it. Find a Ford Explorer for sale
2004-2007 Saturn VUE V6
Yes, we’re serious: The 2004-2007 Saturn VUE V6 is the ultimate sleeper. Here’s why: Due to a complicated agreement between Honda and General Motors, the 2004-2007 VUE V6 — a small, compact SUV — lifted its 3.5-liter V6 directly from the Honda Pilot, a midsize SUV with 3-row seating. The result was 250 hp in a vehicle that’s shorter in length than a Honda Civic. If you got the 2004-2007 VUE V6 with front-wheel drive, you were doing 0 to 60 mph in the low 6-second range, which makes it one of the fastest cars nobody really knows about. If we get a VUE V6, we have a bumper sticker suggestion: “You just got beaten by a Saturn.” Find a Saturn VUE for sale
MORE FROM OVERSTEER