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Here Are Five Cars That Need More Horsepower

Later today, I have a review coming of the new Subaru BRZ tS, which is a vehicle that seriously needs additional horsepower. But first, I’m giving you my personal list of the five cars currently on sale that I think especially need more power. Yes, to enthusiasts, basically every car needs more power — but to me, these five are specifically lacking to the point where it’s noticeable and disappointing. They are:

BMW i8

The BMW i8 is a wonderful car with a great driving experience and futuristic styling that truly makes it look like a concept car brought to life — perhaps more than any other modern vehicle. But with a 3-cylinder engine, it just isn’t fast enough, even with the assist from the electric motor. It does 0 to 60 in 4.4 seconds, which is nice, but probably not where it should be given a base price of around $150,000. The i8 is great, but it’d be better if it had more power.

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Honda Civic Type R

The Honda Civic Type R is an excellent hot hatchback with impressive performance, but performance isn’t quite as impressive as, say, the Ford Focus RS, which offers 350 hp to the Civic’s 306. While the Civic’s power number is in line with the increasingly outdated Subaru WRX STI, I think Honda should’ve given the Civic more juice — and all-wheel drive, to cope with the added performance. Unfortunately, as is, it lags behind rivals in straight-line speed.

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Lexus RC

The Lexus RC was the BMW 4 Series fighter that was supposed to convince us Lexus was a fun, youthful performance brand, but instead, it fell flat. A big reason for that is the performance. Although the RC-F has 467 horses, which is more than the BMW M4’s 444, it manages to be slower thanks to heavier curb weight and a duller transmission. Meanwhile, the RC 300 and RC 350 lag behind the 4 Series rival in power, and they certainly feel slower. The RC should’ve been a bit lighter; it should’ve gotten a better transmission; and, frankly, it should’ve had enough power to blow away rivals.

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Lincoln Navigator

The Lincoln Navigator probably seems like an odd choice for this list, both because it’s an SUV rather than a performance car, and because it uses Ford’s well-known (and generally well-received) EcoBoost V6 engine with 450 hp. The problem, though, is that the Navigator is a heavy vehicle, especially when you add all the options and get a long-wheelbase model. Even though its V6 bests the Cadillac Escalade’s V8 in both power and torque, the Navigator’s engine just doesn’t have enough muscle in top-end, extended-wheelbase models. I think it could use an extra 50 horses.

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Toyota 86/Subaru BRZ

The Toyota 86 and Subaru BRZ are the perennial favorites for this list, as they offer an excellent, well-balanced chassis with impressive steering and handling, but they long for more power. The 205-hp 4-cylinder engine installed in the 86 and BRZ has never really been adequate, and Subaru and Toyota should’ve given these cars more power at some point throughout their production runs. Unfortunately, as it’s now been five years since the 86 (then badged Scion FR-S) and the BRZ went on sale, it’s unlikely that these two will ever get the additional power we’re all craving.

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  1. FWD vs AWD in a small hot hatch is tricky. While AWD seems like it’s always better than FWD, it adds a lot of weight and makes the car less spry. Most car manufacturers are limiting HP in the first couple of gears to combat the issue of being unable to get power to the ground, as FWD is obviously harder to launch with this much HP. 

    This being said the Civic SI is to close in price to the Focus RS considering it doesn’t have as much HP or AWD. I wish they made it an option, just as they do in most SUVs. Let the customer choose. 
  2. The Civic Type R actually has 316hp but was toned down in the US. Carwow did a drag race where when rolling, it beat the Golf R and Focus RS by far and was gaining on the A45 thanks to its lightness.

    • Must be what you drive, The Elantra Sport is about right for the 20k asking price, Use the money you saved and get a turbo kit installed, This will boost performance ~30-50hp and get your ECU tuned which would maybe boost it by an additional 30hp, 280bhp would be quite respectable for a Hyundai with maybe 2k total invested, You gotta pay to play, Either that or buy second hand, A used Charger will give you the performance in the body of a Sedan, If you are OK with a Coupe, A used Camaro or Mustang would also fit the bill.

  3. I would like to meet someone who buys an RC-F over an M4 or RS5 and pick their brain. Was it price and if not that why? I actually like how they look and have no problems with them, I just can’t imagine picking one up over the other two. 

    • Actually I think it’s easy to see why someone would take the Lexus; perceived reliability. The M4 and RS5 are “unreliable” German cars, while the RC-F is a reliable Toyota.

  4. I dont think the RCF needs more power, but like you said, it needs to weigh less and get a snappier transmission. Until Lexus brings out a DCT or offers a manual (not likely), it will fall behind. 

    I guess you could make the argument that its not a sports car like the M4, but a grand tourer like the XKR. But in that context, more HP would be needed, as the competition are all over 500. 

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Doug Demuro
Doug DeMuro writes articles and makes videos, mainly about cars. Doug was born in Denver, Colorado, and received an economics degree from Emory University in Atlanta. After graduation, Doug spent three years working for Porsche Cars North America. Eventually, he quit his job to become a writer, largely because it meant that he no longer had to wear pants. Doug’s work has been featured in a... Read More about Doug Demuro

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