Growing up, there’s a good chance many of us had a poster or two on our bedroom wall of some sort of Ferrari, Lamborghini or McLaren sports car. Many of us dreamed of one day driving one of these super exotic rides, listening to its exhaust notes while we shifted effortlessly through the gears and passed everyone else on the road like they were standing still. Then we grew up and most of us found out that there are a lot of other more important things we should spend our money on – like houses, food and clothing, tuition and retirement funds. The dream, though, never really dies and most of us still think of what it would be like to work through the gears of one of those high-priced imports.
In terms of cars, the vast majority of us have to ‘settle’ for more realistic vehicles in our lives. Our lives dictate practicality and reliability. While we’d love to have a two-seat Lamborghini Countach to drive around, the climate, road conditions and family needs dictate that we buy something more useful. The result is that when we look out in our driveways and garages we see our Honda sedan, Subaru wagon and Chevrolet SUV – all important parts of our lifestyle and daily needs but far away from the exotic cars we dreamed of as little kids. Ok, so an exotic might not be in the cards but there are still an array of daily drivers out there that even in stock form can give you performance which can rival that of our childhood dream cars.
The following looks at 10 practical daily drivers that are common on our streets today and which can also not only hold their own but smoke the odd exotic from a stop. Ahead you’ll find a mix of SUVs, reinvented American muscle cars and luxury brands which are a fraction the cost of an Italian super car but can leave the prancing pony and bulls in their dust. These cars are all in their stock form and readily available at most dealerships – they are also all daily drivers with 0-60 times of under 4.5 seconds. Sure, this is nowhere near the times put up by the likes of the Porsche 918, Pagani Zonda R or Bugatti Veyron – but those are all 2 second cars with price tags ranging from $800,000 to over $2 million. These daily drivers can, however, take on and beat the likes of Ferrari’s 355, 430 and 575M; Lamborghini’s Countach and Diablo; and Maserati’s Gran Turismo MC Stradale, and all for a fraction of the cost and with a lot more reliability.
10 2015 Ford Mustang GT – 4.5 seconds
The Mustang is an icon of American motoring history. Produced since 1964, the Mustang has gone through a lot of redesigns and development. The current generation of the Mustang is the sixth and it’s a design which is meant to boost the slumping sales of the last several years. While many people will opt for the cheaper four and six cylinder models, the V8 Mustangs remain popular as a daily driver. Starting at around $33,000, owners can get a Mustang GT which boasts a 435 hp, 5.0 L V8. From a stop this will get you up to 60 mph in 4.5 seconds which is faster than quite a few of those much more expensive exotics you see on the street.
9 2015 Volkswagen Golf R – 4.5 seconds
Yes, there’s been a noticeable trend of Volkswagen drivers modifying the crap out of their cars and driving in the most annoying manner on the roads. While most of us don’t have the heart to tell them their cars are still heavy and slow, there actually is a Volkswagen Golf which will give you exotic-like performance right out of the box. The Volkswagen Golf R looks like a regular Golf but benefits from a 292 hp turbocharged 2.0 L motor. For around $37,000 you get a car that’s lighter than other VWs and can hit 60 mph in just 4.5 seconds. That’s faster than a Ferrari Testarossa and most Aston Martin DB9 models.
8 2011 BMW 335is – 4.5 seconds
Maybe you’re a little too refined to be seen in a Mustang or VW but still want comparable acceleration. Look no further than the BMW 335is. This German car has daily driver written all over it, especially for those owners who don’t want to drive their coveted M3 to work or the grocery store. The 335is still has impressive power thanks to its twin-turbocharged 3.0 L inline six cylinder engine. The 320 hp and 332 lb-ft of torque help get this up to 60 mph in the same time as the Mustang GT and Gold R – just with more refinement and luxury than you’d expect. Sure it’ll cost you around $50,000 but that’s still a lot less than any exotic this thing will smoke off the line.
7 2014 Chevrolet SS – 4.4 seconds
This Chevy is what eventually rose from the ashes of the cancelled Australian-built G8 from several years ago. When you look at the specs for the Chevrolet SS and then look at the car itself, the two don’t look like they belong together at all. The SS looks like a rather vanilla daily driver that your neighbor takes to work at the local bank. However, inside there is 6.2 L V8 which puts out 415 hp and 415 lb-ft of torque to the rear wheels. This power makes the SS not only one heck of a sleeper but a potent daily driver for a very non-exotic price of around $46,000.
6 2006 Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT8 – 4.4 seconds
It’s not often you come across an SUV that is not only capable of picking up the kids from school and making a trip to Home Depot but is also more than capable of leaving many Ferraris and Porsche 911 models in the rear-view mirror. The Grand Cherokee SRT8 is a very capable daily driver which looks like a regular Grand Cherokee – on the outside. Under the hood is a 6.1 L V8 which pumps out an impressive 420 hp. All that power goes to the four wheels which helps this SUV put down such an impressive time. Price-wise, things aren’t that bad either with the SRT8 available (when new) for around $40,000 and up.
5 2006 Subaru Impreza WRX STI – 4.4 seconds
Look around the street today and you’ll probably see a few of these potent rally-inspired cars. While most owners modify their WRX STIs, out of the box this AWD daily driver is formidable. For the third year that the STI was available in North America, this car was powered by a 300 hp 2.5 L turbocharged flat-four. A decade old now, this particular car is readily available on the used car market for a lot less than the $33,000 price tag when new. Still, even at that price, the performance this car put out was enough to leave many exotics far behind and embarrassed that they were just smoked by a four-banger.
4 2011 Dodge Challenger SRT8 – 4.4 seconds
Yes, we might be pushing it a bit on this one when it comes to the definition of daily driver, but hear us out. First, we stayed clear of the 707 hp Challenger Hellcat, because that car is just plain ridiculous (in a good way). Second, when you look around the streets today it’s clear that the Dodge Challenger is a popular car. Look closely and you’ll see that a noticeable number of these fantastic looking cars are the high-end SRT8 model. Packing a 6.4 L V8 that produces 470 hp and 470 lb-ft of torque, this $45,000 car can easily get you to work every day while destroying the odd Ferrari or Porsche along the way.
3 2014 Chrysler 300 SRT – 4.3 seconds
The Chrysler 300 is as common on the streets today as stories of Donald Trump are on the evening news. Every now and then if you look closely you can see that the 300 sitting next to you at the stoplight is an SRT model. Do not try to race this car – you will likely lose. Under the hood of this daily driver is the very same 6.4 L V8 that’s found in the Challenger SRT8. This motor puts out the same 470 hp and can get the rather un-aerodynamic looking 300 up to 60 mph in 4.3 seconds. That’s faster than most Lamborghini Diablo models for just $46,000.
2 2012 Dodge Charger SRT8 – 4.3 seconds
Yes, another SRT8 and yes, this one also uses the very same 6.4 L V8 found in the Challenger and 300. Performance-wise then you shouldn’t be too shocked to learn that the 0-60 time put down by the 2012 version of the Charger SRT8 was very similar to the other cars that share the same powerplant. Four doors give it more practicality than some other cars on this list and it’s hard to say the Charger isn’t a daily driver given the numbers of them roaming around the street and highways. We guess it’s just down to which body style you prefer because, ultimately, when it comes to beating an exotic, it’s what’s inside that counts,
1 2009/2010 Cadillac CTS-V Sedan – 4.0 seconds
Cadillac claims this car is capable of a 0-60 time of 3.9 seconds. Numerous testers had trouble making this but consistently managed 4.0 seconds, so we’ll go with that number. Sure 4.0 seconds is still well off the Bugatti Veyron acceleration range, but that time is still in the neighborhood of the early Lamborghini Gallardo and faster than Ferrari’s 550/575M and 355 lineups. It does this thanks to a 6.2 L supercharged V8 that produces 556 hp. Yes, the barebones model cost $60,000 when new but that got you a luxurious daily driver with Corvette-like performance.