We previously brought you the list of the cheapest ways to put 300 horses in your driveway, but now that family sedans are approaching 300 hp we understand you may be looking for a little more power. With some impressively low sticker prices on this list, why not snag a hybrid for your daily commute and stick one of these in the garage for the weekends?
The first and second entries on this list should be very familiar: they’re the cheapest models to pack 300 hp underhood, and the cheapest ways to get 400 hp as well. But there can be only one price leader, and again it’s the Ford Mustang. The GT coupe starts at $31,545–Honda Accord money, to be honest–but has enough firepower to make the Accord blush. With a 5.0-liter V-8 engine sending 412 hp to the rear wheels through either a six-speed manual or six-speed automatic transmission, you’ll be laughing as you blast down on-ramps…and laughing all the way to the bank.
Chevrolet Camaro 1SS: 400 hp, $33,535
The Mustang might be the cheapest way to buy a car with 400 horsepower, but the Camaro is the more popular option and it packs a bigger punch–the Camaro outsold the Mustang in 2012, 84,391 units to 82,995. While we’re on the subject of numbers, the Camaro 1SS uses a 6.2-liter V-8 engine and a six-speed automatic or manual transmission, makes a round 426 horsepower (but only 400 hp with an automatic), and rings in at $33,535. You’ll have to cope with a plasticky interior and go without slick features like Chevrolet MyLink, but the speed alone is probably worth it.
Dodge Charger SRT8 Super Bee: 470 hp, $42,320
Colin Chapman’s old adage was “simplify, and add lightness.” With all due respect to the late Mr. Chapman, the Chrysler Street and Racing Team’s philosophy, “add power” might excite us more. The Super Bee does without some of the Charger’s prettier or more convenient features (it even has cloth seats), but the payoff is pretty big: it’s the cheapest way to get a Chrysler Group product with the company’s 6.4-liter V-8 engine, which makes 470 hp in this state of tune.
You’re going to see a lot of “SRT8″ written on this list, and for a good reason: the combination of Chrysler’s LX platform and its 6.4-liter engine makes for a powerful, inexpensive answer to the 400 hp question. While we’re talking about that engine, it’s important to remember that 6.4 liters of displacement is 392 cubic inches, which explains the large red “392″ badges on the side of this coupe. Just like the Charger, the Challenger packs a 470-hp wallop. All of this comes at the reasonable price of $44,820.
Hyundai Genesis 5.0 R-Spec: 429 hp, $47,695
Hyundai’s philosophy has long been to target a certain segment or benchmark and then create a car that matches or beats it for thousands less. Case in point: the BMW 550i starts at $63,595 and makes 400 horsepower with a 4.4-liter, twin-turbo V-8 engine. The Hyundai Genesis 5.0 R-Spec, on the other hand, loses the two turbos and $15,900. The Genesis R-Spec uses a 5.0-liter Tau naturally aspirated V-8 engine that makes 429 hp. The fact that it costs the equivalent of a Chevrolet Spark less than its competitors just sweetens the deal.
While the Charger and Challenger are bold, brash SRT8 vehicles, the Chrysler 300 SRT8 is a bit more refined and luxurious way to get your 6.4-liter Hemi V-8 fix. The 300 makes the same 470 hp as every other SRT8 model, but offers a nicer interior and a slicker look. Don’t worry about blending into the surroundings, however, because that 392-cubic-inch V-8 engine makes awe-inspiring noise, even when you’re sitting in the parking lot.
It’s been just a couple of days since the release of the new Chevrolet Corvette Stingray, but we’d like to remind you all that the current-generation Corvette is a prime way to score big horsepower for (relatively) small amounts of cash. The C6 Corvette 1LT makes 430 hp thanks to an LS3 6.2-liter V-8 engine; that power is sent to the rear wheels through a six-speed manual or automatic transmission. Number freaks will surely lust after the Corvette’s many up-market models–the Z06 or 427 Convertible, with 505 hp, or the ZR1, with 638 hp–but those models cost many thousands more. For true cheap speed fans, the base model is a good option; incentive spending by GM to clear 2013 Corvettes ahead of the new Stingray’s arrival will only make it better.
Hyundai Equus: 429 hp, $60,170
The Hyundai Genesis 5.0 R-Spec has a 5.0-liter Tau V-8, an eight-speed automatic transmission, and rear-wheel drive. It shouldn’t surprise you, then, that the Equus also has the combination of Tau V-8, eight-speed auto, and rear-wheel drive. While the Genesis tries to crash the BMW 5 Series’ party, however, the Equus guns straight for the Audi A8L. It’s for the best, too: an A8L with a V-8 engine will run you $88,095, some $27,925 more (to put that in perspective, the Sonata Limited costs $26,640). Of course, the Equus doesn’t carry the same brand recognition as the A8L, and Equus buyers keen on buying a cut-rate A8L should really opt for the Equus Ultimate model, which commands a $67,170 premium. Still, 429 hp and a bargain-basement limo body for BMW 5 Series money is commendable.
Color us surprised: as it turns out, the cheapest traditional premium sedan (think A6, 5 Series, Lexus GS, et cetera) with more than 400 horsepower is the Mercedes-Benz E550. As you chuckle at the thought of “cheapest” and “Mercedes-Benz” written in the same sentence, we’ll remind you that the E550 uses Mercedes’ twin-turbo 4.6-liter V-8 engine, which is also available on models like the GL550, ML550, and S550. The engine makes 402 horsepower, enough to rocket the E550 up to a governed top speed of 155 miles an hour. While we commend Mercedes for making its base E550 so accessible, we do wonder how many people will take the German brand up on this offer. After all, Mercedes’ parts bin is filled with sumptuous leather and wood/metal trim options, features like internet-connected navigation, and handsome AMG wheels. Add any of those options to the E550 and it falls off our list faster than you can say “Comand with GPS navigation.”
Infiniti M56: 420 hp, $62,105
The Infiniti M56 will spend its last year badged as an M56 celebrating its 10th-place finish on this list. The soon-to-be-Q70 can be had with a 3.7-liter V-6 (330 hp) or a 3.5-liter V-6 hybrid (360 hp), but the model in question is the M56, which uses a 5.6-liter V-8 engine to make 420 hp, sent to the rear wheels (all-wheel drive is available for an additional $2500). And here’s a little secret: while the Mercedes-Benz E550 does technically cost less than the M56, the Merc’s price balloons to $66,405 when you add in some of the Infiniti’s standard features like passive entry/ignition, a premium sound system, and heated/ventilated front seats. The M56 isn’t the best deal on this list (it costs nearly twice as much as the Mustang GT), but it is still a good (and a fast) one.