10 Breakthrough Cars Under $100K

Source: Thinkstock
Source: Thinkstock

We’ve covered the ten vehicles that offer the best power-to-weight ratios for both the sub-$25,000 and $50,000 price brackets, and now, to round out the trilogy provided by Autoblog, here are the best options if you have $100,000 laying around that you can blow on a car of your choosing.

Power-to-weight ratios are defined by how much weight a single horsepower is responsible for moving. So — for the interests of simplicity — if you had a 1,000 car that had 100 horsepower, you power-to-weight ratio would be 10.

Engines are becoming increasingly powerful, with turbo-fours cranking out as much as V8s were achieving 20 years ago. At the same time, breakthroughs in materials are making cars lighter than ever, despite all the added safety equipment and various gadgets and features. The Koenigsegg One:1 has perhaps nailed the holy grail for power to weight, as each horsepower only has to move one kilogram — about 2.2 pounds. But, at over $1 million, it’s a bit out of reach for the average buyer.


10. 2014 Mercedes-Benz E63 AMG S

In the hallowed league of super sedans, which include the likes of the BMW M5 and the Jaguar XFR-S, the Mercedes-Benz (DDAIF.PK) pulls out in front with its power-to-weight ratio of 7.697. The E63 AMG S, which costs $99,770 in its most basic form, churns out 577 horsepower and nail 60 miles per hour in about 3.5 seconds. It weighs in at at a robust 4,431 pounds, though, which hurt its chances further up the rankings.


9. 2014 Porsche 911 Carrera S

The biggest issue with the Porsche 911 is that with the exception of a couple of models, there are few that fall below $100,000. The highest performance models, like the Turbo S (which has a weight ratio of 6.31), run closer to $200,000, but the $98,900 Carrera S, and its power-to-weight ratio of 7.688 is within our parameters. The Carrera S generates 400 horsepower, and weighs just 3,075 pounds, when equipped with the manual transmission.


8. 2014 Cadillac CTS-V Sedan

The Cadillac CTS-V is the car to have if impromptu drag visits are a regular concern for you: It has a monstrous 556 horsepower and 551 pound-feet of torque, can hit 60 in just 3.9 seconds, and weighs in at a rotund 4,220 pounds, yielding a power-to-weight ratio of 7.590. However, the CTS-V hasn’t yet been updated for the new generation of the base CTS, and it will likely only become sharper if Cadillac can help the car shed a few pounds.


7. 2014 Cadillac CTS-V Coupe

Shear two doors off the CTS-V sedan and you’re left with the CTS-V coupe, a more compact — and just a hair lighter – alternative for Cadillac buyers who don’t necessarily need or want as much backseat capability. The 556 horsepower engine carries over to the coupe, which sheds a grand total of 3 pounds (yes, 3 pounds) to weigh in at 4,217 pounds with the manual. This gives the $64,900 coupe a power-to-weight ratio of 7.585, just barely edging out its sedan sibling.


6. 2014 Chevrolet Camaro Z/28

Most muscle cars were bred specifically for the drag strip, and as a result, little emphasis was placed on their handling, until more recently. The Chevy Camaro Z/28 is perhaps the best example of a muscle car that’s been re-engineered to be competitive everywhere else, and it’s now among the most capable sports cars on the market. Each of its 505 horsepowers is responsible for moving just 7.564 pounds, as the Z/28 weighs just 3,820. A testament to its performance? It lapped the Nurburgring in 7 minutes and 37 seconds.


5. 2014 Jaguar F-Type S

Jaguar took an ambitious move in resurecting what is essentially the spiritual successor to the famed and beloved E-Types of years past, and it’s safe to say that the F-Type is a worthy heir to the throne. The Type S model packs a 380 horsepower punch, capable of moving the F-Type S’ 3,514 pound bulk (3,558 for the convertible) to 60 in under 5 seconds. This translates into a power-to-weight ratio of 7.416, good enough for the fifth spot on the list.

14 corvette Stingray

4. 2014 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray

Chevrolet engineers spared no expense when designing the 2014 Corvette Stingray, which is essentially an entirely new Corvette from the ground up. That dedication is apparent, as it churns out 460 horsepower to move its relatively light 3,298 pound frame. This yields a power-to-weight ratio of 7.248, and while that’s impressive, it’s the forthcoming Z06 that will really showcase the Corvette’s potential in this area.

2014 Chevy Camaro ZL1

3. 2014 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1

It produces over 100 horsepower more than the Stingray — 580, to be exact — but it also weighs nearly 1,000 pounds more, at tipping the scales at 4,120 pounds. Nonetheless, the Chevy Camaro ZL1 — the reigning emperor of the Camaro kingdom — yields a 7.103 power-to-weight ratio, besting the Corvette and sealing the number three spot for the best power-to-weight ratios in the sub-$100K category.


2. 2014 Jaguar F-Type R Coupe ($99,000) – 6.615

The F-Type S is by no means a slow car, but as far as fast Jaguars go, the F-Type R takes the proverbial cake. It has 550 horsepower at its disposal — 170 more than the S — though it weighs 3,638 pounds, only about 100 more than the F-Type S. This gives it a power-to-weight ratio of 6.615, the second best ratio you can buy for under $100,000 — though just barely, as the F-Type R costs $99,000.

Ford Mustang Shelby 14GT500_stacti

1. 2014 Ford Shelby GT500 ($55,110) – 5.808

For a clean sweep of the sub-$25K, $50K, and now $100K power-to-weight ratios, Ford’s Shelby GT500 Mustang and its 662 horsepower offers the best performance for the weight (and even the dollar) in every price bracket below $100,000. Its downright feathery 3,845 pound curb weight translates into a power-to-weight ratio of just 5.808, meaning each horsepower is responsible only for moving about 5.8 pounds — less than the weight of a gallon of water.