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The best performance sedans combine sports car performance with a mix of luxury and practicality. They offer blazing speed and agile handling while proving adept at hauling people or a week’s groceries. Most of the time, these sedans are higher-performance versions of a company’s luxury cars. They feature sports-tuned suspensions, bigger brakes, and more powerful engines. 

The three best small performance sedans, as ranked by Edmunds, follow this recipe. Not only are they a blast to drive, but they do many things well for a reasonable sum of money.      

2023 Audi S3

The Audi S3 was completely redesigned for 2022 and provides a good balance of the basic A3’s virtues with serious performance. With “only” 306 hp on tap, it’s not as feral as the RS 3, which has almost 100 more horsepower. But it still offers an impressively quick 4.3 seconds 0 to 60 mph time and can make any drive entertaining. 

The S3 is Audi’s smallest sedan and also one of the smallest performance sedans available today. However, it provides a reasonable amount of room and is well-equipped with the premium luxury and technology found on more expensive cars in Audi’s lineup.  

Competitors include the BMW 2 Series and Mercedes-AMG CLA, which offer similar performance at about the same price point. However, Edmunds gives the Audi S3 the edge because of its style, features, comfort, and performance.  

2023 Audi S4

2020 Audi S4, a small performance sedan
2020 Audi S4 | Audi

Much like its little brother, the Audi S4 has a lot of value and performance. It straddles the line between the base A4 and high-performance RS 4. Performance starts with a turbocharged 349-hp V6, all-wheel drive, upgraded brakes, and sport suspension. It’s capable of fast 0 to 60 mph times in the low four-second range and is surprisingly athletic with impressive handling and brakes. 

Like the S3, the Audi S4 offers a lot of features and performance. It competes with the BMW 3 Series and Mercedes-AMG C43 but edges those cars out with its impressive handling and performance as well as luxury features. 

2023 Cadillac CT4-V Blackwing

Name a luxury brand that produces a small performance sedan with a 472-hp turbocharged V6 and standard six-speed manual transmission. Chances are the first car you thought of is made by a German manufacturer. And if you guessed Audi, BMW, or Mercedes-Benz, you’d be wrong. 

The answer is Cadillac, and the car is the CT4-V Blackwing. Judged on its own merit, the CT4-V Blackwing is an impressive car. It features a fully adaptive suspension, excellent brakes, and an impressive suite of safety features, including an adjustable stability control system. It will go toe-to-toe with the German cars, including the BMW M3 and Mercedes-AMG C63, and holds its own with a 4.6 seconds 0 to 60 mph time and impressive handling.   

As a Cadillac, it’s a stunning achievement and what separates the CT4-V is the level of engagement. It’s a joy to drive, not just because it does everything well but because it’s the kind of car that feels special. 


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