Skip to main content

Compact sedans are meant to take you and your family from point A to B safely and efficiently. Take the 2023 Nissan Versa we just drove; it’s small and fuel-efficient but also very slow. However, not all sedans are made the same.

Check out these seven sedans that may look tame on the outside but carry a lot of horsepower on the hood. One thing is for sure: there isn’t a Versa on the list.

1. 2023 Audi S3

A front corner view of the 2023 Audi S3
2023 Audi S3 | Audi

The 2023 Audi S3 is the model you get when you want something more powerful than an A3 but not as intense as an RS3. The Audi S3 has a sharp, Lamborghini-inspired design that looks elegant and sleek – but you might never guess it’s quick.

Under the S3’s hood is a turbocharged 2.0-liter engine that transmits 306 hp out to all four wheels via a seven-speed dual-clutch transmission. This performance recipe equates to 0-60 mph times of 4.3 seconds, far quicker than many other cars on the road.

2. 2023 Subaru WRX

A front corner view of the 2023 Subaru WRX
2023 Subaru WRX | Subaru

The Subaru WRX was born on the rally course but bred for the street. It looks like a normal Impreza sedan, but casual onlookers may not know what it’s capable of. For 2023, the WRX comes equipped with a turbocharged 2.4-liter boxer engine that produces 271 hp and 258 lb-ft of torque.

That power is sent through either a six-speed manual or CVT and out to all four wheels. It’s not as quick as the Audi S3, but a 0-60-mph time of 5.4 seconds is still plenty quick for your daily commute.

3. 2023 Honda Civic Si

A rear corner view of the 2023 Honda Civic Si sedan
2023 Honda Civic Si | Joe Santos, MotorBiscuit

The 2023 Honda Civic Si may be a Civic, but it’s a special one. We tested the 2022 model and were impressed with its spry road manners and eager turbocharged engine. Speaking of its engine, the small 1.5-liter, four-cylinder puts out 200 hp, which doesn’t sound like much by today’s standards, but it’s enough to scoot the car up to 60 mph in 6.8 seconds. The Civic Si sedan is unassuming, quick, and a lot of fun to drive on twisty canyon roads.

4. 2023 Audi S4

A rear corner view of the 2023 Audi S4
2023 Audi S4 | Audi

The 2023 Audi S4 is the S3’s more powerful and slightly bigger brother. It’s also the performance-oriented version of the popular and more pedestrian A4. That means most casual observers would never know the S4 is capable of getting up to 60 mph in only 4.2 seconds.

It can get there quickly with its turbocharged 3.0-liter V6 engine that pushes out 349 hp and 369 lb-ft of torque. That power is routed through a quick-shifting eight-speed automatic transmission and out to all four wheels via the brand’s Quattro AWD system.

5. 2023 Genesis G70

The 2023 Genesis G70 in the sunset
2023 Genesis G70 | Genesis

The 2023 Genesis G70 could possibly be the biggest wolf in sheep’s clothing – albeit very fancy clothing. The G70 looks like a funky luxury cruiser, which it is, but it’s also very quick. We tested the G70 a couple of years ago and were thoroughly floored by its elegant execution and surprisingly stellar performance.

Under the G70’s hood is a twin-turbocharged V6 engine that generates 365 hp and 376 lb-ft of torque. The power is sent to the rear wheels through an eight-speed automatic transmission, which can shift the car up to 60 mph in only 4.2 seconds.

6. 2024 Acura Integra Type S

2024 Acura Integra Type S side view
2024 Acura Integra Type S | Joe Santos, MotorBiscuit

Although the 2024 Acura Integra Type S looks much racier than the Integra A-Spec due to its hood vents and fender flares, it still goes largely unnoticed by the general public. We spent some time with the Integra Type S and can say that despite its subtly bold stature, most onlookers wouldn’t know its turbocharged engine pumps out 320 hp.

They also wouldn’t know what a joy it is to drive with its six-speed manual transmission or that it can get up to 60 mph from a stop in 5.1 seconds.

7. 2023 Lexus IS 500

A side view of the 2023 Lexus IS 500 sedan
2023 Lexus IS 500 | Joe Santos, MotorBiscuit

The 2023 Lexus IS 500 is basically an IS 350 on steroids. Its muscularity comes via a potent 5.0-liter V8 engine that makes 472 hp and 395 lb-ft of torque. Not only does this raucous V8 have plenty of power throughout the rpm band, but it also makes a great noise. Given the IS 500’s tremendous power, it’s no wonder that it can reach 60 mph in only 4.4 seconds.

These sleeper sedans should not be slept on

Anyone looking for a performance sedan with a feeble look could find one on this list. However, don’t let those bland looks fool you because you never know what’s under the hood.