Fun in the Summer, Safe in the Winter: 5 of Our Favorite All-Wheel Drive Sports Cars
The typical formula for a sports car used to be front-engine, rear-wheel drive, and three pedals on the floor. But that definition has evolved, as drivers need more versatility and only have money for one car. These 5 all-wheel drive sports cars do it all, from summer canyon carving to winter commuting, all while keeping you involved in the fun.
Toyota GR Corolla: An all-wheel drive rally-ready sports car
With a starting MSRP of just under $36,000, the GR Corolla is the cheapest all-wheel drive sports car of 2023. But it’s also perhaps the most fun. The raucous 1.6-liter three-cylinder turbo grumbles its way to 300 horsepower and 273 pound-feet of torque. Even better, it’s all controlled by a six-speed manual transmission.
Our own Joe Santos had a chance to take one for a spin, and found its angsty nature both endearing and engaging. The only drawbacks are a harsh suspension and limited cargo space. But for the most part, this little hot hatch is rally ready with three selectable all-wheel drive settings and a limited-slip diff.
Volkswagen Golf R: Luxury and turbocharged punch in a timeless package
If you’ve got a bit more scratch to spend, the 2023 Volkswagen Golf R is, in essence, a grown-up GR Corolla. The 2.0-liter four-cylinder turbo is beyond impressive, delivering 315 horsepower and 310 pound-feet of torque. Plus, Volkswagen’s 4Motion all-wheel drive system and adaptive chassis control come straight from Audi’s Quattro lineage. That combination makes the Golf R a maestro of slippery-surface driving. Consider it a luxurious rally car, and enjoy the last vestiges of the manual European hot hatch while it’s still with us.
BMW M240i xDrive: This all-wheel drive sports car always grabs attention
The BMW M240i, meanwhile, leans in a completely different direction from our first two contenders. This low-slung sports car features a long-hood, short deck coupe design that turns heads wherever it goes. Even when driving it through New York City, this thing grabbed attention. In a city where it’s typically easy to blend in, people would smack their friends, point, and take photos of this funky-looking sports car. The flashy Thundernight Metallic purple paint didn’t hurt.
Packing 382 horsepower and 369 pound-feet of torque and a rear-biased xDrive all-wheel drive system, it’s got the goods for nimble canyon carving all summer. And when winter hits, snow tires and that xDrive system will carry you through until the spring thaw.
Mercedes-AMG CLA 45 4MATIC: Fast, fun, and undeniably luxurious
This car is perhaps the least sporty model on this list, but the AMG-crafted 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine does well to make up the difference. Despite a cylinder deficit to the BMW, the AMG CLA 45 offers the same 382 horsepower and 4MATIC technology. Sure, the 11.6-cubic-foot trunk is a bit small, but for a four-seat, four-door sports car, the AMG CLA 45 packs everything you want into one stunning package.
Porsche 911 Carrera 4: The all-wheel drive sports car of your dreams
It’s the quintessential sports car for a reason, but that’s not why you want the Porsche 911 Carrera 4. You want it for the naturally-aspirated straight-six packed above the rear wheels. Not only does that make for excellent traction in the snow, but the all-wheel drive system sorts out wheelspin even during dry conditions. Plus, Porsche’s engine note is second to none. Plus, the comfort seats mean road tripping, commuting, and even track drives are all easy to enjoy.
All-wheel drive sports cars are perfect for year-round excitement
Whether it’s ripping snowy drifts or adding confidence for a winter commute, these all-wheel drive sports cars refuse to disappoint. Honorable mentions here include the Audi R8, Corvette E-Ray, and Dodge Challenger Hellcat. But ultimately the five all-wheel drive sports cars here represent some of the best all-around cars on the market today.