Most of the best sports cars on the market are all-wheel-drive (AWD) and for a good reason. AWD powertrains provide better traction when accelerating or driving on a slippery road. Sports cars like the Nissan GT-R and Audi A5 appeared and out dragged and out cornered the fastest rear-wheel drive (RWD) muscle cars. Since the beginning, manual transmissions, roaring engines, and RWD have always been essential.
The tug of war between the traditional RWD and the contemporary AWD has been hot since the 1980s. But in recent years, the balance has slowly been swinging toward the AWD camp. On September 11, CARFAX published the “15 Best AWD Sports Cars in 2020 list,” solidifying AWD sports cars’ popularity. The top five on CARFAX’s list include the Jaguar F-Type, Dodge Challenger, Acura NSX, Nissan GT-R, and Audi A5.
The Audi A5 and Dodge Challenger are by far the cheapest
The top three AWD sports cars include the Audi A5 (first), Nissan GT-R (second), and Acura NSX (third). While the Audi A5 is significantly cheaper than the latter two, CARFAX found it deserved first place on its list. You can purchase this car with an MSRP of $42,900 with the AWD upgrade costing nothing extra. The Nissan GT-R costs $113,540, and the Acura NSX costs $157,500, both requiring $0 for the AWD upgrade.
The 2020 Dodge Challenger has a starting MSRP of $31,095, making it the most affordable AWD sports car on the list, which is likely why Dodge tacks an additional $3,000 for the AWD trim. The fifth-place runner-up is where things get crazy. At $81,800, the Jaguar F-Type AWD trim will set you back an additional $20,200.
When it comes to horsepower, price matters
With more buyers focusing on SUVs and sedans these days, coupes have gradually become a dying breed. However, the 2020 Audi A5 coupe and cabriolet have spacious cabins and decent-size trunks to help sports car enthusiasts excuse the purchase.
Its turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine outputs 342 horsepower, allowing the A5 to go from 0-60 in just five seconds. That’s only 0.5 seconds behind the 400 horsepower Infiniti Q60 Red Sport but nowhere close to the GT-R’s 2.7 seconds. Being it’s a four-cylinder, that’s beyond impressive. But it’s also why the A5’s speed is capped at only 155 miles per hour.
Compared to the Audi A5, the Nissan GT-R come equipped with a 3.8-liter DOHC 24-valve twin-turbocharged V6. It also produces 565 horsepower at 6,800 rpm and 467 lb-ft of torque at between 3,300 and 5,800 rpm.
To beat that power, you would have to upgrade the Challenger to the Hellcat with its 6.2L supercharged V8. The Hellcat produces 717 horsepower and 656 lb‑ft of torque, which doesn’t come with AWD. The Dodge Challenger GT AWD only produces 300 horsepower, which is still more than the Audi A5 for a cheaper price tag.
Depending on the trim of the Jaguar Type-F, horsepower ranges between 296 and 575. The Type-F with a supercharged 5.0-liter V8 with 575 horsepower and 516 pound-feet of torque has an MSRP of $123,600. However, the base model, which starts at $61,000, has a turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder with only 296 horsepower and 295 pound-feet of torque. If you want the convertible body style, it will cost an extra $3,000.
Each one of the top five is unique in its own right
The 2020 Audi A5 and 2020 Dodge Challenger deserve a place on CARFAX’s list due to their affordability. Not only that, but they’re nice-looking sports cars with adequate interior space and impressive features.
While the Audi A5 falls short of being considered a “supercar,” the other four, including the Challenger (barely), are. The reason why the Dodge Challenger hardly counts as a supercar is that supercars are usually 500 horsepower or more. Nonetheless, its top speed does exceed 200 miles per hour, one of the unofficial supercar requirements. After all, the Lamborghini Huracan LP610-4 only has a top speed of 204.
The Nissan GT-R, Acura NSX, and Jaguar F-Type fall within the supercar category not only spec-wise but also in price. When summing it all up, it’s understandable why CARFAX listed the Audi at the top of its list; buyers of these cars want performance, but not all of them want to go over 200 miles per hour. It seems like the perfect fit for the majority of weekend road warriors.