Sporty cars come in many shapes and sizes. Some are known to be fast, and look the part too. Many others are slightly pretentious and sport a spoiler here and diffuser there; perhaps a larger set of rims than the stock alloys while remaining mechanically identical to the non-sporty members of their lineup. And then there is a small group of cars which don’t appear to be out of the ordinary, yet can be faster than most cars this side of 911 Turbo. The simple truth is that a spoiler doesn’t make your car go any faster. In fact, unless you’re going much faster than is safe for your license, it isn’t doing anything at all aerodynamically either, so let’s not kid ourselves. Luckily, a few car manufacturer don’t want to kid with you either, and side step the marketing department to build proper performance hidden away in inconspicuous packages.
There is no better example of this species than the Volvo V70 R, the crown of Volvo’s second generation V70 lineup (2000-2007). This large wagon has enough space to haul your family, dog, and monthly Costco purchase. And you would still have enough space leftover for a bookshelf or two. The interior is nicely crafted, comfortable and lacks no luxuries. The only difference between this Volvo and your neighbor’s soccer-mom-mobile is the 300 horsepower inline 5-cylinder, electronically adjustable suspension, Brembo brakes, sport chasis, retuned electronics and…that’s it. No flashy bodykit, no monster grill, no blacked-out diffuser with a hundred arm-thick exhausts pipes. The V70 R is the stealth master of the car world. To put things into perspective, when this model came came out, the V8 Ford Mustang put out a meager 260 horsepower. Even during the last year of the Volvo’s life, the next-generation Mustang GT only managed to match it in horsepower.
The current generation V70 has failed to showcase a worthy successor to the V70 R. Which means that your wife will be even happier to know that your newest purchase wasn’t only safe and familly friendly, but also cheap (if slightly used). V70 R, you are missed, but not alone. Below are other examples of the few, the brave, the covert sport machines.
Few sedans are as stylish and classy as the XF. Even a Mercedes E Class or BMW 5 Series is comparatively boring. The latter two offer special sports versions with over 500 horsepower by their respective in-house tuners (AMG and M GmbH), which Jaguar competes against with the 510 horsepower XF-R, complete with angry bodywork, black grill and more. Hidden in the product portfolio is this though: the 470 horsepower Jaguar XF Supercharged. Discreet and immensely powerful, a true sleeper.
There are three reasons why the 2006-2011 Audi S6 is a hidden performance jewel. Firstly, although it has a slightly changed front and rear fascia to discern it from its more civil brethren in the A6 lineup, the bodywork remains simple and quiet. Other changes include extra chrome bars, LED fog lamps (which are nowadays widespread), and an extra two small exhaust pipes, nicely integrated into the rear. Second, there is an Avant wagon version. Finally, it has a Lamborghini-derived 5.2L v10 with 430 horsepower. That last reason should be a good enough reason to buy any car, period.