You don't have to buy German cars to go fast in style and comfort.
The fact of the matter is that the benchmark for all sports sedans still comes from Germany. Whether it's BMW's heavy lean into sharp handling or race tech in the M cars, Mercedes doses of loony-level AMG power in its luxury-leaning rides, or Audi's split-the-difference quattro approach, you can't go wrong with a German sports sedan. There's a reason why they're the default brands for people that move into higher tax brackets and want a quick, comfortable, and stylish sports sedan. However, that certainly doesn't mean cars like the Audi S8, BMW M5, or Mercedes-Benz AMG four-doors are the only sports sedan game in town. These are the sports sedans here in 2022 that we believe deserve to be on the cross-shopping lists when it comes to sports sedans.
If a BMW M3 is the metaphorical high carbon steel scalpel, the Alfa Romeo Giulia Quadrifoglio is a Blue Steel chef's knife with an ebony handle. The Giulia Quadrifoglio is a finely-honed tool but has an emotional component BMW's M cars have been lacking as of late. You can stretch the analogy further because a high-end chef's knife like that can be temperamental and easy to break. The Quadrifoglio is powered by a sensational and highly-strung 505-horsepower twin-turbo V6 engine that can propel the sports sedan to 60 mph in under four seconds, and the chassis ensures sensational levels of grip and handling. Plus, you don't need to press a button to make it oversteer on demand.
While the Cadillac CT5-V Blackwing is supposed to be a direct competitor for the BMW M3, it sits more between the M3 and M5 in size but delivers the kind of power and delivery an AMG would raise an eyebrow, then give the nod to. Under the hood is a 6.2-liter supercharged V8 that delivers its 668 hp and 659 lb-ft of torque to the rear wheels. If you want an analogy, it's a cage fighter in a Brooks Brothers suit and Tom Ford shoes. It's nice and relaxed, having a good time going about its day, but if it's pushed, then someone is going to get their ass kicked. To us, it's America's answer to a serious AMG sports sedan, and if they met in the ring it would be one hell of a brawl.
Genesis is a relative newcomer to the sports sedan game, and the G70 is a stunner without being bonkers. Its turbocharged V6 makes 365 hp, and Genesis has worked hard on its cornering prowess and its premium interior trappings. It's one of our favorite-looking sedans, but it's a blast to drive hard, packed with useable technology, and a consummate cruiser on the freeway or around town. The rear seats are a little cramped for regular use as a four or five-seater, and the trunk is tiny, but if neither of those are deal-breakers, the Genesis G70 is a must for a cross-shop test drive.
Yes, we're going to put a South Korean brand in a list of cars that can compete with German premium vehicles. With the 3.3-liter twin-turbo V6 option ticked, the Stinger sends 368 hp and 376 lb-ft of torque to the rear wheels and still comes in at under $50,000, complete with all the luxury features and practicality anyone can need from a sports sedan. There's not a lot of downsides at the price for a premium quality rear-wheel-drive sedan that can carve up a mountain road with confidence. When it comes to value for money, Kia shows it still has the goods as long as the sports sedan is still in production.
Frankly, the V8-powered R/T Dodge Charger isn't that accomplished when it comes to sportiness, but the SRT Hellcat version is an entirely different proposition. A supercharged V8 making 717 hp and 650 lb-ft of torque sits under the hood, and the Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat also sits on adaptive suspension and has a generous list of standard features. The 'Jailbreak' option increases engine output to an even more bananas 807 hp and opens up new customization options. You won't catch a BMW M car in the corners, or off the line as the Charger SRT Hellcat is rear-wheel-drive only, but you won't find a sedan with more charisma and horsepower without spending supercar money. Unlike the Challenger SRT, though, the Charger SRT isn't a one-trick pony and has excellent chops as a sports sedan.
Acura is coming back on form, and the TLX was the first salvo. The latest TLX arrived in 2021 and split opinions inside the Carbuzz offices over its handling. But opinions differ and I loved driving the TLX hard, so expect me to shift out of third-person writing and into first with all the awkwardness of a Lamborghini driver trying to show off in front of a crowd. If you love spirited driving, you want the SH-AWD option ticked to get the drivetrain and chassis to communicate properly. Its 272 horsepower and 280 lb-ft of torque won't blow your mind, but it's enough. Mixed with a superbly well-balanced chassis, the playful SH-AWD system, sharp and accurate steering, and an upscale cabin, it makes for a fun and comfortable sports sedan.
The criticism in the office is that the TLX needs summer tires to be the car Acura professes it to be. It's a fair opinion, but it depends on what you want, and with summer tires, it would generate more grip for sure. However, there's a real joy to be had exploiting the chassis balance to get the steering on-throttle and the TLX moving around on the edge of grip without having to reach higher speeds. It will absolutely slide around if you want it to, and the SH-AWD is eager to help have fun. If you want something to take on BMW directly, go for for the Type S.
The Lexus IS comes with a huge caveat as a modern sports sedan. It's a sedate cruiser around town despite its 5.0-liter naturally aspirated V8 producing 472 hp and 395 lb-ft of torque. That's mainly down to the automatic transmission tuning, which is fine in normal mode but it remains seemingly tuned for economy in the Sport modes. The caveat is that to enjoy the engine to its maximum, you need to go manual with the paddles to keep it in the power band and rev it out to its 7,200 rpm redline. The balanced chassis makes the IS 500 fun to drive and kick around on a back road, but the soft suspension stops it from becoming the perfect thriller of a sports sedan. However, that suspension is downright sublime when the car is in daily driver mode, and the cabin is a wonderfully relaxing place to be for a commute.
The Karma GS-6 should have been on our "Cars You Forgot Are On Sale" list, but, well, we forgot about it. We shouldn't because when we test drove it in 2021, we had a great time with the car despite its outdated powertrain - the same hybrid system found in the BMW i8. In fact, it's a sedan that should not be written off as it's a blast to drive and looks absolutely sensational. Seriously, if you define a great car as being one you always look at as you walk away, the GS-6 is as good as it gets. It has supercar pricing and supercar power with 536 horsepower and 550 lb-ft combined. The interior is tight but comfortable and tighter in the rear. It's a sedan that will suit very few people, but those it does will fall in love with it.