Manufacturers clearly haven’t dozed off from creating performance sedans that limbo beneath the radar – and hopefully fly under a highway patrol’s speed radar in the process.
These five brand new ‘sleeper’ sedans have within the last few months packaged startling performance with a chrome-trimmed exterior and luxury-laden interior, leaving no other driver on the road apparent to the traffic light drag-race potential that lies within.
1. Mercedes-AMG E43
Local pricing for the E43 has just been announced at $159,900 ahead of its February arrival, and it boasts 20-inch alloy wheels, Nappa leather and a 4.6sec 0-100km/h thanks to a 3.0-litre twin-turbo V6 engine. Yet on the outside there is just one AMG badge and many more chrome dots within the front grille.
2. Holden Calais V with Walkinshaw W407 Package
Any Holden Special Vehicles (HSV) model isn’t subtle, not even the restrained Senator. But take a standard $55,990 Calais V and add $9990 for a Walkinshaw W407 package, and suddenly the 304kW/570Nm 6.2-litre V8 produces 407kW and 695Nm without adding a brash blower. Atmo grunt with standard styling and soft FE1.5 suspension sounds like a delicious recipe to us.
3. Audi S8 plus
This is a stately limousine that hides carbon ceramic disc brakes behind its enormous 21-inch alloy wheel and tyre package. Thanks to all-wheel drive traction the ballistic 4.0-litre twin-turbocharged V8 engine can place every single one of its 445kW and 750Nm to the ground, resulting in a 3.8sec 0-100km/h. Of course Sir or Madam can recline, massage, heat and cool the leather seats inside, or raise or lower the side and rear blinds, while demolishing distance like few $330,500 rivals.
4. Maserati Quattroporte GTS GranLusso
The Italians have just finished a facelift of the Quattroporte large sedan, which is typically known for its mafia-friendly boot volume and, in GTS spec, an exhaust louder than a Milanese argument. However, a new $349,990 GTS GranLusso model grade debuts with multi-spoke wheels, black brake callipers, silk trim, real wood over the steering wheel and gearshifter, and even a power rear sunshade. But the 390kW/650Nm 3.8-litre twin-turbo V8 and 4.7sec 0-100km/h thankfully remain.
5. Volvo S90 T8 AWD
Think ‘hybrid’, ‘Volvo’ and ‘sedan’ and chances are a 304kW/640Nm turbocharged, supercharged and electrified model won’t come to mind. Yet the twincharged petrol engine of the new S90 T8 AWD mixes with an electric motor to deliver Commodore SS-rivalling outputs and 5.2sec 0-100km/h performance. Best of all, a V90 wagon version will soon be available, as will a Polestar optimisation package that is expected to take outputs to 314kW/680Nm.