Every now and then, automakers release a limited, souped-up variant of a less-exciting base model. Many of these special editions are not too different from the entry-level version of the vehicle and are released purely to boost sales. In some cases, however, manufacturers bless us with incredible vehicles.
These are the best special edition cars that are far superior to their base model. No matter whether the entry-level car is a 700-horsepower supercar or a 100-horsepower compact, the vehicles you’re about to see are proof that there is always room for improvement.
Ford Mustang Shelby GT500
It’s crucial to clarify that the base Mustang is faster than the average car. In fact, the flat-four powered variant of the Mustang, paired with a 10-speed automatic transmission, can reach 60 miles per hour in just 4.5 seconds! While that is impressive considering the car’s affordable price tag, it is a whole world away from the souped-up GT500.
The Shelby GT500 is, simply put, the ultimate Ford Mustang. Its supercharged 5.2L V8 makes around 700 horsepower! In effect, the GT500 can shoot up to 60 miles per hour in less than 3 seconds.
Subaru WRX STI
The Subaru WRX STI, formerly known as the Impreza WRX STI, is a performance-oriented variant of the Subaru Impreza sedan. The Japanese automaker may have dropped the Impreza nameplate a few years ago, although the WRX STI remains based on your regular, everyday Impreza.
The WRX STI produces 305 horsepower from its 2.5L boxer powerplant. Paired with Subaru’s legendary all-wheel-drive drivetrain, the WRX STI is bound to be capable both on and off-road. A sprint to 60 miles per hour takes the sedan just 5.7 seconds.
Volkswagen Golf R
Volkswagen has a long history in the hot hatch game. In fact, the German automaker invented the hot hatchback in the 1970s when the original Golf GTI was released. The manufacturer has been a leader in the segment ever since, and the performance-oriented Golf R may just be the best one of them all.
The Volkswagen Golf R packs 288 horsepower, as opposed to the 147 horses in the base model. The hot hatch can reach 60 miles per hour in just 4.5 seconds, and the top speed is above 150 miles per hour.
Porsche 911 GT2 RS
The Porsche 911 is one of the world’s greatest sports cars. Even the base model is notable for its impressive performance. The standard 991.2 (second-latest generation at the moment, post-facelift) makes 365 horsepower from its twin-turbocharged flat-six motor. It results in a sprint to 60mph in just 4.4 seconds and a top speed of 182 miles per hour.
The hardcore GT2 RS variant of the 991 puts the base model to shame. The lightweight sports car produces a whopping 700 horsepower. The sprint to 60mph takes only 2.7 seconds! At the time of its release in 2017, the GT2 RS held the world record as the fastest production car around the infamous Nurburgring.
BMW M2 CS
The BMW M2 is often dubbed one of the best-performing sports cars in its price range, and a short drive is enough to understand why. The rear-wheel-drive coupe packs a 370-horsepower engine underneath the hood. While that’s already an enormous step up from the 248-hp base model 2-Series, the recently-unveiled BMW M2 CS is even better!
Much like the M2 Competition, the BMW M2 CS received a better powerplant than the regular M2. The 370-horsepower motor was gone in favor of a 3.0L inline-six, the same one that can be found in the BMW M3 or the M4. In effect, the BMW M2 CS is rated at a whopping 444-horsepower! A sprint to 60 mph takes below 4 seconds.
Lexus RC F
Lexus utilizes the F moniker to distinguish their exciting high-performance machines from the standard cars in the lineup, much like the Mercedes-AMG, the Audi RS, or the BMW M. One of the newest “F” cars by Lexus is the impressive RC F, a powerful 2-door sports car.
The standard Lexus RC makes just 260 horsepower from its V6 motor, while the RC F pushes out nearly twice as much from its 5.0L roaring V8. The optional track edition package increases the power by 5 more ponies, resulting in a 4-second sprint to 60 miles per hour.
Mercedes-Benz E63 AMG
The regular Mercedes-Benz E-Class is an amazing daily driver. The car features high-tech comfort and safety features, a lavish interior, and decent engine options. The base model E200 makes just below 200 horsepower from its 2.0L flat-four. While that may not be record-breaking territory, it certainly is sufficient for the daily commute.
The souped-up E63 AMG is a whole different story. At the time of its release, the latest-gen E63 AMG S was the fastest 4-door automobile on the market! The saloon peaks at 603 horsepower, a sprint to 60 miles per hour takes less than 3 seconds!
Ferrari 488 Pista
The “standard” Ferrari 488 GTB is anything but slow. The stylish Italian supercar makes 661 horsepower from its 3.9L V8 mounted behind the driver’s seat. In effect, the 488 GTB can shoot up to 60 miles per hour in below 3 seconds. In 2018, however, the Italian automaker released a limited, souped-up variant of the 488.
The 488 Pista produces 710 horsepower, which is 50 horses more than the base model. What’s more, the Pista is 200 pounds lighter than the 488 GTB. A sprint to 60 miles per hour takes it around 2.8 seconds, while the top speed is over 210mph.
Alfa Romeo Giulia Quadrifoglio
The Giulia is a sporty, stylish 4-door sedan made by Alfa Romeo. It’s also one of the first cars that are available in the United States after the Italian automaker’s return to our market. While the base model is already rather quick thanks to its 280-horsepower turbocharged flat-four, the real fun begins with the V6-powered Quadrifoglio variant.
The Giulia Quadrifoglio makes 505 horsepower from its twin-turbocharged V6 motor, resulting in a sprint to 60 miles per hour in around 3.8 seconds. As if that wasn’t already plenty of power, Alfa Romeo recently unveiled the 540-horsepower Giulia GTA.
Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat Redeye
The modern Dodge Charger is the American take on an exciting, powerful sedan. Our domestic version of the Alfa Romeo Giulia, so to speak. Much like the Giulia, the Dodge Charger is available as a tamed, 292-horsepower V6-powered saloon perfect for the daily commute. If that is not enough, however, you can opt for the hardcore Charger SRT Hellcat Redeye.
At the time of its debut, the Charger Hellcat Redeye was the fastest 4-door sedan ever made. The 797-horsepower Charger can reach over 200 miles per hour!
Dodge Challenger SRT Demon
The Dodge Challenger is America’s beloved muscle car. The hardcore SRT Demon variant of the two-door automobile is quite a step up from the V6-powered base model Challenger SXT, which produces 305 horsepower from its 3.6L powerplant.
The SRT Demon packs a whopping 840 horsepower from its supercharged 6.2L V8 motor. At the time of its debut in 2018, the Demon was the world’s quickest production run. The SRT Demon is able to sprint to 60 miles per hour in only 2.3 seconds, while also generating 1.8 G’s of force.
Chevrolet Camaro ZL1
Much like the Challenger, the Chevrolet Camaro is one of America’s go-to domestic high-performance cars. While the entry-level is a great way to experience the Camaro on a lower budget, the 2.0L flat-four engine only makes 275 horsepower. The base model can sprint to 60 miles per hour in a little over 5.5 seconds.
The Camaro ZL1, on the other hand, is a high-performance monster. The car peaks at a whopping 650 horsepower, thanks to its 6.2L supercharged V8 borrowed from the Chevy Corvette. The ZL1 is also a tremendous step-up visually, and the optional LE package adds aggressive aero elements that accentuate its impressive performance.
Toyota Yaris GR
Until fairly recently, the Toyota Yaris was not particularly desired by petrolheads, to say the least. Though the car is unarguably practical and fuel-efficient, it lacked the performance and fun factor that automotive freaks look for when choosing a vehicle. After all, the base Yaris is powered by a 101-horsepower 1.5L flat-four. The recently unveiled sport-oriented Yaris GR developed by Toyota’s Gazoo Racing division is a whole different story!
The Yaris GR is powered by a three-cylinder 1.6L motor that peaks at 272 horsepower! While that may not sound like much, it’s important to remember that the Yaris is a tiny compact that only weighs around 2500 pounds. The Yaris GR can reach 60mph in just 5.5 seconds.
Lamborghini Aventador SVJ
The original Aventador first debuted at the Geneva International Motor Show in 2011. This extravagant supercar is the epitome of Lamborghini. It’s powered by a roaring V12 motor mounted behind the driver, it has mind-blowing performance, and it definitely looks the part, too. Not to mention the scissor doors! You’d think that the Aventador could not get any better. Until the Aventador SVJ debuted in 2018, that is.
The Aventador SVJ, or SuperVeloce Jota, is the ultimate variant of the Aventador. The SVJ is rated at 760 horsepower, as opposed to the base model’s 690 horses. The automaker claims that the SVJ makes 750% more downforce than the standard Aventador!
The Audi RS7 is the ultimate combination of comfort, luxury, everyday use practicality, incredible performance, as well as contemporary, stylish design. The RS7 is based on the Audi A7, which is already quite powerful. The standard A7 produces 333 horsepower from its turbocharged V6 motor, though the RS7 is a world away!
The Audi RS7 is a monstrous sedan that peaks at 605-horsepower. Its 0-60 sprint is quicker than the one of the first-generation Audi R8, which is a lightweight two-door supercar! The RS7 is as versatile as any sedan, while the performance matches supercars.
Ford Focus RS
The Focus RS was a great performance-oriented hot hatch produced by the American automaker. The latest RS peaks at a whopping 350 horsepower delivered to all 4 wheels by the car’s 2.3L turbocharged flat-four. In effect, the sporty hatchback can reach 60 miles per hour in 4.7 seconds. The entry-level Focus, on the other hand, peaks at just 160 horsepower. A sprint to 60 miles per hour takes it over 8 seconds.
Sadly, Ford has confirmed that the fourth-gen Focus RS will not happen due to high development costs and ever-changing emission regulations.
Mercedes-Benz A45 AMG
Much like the previously mentioned Ford Focus RS, the Mercedes-Benz A45 AMG is an exciting take on the modern hot hatch. The first-gen A45 AMG was in production between 2013 and 2018, though a new generation based on the latest A-Class is available today as well. The first-gen A45 AMG packs a 376-horsepower 2.0L flat-four underneath the hood! At the time of its release, it was one of the fastest cars in its price range.
The powerful A45 AMG is a world away from the entry-level A160. The base model A-Class came powered by a 1.6L motor that only made 101 horsepower.
Ferrari Challenge Stradale
Without a doubt, the standard Ferrari 360 is a spectacular car. The Italian supercar was built between 1999 and 2004, with less than 20,000 units made in total. The car came powered by a 3.6L V8, the curb weight was around 2900 pounds. The Italian automaker released a track-oriented, limited variant of the 36, referred to as the Challenge Stradale.
The Challenge Stradale was essentially a roadgoing version of a Ferrari Challenge racecar. The Stradale received a small power bump of 25 horses more than the regular 360, as well as being 240 pounds lighter than the base model. According to Ferrari enthusiasts, the Challenge Stradale provides a unique and raw driving experience.
Kia Stinger GT
The Stinger is a sporty, aggressive-looking saloon built by Kia as an affordable alternative to European 4-door sedans. While the base model is still a great deal considering its low price tag, the turbocharged flat-four is not exactly a high-performance powerplant. The base model Stinger peaks at just 255 horsepower.
The Stinger GT, on the other hand, is in an entirely different league. The saloon is powered by a 3.3L twin-turbo flat-six that is rated at 365 horsepower, which is nearly 50% more power than the base model! In effect, the Stinger GT can sprint to 60mph 1 and a half seconds quicker than the standard Stinger.
Honda Civic Type R
The Type R is Honda’s exciting take on the otherwise not-so-fascinating Civic. The base model Civic peaks at just 158-horsepower and the sprint to 60 miles per hour takes it around 7 seconds. Petrolheads don’t have to turn to other manufacturers, as Honda has released a souped-up Type R based on the 10th-gen Honda Civic!
The Type R has first appeared on the market back in the 1990s (EK9 based on the 6th-gen Civic) and became one of Japan’s best-handling cars of the decade. The latest Civic Type R packs a 306-horsepower turbocharged flat-four under the hood, putting the base model to absolute shame.
The RS5 is an impressive 4-door sedan made by Audi to compete with the Mercedes-AMG lineup, as well as BMW M cars. It’s a giant step up from the base model, the Audi A5.
While the base Audi A5 only makes around 248 horsepower from its flat-four motor, the high-performance RS5 is a whole different story. The flat-four was dropped in favor of a powerful twin-turbocharged V6 rated at 444 horsepower. The powerful motor, paired with Audi’s Quattro all-wheel-drive drivetrain, makes for a powerful vehicle that handles as if it were glued to the road.
The SLC is an exciting two-door roadster produced by Mercedes-Benz. For the 2020 model year, the car was offered with two engine options The base model SLC 300 came powered by a flat-four motor rated at 241 horsepower, paired with a 9-speed automatic transmission and a rear-wheel-drive drivetrain.
The souped-up SLC43 AMG, on the other hand, packs a 385-horsepower twin-turbocharged 3.0L V6 powerplant under the hood. The performance variant of the SLC roadster can reach 60 miles per hour in 5 seconds, which is a second quicker than the base model.
Mercedes-Benz C63 AMG (W204)
The first high-performance variant of the C-Class sedan manufactured by Mercedes’ AMG division, the C63 AMG W204, shaped what modern Mercedes-AMG cars are all about. The C63 AMG was the first car produced from the ground up by Mercedes-AMG, rather than adding bolt-on AMG parts as it was in the past. In effect, consumers were given one of the best-performing sedans of the 2000s.
The base-model W204 C-Class makes just 154 horsepower from its supercharged flat-four. The hardcore C63, on the other hand, peaks at a whopping 457 horses transmitted to the rear wheels!
Hyundai i30 N
Hyundai isn’t exactly a leader when it comes to sporty, performance-oriented cars. The i30 N, however, is an exciting deviation from the typical Hyundai lineup. The base model i30 only makes around 100 horsepower, and the car is anything but performance-oriented. While the car’s affordable fuel economy makes it perfect for the daily commute, it simply won’t be enough for some petrolheads.
The i30 N is the go-to sporty Hyundai. The small hatchback can reach 60 miles per hour in just 5.9 seconds, thanks to its 271-horsepower powerplant. The top speed is 155 miles per hour.
Lamborghini Huracan Performante
The Lamborghini Huracan is the successor of the legendary V10-powered Gallardo. It serves as the entry-level Lamborghini, as it’s the cheapest new vehicle offered by the Italian manufacturer. The rear-wheel-drive variant of the Huracan internally referred to as the 580-2, can reach 60 miles per hour in less than 3.4 seconds. While that’s already very impressive, the souped-up Huracan Performante is even better!
The Huracan Performante, released in 2017, was Lamborghini’s first vehicle fitted with the ALA aero system. According to the automaker, the ALA-equipped Performante can generate 750% more downforce than the base model! What’s more, a sprint to 60 miles per hour only takes 2.2 seconds.
Mercedes-AMG GT Black Series
The AMG GT, a powerful 2-door sports car by the AMG division of Mercedes-Benz, was first introduced in 2015. Back then, the entry-level AMG GT was fitted with the M178 469-horsepower twin-turbocharged V8 motor. While that’s plenty of power already, things got real when the German automaker unveiled the GT Black Series for the 2021 model year.
The all-new GT Black-Series may have the same powerplant as the base model, though this variant peaks at an astonishing 720 horsepower! What’s more, a sprint to 60mph takes just 3.2 seconds. In November 2020, the GT Black Series lapped the Nurburgring in 6 minutes 43 seconds, setting the world record for the fastest unmodified production car around the track.
Chevrolet Corvette ZR1 (C7)
The seventh-generation Chevrolet Corvette is a perfect sports car in its price range. Even the entry-level trim is fast, thanks to its 450-horsepower 6.2L V8 under the hood. The base C7 Corvette can reach 60 miles per hour in under 4 seconds. While that’s certainly impressive, the C7 ZR1 is even better!
The ZR1 was introduced for the 2019 model year as the most hardcore road-going Corvette of all time. The supercharged ZR1 is rated at 755 horsepower, thanks to its supercharged 6.2L V8. The car’s aggressive aero package improves downforce and makes the ZR1 easy to distinguish from the regular Corvette.
Fiat Abarth 695
The compact Fiat 500 was reborn for the 2007 model year, the car pays homage to the iconic original 500 from the 1950s. While the car’s exterior design is not to everyone’s taste, the small Fiat 500 is the ideal fuel-efficient vehicle for the daily commute. You can park it anywhere, too!
The 695 Biposto is a sport-oriented variant of the Fiat 500 sold under the Abarth nameplate. The car makes 187 horsepower from its turbocharged flat-four, and the sprint to 60 miles per hour takes less than 6 seconds.
Mini John Cooper Works GP
The John Cooper Works GP could have been a great sleeper. After all, nobody would suspect a Mini to be this fast. The car’s aggressive aero package and wide fenders, however, are a hint of what this small car is capable of.
This Mini Cooper produces 306 horsepower from its four-cylinder motor. A sprint to 60 miles per hour takes the John Cooper Works GP just 5.2 seconds, while the top speed is 165 miles per hour. Mini only produced 3000 units of the car in total.
Renault Clio RS 220 Trophy
The regular Renault Clio is not a particularly exciting vehicle. The entry-level fourth-generation Clio, in fact, is powered by a tiny 1.2L motor that only makes 75 horsepower. The regular Clio was not made to be fast, though the same cannot be said about the Clio RS.
The Renault Clio RS pays homage to the legendary Renault Clio Sport from the late 1990s. The RS 220 Trophy is even more souped-up. The car is rated at 217 horsepower! While it’s not exactly a rocket, this hot hatch is far more exciting than the standard Clio.
Jaguar F-Type SVR
The Jaguar F-Type is perhaps one of the most stylish British sports cars released within the last decade. The sporty coupe, available both in a drop-top as well as a coupe body style, is offered with a variety of different engine options. The entry-level F Type is powered by a fuel-efficient 2.0L flat-four. While it may not be the most powerful Jaguar of all time, this engine variant does make for an affordable daily driver.
The supercharged SVR is the ultimate F-Type. The 5.0L V8 peaks at 567 horsepower and can sprint to 60mph in just 3.5 seconds. It’s also Jaguar’s first production car since the XJ220 that can go over 200 miles per hour.
BMW M3 (F80)
The BMW M3 is the flagship high-performance variant of the 3-Series produced by BMW’s Motorsport division. The first M3 ever, based on the E30-generation 3-Series, debuted for the 1986 model year. Over 3 decades later, the nameplate is still around, and it’s more powerful than ever before!
The latest M3, internally referred to as the F80, was based on the F30 3-Series BMW. While the standard entry-level 316i sedan peaks at just 134 horsepower, the souped-up M3 generates 425 horsepower from its turbocharged flat-six. A sprint to 60 miles per hour takes it just 3.9 seconds when paired with the automatic transmission, and 4.1 seconds with the stick-shift.
BMW M4 GTS
The BMW M4 is, much like the BMW M3 and the M5, a performance-oriented variant of a regular BMW. As the name suggests, the M4 is based on the 4-Series. While the standard M4 is already lightyears ahead of the 428i, BMW did not stop there. The Bavarian automaker released an even more powerful edition of the M4, dubbed the M4 GTS, limited to just 700 units worldwide.
The M4 GTS can easily be distinguished from the base M4 by its massive rear wing, front splitter, and other aero features. Although the GTS is powered by the same motor as the M4, its power output was increased to 493 ponies. In effect, the M4 GTS can reach 60mph in 3.8 seconds.
The last BMW on this list is most certainly worth mentioning as well. Although the M5 was never loved by BMW enthusiasts as much as the M3, the M5 remains one of the best cars developed by BMW’s Motorsport division. Back in 2004, the team at BMW M even fitted the E60 M5 with a V10 motor as standard!
The latest M5 is based on the G30 5-Series. The entry-level 520i produces below 170 horsepower from its flat-four motor. The M5 Competition, on the other hand, makes a whopping 617 horses!
Porsche Cayenne Turbo
The Cayenne has polarized Porsche enthusiasts ever since the SUV debuted for the 2003 model year. While the car was a smart move that eventually may have saved the automaker from bankruptcy, many die-hard Porsche fans were not pleased with the car’s design. It was the first SUV made by the German manufacturer, after decades of creating sports cars.
The latest third-gen Cayenne was unveiled for the 2018 model year. While the base model powered by a 335-horsepower 3.0L V6 is already considerably fast, the Turbo variants are a whole different story. The performance-oriented Cayenne Turbo S E-Hybrid makes 671 horsepower from its hybrid powerplant, and can reach 60mph in just 3.8 seconds!
Maserati MC Stradale
The MC Stradale is a two-door grand tourer based on the Maserati Granturismo. The regular Granturismo is a fantastic car already, it generates 399 horsepower from its 4.2L V8 developed in conjunction with Ferrari. A few years after the debut of the Granturismo, Maserati unveiled the MC Stradale.
The MC Stradale received a power bump up to 444 horsepower from the same powerplant. The rear seat was thrown out to reduce weight. In total, Maserati managed to reduce the weight by over 240 pounds compared with the base model. The MC Stradale was the first Granturismo to surpass 186 miles per hour.
Porsche 718 Cayman GT4
The Porsche 718 is a sporty, more affordable alternative to the iconic Porsche 911 sports car. The car was first unveiled for the 2016 model year. The entry-level 718 Cayman is powered by a 2.0L flat-four rated at 300 horsepower. In effect, the base model can reach 60mph in less than 5 seconds.
The powerful GT4 variant is the ultimate Porsche 718. The flat-four was thrown out in favor of a flat-six that generates 414 horsepower. The car’s handling was improved as well, all to provide a more direct, sporty feel. The 718 Cayman GT4 can reach 60 miles per hour in just 4.2 seconds!
Lamborghini Murcielago SV
The Murcielago was Lamborghini’s flagship V12-powered supercar produced between 2001 and 2010. Initially, the car came powered by a 6.2L V12, mounted behind the driver, that made 572 horsepower. While that’s already plentiful, the Italian manufacturer was far from done.
In 2009, Lamborghini unveiled the limited SuperVeloce variant of the Murcielago to celebrate the end of the car’s production run. The car received a power bump of over 100 horsepower, its 6.5L V12 motor now peaked at 661 horses. Weight was reduced by 220 pounds, resulting in better performance. The Murcielago SV can reach 60 mph in 3.1 seconds.
Renault Clio Sport V6
When thinking of special edition cars that are far better than the base model, you simply cannot skip this iconic French sports car from the early 2000s. Though it was based on a 58-horsepower Renault Clio, the Sport V6 was a completely different vehicle.
The Clio Sport V6 has gone down in history as one of the best cars produced by Renault. The V6 peaked at 227 horsepower. Combined with a lightweight design, the Clio Sport V6 became one of the most iconic hot hatches of all time. The car could reach 60 miles per hour in 6.2 seconds. The phase-1 Clio Sport V6 saw a small production run of around 1500 units.
The original Golf GTi
A car that’s even more iconic than the Clio Sport V6 is the original Golf GTi. Based on the first-generation Volkswagen Golf, the Golf GTi invented the entire hot hatch segment back in 1975. Turning a small hatchback into a sport-oriented machine turned out to be incredibly successful, and many automakers followed in Volkswagen’s footsteps within the next years.
The original Golf GTi could reach 60 miles per hour in 9.2 seconds. While that does not sound too exciting for today’s standards, it’s worth noting that the car only weighed 1786 pounds. Today, the Golf GTi has become sought-after by collectors.