Last month at the New York Auto Show, Audi debuted the A3 and S3 sedans to much acclaim. The cars combine efficient performance and premium benefits with a price much lower than that of Audi’s larger, more powerful sedans—and they are primed to bolster the automaker’s strategy to enlarge its luxury compact segment.
“If you look at what Polk is saying and what JD Power is saying this is basically going to become one of the biggest segments over the next couple of years,” Keogh says. “Mercedes just launched the CLA, question mark for what BMW is going to decide to do, and we’ve launched this, so I think people see a battle brewing. Everyone loves a good street fight, and we do too.”
To compile this year’s list we used data from AutoTrader and analysis from lead editor Brian Moody. Moody evaluated 0-60 mph sprint times for all model-year 2013 vehicles, taking into consideration segment categories and style. Had he not, he said, the list would have been redundant: a rundown of various trim lines of the S4 or Volkswagen GTI.
“I tried to make it a little more of a diverse group, even though technically speaking you may find a car that is 1/10th of a second faster than a car on this list,” Moody said. “The diversity is more accurate as to how people shop.”
The other determining factor is price. Porsche’s entry model, the Boxster, starts at $50,400 (it goes 0-60 mph in 5.5 seconds) for a stripped-down version at best. BMW’s 1 Series starts at $31,200 for a base model but wasn’t quick enough to make our list compared to similar models (0-60mph in 6.1 seconds). The same goes for Mercedes: A C300 model can be had for $38,950, though its sprint time is closer to 7 seconds.
Do consider BMW’s 135is variant, though. It goes 0-60 in 4.9 seconds, with a base price of $43,250.
Also keep in mind that quantifying speed can be tricky—top speeds are electronically regulated and subject to federal mandates, and sheer zero to 60 mph times measure acceleration, which is not as significant as it used to be. (These days, for instance, even the mundane Toyota Camry can get to 60 mph as fast as the quickest muscle cars of the 1960s.)
Still, there were some surprise entries to our list this year, in addition to expected entrants like the Chevrolet Camaro and Dodge Charger. Read on to see the full list including which truck—and which SUV–made the cut. Sit back and enjoy the ride.