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Slow Cars That Look Fast

slow vehicles look fast

We all appreciate an attractive, inspiring, or flat-out cool design. This is especially true of vehicles. Many manufacturers attempt a bold stylish design, but somewhere between concept and production, the inspiration goes flat. Other times, the stylish design makes it to the street, but the rest of the car is forgettable. These cars look sweet, but will leave you unimpressed. Here are 8 of the most recent slow cars that look fast.

Toyota Celica

slow-car-looks-fast
“Looks fast,” said the print ads for the new 2000 Toyota Celica. The “action package” added a large spoiler, body kit, and front fascia that required removal of the fog lights. Unfortunately, it added zero horsepower. The small, swept seventh generation Celica was part of Toyota’s Project Genesis, which was meant to bring in younger buyers to stodgy Toyota. Like the Celica and actually competent MR2, Project Genesis failed. The base 140 horsepower 1.8 liter four banger probably didn’t help attract anyone. The high-end GT-S had 180 hp and a 6-speed, but was basically impossible to mod. Bolt-ons were expensive and hardly worth it, and the engine was unfriendly to boost due to a high compression ratio. Stock is where you’re stuck.

Mazda RX8

slow-car-that-looks-fast
The Mazda RX8 was to be the follow up to the brilliant RX7. The 7 was a turbo rotary flyweight sports car, making 276 hp from the tiny 1.3 liter. Keep in mind, that is mid-90s Camaro Z28 horsepower, but 600 lbs lighter. So when Mazda announced the RX8 and released renderings, gearheads everywhere had their own little celebrations. The 8 wouldn’t live up to the hype though, as it was naturally aspirated only, and picked up two more seats. Weight was up, power was down, and the mighty RX8 was a full second slower through the quarter mile.

Scion FRS/Subaru BRZ

slow-cars-that-look-fast
Stupid names, but a fantastic sports car. Two of Japan’s titans of the automotive industry combined their knowhow into what should have been an amazing interpretation of the legendary 2000GT. Instead, Toyota tried to build another Corolla. Subaru slapped some sense into their partner, and the twin cars hit the streets weighing just 2,700 lbs, and offering some of the best steering/handling of anything below $100k. Unfortunately, they look sporty enough to take out an S2000, but with the horsepower of an RX8, and the torque of a four cylinder Grand Am, the FRS/BRZ ain’t beating anyone.

Fisker Karma

slow-car-that-looks-quick
This massive sporty sedan can glide on electric motors, or use a combination of gas/elec for best performance. Zero to sixty takes 5.8 seconds, and the quarter mile passes in 14.5-ish. Okay numbers, for an RX8 from 10 years ago, but the Karma’s problems are with its super sedan looks. If it looked like a Chevy Volt, everyone would marvel at the performance. Instead, since it looks like an edgy Model S wearing a Guy Fawkes mask, people expect model S performance. By the way, the base Tesla runs better numbers, for half the price of a Karma. The P85D in ludicrous mode runs a crushing 2.8 seconds to sixty, and is FOUR seconds faster through the quarter. For the same money. No wonder Fisker went bankrupt.

Plymouth Prowler

slow-car-look-fast
Hot rod. The essence of maniacal speed. That is what fires the imagination when viewing a Plymouth Prowler. These little two seat roadsters kicked off the turn of the century’s retro craze, and launched what could have brought Plymouth back to relevance. Instead, inside the badass little coupe, Chrysler placed a 3.5 liter V6 from the Dodge Intrepid (remember that? Me neither). It made 214 horsepower. While the Prowler was fairly light, just under 3,000 lbs, its looks screamed 400 hp or more, with at least Corvette performance. Unfortunately, it was Corvette priced, with V6 base model Camaro performance. Ouch.

Chevrolet SSR

slow-truck-looks-fast
Retro was huge in Y2K, and Chevy execs decided it would be a great idea to show a retro convertible truck at the Detroit Auto Show. That was where the good ideas ended. For production, GM used the long wheelbase Chevy Trailblazer chassis and drivetrain. So, a swoopy roadster with 300 hp… that weighs 5,000 pounds. Brilliant. The 5.3 liter struggled down the quarter, sometimes able to get below 16 seconds, with track prep and a good driver. Chevy threw the 400 hp LS2 V8 at it later, and while performance improved, it still got left in the dust by everything at its price point.

Mitsubishi Eclipse

slow-car-not-fast
Mitsubishi has such a weird relationship with its performance cars. It honors the credibility and capability of cars like the Evo, only to cut them short. For example: Eclipse. Debuting 25 years ago as a poor man’s sports car, it delivered a lot of turbocharged bang for the buck. The second generation was blobby, but still performed well with a turbo. The 2000 third generation Eclipse removed the turbo (and the fun), gained some weight, and added weird Pontiac-like body cladding. What the hell Mistu? Finally, the 4th generation Eclipse added some fun, with a 263 hp V6, but it also had the curb weight of a Mustang GT, without the torque. And it was wrong wheel drive. So if you want a flashy car that will lose to a stock 15 year old Mustang, get the Eclipse.

Toyota MR2

a-slow-car
The better end of Toyota’s Genesis Project, the redesigned MR2 had questionable styling, but excellent handling. At just 2,200 lbs, and a mid-mounted engine driving the rear wheels, how could this fail? The answer was in the powerplant, like the Celica, a 1.8 liter inline four. Unfortunately, the exhaust work to fit in the MR2 robbed a few horses, and it hit the street with a laughable 138 hp. Even the later addition of a 6-speed manual couldn’t save it, as the Honda S2000 offered 100 more horsepower for a similar price. While it looks sporty and does take the corners nicely, it also takes them slowly.

Have you ever driven one of these slow cars that look fast? Are they more than a sum of their numbers, or do the power/weight figures pretty much sum it up? Let us know your experiences, and if any of these are worth another look.

By Andy Jensen – Contributor


Add A Comment

  • The Enemy

    Where do you come up with this stuff? You praise the turbocharged DSMs as poor man’s sports cars and then harp on the the 4th-gen Eclipse GT as “slow” when it was the quickest Eclipse by far.

    Also, I’m not sure where you get the impression that 140HP in a 2200lb roadster is “laughable” when that was enough to propel the MR2 Spyder to 60 in 6.5 seconds and through the 1/4 in 15 flat. The Mazda Miata has nearly identical performance numbers and P/W ratio and has proven to be the most successful roadster of all time. What’s more, the S2000 and the MR2 Spyder were nowhere near similarly priced; the S2000 cost nearly 50% more.

    • This post is on cars that look fast, but aren’t. These cars aren’t crap, just their looks overstate their performance.
      1g Eclipse looks like a standard 1990 sport coupe, but has a lot of potential. 4g Eclipse looks amazing, but will lose to cheaper cars.
      MR2 Spyder looked like a damn Maserati, but as you say, the Miata ran similar times, and was cheaper. That doesn’t mean the MR2 was crap, just that the Miata didn’t brag about it.
      MR2 msrp was $25k base, which is why it didn’t sell. I remember the same year S2000 going for a hair over $30k base, not $37.5k. And again, the MR2 looked faster than even the S2k, but wasn’t.
      Thanks for the discussion.

      • The Enemy

        If your objection is that they don’t live up to your personal opinion of their visual promise, why not say that instead of saying they aren’t fast despite the fact that they and a few others on this list fall well toward the top of the performance data posted on this very site?

        The MR2 Spyder debuted with a base price of $23.5K. The S2000 had a base MSRP of $32.5K. That’s not even in the same ballpark, much less a “similar price” by any remotely rational understanding of the phrase.

        • That is what I did for each car. Visual appeal is entirely subjective, and I state my opinion about it. Then I throw out some stats to back up my subjective complaint. Again, it’s not that they are slow, it’s that they don’t live up to their looks. Writers (from Zeroto60Times, to The New York Times) do not pick the headline. Sorry if that is misleading.

          I bet the MR2 and S2K were cross shopped. For prices, I looked at the 2005 models, and stand by what I posted earlier. Those prices are not out of line with a 2002 Mustang GT and 2002 Trans Am. While one was more expensive than the other, it offered more performance, and was likely cross shopped by potential buyers. Same with MR2/S2K. I would look at a vehicle with a 20% increase in price if it added 100 more hp.

          • The Enemy

            You can stand by whatever you want, but facts are unyielding. The gulf between 23.5K and 32.5K (or 25K vs. 34K if you prefer to use 2005 pricing) is vastly more than 20%. I doubt there was much cross-shopping between the two — considerably different performance levels at considerably different price points, notwithstanding your insistence to the contrary.

          • SomethingSomethingDarkside

            Your one of those people that start shit just to start it aren’t you >,>?

          • The Enemy

            No but I’ll call out shit when I see it.

          • Duane Adams

            Somethingsomething is correct, your a bored ass idiot calling out someone on a post that is an “opinion” which is infact a legit “opinion” at that. All of the cars he reviewed and gave his “opinion” are infact alot slower than they look “my opinion ” gonna tell me that im wrong with my “opinion” cuz you seem to be standing on your “opinion” as being correct and fact for everyone reading this review. Your intitled to your “opionion” and others are intitled to theirs.. Roflao!. Which is what the post is all about. So all i really have is wow! Roflao!

          • The Enemy

            “your [sic] a bored ass idiot” …says the muppet who created a Disqus account just to post this twaddle.

            Your spelling, grammar, sentence structure, and reading comprehension suck. Go to school.

          • Duane Adams

            Roflao! Critical thinking skills? Sooooo a response that would require any sort of thought has been passed over in favor of being the grammmmer police? So that is well thought out and shhhmart? Once again ROFLAO! So with that being your outstanding response to my poooor unedumacated observation, i would have to lean twards my observation as being 100% correct. Thanx have a nice day…. ?

          • The Enemy

            I put as only as much thought into a response as it merits. As it is, your post gives nothing to think about. If you wish to add to the actual subject of discussion or address any specific point I’ve made, I’d be glad to give a thoughtful response. Seeing as your posts so far consist of little beyond puerile invective, there’s nothing substantive to which I can offer a substantive reply.

            Good luck with that school thing.

          • Dannisha Jones

            You sir are an idiot!!!

          • Mike Chambers

            This car IS slow. 6.5 seconds to 60 is very slow, especially for a car that looks like this. You’re missing the whole point of this article. There are fucking minivans that will outrun this car.

          • The Enemy

            No there are not minivans that will outrun it, fucking or otherwise, unless it’s been substantially modified. And no, 6.5 seconds is not very slow — just look at the data on this very website. A 0-60 time puts a car probably well within the 90th percentile. It’s quick by the author’s own criteria as expressed by his approval of the 1st- and 2nd-gen DSM turbos — but then he derides the 4th-gen Eclipse even though in its most potent form was the quickest Eclipse of them all.

          • Mike Chambers

            Well there are minivans that come really close to that 0-60 time. If you think 6.5 seconds isn’t slow, I can’t help you. Nobody else in these comments has agreed with you, so maybe you’re wrong! Maybe you haven’t owned a fast car? I don’t know, but 6.5 seconds is not fast. It’s boring.

          • The Enemy

            My daily driver can hit 60 in the low 5s, so you’re wrong about that part.

            By an objective reading of the data presented on this very website, I’m not wrong. Like I said to another post, a 0-60 time of 6.5 puts a car well into skinny part on the fast side of the bell curve.

            Subjectively speaking, if you think 6.5 is slow, fine, that’s your opinion and as a subjective matter it’s neither right or wrong.. But even the author praises cars in the 6.5 territory even as he claims even faster cars are “slow.” He could at least be consistent in his criteria.

          • If you look at the Eclipse part, I said they removed the fun. Nothing about speed. I never defined a set criteria on what is “fast” or “slow.” Instead, each vehicle is discussed on it’s own merits. A Ford Focus ST or RS is not fast compared to a Hellcat, but people love them because they are very quick compared to every previous US-spec Focus.
            For the Eclipse, AWD was gone, along with the turbo. It was replaced by a more Buick-like drivetrain choice. Not fun, and the enthusiasts noticed. 10 years after the GSX, the V6 Eclipse was just as fast, but was way more expensive, and lacked the tuner potential. It’s on this list not because it is slow, but because it looks fantastic and like it runs sub-5 seconds, yet it doesn’t. But by the time it debuted, no one cared about a sporty looking car that could be beat by it’s previous generation. It’s on this list because it’s speed no longer backed up it’s looks. That’s every car on this list.

          • The Enemy

            Then call the article “Cars That Don’t Back Up Their Looks” or “Cars That Aren’t As Fun As Their Predecessors Even If They’re Quicker.”

          • TanutheChiba

            All I hear is “I don’t agree and I must make a shitload of comments and call anyone else who does an idiot”. Whaa need your pacifier?

          • The Enemy

            Uhm I never called anyone anything in this discussion except in response to someone who called ME an idiot because, like you, he he had no answer to the points I have raised.

          • No No

            the v6 4g eclipse is Faster than the gsx around by a full second STOCK with a big 3.8L motor. I run mid to high 5’s in mines. Very underrated car.

    • CaptainAwesomer

      LOL, those are all very slow cars too. Maybe on a curvy race track they’re fast, but this site focuses on 0-60 times.

      • The Enemy

        Right, this site focuses on 0-60 times. Now check out where median of those 0-60 times lie — somewhere in the 9 to 10 second range. A 0-60 time of 6.5 puts a car well into skinny part on the fast side of the bell curve.

        • For the entire data/stat side of the site, yes, you’re probably very close to right. But I bet that’s not right for today’s cars. 10 seconds to 60 is a 2nd gen Prius, one of the slowest cars of the last 10 years. Sure, a new Mirage is probably slower, but sub-100hp crapbox, there’s a P85D or exotic on the other side of the equation. I’d say 6.5 or 7 flat is the average car (not minivans, trucks, etc) in 2016. Honda Accord V6 does about 6 sec flat, and easily outsells the four banger, which is “slow” at 8 sec. 10 seconds would be probably halfway down the slow side of bell curve, if not further.

          • The Enemy

            The V6 Accord does not “easily outsell” the 4-banger; in fact it doesn’t even come close. The typical take rate for the 4-cylinder is about 2 to 1 over the V6. So while there are higher-powered engine options out there, the typical late-model, mid-sized family sedan found in your neighbor’s garage is still likely going to run to 60 in the high-7 to low-9-second range.

            How does someone who knows virtually nothing about cars land a gig writing for a car site?

          • Weird, and completely the opposite of what I’ve read. Motor Trend or the like said v6 outsells i4 by 2 to 1. Hemi Chargers and 300Cs also outsell the v6, so it makes sense. We want power.
            If you can do better, we’re hiring.

          • The Enemy

            When you say “we” want power, what you probably mean is “driving enthusiasts want power.” It seems the enthusiasts often lose sight of the fact that most of the motoring public just wants to get from point A to point B with a minimum of fuss, noise, operating costs, etc. For them, 180HP in a mid-size sedan is plenty adequate.

            To illustrate the point, check out the inventory of the country’s largest Honda dealership by volume, Norm Reeves Honda in Cerritos CA. Of the 307 2016 Accords they have in their inventory, 258 of them are 4-cyls and 49 are V6s. Of their remaining 2015 inventory, 25 out of 31 are V6s — presumably because they’re harder to move.

            What’s your pay structure and what topics do you want covered?

      • No No

        ah well a 4g gt eclipse can beat older mustang GT’s and 350z’s the article is misleading, almost half of the car times are not even correct on this website.

  • Carlos Ferreira

    These types of idiotic lists are just cheap click bait to justify some revenue generating ad space. Congrats, you got me. Still rubbish though

  • John

    I own 2006 Eclipse GT version, and i highly agree to that statement.. it is a very fun car but the fact that it’s a FF car.. it really removes the fun. I used to own 3000GT VR4, it’s twin turbo…. All this car’s fun could’ve really handed down to eclipse if it was AWD drive car. Although some good mechanics have been modifying the Eclipse into AWD, by using Evo’s differential, and little custom part to it.

  • disqus_LA9cBOEsVD

    You forgot the toyota scion tc

    • If the list were longer, definitely.

    • Mitt Zombie

      They actually had decent power for the class, at least at first, and they did not really look fast.

      • Ok

        LOL decent power my ass those things r slow as fk!

        • trusake

          You seem to miss the point of the article. A Scion tC has 180hp for less than 20k, running at 6.8s 0-60. Which is normal. Wouldn’t call it slow as fk from what the price base gives, and it doesn’t have a fast look to be in this article. I think you just hate Scion tC’s.

          • No No

            i have never seen a TC run anything below 7 seconds, mid 7 is the average. and it is slow as fuck sorry, anything in the 15’s are as fast as my moms corolla

  • As a teen I always wanted the Toyota Celica. I guess good thing that I never got it.

    • Well over a decade ago a friend of mine had a Celica GT-S 6M. He lost a quarter-mile race to a Geo Storm.

      • Mitt Zombie

        Well, there was a 150hp Storm Gsi…..

        But that Celica was slow, I test drove one back in the day and ended up getting an Integra a lot cheaper and it was quicker. The GTS was the only celica to get a decent suspension, but still the same slow engine that year at least.

  • Ascientist

    I owned a 2002 MR2 and I still miss it. The engine was reliable and the whole package was cheap to fix. Used, for the same price as a Honda Civic, it was just as quick but a lot more fun. However, even adding a passenger dulled the performance. I finally realized I needed a trunk, and a car that could be seen by someone driving a pick-up truck in the next lane, so I bought something with room for four instead. I still miss it, though.

  • Sean McCartin

    You completely missed the ultimate “slow car that looks fast” – the DeLorean DMC 12. Back when it came out, it had Supercar written all over it in its design and appearance… and then people got behind the wheel and found that its v6 engine was anemic and its handling was pathetic.

    Actually, if the DMC 12 was on this list it would be the only entry on this list, since nothing compares to the disappointment that car was.

    Though I’ve heard that DeLorean of America might have fixed a few of the vehicle’s flaws with the new re-release.

    • CaptainAwesomer

      But weren’t all cars slow in the 80s?

      • Sean McCartin

        Relative to today’s cars, yes, but that’s like saying cars in the 50s were slow compared to cars in the 80s.

      • Mansa Keita

        No. Only the DMC 12 and 3rd Generation Camaro. Those cars screamed all show and no go

  • Mansa Keita

    I’m going have to put Volkswagon on blast real quick and add the 986 Boxster to the list. It looked fast, like it would be a mini 911 but it was slow and uninspiring. The same goes for the Audi A5. It looked like it would kick butt based on its appearance in the Hitman movie but that 2.0 engine gave it Civic like performance.

    Also, the V6 Challenger should top the list. It has brute muscle car looks but its overweight and under powered.

    I disagree with the 4th gen Eclipse. My mom has a stock 4th generation Eclipse and that sucker is FAAAAAST! It’s a sleeper, but its main fault is that it’s FWD

    • Zakatak360

      No Eclipse is fast. End of story.

      • Mansa Keita

        Her 2010 Eclipse GT can get to 60 in under 6 seconds and can do burnouts. That’s fast for a commuter economy car with front wheel drive.

  • Teeter Von Schnauzen

    People always wanted to race me in my first car. It was a 1995 Subaru Impreza coupe, bright red, AWD, with alloy wheels and a spoiler. The thing looked like a street-legal rally car that should be able to scream down the street. Unfortunately, it had an anemic 108hp boxer 4 cylinder, meaning it went 0-60 eventually and did the quarter-mile in what felt like over a minute. So, it was actually the perfect car for my 17-year-old self. Once it was moving, you could toss it around at will, and it was incredible in the snow. Still, one of the slowest cars I’ve ever driven.

  • Sheitan Moha

    Never tried a SCION FRS/SUBARU BRZ but the numbers just don’t add up.

    Mazda as something much worst than a RX8, the Miata MX/5. And critics calledthe MX5 a fun car to drive with enough power…. Senile!

    S

  • Sheitan Moha

    Volkswagen Corrado/Scirocco…. This thing looks fast, yet it was SOOOOO SLOWWWW..

    S

  • No No

    most of these times on this website is wrong anyway, and the eclipse without torque? are you high? it can beat older 350z’s and mustang GT’s, very underrated car for the money. You obviously dont even know what youre talking about. The 4g is the fastest eclipse straight from the factory.

    The only thing hard and needs alot of practice is getting the power down to the ground because if you dont know what youre doing , ull spin all the way till 2nd gear with the huge ammount of torque.





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