Anyone who still tells you that “There ain’t no replacement for displacement” clearly hasn’t taken a good look at the auto world lately. As technology evolves, engineers continue to find ways to achieve incredible feats with less and less. These days, four-cylinder engines come in a myriad of different sizes and configurations, and they’re beginning to propel some of the most surprisingly powerful cars on the market. From the budget-minded consumer to the luxury lover, people everywhere are falling in love with the four-banger.
Four-cylinder engines have evolved to the point where they can routinely hit speeds of more than 150 miles per hour, and automakers like Ford have started to use these smaller motors to breathe new life classic models, like the EcoBoost Mustang. Most buyers don’t seem to mind the smaller displacement engine, as typically these cars are never truly pushed to their limits, but for gearheads, the idea of a desirable four cylinder engine may still take some getting used to.
You’ll notice that these compact motors come in different variations (such as inline-four and flat-four configurations), and that many of the cars on this list come equipped with turbochargers; a technology that’s bringing some much-needed excitement into the equation.
Top speed is what we’re looking at today. We weren’t as concerned with zero to sixty times and power numbers (though we’ve listed them), as we were in seeing who holds the crown for highest mile per hour numbers. But with so many cars with an electronically limited 155 mile per hour cap, we decided to not list every car programmed to reach that mark. Instead, we highlighted some of the more interesting offerings, to show just how crowded the field of performance four-bangers is getting.
Now don’t start thinking that we don’t drool over twelve cylinder engines and supercharged screamers like the Dodge Hellcat twins over here; we’re gearheads through and through. But biggest doesn’t alway mean best, and this collection of cars is plenty impressive regardless of cylinder count.