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Four-Cylinder, Luxury Sedans That Are Quicker Than A Modern-day Hot Hatchback

If the Boy racer look doesn't work for you, these luxury sedans are stylish and pack more performance than a modern-day hot hatchback, from just four cylinders.

Is it just me or hot hatchbacks aren't what they used to be anymore? Sure, the Honda Civic Type-R is the fastest FWD car around the Nurburgring, and the recently-unveiled Acura Integra Type-S is a grown-up hot hatch compared to the Civic Type-R, but they aren't what you would call sleek and comfortable.

While these track-focused hot hatchbacks and company pack consistent performance and are fun to drive, I reckon these luxury sedans are a much better way to spend your money if a competent daily driver is what you are after. The best part is, they pack great performance and are fun to drive, but can also be comfortable and fuel-efficient long-distance cruisers when needed. 

BMW 330i 

BMW 330i is quicker to 60 mph than most hot hatchbacks in 2024

BMW's performance models are almost synonymous with inline-six engines. After all, it is the only brand that never gave up the straight-six engine layout. That said, you don't always need six cylinders to get a quick Beemer. The BWW 3 Series has long been the benchmark in the segment, and even in 330i guise, it is still a capable performer.

In this case, the balanced chassis is complimented by the B48 four-cylinder turbo engine, which works with the familiar, eight-speed ZF automatic, and optionally, xDrive all-wheel-drive system. Moreover, with two cylinders less, the Bavarian sedan is slightly more eager to turn into a corner. 

2024 BMW 330i performance specifications 

Engine: 2.0-liter, turbocharged, DOHC, inline-four 

Output: 255 horsepower at 5,000 RPM, 295 pound-feet at 1,550-4,500 RPM 

Transmission and driveline: 8-speed automatic, RWD/ AWD 

Curb weight: 3,536 pounds 

0-60 MPH: 5.6 seconds (RWD) 5.4 seconds (AWD) 

Fuel economy combined/city/highway (EPA): 27/24/33 (AWD), 29/25/34 (RWD)  

Mercedes C300 

Mercedes C300 relies on a mild-hybrid powertrain to run with the competition

Mercedes has always been more about the luxury aspect, but that doesn't mean the C-Class can't be athletic when needed. While it's safe to say, the C-Class Mercedes is the slightly more grown-up German premium sedan, it can still offer thrills. In C300 form, the Mercedes sedan relies on a turbo-four engine and a mild-hybrid system.

Unlike the BMW 330i, the C300 lacks the twin-scroll turbocharger, but makes up for it with an electric supercharger that aids the turbo and eliminates turbo lag. The small electric motor integrated into the MCT transmission packs an additional 20 horsepower and 151 pound-feet, which you feel off the line and between gears. 

2024 Mercedes C300 performance specifications 

Engine: 2.0-liter, turbocharged, DOHC, inline-four 

Output: 255 horsepower at 5,800 RPM, 295 pound-feet at 2,000-3,200 RPM 

Transmission and driveline: 9-speed MCT automatic, RWD/ AWD 

Curb weight: 3,825 pounds 

0-60 MPH: 5.7 seconds (RWD) 5.5 seconds (AWD) 

Fuel economy combined/city/highway (EPA): 27/23/33 (AWD), 30/26/36 (RWD) 

Acura TLX  

Acura TLX is as expensive as the German premum rivals, but the K20 engine is a strong argumentAcura TLX is one of the more underrated premium models and it may turn out to be a true Japanese tuner car in disguise. Considering how many AWD-converted, K-swapped Civics are out there, it is beyond me why nobody has modified one of these cars yet, especially given the optional AWD system available. Unlike most premium sedans in the segment, the Acura TLX features a front-wheel-drive-biased platform with a transversely-mounted, turbo-four engine – the K20C6 engine to be specific.  

While there are key differences between this K20 and the one used in the Integra Type-S and Civic Type-R, the tuning potential is there. The smaller turbocharger also means better response. The only downsides are the lack of a manual transmission option and limited-slip differentials. 

2024 Acura TLX performance specifications 

Engine: 2.0-liter, turbocharged, DOHC, inline-four 

Output: 272 horsepower at 6,500 RPM, 280 pound-feet at 1,600-4,500 RPM 

Transmission and driveline: 10-speed automatic, FWD/ AWD 

Curb weight: 3,990 pounds 

0-60 MPH: 6.1 seconds (FWD) 5.6 seconds (AWD) 

Fuel economy combined/city/highway (EPA): 24/21/29 (AWD), 25/22/31 (FWD) 

Alfa Romeo Giulia 

Alfa Romeo Giulai impresses with impeccable balance and athleticism

In 2016, Alfa Romeo introduced its first rear-wheel-drive sedan in 30 years. The Giulia came as a direct competitor to the BMW 3 Series and company. What the Italian model lacks in build quality, it makes up with sporty characteristics and chic design. Moreover, you can now get an Alfa Romeo Giulia for what is considered a "steel" bargain.

Having driven most cars on the list, I can say the Alfa is, easily, the most athletic of the bunch, with only BMW's 3 Series coming close. As a bonus, the Alfa Romeo Giulia also has the biggest trunk space of all sedans in the segment – 16.95 cubic feet – before folding the rear seats down. The Alfa Romeo Giulia is also the lightest of all sedans in the segment, contributing to the sporty characteristics. 

2024 Alfa Romeo Giulia performance specifications 

Engine: 2.0-liter, turbocharged, DOHC, inline-four 

Output: 280 horsepower at 5,250 RPM, 295 pound-feet at 2,250 RPM 

Transmission and driveline: 8-speed automatic, RWD/ AWD 

Curb weight: 3,406 pounds 

0-60 MPH: 5.2 seconds (RWD) 4.9 seconds (AWD) 

Fuel economy combined/city/highway (EPA): 26/23/31 (AWD), 27/24/33 (RWD) 

Audi A4 45 TFSI 

Audi A4 45 TFSI is still a wolf in sheep's clothing

The fifth-generation Audi A4 continues to rely on the familiar philosophy – a proven, turbo-four engine Quattro AWD, and the VAG MQB platform. Behind the confusing 45 TFSI designation sits the fourth-generation EA888 engine, but now coupled to a 48-Volt mild-hybrid system. The engine also features, both, multi-port and direct fuel injection.

The design may be far more restrained than any other sedan in the segment, but it's actually the second-quickest car on the list in terms of 0 to 60 mph time. The A4's Quattro AWD is front-wheel-drive-biased though it can send up to 60 percent of torque to the rear. I would save money by not getting the S-Line. It gives you larger wheels, lowered suspension, and a few interior goodies, but fuel economy goes down, despite no modifications to the engine. 

2024 Audi A4 45 TFSI performance specifications 

Engine: 2.0-liter, turbocharged, DOHC, inline-four 

Output: 265 horsepower at 5,250-6,500 RPM, 273 pound-feet at 1,600-4,500 RPM 

Transmission and driveline: 7-speed DSG automatic, AWD 

Curb weight: 3,461 pounds 

0-60 MPH: 5.2 seconds 

Fuel economy combined/city/highway (EPA): 30/26/35 (27/24/32 for A4 S-Line) 

About the author

Dimitar Angelov's automotive interests made him an expert in a wide variety of vehicles. Japanese brands like Toyota are closest to his heart, although performance cars in general are his favorite segment, which is why he is constantly on the lookout for the best deals on the market. Dimitar Angelov's car passion and knack for the written word led him to complete a Master of Arts in Media and Communications, and classic car restoration. Dim is happy to get behind the wheel of any car and share his impressions. You can follow Dimitar on XLinked-inInstagram, and Facebook.

Image sources: BMW 3 Series, Mercedes C-Class, Acura TLX, Alfa Romeo Giulia, Audi A4