Drive with pleasure without sacrificing creature comforts.
For some reason, there seems to be this idea that an elevated driving experience and practical functionality are mutually exclusive. That you can’t have both of these things in one ride. The reality is, there’s no shortage of options these days, as performance variants of a number of practical rides exist. You don’t have to choose between one or the other, and these cars are a shining example of such.
Audi has been a key player in this category for some time now, with their RS line delivering peak level sleeper car performance. In the case of the RS3, you get a compact sedan with a 394 horsepower turbocharged 5-cylinder engine, capable of a 0-100 sprint in a meager 4.1 seconds. Audi’s Quattro all-wheel drive system will ensure that you’ll have no shortage of traction regardless of weather conditions, and though compact, its rear seats and trunk deliver a reasonable volume of passenger and cargo-carrying capability. From $63,000
This list could never be complete without a hot hatch of some sorts in the mix. The recipe is simple; mate a lightweight hatchback body with a highly-tuned engine and front wheel drivetrain, et voila—a practical and daily driveable rocket that’ll put a grin on your face every time you’re at the wheel. In the case of the JCW Mini, you get a boosted 228hp turbo 4-cylinder, and a refined interior that feels a little less “boy racer” and a little more style and sophisticated. From $39,055
As Alfa Romeo slowly returns to the Canadian market, they’ve been rather tactful about ensuring that performance and driving pleasure (not to mention sharp styling) are part of the equation. In the case of their 4-door Giuli sedan, what’s interesting is the fact that the Ti Sport variant is coveted by some over the roaring V8 Quadrifoglio. Sure, it’s underpowered by comparison, but the nimbleness and balance of having a very quick 280hp 4-cylinder under the hood in such a well-tuned chassis makes this Alfa a prime candidate for grin-inducing daily use. From $54,045
With BMW models growing larger, heavier, and more luxurious by the day, the brand’s most compact entrant in the North American market (not counting the electric i3) remains one of the most engaging and driver-focused Bimmers out there. Without being a full “M car” like the M3, M5, etc, the M240i still delivers razor sharp handling, and 0-100 sprints in only 4.4 seconds thanks to its boosted inline 6-cylinder engine. You won’t want to cram full-sized adults into the back seats, but the trunk will pack a couple of sets of golf clubs or a reasonable amount of luggage for your next road trip. $47,300
If you aren’t familiar with the WRX STi by now, you should be. The car has proven itself on the World Rally Championship circuit time and time again, and its cleverly engineered symmetrical all-wheel drive system makes it the perfect performance-focused practical ride for tackling our Canadian climate year-round. It’s a real treat to drive, even when loaded with four adults and a trunk full of gear. $40,295
The Macan Turbo may be compact in proportions compared to the Cayenne, but this works in its favour overall. You still have a reasonable amount of storage on board, and that taller seating position that many drivers love, but you also get a Porsche-tuned chassis and a snarling V6 that delivers 434hp. It’s nearly as quick to 100 as the RS3, completing the run in as little as 4.3 seconds, but in trade you get a fair bit more cabin space. $94,200