Best performance cars 2022 – fast, capable, but above all fun

What makes a great high-performance car? It’s not just numbers that matter, but how they translate into fun…

What exactly is a performance car? It can take any shape, size and colour, but inherently must appeal to the single metric that we at evo consider to be the most important element of any car – how engaging it is to drive.

Performance cars put the experience at the centrepoint of everything; the interaction between you and the machine is key. And while different performance cars do that in different ways, all must be engaging and capable in equal measure.

So, from a £25,000 hot hatchback to a 1825kg, 626bhp four-door saloon, from sports cars to supercars, and from the stripped back and mechanically pure to cutting-edge electrified hybrids, you’ll find a range of brilliant high-performance examples in our 2022 list of the very best.

Best performance cars 2022:

Porsche 911 GT3

The 911 might be getting bigger and more complex with every generation, but there’s always room for a purist’s choice such as the GT3 Touring. Packing a virile 4-litre flat-six under its active rear wing, it does without turbochargers and is paired with a six-speed manual that’s been designed specifically to feel right, rather than just pull the right numbers, all adding up to one of the most enticing performance cars on sale right now.

It might be expensive (£135k expensive), and hard to get your hands on even if you do have the cash, but the GT3 Touring remains a high point in contemporary performance car design and engineering – a bridge between the old and new, and a car that’s not just immensely capable, but engaging too.

> Porsche 911 GT3 Touring review 

Lamborghini Huracán STO

With every subsequent new derivative of the Lamborghini Huracán, so it continues to get better and better. The STO, a lighter and more track-focused derivative pairing the most powerful 631bhp variant of its now trademark V10 to a rear-wheel-drive chassis, doesn’t just hit harder on track, but also finds the most incredible flow on the road, too.

This new level of chassis sophistication is backed up by that immense engine, one that might be a few bhp behind its key rivals but hits back with unmatched levels of responsiveness and that incredible soundtrack.

> Lamborghini Huracán STO review

BMW M5 CS

Supersaloons and estates have always appealed to evo on account of their duality of purpose and classless demeanour, but none has ever hit the highs of BMW’s M5 CS. While its upgrades compared to the Competition model might seem subtle on paper, on the road the two couldn’t be more different, with the CS finding almost supernatural levels of grip, poise and precision, whatever the conditions.

Yet what really sets the M5 CS apart is how fantastically engaging it is to drive, with nuance to the chassis’ immense capability that sets it apart from all its major rivals. The new CS is such a hit it also walked away with our 2021 eCoty prize, beating out all the other cars on this list as our evo Car of the Year.

> BMW M5 CS review 

Hyundai i20 N

Hyundai, a relative newcomer to the hot hatchback class, released its smallest and arguably most rambunctious model in the i20 N last year to great acclaim. The aggressive and focused little hot hatchback certainly proved itself in our testing, and while perhaps not as ultimately capable as the Ford Fiesta ST, upped the stakes in terms of engagement and pure fun.

With only 201bhp, and not much in the way of expensive complicated chassis components to lean on, the i20 N’s talent is using each of its components to the fullest effect, happily biting so hard into the tarmac that it’ll lift a rear wheel way out into the air. Even better, it’s a car that doesn’t take itself too seriously, and allows you to extract every bit of performance on offer without worrying about hitting jail-time levels of speed on the public road.

> Hyundai i20 N review

BMW M3 Competition

BMW’s latest M3 Competition has been a revelation, and yet another modern BMW M-car to grow into a devilishly fast and immensely engaging high-performance car. The current M3 Competition, and its M4 sibling, have proven themselves to be true greats of their lineage, which is high praise indeed.

Even better, the current M3 range has never been so diverse, and all the variants are just as brilliant, whether that be the all-wheel-drive versions or the new Touring model. In fact, all-wheel-drive models have even more capability, and like the M5 CS also in this list, seem to be even more engaging because of the two extra driven wheels.

> BMW M3 Competition review

Aston Martin Vantage F1 Edition

Aston Martin’s Vantage has had a tumultuous time in this generation, hitting highs and lows with equal measure. Yet the F1 Edition is the car that fixed most of the Vantage’s problems, nailing some of the standard car’s problem areas such as the rear axle and lazy transmission, while highlighting its strengths.

It still might not rival a Porsche 911 for capability, or a Lamborghini Huracán RWD in terms of driver engagement, but the performance car sphere is certainly improved by its presence. It just needs some further polish to bring out its hidden shine to the full.

> Aston Martin Vantage F1 Edition review

Ferrari SF90

This is by far the most complex and difficult car on this list, but proof that slowly electrification is being used to enhance the driving experience and not just performance and on-paper efficiency figures. Ferrari’s SF90 is sensitive to specification, something not surprising given its 986bhp power figure and complex hybrid systems, but when everything syncs up it is one of the most exhilarating experiences out there.

Recently taken out on the Anglesey Circuit by the team, it followed up its disappointing 2021 eCoty showing by breaking the production car lap record, while revealing its true engagement factor hidden beneath its complex and intimidating skin.

> Ferrari SF90 review

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