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The greatest Q cars ever made - our pics from the high speed hall of fame

230mph in a saloon, why not ...

Driving a Q car is an experience unto itself. There is something wholly unique about propelling such a large lump of metal along at outrageous speeds.

Recent years have seen some truly absurd stats associated with super saloons, below are our favourite pics from the Q car high speed hall of fame.

Brabus E V12 7.3 (W210)

Any mid-size saloon car that can easily exceed 200mph warrants attention in this top five. In more recent years Brabus has introduced turbochargers and as with the current E800, exceeded such ludicrous numbers as 230mph and 1,000lbft.

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But it’s the less obvious, naturally aspirated E V12 from the late 1990s that’s our focus here, complete with 7.3-litres of one of the finest V12 engines ever produced. Not exactly blessed with overwhelming traction, the near-600bhp EV12 would ideally be resplendent in some mild metallic shade for maximum Q car points, complete with a near-constant fine grey mist of vaporised rubber trailing behind.

Volvo 850R

250bhp from a five-cylinder engine sent through the front wheels definitely made for interesting handling dynamics back in 1992. Torque steer was name of the game here, as was absolutely no one having a clue that your car had plenty of bhp to play with.

Subtle and packed with BTCC kudos. 

BMW M550d xDrive Touring

You can’t buy a new M550d Touring in the UK, and that seems a shame, not least because any estate car with three turbochargers and four-wheel drive has the makings of a formidable Q car. In an appropriately reticent hue, and on the standard 19” wheels, it would be easy to pass this Munich torque monster off as a fleet-favourite 520d, thereby missing entirely the 381hp and 545lb ft of torque barely constrained underneath until far too late.

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A colossal kerb weight blunts the M550d’s ploy as an oil-burning M5 alternative, but as a long-range, all-weather holdall, there’s surely little currently to better it. 

Audi S6 (C6 V10)

Far from Audi’s finest hour dynamically, the V10 S6 nevertheless gains entry to this list for housing an improbably extravagant engine in a saloon or estate body that looks little different to the regular A6 on which it was based.

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Whether stuffing all that weight on and beyond the front axle was such a good idea is doubtful, and with ‘only’ 435hp from a detuned, 5.2-litre version of the charismatic V10, signified as ever by its quadrophonic five-cylinder style warble played at double speed, the acceleration isn’t quite spectacular enough for you to forgive the inherent, hideous thirst. But still, it’s an Audi A6 with a V10 motor. That’s enough.

Nissan Skyline R33 GT-R 4-door

With an extra pair of doors, the R33’s relatively tame 17” alloys, and shorn of the GT-R’s regular boot spoiler, the R33 GT-R ‘saloon’ looks like any other 90s Japanese luxo-barge from all bar the front perspective; after all, there’s no mistaking those hungry GT-R nostrils and front spolier.

Of course, underneath that plain, softly contoured exterior lies the usual RB26 inline ‘six’ in all its gravelly, hissing glory, and the same sophisticated four-wheel drive chassis, which must make this rare and unlikely saloon one of the more potent ways to travel from A-B some way below the radar. 

Renault Espace V6

The 3.5-litre Nissan produced V6 from the 350z found an unlikely home in the Renault Espace. It wasn't the first time Renault had put something special into the Espace, opting for an F1 engine as part of a pr stunt for the car.

Real world performance coupled with an innate ability to transport screaming kids on family holidays at an ubelievable rate of knots. Just don't lean on the brakes too hard, there's a lot of car to stop.

Lancia Thema 8.32

Transport the V8 engine from a Ferrari 308 and put it into a front wheel drive car, that was the thinking behind the Thema 8.32. Only a touch quicker than the Thema Turbo, this Lancia was more an exercise in 'Q' than anything else.

Finished nicely with a pop up spoiler, which gives extra 'Q' points, the Thema is perhaps one of the most ridiculous vehicles to ever roll out of the Lancia factory.

BMW M5 (E28)

Described by evo as 'the very essence of Q-carishness', the M5 sets the standard for keeping performance potential on the quiet. A 286bhp straight six and enough oversteer to last a lifetime, it's a true icon of subtle speed.

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