Contrary to popular belief, not all car scribes had dads who raced Porsches. A good many of us waited much longer than we'd care to admit to be exposed to the cool cars of the world. We've done more than our fair share of time behind the wheels of beat-up New Yorkers and hand-me-down family haulers.
So we know how it feels when you're choking on your own fumes at a stoplight and along comes something rowdy: maybe a Mustang or a WRX, paint gleaming, motor rumbling, driver grinning. The light turns green, and you know the rest.
But wouldn't it be funny if you could actually keep up? Imagine the surprise on that sports car driver's face when what seemed like an ordinary vehicle produced an extraordinary run. Oh, savory indeed is that brand of automotive irony.
And this sort of irony is the thrust behind this article, in which we have paired one traditionally hot car with one whose driver has a little secret -- the kind that'll have the other driver shaking his head (and maybe his middle finger) in disbelief when they meet again at the next light. All performance statistics quoted in the following pages were recorded by Car and Driver test gear.
0-60: 5.8 seconds || 0-60: 5.8 seconds
1/4: 14.3 @ 93 mph || 1/4: 14.4 @ 95 mph
There are many reasons we love Subarus, and the WRX is one of them. An unassuming Impreza on the outside, but a turbocharged, 224-hp rocket on the inside, it is more than a little bit ironic all by itself. Indeed, with a 0-to-60 time of 5.8 seconds, it has that sneaky sort of quickness that catches muscle car drivers unaware in impromptu stoplight wars.
But it's going to be the WRX driver who'll be surprised when the driver of an even less assuming, nearly full-size Toyota Camry V-6 runs nose to nose with the much smaller WRX through 60 mph and all the way to the quarter-mile mark.
Add in the fact that the Camry V-6 is available with many top-dollar features not available on the WRX, has far more upscale size and interior design, and has a base price that's nearly $1000 less, and the Camry is a whopper of a stealth-speed bargain.
0-60: 5.0 seconds || 0-60: 5.0 seconds
1/4: 13.6 @ 104 mph || 1/4: 13.6 @ 104 mph
Infiniti claims that the idea behind the original Infiniti FX was the concept of a "bionic cheetah." The result was a seriously muscular SUV that, if you squinted, looked vaguely cheetah-like but was undeniably bionic in its ability to go fast.
The brand-new, second-generation FX is even more muscular, particularly in FX50 form, and now it can keep pace with one of the most iconic versions of the most iconic pony car around, the 315-hp Ford Mustang Bullitt. Yep, even though the FX50 is a 4600-pound five-seater that can haul a small family to a ballet recital, its 5.0-liter V-8 pumps out 390 horsepower and 369 pound-feet of torque, thus bestowing it with acceleration that's truly cheetah-like.
The FX50 can match the Stang's five-flat 0-to-60 hustle and 13.6-second quarter-mile. Furthermore, it can track true and flat in corners, so don't think McQueen's Mustang will lose it when the road gets twisty. In fact, add water, and watch the family trickster pull far and fast away from the Ford. Sorry, Steve -- you've been served.