There are lots of cars out there that look like they’re really fast, yet when you actually get to drive them, they’re either slow or nowhere near as fast as you were expecting them to be.

Halloween Special: Cars That Only Look Fast, But Aren’t

Hyundai SonataMazda3Peugeot 508Toyota Corolla hatchbackToyota GT 86Fiatrrari
And this is a trend that seems to have accelerated in recent years - a decade ago, this article would have required a thorough search, whereas now it’s pretty much every other new car.

Still, we’ve tried to narrow it down to the biggest offenders in this category. Cars whose design builds anticipation that they can pin you to the back of your seat, when in reality they only give you boredom-derived pins and needles through your entire body.

I’m talking about cars like the latest Mazda3, particularly in hatchback guise. It looks so darn fast, like subtle hot hatch that wants to be taken by the scruff of the neck, yet when you get in and drive it, it’s a complete letdown.

This isn’t really related to the driving experience itself, which is fine by class standards, but it has to do with the choice of available engines (or lack thereof) because the most powerful one has a measly 180 horsepower - that’s pathetic, especially since it feels like its chassis can take a whole lot more.

Oh, and this is true of any modern Mazda, even the from the Mazda2 city car, through its SUV range and all the way up to that mosquito of the sports car world, the MX-5.

How about the latest Toyota Corolla hatchback? It, like the Mazda3, looks like a hot hatch, yet in its fastest current version, which is a 180 horsepower hybrid, it sprints to 100 km/h (62 mph) from naught in a ridiculously slow 7.9 seconds. That’s not quick in anybody’s book, and it leaves you wanting for more.

Again, like the Mazda, it handles pretty nicely and its chassis seems unflustered with the current power it puts down. Toyota is reportedly pondering whether or not it should make a Gazoo Racing hot hatch, but it really should stop pondering and start making because the latest Corolla is screaming for such a version to justify the already bold and sporty styling.

Peugeot wowed crowds with its latest 508 sedan and wagon that look like they should have had more than 400 horsepower, all-wheel drive and be about as quick as a BMW 340i. And the theme is continued inside where the 508 looks like just what you think a sporty car from the near future would look like.

However, the most powerful version you can get right now has 225 hp, which is about half of that. The 1.6-liter turbo four-pot sends the three-box 508 to 100 km/h in a brisk 7.3 seconds, but based purely on its aggressive, low slung design, the sprint should be achieved at least two seconds quicker.

Now that Peugeot is merging with Fiat-Chrysler, maybe they’ll finally realize the dream and put the Hellcat V8 under the 508’s hood, creating a car that will be talked about for generations to come.

Peugeot 508
An article about cars that look fast but really aren’t can’t ignore the Toyota GT 86. It looks like a proper sports car, but most of the people who have driven it agree in unison that it needs more power. Its four-cylinder boxer just nudges 200 horsepower and that wouldn’t be a bad number for a small car such as the 86, but the engine just has no torque and it makes the car feel sluggish.

Not that its claimed benchmark sprint time of 7.6 seconds is something to write home about. We live in an age where you can buy front-wheel drive hatchbacks with well over 300 horsepower, yet the GT 86 is stuck with 200 horsepower and no torque - such a shame. Maybe that’s why supercharger kits for it are so popular.

Hyundai talks about how it transformed the latest Sonata sedan into a considerably sportier car than before. And by looking at it, you’d expect this to also be reflected in how quick the car is, when in actual fact it just isn’t. The most powerful engine this sleek sedan can be had with is a 2.5-liter with 191 horsepower which is just powerful enough for the car not to be called slow.

Hyundai Sonata
The Korean automaker has more powerful power plants it could enhance the Sonata’s performance with, but it’s probably not a priority. I’d sure love to see a more potent Sonata N under the manufacturer’s new performance moniker.

Our final stop on this all look and not that much go journey is the new Opel Corsa. We really wonder just how much more aggressive it will be made to look when the actual hot hatch version of it comes out, because it’s already pretty aggressive - in fact, it’s probably the most aggressive looking subcompact car on sale now.

The most powerful version only has 136 horsepower and it’s electric. There’s no problem with the fact that it’s motivated by an electric motor, but give it two of them for a total of 272 horsepower and then it will do its mean, low-slung look justice.



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