Honestly, I’m not one of those people who thinks a car needs crazy horsepower to be fun to drive. In fact, I’m a huge proponent of cars — think Mazda Miata, Subaru BRZ, FIAT 124 Spyder — which marry more modest output with great driving dynamics. To paraphrase Top Gun, you really don’t need to be going Mach 2 with your hair on fire to have a good time.
But you know what’s also fun? Going Mach 2 with your hair on fire, in a car with crazy horsepower. And in that respect, the Mercedes-AMG GT 63 delivered in spades. With 577 horsepower and a whopping 627 lb-ft or twist on tap, this glorious example of a German sports sedan felt equal parts tank and rocket ship, and of the sedans at Run to the Sun, it was easily the most fun to drive.
It was so fun to drive, in fact, that it won the vote for Most Fun to Drive Vehicle overall — and it’s not like there wasn’t plenty of great competition.
That said, I should probably mention that I’m not the biggest fan of companies calling vehicles with four doors coupes.
But I really appreciated how Brian Cotter, one of the the Mercedes-Benz reps on hand, deflected a question about the nomenclature during his presentation on GT 63. When asked why Mercedes refers to this sedan as a coupe, he said that since the company invented the car, it could call products whatever it wants to. It reminded me of the old Mercedes campaign which featured the tagline “The new car from the people that brought you the car,” and I thought it was great.
Overall, there’s very little to nit pick about the GT 63. The exterior is gorgeous, the interior is loaded with tech but still intuitive, the materials and build quality are fantastic, and whether you want to fly down a highway or tackle twisty roads, the performance is spectacular. One feature I absolutely loved was how the active bolsters would hug you during hard cornering. It’s a unique sensation, and made the car feel like a living entity.
If you’re in the market for a hyper-expensive — this one listed at $184k — luxury car definitely arrange a test drive. you won’t be disappointed.
2019 Run to the Sun: Performance Sedan
2019 KIA Stinger GTS
While I’m not a fan of the fake vents on the hood, I’m a huge fan of the KIA stinger overall, and it was great to have another opportunity to flog it on some twisty roads.
KIA should really be commended for everything it was able to achieve with its first sports sedan, as it checks all the boxes, and looks great at the same time. When I took the 365-horsepower Stinger on a road trip last year, it garnered reams of positive comments from bystanders, thanks largely to its stunning good looks. But it’s far more than a pretty face, and rewards spirited driving with athletic performance and approachable limits.
Seriously, if you’re looking for a sports sedan, don’t overlook this gem.
2019 Honda Civic Type R
For many years, the Honda Civic Type R was unobtainable on our shores, and the closest enthusiasts in the States got to driving one was in Gran Turismo. That changed in 2017, and I can say with authority that it was worth the wait.
While some have derided the boy-racer styling, I think a more muted exterior color — like the silver of the tester on hand — mitigates more the complaints about the wing, vents, and creases. Appearances aside, the Type R is fantastic to drive. With 300 horsepower on tap and a perfect six-speed gearbox, it’s rolling proof that practical and reliable doesn’t have to mean boring. I was thrilled with the rev-matching feature which made every shift perfect, and would be equally thrilled to have this as a daily driver.
Believe the hype.
2019 Genesis G70
The Genesis is built on the the same platform as the KIA, but where the Stinger goes for a sporty vibe, the Hyundai goes for a more elegant appearance.
The large grille features more bling than its corporate cousin, and details like the quilted leather on the seating surfaces give it more of a luxurious feel. The ride is also more plush, but performance remains excellent. This is a car that punches above its weight in virtually every aspect, including its fantastic 100k powertrain warranty, which dwarfs anything from the competition.
Overall, the Genesis is a great machine that I’d be comfortable owning for years, so if you’re in the market for an affordable luxury sedan, make sure to take one for a test drive.
2020 Subaru Legacy XT
While I’ve had some good experiences with CVTs in power sports applications, I’m generally not a fan of them in cars. But thought I’d have greatly preferred a stick, the CVT unit in the Legacy XT was fine.
With the exception of the WRX STi, most of the Subarus I’ve driven over the past few years have felt under powered, so I’m happy to report that the 260-horsepower engine felt like a good match for the Legacy’s chassis. It’s not going to set your hair on fire with performance, but what’s really notable is how refined, quiet, and upscale the car felt. The Legacy is all about driving comfort, and delivers for fans wanting a competitively priced sedan with luxury touches, along with the surefooted security of Subaru’s legendary all-wheel drive.
2019 Volkswagen Arteon
In and era when manufacturers are backing away from sedans, Volkswagen currently offers three, and the Arteon is its flagship. The styling is sleek and modern, and the 268 horsepower engine makes for solid performance.
As I’ve mentioned previously, I’m not a fan of the “four-door coupe” language many manufacturers are using today. But that said, I love fastback styling, and think it’s used beautifully here. While that does mean slightly less headroom for rear passengers, it’s absolutely worth the trade — unless maybe you’re a family of basketball players. At the end of the day, the Arteon is more about style and comfort than blistering performance, but its gorgeous profile, great ride, and impressive list of available safety tech make it a compelling choice in the segment.
2019 Volkswagen Jetta GLI 35th Anniversary Edition
The Jetta has long been a favorite of enthusiasts looking for German build quality, practical dimensions, and great driving dynamics. The current generation features all those elements, and when driving it, seeing why it’s so beloved is easy.
Metrics wise, there’s an extra inch and a half of room in the backseat than there was in the previous model, and it’s also more upscale. My favorite thing about the Jetta was unquestionably the steering, which is responsive, and provides lots of feel. If you love the GTi, but feel like you’ve outgrown the two-door dimensions, this is the next natural step.
That rounds out the competitors in the Sports Sedan category! But there are plenty more where that came from! Head here for a full list of cars and categories from 2019 Run to the Sun!
NWAPA (www.nwapa.org) is a professional organization of automotive journalists and media members from throughout the Pacific Northwest and Southwest Canada. Founded in 1991, NWAPA includes 54 voting members representing more than 700 newspapers, magazines, radio stations, media groups, and the internet. Members of the organization have been testing SUVs and crossovers since the advent of the modern sport-utility vehicle in the mid-1990s. Non-voting NWAPA members include representatives from automotive manufacturers and related industry professionals.