BMW M5 (2011-16)
This astoundingly high performance saloon is part of BMW’s motorsport division, with the BMW M5’s heritage dating back to the 1980s. The 2011 model represents the fifth generation of the M5, and holds the impressive title of being the most powerful production vehicle ever made by BMW.
Powering this performance is a monstrous 4.4-litre V8 engine which is fed by two turbochargers, delivering 552bhp. This replaced the 5.0-litre V10 engine from the previous generation, and despite the downsize it delivers better performance and is more economical. Acceleration in the M5 is rapid, managing the 0-62mph dash in just 4.4 seconds.
Unsurprisingly, the M5 does guzzle fuel, managing just 28.5mpg. It’s worth remembering, though, that this is a significant improvement on the previous generation, which returned just 19.6mpg. This is partly due to the introduction of BMW’s Efficient Dynamics system, which utilises start/stop functionality to improve fuel economy.
The 2011 M5 comes with a seven-speed automatic gearbox and two clutches, meaning that gear changes are extremely quick and smooth.
The interior is luxurious and incredibly comfortable, meaning that despite its power, the M5 is definitely suitable for everyday driving. Merino leather, sports seats and the Active Sound Design system are just some of the features which ensure that the M5 is not only a pleasure to drive, but also to be a passenger in.
Jaguar XFR (2011-15)
The Jaguar XFR is a superb fast saloon car, which was first launched in 2009 and went through a facelift in 2011.
The performance variant of the Jaguar XF, it was designed to rival the BMW M5. In this regard, it’s certainly a worthy opponent. The supercharged 5.0-litre V8 engine delivers 503bhp, and 0-60mph is completed in 4.7 seconds. Overtaking is a breeze in the XFR, which accelerates from 50-70mph in an astounding 1.9 seconds.
The XFR is also a great car for everyday driving. The cabin is spacious, there’s a 500-litre boot and it’s possible to fold the rear seats down too.
There are several enhancements compared to the normal Jaguar XF. Steering has been enhanced and a range of exterior design changes include added air intakes, 20-inch alloy wheels as standard and a subtle spoiler at the rear of the car. Inside, features like a range of new dials, comfortable sports seats and updated trim set it apart from the XF, as does the use of carbon fibre.
Similar to the M5, the only downside of this high performance and impressively fast saloon is the fuel economy. You’ll be lucky to get 24mpg in the XFR, so be prepared to spend a lot of time and money at the petrol station.
Skoda Octavia vRS (2013-)
It’s perhaps surprising to see a Skoda after reading about BMW and Jaguar, but the vRS is an impressive performance saloon in its own right, and even offers advantages over the previous two more illustrious manufacturers.
The second generation of the Octavia vRS was launched in 2013, and significantly improved the previous model, most noticeably in terms of the handling. The vRS is the performance version of the popular Octavia, with sports suspension added to manage the extra speed and acceleration from Skoda’s fastest ever car.
Additional changes include sporty air intakes, a choice of 17, 18 or 19-inch alloys, and in the interior you’ll find vRS sports seats and features such as a motorsports-esque three spoke steering wheel. The black finish of the interior stylish and lends the cabin an upmarket feel, which is bolstered by the copious amounts of space for passengers.
The vRS uses the most powerful engine in the Skoda range (which in the petrol versions is the same as in the VW Golf GTi). There’re two engines to choose from – a 2.0-litre TSI petrol with either 227 or 242bhp, or a 2.0-litre diesel which returns 181bhp. These engines are not only more powerful than those in the previous Octavia vRS, they’re also more economical.
The vRS will travel from 0-62mph in just 6.8 seconds and has a top speed of 154mph. Perhaps most impressive of all, especially when compared to the lies of the M5 and XFR, is that despite its high performance, the vRS will still manage 45.6mpg. Additionally, it’s available for significantly lower prices on the used market than the more premium models mentioned above.
Whether opting for the prestige of Jaguar and BMW or the undeniably high-performance but lower-priced Skoda, all of the vehicles can be found on Carsnip today.