When it comes to the mid-level performance car market, shoppers are spoiled for choice. BMW M, Mercedes-AMG, Audi S, and Volvo Polestar all build contenders within this highly contest segment but which is best? Well, one way to make sense of this shotgun blast of performance car scrabble tiles is a drag race to at least determine the quickest offering.
Our first contender hails from Volvo with their Polestar Engineered S60 saloon. The third-generation S60 saloon debuted in 2019 and much like the previous generation S60, Volvo collaborated with Polestar to inject performance.
Gallery: BMW M340i Drag Races Audi S4, AMG E53, S60 Polestar
The resulting Polestar-Engineered S60 is the most powerful Volvo ever thanks to its supercharged and turbocharged inline-4 engine that is boosted by an electric motor located in the rear axle. All of these enhancements augment the power of the S60’s 2.0-litre engine to 415 bhp and 494 lb-ft. Polestar also tunes the S60’s suspension with a set of Ohlins dampers and includes massive Brembo brakes to round out the Polestar Engineered S60’s performance abilities.
Our next contender seems rather simple compared to the Polestar Engineered S60. In Europe, Audi offers a 2020 S4 saloon or Avant with power from a diesel V6. The Audi S4 uses the same 3.0-litre V6 engine already found in the diesel-powered versions of the SQ5, S6, and S7. Audi’s torquey V6 engine produces 342 bhp and a massive 516 lb-ft of torque. To reduce turbo lag, Audi includes an electrically powered air compressor to help the turbos spool faster. There’s also a mild hybrid system to help boost the S4’s fuel economy.
The latest generation 3-Series enters the fray with the 382-bhp M340i. The G20 M340i is powered by BMW’s familiar B58B30 turbocharged 3.0-litre inline-6 engine mated to an 8-speed automatic transmission. The M340i is offered with BMW’s XDrive all-wheel-drive system which reduces the 0 to 60 times by 0.3 seconds resulting in an impressive 4.1 second time according to BMW.
Our final contender hails from the more approachable side of the Mercedes-AMG lineup. The stunning AMG E53 coupe is powered by a 3.0-litre turbocharged straight-6 that is assisted by a mild hybrid system. The result is a respectable 429 bhp and 384 lb-ft of torque with minimal turbo lag.
Does the complication of hybridization help you win drag races? Well, let’s find out!