Horsepower is among the key vehicle traits luxury car buyers demand. And not just adequate or sufficient horsepower, but enough horsepower to justify the higher price they’ll pay compared to a non-luxury car. The actual horsepower number these buyers require will vary between high-performance supercars and more mainstream sports sedans and four-door luxury sedans, but all of these buyers expect this power delivered in a refined and engaging manner.
Remember that while horsepower gets more attention, torque is what actually turns a vehicle’s wheels and provides forward (or reverse) motion. Electric vehicles provide instant torque immediately, which is why they feel so quick at low speeds compared to internal combustion engines that have to rev up from idle to achieve maximum power and torque. Generally speaking, torque is what moves a car at lower speeds while horsepower is what keeps it moving and accelerating at higher speeds.
The luxury car segment has seen an explosion in electric car variants over the past few years. By using electric motors instead of a V8 engine or twin turbo technology, these electric models provide instant torque and rapid acceleration from a smooth and silent powertrain, though their top speed is not as high as gasoline models. Electric cars also remove any fuel economy concerns, but their re-charging logistics and range anxiety can be as much or more challenging than poor mpg ratings.
Whether powered by gasoline or electricity, performance cars from luxury automakers typically include all-wheel drive (AWD) and the latest new car safety features as standard equipment. They also feature premium interior materials and upscale styling to separate them from mainstream models.
Speaking of which, while plenty of high-performance luxury cars exist, buyers seeking high horsepower can find it in several non-luxury models, often at substantially lower prices. Theand Challenger SRT Hellcats are two examples that offer Ferrari- and Lamborghini-rivaling horsepower for a fraction of the cost. Of course these muscle cars don’t deliver the brand cachet or upscale ownership experience of genuine luxury vehicles, so their lower cost might not matter to luxury car shoppers.
Below you’ll find luxury cars across nine vehicle categories ranked by their maximum horsepower ratings. These lists also include the maximum torque rating, new and used price ranges, fuel economy ratings, and cargo capacity for each model.