6 cars that didn't deserve a performance version

Not sure what they were thinking

4y ago

All of us undoubtedly love a fast version of a normal everyday car. The cars that are designed to be a performance car from the outset are out of the budget for most of us.

Cars, such as the Mazda RX7, which are a lot of people's ideal car, just aren't usable for the day to day tasks that we need them for. If you are one of the few people who can afford to have an everyday car and a play car, I salute you.

However, for the majority, the fast version of an A to B car is the only realistic way to get our thrills from a Sunday drive. Something that we can then use to get to work without looking a little out of place.

An example of how this should be done is the Ford Fiesta ST.

This is a great little car and one that is deserved of a fast version. A few tweaks and styling changes have turned an already superb hatchback, into a superb hot hatch. The chassis and styling were just aching for a fast version and when it came it was spot on.

However, for every car that gets it right, there is a handful that gets it completely wrong.

Nissan Juke Nismo

The Nissan Juke is not a good looking car. If you just take a couple of moments to actually look at it and take in all the little details, you'll see what I mean. It is a catastrophe of design.

I'm not a fan of the crossover and mini-MPV concepts in general. I understand that they might be handy in certain situations, but they are killing the fantasy of cars for the future generation. When I was growing up in the 90s, the estate car and the saloon still had a level of aesthetic appeal that can inspire a youngster to dream of a rocket version of your parent's car.

For example, I have always wanted an Audi RS6 Avant circa 2002 as my dad had the A6 1.9 TDI. I can't really see future generations wanting a hot version of the BMW 2 series Gran Tourer.

Nismo as a brand is very cool and highly marketable. So why, in the name of all that is holy, would they use it with the Nissan Juke. Everyone who bought a Nissan Juke is the type of person who thought 'fuck it' when they actually came to buy it, so I can see a tiny bit of logic. Maybe Nissan was just hoping that the same millennials would say 'fuck it' once more.

The Juke is the only crossover that manages to have even less use than the cars it is trying to crossover from. Nissan has been considering the Micra Nismo for a while, and it makes a whole lot more sense than the Juke Nismo. The Juke Nismo is a marketing gimmick gone too far.

Vauxhall meriva VXR

Bringing in VXR branding did a lot of good for Vauxhall's overall brand. They had a very mundane and commuter car feel to them. I'm pretty sure that no-one has ever been excited to go and pick up their brand new Vauxhall Astra.

However, in more recent times the VXR image gave a well needed shot in the arm to Vauxhall's credibility and appeal.

Vauxhall became a little over-excited at this and decided to give the VXR to every bloody model. This resulted in the wet fart that is the Meriva VXR. Convincing anyone that the Meriva could be an entertaining drive is virtually impossible. You could stick a Ferrari badge on the front and people would still steer clear.

Vauxhall Zafira VXR

That's right, they even gave the Zafira a VXR version. They probably offer you a VXR cup of tea whilst you wait for delivery. Why not take a dump in their VXR toilets.

I drove a rental Zafira when I was in Spain and it had a sport button. I couldn't resist the temptation, so of course, I pressed it. It was everything I expected and more. Basically, it just makes the revs stay high until your ears bleed, then turns into a bucking bronco when it finally changes gear.

God only knows what the VXR version does.

Smart Brabus

When you think Brabus, you think record-breaking saloons or estates with V12 engines. The Brabus E-Class with a 7.3L engine seems like a complete fantasy, one that could never actually come into fruition, but Brabus always delivers. Well... they almost always deliver.

I'm sure the Smart car is a very useful tool in the city, giving you the ability to park by driving straight into a space is hilarious and useful in equal measure.

When I first heard that the Smart car was going to have a Brabus version, I was struggling to think where they would put a 7.3L engine. Maybe on the roof? What happened instead was a major kick in the balls to the Brabus brand. The latest version has around 107 Horsepower. 107... I know it's all relative to the size, but just don't do it in the first place. Who was asking for a Brabus version of their Smart car? If it was you, then shame on you.


The Golf GTI is a great car (except the MK4, which I will get to in a minute) and widely loved. The Golf size and chassis would be a perfect fit for a fast version, and this has been proved time and time again. The VW Lupo, on the other hand, does not warrant a fast version.

I know it has a cute little face and a lot of character, but leave it at that. Don't start trying to make it something that it isn't VW.

I've even seen a few examples of a modified Lupo with the magnificent VR6 engine in it. You might as well put the VR6 engine in a flower pot.


Every other Golf GTI has been pretty damn good. The successor to the MK4 GTI was the best car of the year, if not the decade. However, the MK4 GTI was utterly useless. The fact that VW thought that reduced power and increased weight would still result in a good car is lazy and insulting to the GTI concept.

I remember seeing the VW GTI MK4 being pitted against a Skoda Octavia Diesel in a drag race and being beaten, easily.

Thankfully they have redeemed themselves in recent GTI models, but I will never forget this lethargic and embarrassing attempt at a fast car.

I could have included other cars, such as the Proton Satira GTI and Skoda Fabia VRS (2003 - 2007) in this list, but I think the resulting cars were actually alright to drive, so I've given them a pass.

What cars do you feel should have never been given a fast version? Put your ideas in the comments below.

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Comments (150)

  • The Lupo GTI is proper cool, I'm afraid you're wrong on that one!

      3 years ago
  • The nissan juke just shouldn't have been made in the first place... so why a nismo version...

      3 years ago
  • The Mark IV Golf did deserve a performance version. It just got the wrong one.

      3 years ago
  • Lupo gti was a great go cart....it was light, small and fun...

      3 years ago
  • So the juke is a horrible performance version car, the need for Nissan to continue it when it was a one time deal car and make a facelift version due to sales probably disagree. Slap an intake and exhaust on it and have it tuned like I did my Nismo RS and it's putting down over 300whp/350tq and weighs 2800lbs. I'd also like to mention that while outrunning stock 350/370Zs, 2011 and older mustang GTs with the 4.6 and Camaro SS' up to 2014 I still don't have 30K into this car buying it brand new, with new wheels, coilovers, the aforementioned parts, tune, GTM intercooler pipes, BOV short shift etc. The seats in the Nismo RS are amazing, the LSD holds very well clutch hasn't missed a beat and after beating on the car for over 10K miles not a single issue has risen. We have also converted to E85 for less than $300 bucks and it drives great on both pump premium and alcohol. All for under 30K. But yes you're right it's a horrible car for a performance version or to mod. And where as you may not like the looks, I get compliments at every cars and coffee I go to from people driving 6-7 figure autos.

      4 years ago