New designs introduced here at the Geneva Motor Show are pushing small engines further than ever, allowing street-legal vehicles to rival race cars in performance for a fraction of the price.

Models debuting this month set an even higher standard. The Lotus Europa S harnesses 200 hp in a 2.0-liter engine for a zero to 60 mph acceleration of 5.5 seconds. And then there’s Porsche’s new 911 Turbo: Packing 480 hp into a 3.6-liter engine, it can rip from zero to 60 mph in just 3.4 seconds.

"The (911 Turbo’s) speed was only possible to achieve with race cars before," Wolfgang Durheimer, executive vice president, research and development for Porsche, bragged in an interview with Wired News.

In the past, zero to 60 mph in under four seconds was the kind of performance mostly reserved for top-of-the-line sports cars from the likes of Ferrari, Lamborghini and Maserati. (The Lotus and Porsche models compare to the new Ferrari 599 GTB Fiorano, which goes from 0 to 62 mph in 3.7 seconds, but relies on a 6.0-liter engine.)

Since prices for high-end sports cars can hit $350,000 or more, the new Porsche could be considered a bargain at "just" $122,900. Lotus is even more affordable. The Europa S is expected to retail for about $60,000, while the Elise is priced at $49,000.

 
What do you think?
Show Comments
Car Finder: