The Saddening Demise Of The Sleeper Q-Car

Call them sleepers or Q-cars, but there are only two subtle super-fast cars left on our roads


Ultimate gearheads, petrosexuals and car geeks love the idea of an undercover lightning-fast car. Forget supercars or lightweight track-day specials, we're talking debadged M3s, RS6 Avants, CTS-Vs and Golf GTIs.

Problem is, the true Q-car, the art of a subtle, non-shouty ride with stupendous performance is dying out. I'll stick my neck out and argue the only two money can buy right now are the Audi S4 and BMW M135i.


With the S4, you get a 325bhp supercharged V6, but only silver mirror caps and quad exhausts separate it from the pack. Choose a silver one, bin the badges, coat the 'pipes in grime and no-one will tell it apart from a diesel S-line repmobile. Until you nuke them in third gear. Excellent.


The other usual suspects have gone shouty. Skoda Octavia vRS? No. Not with those wheels, bespoke bumpers and rear wing.


Golf GTi? Bro, please. Those front gills look like a Ferrari Testarossa tribute act.


M5? Nah. The blown out cheeks of the front bumper, swelled wheel arches and nasty chrome vent stand it wide apart from a 520d M Sport.


And it's the same story with the super-butch RS4, RS5 and RS6. Audi has a great looking range of V8 performance models, but you'd never fool anyone into thinking it's just a jumped-up S-line. Even when it's stationary.


I suppose you could argue a case for the BMW 335i and 550i, but who buys them? You either save extra for the M car, or get even torquier pace with the 335d/535d diesel. BMW does hold up the Q-car cause with the 316bhp M135i, which looks just like an M Sport 1er with some nice rims. Pity is, it's horrendously ugly. It actually needs to look less Q in order to be stomachable in daylight.


The new Jaguar XJR is a good shout - its body kit and new wheels are barely changed from the standard V8. But this is still a long-wheelbase XJ. Hardly a sneaky piece of kit, you'll agree...


So grab a current-gen S4 while you can. It's the only fast, modern car that doesn't shout about itself, unlike every hot hatch and bahnstorming wagon.


Plus, buy an estate and tune it like Chris 'Monkey' Harris and you might just own the best all-round car in the world. Period. And the finest part is... no-one but you will know until you give it the beans and blast past 'em.


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