When the 2000s rolled around, technology was improving at a furious pace, and all that new tech helped sports cars get faster and faster. Even the humble V6 was getting used in high performance applications and making incredible horsepower straight from the factory. Admittedly, as tuner car culture grew and everything got a turbo, and horsepower numbers went through the roof, but so did several valves as power surpassed viable reliability.
So we will focus our attention on performance straight from the factory, with the V6 configuration long being favored for its packaging benefits, it turned a definitive power corner too by the 2000s.
10 Hyundai Genesis Coupe: 150 Mph
This is arguably Hyundai / Genesis’ first actual attempt at making a performance car, and it was a pretty good one at that.
Unfortunately, it looked like it fell out of the ugly tree and hit every branch on the way down, so sales were weak, performance was not though, making a solid 306 horsepower sent to the rear wheels.
9 Renault Clio V6 RS: 152 Mph
Only Renault would have the audacity to make a car like this. Much like the old Group B homologation special R5 Turbo, this had its engine where the rear seats were supposed to go.
It technically isn’t a hot hatch for that reason, nor is it a sports car, and it is for that reason that we love it. It just “is” and it is fast.
8 Nissan 370Z: 155 Mph
The 370 and the 350 that preceded it have never been all that well-built, their materials wear quicker than the average econobox, but if you bought one you won’t care about any of that.
You would have bought it because it is one of the most affordable sports cars, and because they have a relatively simple V6, they are also pretty affordable to run too.
7 Infiniti G35: 155 Mph
If you don’t mind swapping out two doors for four, you can actually get an Infiniti for less than a scruffy 370Z.
It will get to 60 a little slower, but will reach the same top speed as the less prestigious sports car. It also adds an element of practicality to the fun.
6 VW Golf R32 Mk5: 155 Mph
Once they realized their GTI was getting beaten up by the increasingly powerful front drive competition, VW released the all conquering all-wheel drive VR6-powered monster that is the R32.
It is, by all accounts, the first “hyper” hatch, with 250 horsepower and a price tag to match, this is as practical as a sports car will get short of buying a Porsche Cayenne SUV.
5 Mercedes-Benz C32 AMG: 155 Mph
With the muscular C55 AMG making its debut in 2004, the C32 was all but forgotten as the world obsessed over how much power the new V8 made and how much quicker it was.
In reality, the V8 is a muscle car that struggles to get its power down, and on a track won’t even come close to the supercharged V6. The C32 is an underrated modern classic and for anyone who likes the brand, now is the time to buy before anyone realizes just how good they really are.
4 Mercedes-Benz SLK32 AMG: 155 Mph
Both this sports car variant and the sedan will reach their top speed in 4th gear, not so much down to weird gearing, but a nod to how much speed is still there if you remove the limiter.
As is the case with all German cars they are electronically limited to this top speed, but with 349 horsepower, 180 mph is very realistic, and a few modifications might well get you pretty close to the 200 mph mark.
3 Lotus Evora: 162 Mph
Right at the back end of the decade, Lotus came out with their biggest, most powerful sports car. It made 276 horsepower from its mid-mounted Camry-derived V6, but later models would make a whole lot more power.
The Evora 400 (ie 400 horsepower) came out more recently, with a much higher top speed too, and getting an older car to that spec might not be all that difficult or expensive considering all the actual parts are made by Toyota.
2 Noble M400: 187 Mph
Although the Noble was achingly rare, with only 75 cars made between 2006 and 2007, it was for a time the fastest car with a V6 engine.
They were able to produce 400 horsepower from the Duratec V6 engine, more commonly found in a Mondeo, with two turbochargers added.
1 Nissan GT-R: 193 Mph
With all the fanfare surrounding the R33 and R34 Skyline models, and all the frustration voiced by the Nismo fans that they were reserved for the Japanese market, Nissan answered the call for a supercar slayer with the GT-R.
Unlike the previous Skyline models, this was no sleeper, it was always destined to be a high performance supercar, only it wasn’t. All told, when you considered the price vs performance, the GT-R didn’t ever deliver on its “value supercar” promise, with Porsche holding onto that title. It is still the fastest V6 from the era… and much like the Evora, has become a lot faster, especially in Nismo spec.