Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution IX MR Wagon
The Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution has been a winner on rally stages and in the hearts of enthusiasts pretty much since day one, so it’s a bit hard to believe that a wagon version didn’t show up until the Evo IX’s arrival in 2005. And even then it was never offered outside Japan, which is way, way beyond “too bad.” Check it: In top-drawer MR (as in Mitsubishi Racing) trim, the Evo wagon shipped with a 2.0L turbocharged inline-four making 286 horsepower, a 6-speed manual transmission, Brembo brakes, Bilstein dampers, 18” forged aluminum wheels, and an AWD system featuring a helical limited-slip front differential and a computerized active center differential. Why’d you have to troll us so hard, Mitsubishi?
Opel Insignia Sports Tourer OPC
The current Buick Regal is a pretty fun-to-drive entry-luxury car (particularly in high output GS form). However, it’s no match for the top-shelf version of the Opel Insignia on which it’s based. The Opel Insignia OPC (which is sold as the Vauxhall Insignia VXR in Britain) rocks a turbocharged 2.8L V6 making 321 horsepower and 321 lb.-ft of torque and matched to a manual or automatic transmission (both 6-speeds) and a Haldex AWD system. Call us crazy, but we happen to think “Buick Regal GSX Estate Wagon” has a pretty nice ring to it…
Volvo V70 R
The warm reception that the Volvo 850R Wagon received prompted management to continue the R wagon lineage when the 850 Wagon was updated and renamed the V70 in 1997. But the V70 R didn’t truly come into its own until the arrival of the second generation model for model year 2004. Exterior changes consisted of a delightfully subtle body kit and optional 18” alloy wheels; all the big tweaks lurked under the surface. The turbocharged 2.5L inline-five was rated at 296 horsepower, which got sent toward all four wheels through either a 6-speed manual or 5-speed (later 6-speed) automatic transmission (the former being controlled by a nifty “spaceball” shift lever) and a Haldex intelligent AWD system. Throw in Brembo brakes and a trick Öhlins multi-mode adaptive suspension system with electronically-controlled shocks that could adjust up to 500 times per second and you have a hot wagon that might not be the fastest in the world, but is one of the best in the biz when you’re looking to fly under the radar (in both the figurative and literal sense).
Subaru Impreza WRX STI Wagon
Back when the late Colin McRae was capturing the rallying world’s attention at the wheel of factory-backed blue-and-yellow Subaru Imprezas, the company was capturing the hearts high-zoot wagon fans back home in Japan. Not only was Subaru peddling turbocharged Legacy Wagons, but also turbocharged versions of the smaller Impreza Wagon. And the hottest of all was the Impreza WRX STI Wagon. Boasting upgraded suspension and brakes, revised aero bits and a barking mad (and just plain barking) EJ20 2.0L single-turbo flat-four that, in later years, was probably making a hair over 300 horsepower. Alas, no STI station wagons ever officially made it out of Japan, and while the current STI is available globally as a five-door hatch, that stubby-rumped screamer’s proportions lack the grace with which its predecessors were endowed, in our opinion.
Dodge Magnum SRT-8
When Chrysler introduced its rear-drive LX-platform cars for the 2005 model year, it raised more than a few eyebrows when it included a wagon version called the Dodge Magnum (and its international market cousin, the Chrysler 300 Touring). Even more eyebrows were raised the following year when the Magnum SRT-8 premiered. Armed with the same 425 horsepower 6.1L Hemi V8 and 5-speed automatic transmission as its SRT-tuned Charger and 300C siblings, this stylish, factory-chop-top hauler was capable of blasting down the quarter-mile in the low 13-second range. Unfortunately, the entire Magnum range was discontinued at the end of 2008, meaning it never got the major updates (including SRT’s current 470 horsepower 6.4L Hemi) that the two LX sedans and the Dodge Challenger did.
Mitsubishi Legnum VR-4
Offered in Japan as the wagon version of the Galant, the Mitsubishi Legnum was most commonly ordered as a dowdy, front-drive runabout aimed at people who spend hundreds of thousands of yen each month at the local Albis or Kansai Super. However, Mitsubishi also offered the Legnum in hot dog VR-4 guise, with a 2.5L twin-turbo V6 generating at least 276hp backed by AWD and a choice of a 5-speed manual or adaptive 5-speed automatic transmission. In other words, it’s as fun to drive as it is to say its name.
HSV Gen-F ClubSport R8 Tourer
Although the latest Holden Commodore – the VF – is coming to America as the Chevrolet SS, we won’t be getting the wagon version (at least not initially). This is particularly galling when you look at what the VF wagon based HSV Gen-F ClubSport R8 Tourer comes with: A 6.2L LS3 V8 rated at 436 horsepower and 407 lb.-ft of torque, a choice of 6-speed manual or 6-speed automatic transmission, racing-inspired brakes from AP, and a seven-nation army of performance, safety and convenience tech. And as if all that wasn’t enough, you can option this Aussie wonderwagon with the SV Enhanced package, which adds 20” forged alloy wheels finished in satin graphite and engine upgrades that raise the peaks to 456 horsepower and 420 lb.-ft. Here’s hoping the Chevrolet SS sedan is an unqualified success, so that the odds of an SS wagon happening increase…
Mercury Comet 427 A/FX Wagon
In 1964, Ford was cleaning house in Super Stock drag racing with the Fairlane Thunderbolt, which was powered by the mighty 427 cubic-inch “FE” V8. Simultaneously, Mercury was assaulting the NHRA’s A/Factory Experimental (A/FX) class with a gaggle of specially-modified Comets using the same 427 engine as the Thunderbolt. Most A/FX Comets were two-door sedans, but one of the first was a four-door station wagon.
Mercury gave legendary Ford drag racer “Dyno Don” Nicholson his pick of the first two super Comets built (one sedan and one wagon); Nicholson picked the wagon, citing its 5” shorter wheelbase (Unlike other first gen Comet body styles, the wagons used the same shorter wheelbase as the Ford Falcons on which they were based.) and additional weight over the rear. Other speed-boosting tricks found on 427 Comets included fiberglass front fenders, hood, doors and bumpers, a Spartan interior, and a smaller radiator from a six-cylinder Comet. What a mad machine…and we mean that in the nicest possible way.
Toyota Caldina GT-T
When coming up with a list of companies that were likely to build a fun-to-drive station wagon in the late-‘90s, Toyota probably wouldn’t make the list. And yet, for the home market, the company that has made its name building soul-crushing transportation appliances did indeed build a hot wagon. The Caldina GT-T, based on the standard front-drive Caldina, featured the turbocharged 2.0L inline-four (making 256 horsepower in the Caldina GT-T), 5-speed manual transmission and AWD system from the Group A rally homologation Celica GT-Four (which was offered here in the late 1980s and early 1990s as the Celica All-Trac Turbo), but in a fairly harmless looking, compact-by-U.S.-standards wagon package.
Audi RS4 Avant (B5)
There was no question that Audi and its in-house tuner, quattro GmbH, were going to have a devil of a time trying to top the RS2 Avant. Yet the RS4 Avant – based on the handsome first generation (B5) A4 Avant – easily managed to pull off that daunting feat. Blistered fenders, a new front bumper and 18” wheels and tires warned onlookers that this was no mere S4 Avant. But in case the more macho exterior didn’t give away the game, the engine certainly did. Sure, it was a 2.7L twin-turbo V6 like in the S4, but unlike the S4 version (which made just 261 horsepower), the RS4-spec mill was rated at 375 horsepower and 325 lb.-ft of torque. Unsurprisingly, performance was rather scintillating: Sixty-two miles-per-hour arrived in 4.9 seconds, while top speed was limited to 163 mph. Are we mad that none of the 6,030 made were sent to the U.S.? What do you think?
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