Compared to the scads of high-volume entry-level sports sedans-you know, the ones with the highly publicized lease deals-there are but a few, high-dollar, high-horsepower variants.

The Alfa Romeo Giulia Quadrifoglio, the BMW M3 Competition Package, the Cadillac ATS-V, and the Mercedes-AMG C63 S are all designed to make schoolchildren out of restrained adults. They provide near-supercar levels of performance, yet still carry four people and their stuff with ease.

These cars have an extreme impact on both their drivers' heart rate and pocketbook, not to mention the public's perception of those lesser models that spawn these high-end variants. These are the image-makers-the cars that form the basis of barroom bragging.

We spent an inordinate amount of time with these four cars, covering hundreds of miles of city roads, back roads, and bombing around two different race tracks. After putting a total of over 3,000 miles on the cars, we have a clear finishing order.

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