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Best rear-wheel drive cars in 2021

Last updated September 09, 2021

A rear wheel drive (RWD) car means that the power from the engine is delivered to the rear wheels and they push the car forward. The front 2 wheels receive no power and are there only to manoeuvre the vehicle. Due to the evenly balanced weight distribution in a RWD, it can create a more exciting driving experience, which is why RWD is most often used in sports or performance cars. However, the main drawback to a RWD car is they don’t perform as well in adverse weather conditions, such as rain or snow due to a lack of traction. Therefore, this is something to consider when purchasing your car. If you live somewhere that regularly endures low temperatures, snow or rain then a four wheel or all-wheel drive car might be a better option.

 

1. BMW 5 Series

BMWs are well known for their rear-wheel drives; therefore, top of our list is the 5 Series. The BMW 5 Series comes in two variations, the Saloon and Touring. The Saloon is the sport model with rear-wheel drive which can offer that fun driving experience.

Despite BMW being renowned for their rear-wheel-drive cars, the latest version of the 5 series comes with front wheel drive, rear-wheel drive and all-wheel drive (xDrive) options. Unlike previous BMW’s where they didn’t have a FWD option and almost all trims were available as a RWD, the only trim which offers it on the latest 5 series is the base-spec SE. If you wanted to go for M Sport or the sportiest M model, you will have to choose from FWD or AWD.

Only the 520i and 520d engines are available in rear-wheel drive. You can also only choose an automatic transmission, which may take away from the driving experience you’re looking for in a rear-wheel drive car, although the gear shifts are good and it offers a smooth driving experience.

The 520i SE trim starts from £39,275 and can accelerate from 0-62mph in 7.9 seconds, whilst achieving between 43.5 - 45.6mpg depending on the options you choose. BMW have also incorporated an 8kW battery, utilising mild-hybrid technology to improve the economy and emissions figures.

The 520d SE trim is a great option for motorway drivers looking for a spacious saloon that oozes luxury. The 4-cylinder 2.0-litre engine produces 190bhp that is sent straight to the rear wheels and can reach 0-62mph in 7.2 seconds. In addition, the mild-hybrid technology combined with the well-refined diesel engine means you can achieve between 55.4 – 58.9mpg depending on the optional extras you choose to spec. The OTR price for the 520d SE starts from £39,275.

Despite the RWD only being available in the base-spec trim, the SE still offers plenty of equipment as standard including 17” V-spoke alloy wheels, leather upholstery, automatic air conditioning, DAB radio, BMW online services, leather steering wheel, velour floor mats, heated front seats, ambient lighting, parking assistant, live cockpit and more.

You can find the full spec and pricing on the BMW 5 Series here.

 

2. Mazda MX-5 Convertible Skyactiv-G

Ranking second on our list is the MX-5, which was originally released in 2015 and got a facelift in 2018. The facelift model is 100kg lighter than the predecessor, which has created a lighter, more dynamic drive with all of the power going through the rear wheels.

The convertible Skyactiv-G petrol SE-L MX-5 starts at £24,055, therefore it is an affordable option if you’re looking to buy a fun rear-wheel drive sports car. The MX-5 is available in three trims; Sport, Sport Tech and GT Sport Tech, all of which are available as a RWD.

The SE-L and Sport trims are only available with a manual transmission and a 1.5 litre petrol engine. However, due to how light the car is, the 1.5 feels much more powerful when you’re behind the wheel despite it only producing 130bhp and 152Nm of torque. The rear-wheel drive adds to the excitement as you exit corners and drive along windy roads. The base-level engine can reach 0-62 mph in 8.3 seconds and has a top speed of 127mph. In terms of equipment, the Sport trim has everything you will need including a premium Bose sound system with 9 speakers, black leather seats and 16” alloy wheels.

If you are looking for more power from a 2-seater convertible sports car, Mazda offer the MX-5 Convertible with a 2.0 litre 4-clylinder, naturally aspirated engine. To spec the 2.0 litre engine, you have to choose the Sport Tech or GT Sport Tech trim, which start at £28,670 and £30,170 respectively. The MX-5 is also available with an automatic transmission in the RF model.

You can find pricing and the full spec for the Mazda MX-5 here.

 

3. Porsche 911

The Porsche 911 is one of the most iconic sports cars in the world and is one of the most fun rear-wheel drive cars on the market if you have a large budget. The latest version of the 911 is surprisingly practical for everyday use, whilst also being able to attack windy country roads and circuits.

However, the Porsche 911 won’t be for everybody, with the list price of the 911 Carrera starting at £84,870. Nevertheless, if you have a large budget and you’re looking for a RWD car that can reach 0-62mph in just 4.2 seconds and achieve a top speed of 182mph, there’s not many other cars on the market that can compare. The most comparable is probably the BMW M3 Competition, which can reach 0-62mph in 3.9 seconds.

The 911 Carrera is available in 8 trim levels, which is the most variations of any Porsche model. However, only four of these are available as a rear-wheel drive; the 911 Carrera, 911 Carrera Cabriolet, 911 Carrera S and 911 Carrera S Cabriolet. The other option is the Carrera 4 range which has been adapted for all-wheel-drive.

The base model Carrera should be enough for most buyers who are looking for a luxurious, fun, yet practical rear-wheel drive sports car. The car is powered by a twin-turbocharged 3.0-litre flat-six petrol engine that produces 385bhp and 450Nm of torque. The car isn’t available with a manual transmission, but you’re unlikely to miss it with the well-refined 8-speed dual clutch transmission that Porsche has developed which shifts through the gears smoothly when on a track and you can use the manual gearshift paddles if you want to take control.

If you want to have the option to retract the roof and enjoy the British summer, the 911 Carrera Cabriolet starts at £94,670. The spec is identical to the base-spec model, but the car weighs an additional 70kg, which causes the top speed to drop slightly to 181mph and the 0-62mph time to reduce to 4.4 seconds. The Cabriolet models are fitted with a fully automatic fabric hood, it has a fixed glass rear screen with magnesium elements allowing it to be both highly robust and lightweight. The hood opens and closes in around 12 seconds whilst driving up to speeds of 31mph.

If 385bhp and 450Nm of torque isn’t enough to fulfil your thrill requirements, the Carrera S outputs 444bhp and 530Nm of torque. This version is available from £97,450 as a hard top and £107,250 as a cabriolet. The top speed of the S is 191mph as a hard top and 190bhp as a cabriolet due to the increase in weight, but the main difference is in the 0-62mph figures, with the hard top taking 3.7 seconds and the cabriolet taking 3.9 seconds, both of which feel ridiculously fast when you get behind the wheel. If you want a manual transmission, Porsche offers the S with an optional 7-speed manual transmission, but you must choose the Sports Chrono Package to be able to spec it.

You can find the full spec and pricing for the 911 here

 

4. Toyota Supra

Toyota developed the Supra to provide balance, agility, excellent grip and provide endless hours of fun. The fifth-generation GR Supra has retained much of its Japanese heritage in its design, but underneath it borrows many of its parts from the BMW Z4.

In terms of pricing the GR Supra 2.0 Pro 2-door coupe starts at £46,010, making it a mid-range car compared to the others on our list. This model comes with a turbocharged four-cylinder 2.0-litre engine that produced 258bhp and 400Nm of torque. If you opt for this engine, you will be able to reach 0-62mph in 5.2 seconds and the car is limited to a maximum top speed of 155bhp for emissions reasons. Despite there being more powerful engines on the market, the 2.0-litre engine feels punchy and powerful on country roads, making you think you could be in a sports car.

However, if you are looking for more power and noise, it would be impossible to overlook the six-cylinder turbocharged 3.0-litre engine which is also borrowed from BMW. The smooth 8-speed automatic gearbox and rear-wheel drive help it to achieve 0-62mph in just 4.2 seconds, which is the same as the 911 Carrera at a fraction of the cost. If you opt for this engine, you won’t be disappointed with the power in the low rev ranges for powering down motorway slip roads and pushing the car down windy country roads.

Toyota offer the Supra in three trim options; GR, GR Supra Fuji Speedway Edition, and Jarama Race Track Edition. The base-spec model is available for £46,010, whilst the top-spec model will set you back £54,365 without any additional extras. All options come as a rear-wheel drive, and those with the more powerful 3.0-litre engine are about as exciting as you can get from a 2-seater coupe in this price range.

You can find the full spec and pricing for the Supra here.

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5. Ford Mustang GT

The Ford Mustang GT first arrived in the UK in 2015 when Ford decided to finally start making the Mustang available for international markets outside of the US. This meant that for the first time in its history, the Mustang was available as a right-hand drive.

The sixth-generation Mustang is offered as a Fastback Coupe and fabric-roofed convertible, although the coupe is more suited to the UK’s climate. Depending on your requirements and budget, you can choose between a 2.3-litre EcoBoost engine or a fully-fledged 5.0-litre V8 petrol engine.

Whilst the 2.3-litre EcoBoost engine might be a good option if you want the appeal of a Mustang, whilst not having to deal with the eyewatering running costs of a 5.0-litre V8 petrol engine, it doesn’t compare in any way other than economy. As such, for the purpose of the best rear-wheel drive cars we will be focussing on the V8 version.

The Mustang GT price starts at £44,255, which will get you a 6-speed manual transmission and engine that produced 445bhp and 529Nm of torque. Despite the car being the heaviest on our list, it can still reach 0-62mph in 4.9 seconds, which isn’t much slower than the much sportier 911 Carrera and GR Supra.

The rev matching technology, manual transmission and rear-wheel drive makes the Mustang a true driver’s car. The sound the car produces when you accelerate hard will make you smile every time too, although the neighbours may not be too happy when you power up early in the morning if you live in an urban area.

Whilst Ford has kept the options available for the Mustang to a minimum, you can opt for the Mach 1 trim which starts from £55,255 and is available as a 5.0-litre V8 with a 6-speed manual transmission or 10-speed automatic transmission. This version produces more power than the base-spec, with the engine producing 453bhp and 529Nm of torque. However, the additional power only increases the 0-62mph figures by 1 millisecond to 4.8 seconds. Nevertheless, both Mustangs will be very capable on the road and track, with Ford marketing the Mach 1 as the most track capable Mustang ever.

You can find the full spec and pricing for the Mustang here.

 

6. Alfa Romeo Giulia

The Giulia is an interesting option if you’re looking for an executive saloon and the latest generation saw Alfa Romeo switch from front-wheel drive to rear-wheel drive to compete with their driver-focused German counterparts. Since 2019, the interior quality has been greatly improved, which means it now has greater appeal than just from the exterior.

The Giulia starts from £36,595, which will get you the base-spec Sprint. The Sprint is only available with a turbocharged 2.0-litre petrol engine, with all of the power being sent to the rear wheels. There is no manual option available, with an 8-speed automatic gearbox being the only option to choose from. However, with the engine producing 200bhp and 330Nm of torque, we feel the automatic gearbox is more than adequate, with the gear changes being smooth and appearing to change at the right time.

The top speed of the Alfa Romeo Giulia Sprint is 146mph, with a 0-62 of 6.6 seconds. This makes it one of the slower cars on the list, but it still feels quick behind the wheel and is more than enough to be a great every day driver, whilst still being fun on country roads. The Giulia is also one of the most practical cars on our list, with 5-doors and 5 seats which can comfortably fit four adults. Alfa Romeo have also developed the Giulia with 50/50 weight distribution, which creates the perfect balance for uncompromising driving dynamics.

The mid-spec option is the Veloce, which is available from £40,595, followed by the Veloce TI which starts from £46,995. All trim levels are rear-wheel drive and come with a 2.0-litre petrol engine, although the Sprint is also available in a 2.2-litre diesel to appeal to motorway drivers.

Both the Veloce and Veloce TI have slightly better performance figures than the Sprint spec, with a top speed of 149mph and 0.62mph figures of 5.7 seconds. This is due to the engine being calibrated to produce a max output of 280bhp and 400Nm of torque. The difference in price reflects the interior and exterior extras you receive which you can see here.

If none of the above trims appeal to you and you want a Giulia that offers unrivalled performance figures, a dynamic drive and all the additional extras you require, then the Quadrifoglio is the trim for you. It builds on the Italian styling by adding lots of sporty extras to give it a much more aggressive look and presence on the road, plus the latest facelift gets LED lights at the back. The turbocharged V6 2.9-litre engine produces an eyewatering 503bhp, making it one of the most powerful cars in it’s class. In race mode the Giulia Quadrifoglio can reach 0-62mph in just 3.9 seconds and has a top speed of 191mph if you manage to get the car on a track. With an OTR price of £68,995 it is a big jump from the other specs, but for the performance figures and all the extras on the interior and exterior, it can be justified.

Find the full pricing and spec for the Giulia here.

 

7. BMW M3 Competition

The new BMW M3 Competition has carried over much of its strengths from the predecessor, with the car still having a twin turbo straight six engine, all the power being delivered through the rear wheels and signature BMW looks. However, there have been some notable changes including an eight-speed automatic transmission replacing the seven-speed twin clutch.

To buy the M3 Competition will set you back £74,815, which is an increase from the previous version, although that’s to be expected with more technology and equipment as standard. The excellent six-cylinder 3.0-litre engine delivers 520bhp and 650Nm of torque, which means the M3 Competition can reach 0-62mph in just 3.9 seconds, which is identical to the Giulia Quadrifoglio, but 0.2 seconds slower than the Porsche Carrera S.

Despite being 150kg heavier than its F80 predecessor, the car doesn’t feel any heavier and the engineers at BMW have done an excellent job creating what they describe as the ‘ultimate driving machine’. The interior is also much improved over the previous version, with a 12.3-inch dash display, 10.25-inch centre screen, three zone climate and a 16 speaker Harman Kardon HiFi system. If you want to improve performance further you could choose to add the M Pro pack, which gives you carbon ceramic brakes and raises the speed limiter from 155 to 180mph.

BMW have announced they’ll also be releasing the the M3 M trim which is only available with xDrive, where we can expect a faster 0-62mph, but a less engaging drive than what’s available with the rear-wheel drive option.

You can find the M3 full specification and pricing here.

Frequently asked rear-wheel drive questions

 

In a rear-wheel drive car, the engine sends all power to the rear wheels and the front wheels only have to steer, which can create a more engaging driving experience as it is pushed from behind rather than a drag effect from the front. In a four-wheel drive vehicle, the engine powers all of the wheels at once. This increases the amount of grip the car has on the road and 4WD will be better for rough terrain and adverse weather conditions, such as snow.

BMW xDrive is powered by an electronic multi disc clutch that will detect a loss of grip and divert the power to the wheels with the best traction. This is a technically advanced version of the 4-wheel drive vehicle system.

There is very little difference between all-wheel drive and four-wheel drive, but all wheel drive will have a high and low range to maintain traction when off-roading. However, four-wheel drives will still have better capabilities off-road compared to a front-wheel drive or rear-wheel drive car.