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November 21, 2018 at 9:39 AM

For most of us, owning a supercar is an aspirational purchase that will only come true if we get that big lottery win. The idea of taking a normal road car and tuning it up to go faster is not a new one.

To satisfy the sub-segment of customers looking for a practical car that could do the school run and usual daily routine as well as tear up the track at the weekend, many popular manufacturers started to develop performance arms.

These performance arms bridged the gap between the regular passenger vehicles and the racing arms (i.e. Formula 1, rallying etc.) to create higher spec performance models for everyday use.

Sometimes performance arms evolve into brands of their own right. We've compiled a list of the best sport divisions from popular manufacturers.

MERCEDES AMG

Originally an independent engineering firm founded in 1967 by Hans Werner Aufrecht and Erhard Melcher in Großaspach, AMG designed, developed and tested racing engines.

In 1999, DaimlerChrysler AG took a controlling stake in AMG which then increased to 100% in January 2005. The newly found Mercedes-AMG brand now had full access to the Group's resources and global standing.

Today, every Mercedes-AMG model promises an exciting drive, outstanding performance and ultimate quality. There are currently over 50 performance vehicles bearing the Mercedes-AMG name from traditional coupés and roadsters to SUVs and sedans.

To signify the exclusivity of the range, majority of the AMG engines are hand-built using a "one man, one engine" philosphy with each engine sporting an engraved plaque etched with the engineer's signature.

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AUDI RS

RS is the highest performance 'top tier' trim level produced by Audi and positioned above the 'S' (Sport) models. Literally translated as "racing sport", the RS stands for RennSport in German.

All RS models provide the thrill of the track combined with everyday practicality by integrating elements of supercar performance with the regular passenger cars.

The gearbox, performance suspension, brake system and Audi drive select come together to provide Quattro performance of outstanding traction, increased driving dynamics and enhanced driving safety.

These phenomenal levels of technology are accompanied by the highest level of luxury in seven special RS models.

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BMW M DIVISION

Initially created to facilitate BMW's motorsport program in the 1960s, the M division was officially founded in May 1972 to supplement the manufacturer's road car portfolio with performance models.

Simply standing for Motorsport, the M Division started producing specially enhanced cars with the launch of the M1 in 1978 for sale to the public.

According to one engineer, "BMW M stands for a philosophy, not dogmatically for a technology. Our products stand for precision and agility and thus have their own special M specific identity".

Today, the letter M identifies cars with genuine track-inspired driving experiences with eight models currently on sale.

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SEAT CUPRA

Only launched as a standalone brand in February 2018, Cupra was previously the performance division of SEAT tasked with producing hot hatches and other performance variants.

First seen in the late 1990s, Cupra just stands for Cup Racing. The Cupra performance range has achieved fantastic results in the past, recording the fastest times around the infamous Nürburgring for a front-wheel drive production car.

Cupra models aim to appeal to all the senses with visual attractiveness and high quality materials. Currently, there are two models available: Cupra Ateca and Cupra TCR with an electric Cupra E-Racer teased for future development.

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NISSAN NISMO

Formed by a group of committed engineers in the 1980s, NISMO provides the ultimate in Nissan performance to road vehicles. The name itself is derived from NISsan MOtorsport to bring the race day feeling to an everyday drive.

Similar to AMG, NISMO has been added to regular models and given them a performance upgrade, but the Japanese manufacturer is much more selective with only three NISMO versions available.

The popular Juke crossover was available in NISMO form for a period alongside the traditionally sporty 370Z and GT-R models. In fact, only four master craftsman - called Takumi - are allowed to hand-assemble a GT-R NISMO with each engine proudly bearing a plaque with their signature.

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RENAULT SPORT

Created at the end of 1976 after the Alpine competition department was closed down, Renault Sport started producing sports cars in 1994 when the Alpine brand was officially discontinued (although it's now back in production after more than 20 years).

With a rich history in race car development that spans back over 115 years, Renault have developed iconic cars and innovative technologies to deliver sporting success.

The Renault Sport production cars take these expertise from the track and bring them to the road in the Clio RS and Megane RS models.

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VOLVO POLESTAR

Founded in 1996 in collaboration with Volvo to run its official motorsport program, Polestar has since been bought by the Swedish manufacturer as a new sub-brand.

Previously, Polestar produced parts and upgrades for 'Polestar edition' models to denote the enhanced and sporty performance of some of the traditionally understated models in the Volvo range.

Now however, the brand will be focusing on the production of high-performance electric vehicles based on Volvo models to rival the likes of Tesla.

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FIAT ABARTH

Established in 1949 by Carlo Abarth after the demise of the Cisitalia racing team, the brand was inspired by Carlo's Scorpio star sign. He formed a healthy relationship with Fiat and eventually sold the company to them in 1971.

From that point, Abarth became the Italian manufacturer's motorsport department tasked with overseeing the development of its rally cars. The name itself was also used on Fiat's faster road cars until 2007.

Re-launched as a standalone brand, it initially produced performance enhanced versions of the remodelled Fiat 500 which was also reintroduced into the market in the same year.

More recently, Abarth has collaborated with motorbike manufacturer Yamaha and yacht builder Riva to produce special editions of its 695 model.

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Tags: sports cars performance cars
Category: Blog