With the dual-clutch, seven-speed automatic BMW M2, you can still shift the gearbox via paddles, but when you're stuck in traffic, you can leave it in auto mode.

Practical, But Fun

Performance cars to suit your lifestyle

BY MICHAEL FRANK

Sure, you love sports cars as much as the next person, but in this practical-minded world the lack of trunk and passenger space can make owning one a no-go. Luckily, the right sports sedan can be just as rousing, without the compromises. Witness these two new-for-2017 models: the elegant and fast Volvo S90 T6 and the even faster BMW M2. Both favor the pragmatic with seating for four or five and enough trunk space for luggage, groceries, golf clubs, etc., but just like that Corvette you may desire, they'll thrill you every day you're behind the wheel. Here's why.


BMW M2

For 30 years, if you wanted the ultimate "Ultimate Driving Machine," the M3 sedan was the BMW to get. Is it wrong we want the smaller M2 instead? Its turbocharged, in-line, six-cylinder engine produces 365 horsepower, good enough for a top speed eclipsing 155 mph, and we think the M2 rides more smoothly than the M3. It's also shorter, making it more nimble, playful, and fun. Plus, it features a full-size back seat that handily folds flat, so a bike fits inside, as do two golf bags - try that in a sports car.

Sporty, but easy driving: Though the M2 is available in a sharp-shifting, six-speed manual, get the dual-clutch, seven-speed automatic instead. You can still shift this gearbox via paddles, but when you're stuck in traffic, leave it in auto mode - and the seven-speed automatic is quieter on the interstate.

MSRP: From $51,700


VOLVO S90 T6


Even if you don't typically think "gorgeous" when you see a Volvo, you will when you see the stylish, athletic lines of the new S90, which avoids the pumped-up-on-steroids muscularity of too many luxury brands. Climb inside and you're in a Scandinavian design studio. Sculptural themes abound, with heavily knurled metal dials and twists of chrome trim offset by warm rich-wood counterpoints. Plus the real Nappa leather seating is so orthopedically perfect you may never want to stop driving.

Poised performance: Both supercharged and turbocharged, the two-liter, four-cylinder engine delivers a robust 316 horsepower driven through an all-wheel-drive transmission and can fire the S90 to 60 mph in about five seconds. Yes, it's quick, but it's also poised, with excellent brakes and a firm but not busy suspension that's comfortable and planted for daily travel. Volvo smartly took the exacting construction techniques brands such as Lexus are known for and mixed in an almost Germanic drive feel, wrapping the whole package in sharp Scandinavian style.

MSRP: From $47,945

AUDI UPGRADES POPULAR SEDAN

The retooled 2017 Audi A4 gets a super high-tech cabin and a more potent 252-horsepower engine mated with a new dual-clutch, seven-speed paddle shift gearbox (or you can choose a manual gearbox).

A redesigned front suspension makes it quicker to turn, and larger, more responsive brakes provide excellent feedback. The car's lighter, too, adding up to a livelier, more spirited Audi, yet with backseat and trunk room. Also, when you're not flooring it, the new A4's one of the quietest cars in its class. From $34,900.

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