Three hundred horsepower is righteous muscle. Back in the day, bragging rights awaited the owner of any car that could muster such might. And in most cases, that powerful steed was propelled by a thumping V8 engine. Not anymore. Thanks to a variety of modern technologies, many of today's engines can pump out 300 or more ponies on only six cylinders.

That's right: Opting for the 6-cylinder variant of any given model can most likely deliver the same visceral, fun-to-drive feel as its comparable V8 variant. The difference: Six-cylinder engines typically cost less and get better fuel economy.

Here are 10 six-cylinder rides that should provide the savvy buyer with just as many thrills as their V8 counterparts, for fewer bills. While some don't quite register 300 horses on the power meter, they do come close. Mighty close.

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BMW 535i

Horsepower: 300
While the sporty 535i just makes it into the 300-pony club, it does so in style. But the 535i costs a cool $10,100 less than the 550i's sticker, and delivers appreciably better fuel mileage: 19 mpg city/28 highway versus 15 mpg city/22 highway for the V8. The 535i's base price checks in at a cool $10,100 less than the 550i's sticker, while delivering appreciably better fuel mileage: 19 mpg city/28 mpg highway for the V6 versus 15/22 for the V8. Both deliver the same stellar handling dynamics you would expect from an "Ultimate Driving Machine."

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Cadillac CTS

Horsepower: 304
Cadillac has emphasized performance in recent years and the CTS-V is the pinnacle of these efforts. Essentially, the Cadillac CTS-V is a 4-door Corvette, and it puts a premium on power (556 horses) and price ($63,465). Non-"V" CTS sedans that are motivated by 3.6-liter V6 engines generate ample thrust, cost $28,300 less ($35,165) and offer the biggest improvement in fuel efficiency on this list: 18 mpg city/26 highway versus 14 mpg city/19 highway. And in any guise, the CTS faithfully delivers that timeless Cadillac ambience.

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Chevy Camaro

Click to enlarge pictureChevrolet Camaro (© General Motors)

Chevrolet Camaro

Horsepower: 312
With 312 horsepower, the 3.6-liter V6 Camaro is a capable burnout machine in its own right. At $22,680, the base V6 trim represents $8,265 in savings compared with the V8 SS trim. And the car sports the same hunkered stance, the same award-winning interior and the same boost to the ego as the V8 SS. Posting 17 mpg city/28 highway, the base Camaro also outlasts the SS by 4 mpg on the highway. Let the smoldering rubber fly.

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Dodge Challenger SE

Click to enlarge pictureDodge Challenger SE (© Chrysler LLC)

Dodge Challenger SE

Horsepower: 305
This retro-cool ride delivers the goods with its classic lines, low-slung stance and potent powerplant lineup. The 2011 SE model features a 3.6-liter V6 that produces 55 horsepower more than the 2010 SE. The SE costs $7,615 less than the 376-horsepower V8-driven R/T and $19,685 less than the 470-horsepower SRT8. As for fuel efficiency, the SE (17 mpg city/26 highway) and the 5.7-liter R/T (16 mpg city/25 highway) are nearly even, while the 6.2-liter SRT8 (14 mpg city/22 highway) has a bigger thirst.

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Ford Mustang V6

Horsepower: 305
Not to be outdone, the original pony car easily tops the 300-horse mark in V6 guise. The 3.7-liter V6 gets an econobox-like 31 mpg highway, a significant 5-mpg advantage over the 412-horsepower V8 GT. Further, the V6 checks in at $7,500 less than the GT. The freshened 2011 Mustang V6 is an eye-catcher, and the savvy buyer can use the V6 savings for a performance package that adds suspension mods, lowering springs, special brake calipers, an upgraded gear ratio and ultracool 19-inch rolling stock.

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