If your wallet is not as hefty as your lead foot, your need for speed will likely go unfulfilled. If that is your situation, fear not for there are plenty of models on the market that won’t break the bank. Many of them are of the sporty, hatchback variety, while others are the stalwarts of muscle. The fifteen cars on this list all come with price tags under $25,000, but more than maximize the enjoyment factor due to their high performance qualities.
The common thread on this list are smaller, hatchback-sized vehicles that are high on fuel efficiency with enough power to make you think you are driving a souped-up sports car. However, not lost in the shuffle are iconic names like Camaro and Mustang that have way more to offer than their price tags may suggest. Throw in some mid-sized marvels that whip around corners as well as they spike up the speedometer, and you will find a great variety of 2014 model year vehicles that will jump off the line without emptying your wallet.
15. Chevrolet Sonic RS – $20,320
At first glance, the Sonic RS looks like a hatchback for the skateboard set. However, the turbo RS is the zippier version of Chevrolet’s city friendly, fuel sipping sub-compact. The RS is a compact stockpile of high grade nitro ready to explode with the aid of a 1.4 liter engine capable of putting out 138 horsepower and 148 foot pounds of torque. Cowabunga, the Sonic RS is a rocket.
14. Honda CR-Z – $20,145
With the spirit of Honda’s CR-X in mind, the CR-z was designed for people who like to put the pedal to the metal, but don’t want to fuel up constantly. That being said, this hybrid isn’t a gas sipping slug, but it isn’t a speed demon either. In fact, in trying to be the best of both worlds, it doesn’t really achieve either. With a 1.5-litre four-cylinder engine, the car puts out 130hp between the gas and electric motors. That’s not going to win many races. Still, the CR-Z’s sharp lines announce its presence as a streamlined, sporty model that’s reasonably fun to drive.
13. Kia Forte Koup – $23,625
Whether you stick with the basic 2-liter, 173 horsepower engine or the turbocharged, 1.6 liter, 201 horsepower unit, the Forte is sure to pack a punch. The turbo pulls the Forte from 0-60mph in 6.8 seconds. Kia shed the Forte’s image of a quaint driver for a sleeker, more dashing tuner image. This Kia presents great bang for your buck and rivals the performance of its competitors the Hyundai Veloster Turbo and Honda Civic Si.
12. Fiat 500 Abarth – $22,195
It may look like a toy, but there is nothing kitschy about the Abarth. When you take this tiny titan out on your favorite winding path, the Abarth will stick firmly to the road through every twist and turn. Its 1.4-litre inline-4 is good for 160 horsepower and 170 lb-ft of torque and is capable of launching this pocket rocket to a reported top speed of 129mph.
11. Honda Accord Coupe – $23,625
The Accord will never be mistaken for a Miata, but its base engine’s 185 horses give this sedan some added oomph under the hood. Aesthetically, it looks like a nondescript family car, but on the open road, the Accord is anything but a typical road trip vehicle. Want a little added fun? Opt for the 3.5-litre VTEC V6 engine that puts out 280 hp. But if you’re looking to save a little coin and have fun while you’re at it, the base model has more than enough get-up-and-go to turn a relaxing Sunday drive into a day at the races.
10. Ford Fiesta ST – $21,400
The unassuming Ford Fiesta gets a shot of adrenaline with the ST upgrade package. A six speed, manual transmission and a 1.6-liter Ecoboost engine good for 197 hp and 202 lb-ft of torque are some of the highlights that make the Fiesta ST the right car for a sports car enthusiast on a budget. Physically, it does not look imposing, but watch it whip through the corners with the greatest of ease and tell us whether or not it is a mean machine. The little brother of Ford’s Focus ST, the Fiesta scurries from 0-60mph in 6.7 seconds.
9. Mini Cooper S Coupe – $24,750
Ditching the boxed out look of Coopers past, the S Coupe is a sportier incarnation. The measurable of 181 horses and a top speed of 142 miles per hour cement this Mini as not your typical Cooper. No longer solely a compact city car, the S Coupe is more than capable of blazing fast speeds. But this performance comes at a cost. The S Coupe has no back seats and even less trunk space than the standard mini. Not the car for someone with things to transport, but a hell of a good time nonetheless.
8. Mazda MX-5 Miata – $23,720
The Miata is a very decorated model throughout its history, claiming 178 accolades to its credit. Beyond the prestige, the Miata is an impeccable roadster. It’s not regal or resting on its laurels with 191 horsepower ready to be unleashed at any given moment. Long the standard amongst small high performance vehicles, the Miata delivers much more bang for your buck than most. Just throw the top down and drive.
7. Volkswagen Golf GTI – $24,995
No surprise here. The Golf is widely regarded as one of the leading hatchbacks to have ever been produced in terms of performance and price. The shaved off rear body makes the Golf a compact powerhouse, boasting 210 horses under the hood. This dynamo is a turbocharged terror, zipping around corners like nobody’s business. The GTI rockets from 0-60 mph in 5.8 seconds flat, and unlike many of the other cars on this list, it’s a four door model that seats 5.
6. Hyundai Veloster Turbo – $22,300
Once the sticker shock has worn off from his bargain speedster, you will be grinning ear to ear when the twin-scroll turbo kicks in. At first glance the Veloster Turbo looks like it belongs at the race track and not in your driveway. Additionally, the Veloster drives like it should be pacing the field in the sports car circuit and, certainly, not cruising the highways and byways of your daily commute. The Veloster Turbo boasts 201 hp and 195 lb-ft or torque.
5. Scion FR-S – $24,700
The FR-S absolutely looks the part, bar none. Behind the wheel, the paddle shifting options are the cream of the crop features to complement the sports car feel of this model. Nearing the threshold price-wise for making this list, the value of the behind the wheel experience of the FR-S exceeds its price tag. Be warned; expect no creature comforts with this car. The FR-S is a machine made for driving and that’s what it does. Its 2-liter horizontally opposed four-cylinder engine puts out 200 hp and launches the car from 0-60 in just over 6 seconds.
4. Ford Focus ST – $23,625
252 horsepower. You read that correctly, 252 horses. This Focus is the most powerful edition Ford has ever produced. The Focus has taken the leap from serviceable driver to borderline sports car quality with this upgrade. Not to be outdone, the Focus almost doubles as an SUV with the amount of cargo space it sports. This car truly has the best of both worlds in terms of performance and practicality.
3. Honda Civic Si – $22,790
Putting aside the superior engineering, by which the Civic has gained its elevated reputation, this latest model is not just a sporty, daily driver. It is equipped with the latest and greatest in-car technology that Honda has to offer, including HondaLink to keep you connected while you are on the go. Couple these features with Honda’s high-revving 205 hp four cylinder VTEC engine and you have a recipe for fun, regardless of whether you choose the coupe or sedan version.
2. Ford Mustang – $22,510
The 2014 Mustang looks meaner than ever with a glaring gaze from its headlights. It’s still the classic American muscle car it has always been, but that does not mean you have to pay for prestige. A 3.7 liter, V6 engine with 305 horsepower comes standard at a bargain basement price for what this model has to offer. Considering that that power is on par with the Mustang’s V8 engines of year’s past, this ‘Stang is proving that it can compete in today’s fuel efficient economy. While purists will still swear by the V8 growl, no one should be ashamed of driving this model.
1. Chevrolet Camaro – $23,555
Iconic name? Check. Affordable pricing? Double check. Monster engine? You bet. Fuel efficient? Yes, indeed. The Camaro ticks off all the prerequisite boxes on the checklist for an affordable, fast ride. Its sharp redesign breathed new life into the brand when Chevy decided to bring the model name back in 2009. On top of all that, the 323 horses that are ready to charge out from underneath the hood do not require making frequent fuel ups. At 30 miles per gallon, fuel efficiency has finally made some in roads in the muscle car community. Chevy hit a home run by bring the Camaro back. Now, they are rightfully taking a victory lap.