Evidence abounds that proves you don’t need big bucks to get ground-pounding performance and impressive styling. These are ten everyday road cars that deliver exceptional value for budget-minded drivers. And for more great car coverage, check out 10 New Cars That Are Instant Collectibles.
Honda Civic Si
A fantastic all-around performer, the Civic Si combines a punchy 205 horsepower inline-four turbo with a crisp six-speed manual gearbox with a limited-slip differential. Terrific fun to toss around, and it will probably run forever. Best of all, it’s a bargain at the starting price of only $23,900.
One of the best values around, this handsome and roomy full-size American sedan makes no apologies. It comes standard with Chrysler’s tested Pentastar V6, good for 292 horsepower paired with an 8-speed automatic—one of the smoothest transmissions anywhere. At only $27,995 you’ll have change left over for a wealth of custom mods from the extensive Mopar performance parts catalog.
Ford Focus RS
This well-rounded front-drive hot hatch hauls butt and groceries. With 252 horsepower packed into a small, space-efficient, grin-inducing package, at $25,950 it makes a compelling business case.
Coming in at the astonishingly low price of $21,945, this Mazda’s elegant street presence puts it in league with cars several segments above. At 184 horsepower, it’s not a screamer, but nicely sized, comfortable, and when paired with a six-speed manual, sporty to drive.
Mini Cooper S
The very definition of fun, the new S now has more power and improved handling. Lay off the extensive options list to keep it near its $21,600 list price, and you’ll be rewarded with a serious and capable pocket rocket.
With Camaro available in so many flavors—each one more sensational than the next—it’s easy to overlook the more-than-adequate 335-horse V6, a super-stylish sports coupe for only $28,395.
When Toyota tossed Scion into the dustbin of history, it kept the lithe and limber FR-S sports car and renamed it the 86. Though its 2.0 flat-four comes bearing only 205 horsepower, it’s got a smooth six-speed gearbox, and light-weight, balanced chassis that delivers heaps of driving entertainment on curvy roads. Priced to sell at $26,225.
Take a simple, all-wheel-drive family sedan, add a turbo with a six-speed manual slushbox and flared fenders and you’ve got the makings of a sports car with a backseat. The tightly-wound, precise WRX wrings magic from the base Impreza for the low price of $26,995.
Ford Mustang EcoBoost
Not long ago, a stout 4.6 liter V8 Mustang GT netted 300 horsepower and drank like a sailor on leave. Comparatively, the 2018 Mustang EcoBoost punches out 310 horses in a compact unit exactly half the size and looks better doing it. Opt for the manual tranny and have yourself an all-American blast. Starting at $25,585.
VW Golf GTI
The benchmark of practicality, performance, and value, the GTI remains in a league of its own. A testament to the virtues of evolutionary refinement, everything about this hot-hatch is perfectly reasoned. Available in six-speed stick or DSG automatic, it’s a steal at $25,595. Stay out of the snow drifts this season with the 10 Best New Cars for Winter.
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