When it comes to performance, some cars are designed for straight-line speed while others are more adept at handling the twists and turns of a road course. But what if you want a car that can do both? You need to do your research and find something that balances these traits. Luckily, the following list is designed to make your life easier with a roundup of 10 cars that offer up stunning performance with a price tag of less than $30,000. Fast is fun, but automakers know that value is important too.
10. Hyundai Veloster Turbo R Spec – 137 Mph – $24,999
If you want to have fun in a small hatchback, then look no further than the Hyundai Veloster. It may not be as powerful as some other models on this list, but it’s still an excellent car that is more than capable of keeping up with the best in its class. The Veloster Turbo comes with a 1.6L turbocharged engine good for 201hp and 137mph top speed. It’s very fun to drive and has excellent gas mileage, so it doesn’t hurt the wallet when you get behind the wheel. It also comes with a standard six-speed manual transmission, so you can really feel the road when you are behind the wheel of this machine.
9. Volkswagen Golf R – 142 Mph – $29,415
Though VW has slowed down production on the R line of cars, that doesn’t mean they aren’t still excellent performance machines. The Golf R comes with an all-wheel drive and a turbocharged four-cylinder engine good for 292hp. The Golf R gets up to a 142mph top speed and it’s one of the best cars you can buy if you want something that will last for years. This is the type of car you never have to add turbochargers or other bolt-ons to because from the factory it has everything you need.
8. Subaru Forester 2.0XT – 142 Mph – $30,120
The Forester is Subaru’s rival to the Ford Escape and Chevy Equinox. However, it outdoes both of those models in terms of performance thanks to a turbocharged motor and all-wheel-drive setup. The flat-four engine gets up to 250hp, and it’s good for 142mph top speed. If you are looking for an SUV that can mix it up with cars, this is one of the best options on the market today.
7. Subaru WRX STI Type RA – 144 Mph – $29,855
The WRX STI is the rally car for the rest of us. While not as powerful as some other options on this list, it makes up for that with a low price and excellent handling. Powered by a 2.5L turbocharged flat-four engine, the WRX gets up to 310hp and 144mph top speed. Subaru also sells a stripped-down version of this car for just under $30k.
6. Ford Focus RS – 145 Mph – $28,315
The original hot hatch, the Ford Focus is back in another iteration that isn’t afraid to compete with the likes of Honda and Volkswagen. Like its rivals, it features all-wheel drive and a turbocharged motor. The 2.3L turbocharged engine gets up to 310hp, and it’s good for 145mph top speed. The Focus RS also comes with several driving modes to help you switch between comfort and all-out performance. It even has launch control if you want to do the Mario Kart thing, though that will cost you extra.
5. Hyundai Veloster R Spec Turbo – 147 Mph – $24,999
Hyundai’s new Veloster is a welcome addition to the entry-level sports car world. And while it doesn’t have an available manual transmission, this hatchback still rocks. The Veloster R-Spec comes with a 1.6L turbocharged engine good for 201hp and 147mph top speed. It’s also an extremely fun car to drive thanks to its funky styling and handling. For just under $25k, you get a great-looking and performing hatchback that can mix it up with the best sports cars on the market.
The Mustang is known the world over as the prototypical sports car for everyday folks. And now that it has a turbo motor under the hood, this legendary nameplate is capable of running with much more expensive cars. With a 5.0L V8 engine, the Mustang GT is good for 435hp and 147mph top speed. For under $30k you get a car that needs nothing more than some extra horsepower to compete with the likes of Ferrari and Porsche.
3. Ford Mustang EcoBoost Fastback – 149 Mph – $25,585
The current king of affordable speed is the Ford Mustang. While there are a variety of options available, few can touch the performance potential of the EcoBoost Fastback model. Packing a 2.3L turbocharged four-cylinder motor with 310hp, the Mustang EcoBoost gets a top speed of 149mph. While that’s not exactly Hellcat territory, it’s a good deal for the money.
2. Chevrolet Camaro SS 1LE – 149 Mph – $29,135
The Camaro is back to being one of the best sports cars on the market. The new Camaro is a bit smaller than the old one, but it’s lighter and more powerful. For under $30k you can get a Camaro SS 1LE, which features a 455hp motor and gets up to 149mph. You’ll have to opt for an automatic transmission or manual from there, but either way, you are getting one of the best performance cars on the market.
1. Dodge Charger SXT – 155 Mph – $29,995
The Charger is essentially a four-door Challenger. With the same motor as the Challenger SXT, you can expect similar performance out of this family sedan. Larger than the Challenger, the Charger features a few extra seats. The Charger also comes with an optional all-wheel-drive setup that helps improve traction, though it costs more than $30k.
All of these cars are the best available under $30k. If you can afford to spend more than that, then you can get even more performance from your car. Just remember that if you have the money, it’s always better to buy a second car as a “fun” car and spend your money on that. You can always take it to car shows and impress the ladies with it, but you won’t have to worry about dents and dings from everyday driving.