2022 Volkswagen Golf GTI Is the Fastest Sports Car Under $40,000, According to Consumer Reports

Folks love driving and admiring sports cars because they provide a lot of speed, power, and a driving experience unique to the segment. Not everyone can afford a sports car, though, and many affordable sports cars on the market have sacrificed so much speed and power that they’re affordable but no longer sports cars. This isn’t the case with the 2022 Volkswagen Golf GTI, which Consumer Reports says is the fastest sports car for under $40,000.

These two cheap sports cars are the slowest options in the segment

A gray 2022 Volkswagen Golf GTI hot hatchback parked on an asphalt lot as the sunsets behind a hill
2022 Volkswagen Golf GTI | Volkswagen of America, Inc. Newspress Limited

According to Consumer Reports, the Honda Civic Si and the Mini Cooper, while both cheap sporty cars, are also pretty slow in the segment. The Mini Cooper starts at about $23,000, and the Civic Si starts at about $27,000. The main reason the Mini Cooper is so slow is that it’s equipped with a 1.5-liter turbocharged three-cylinder engine as standard, and this mini-sized engine only gets 134 horsepower. This allows the Mini Cooper to accelerate from 0 to 60 mph in 7.2 seconds.

Meanwhile, the Honda Civic Si is more expensive, and some of that cost goes to its engine. It’s equipped with a 1.5-liter turbocharged four-cylinder and gets 200 horsepower. This allows the Civic Si to accelerate from 0 to 60 mph in 6.8 seconds. Unfortunately, that’s not faster than the other options in the class.

The 2022 Volkswagen Golf GTI is the fastest affordable sports car right now

The Volkswagen Golf GTI is the most expensive sports car under $40,000 listed on Consumer Reports, but it’ll only start at about $30,000. Even at that price point, the VW is still the fastest option right now. This is thanks to its standard 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine, providing 241 horsepower. Unlike other cars, this engine is the only option that VW offers now.

That 2.0-liter engine will allow the Golf GTI to accelerate from 0 to 60 mph in 6.4 seconds. This allows it to best the Mazda Miata, among other competitors. Not only is the Golf GTI quick in a straight line, but according to Consumer Reports, it also has some good handling characteristics. This should allow drivers to have a lot of fun with their Golf GTI on the track and the road.

On top of having some great acceleration and handling characteristics, CR also liked how the manual transmission shifts. This is a nice feature for folks who are serious about a fun driving experience. Not only that, but its 2.0-liter engine will be relatively fuel-efficient. The Golf GTI gets about 28 mpg combined.

Some cheap muscle cars can be fast, but you’ll have to pay for upgrades


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While the Volkswagen Golf GTI may be the fastest sports car under $40,000, there are technically other options, too. The Ford Mustang and the Dodge Challenger, for example, both start at under $40,000. The Mustang starts at $27,000, while the Challenger starts at $30,000. That said, to get a faster time than the Golf GTI, folks will probably have to pick an engine upgrade for their American muscle car.

The Challenger and Mustang models can upgrade to trims with V8 engines. These upgrades will push the Challenger and the Mustang from 0 to 60 mph very quickly, but they’ll also push the car’s price tags up. That’s why the Golf GTi still beats them when price is a factor.