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It’s no secret that many automotive enthusiasts would rather row through gears with a manual transmission than drive automatic cars. Although modern auto transmissions are typically faster than any human could ever dream of shifting, there’s still just something great about that mechanical linkage to the gearbox and the feeling of throwing the gear lever around on your own. So, here are four manual cars you can buy new in 2023 that are actually fun to drive. To keep things interesting, we’ll try to keep them on the low end of the price spectrum.

Kia Forte GT, a non-suspect party on wheels

A manual transmission grey 2023 Kia Forte GT driving down the road in the mountains with red accents
2023 Kia Forte GT | Kia

Admittedly, coming out swinging with a Kia is a hard sell, we know. Hear us out here, though. Kia is not the company that it was in the late ‘90s and early 2000s. Moreover, this isn’t your old-school Kia Spectra.

According to Carfax, the 2023 Kia Forte GT packs quite a punch. With a 201-horsepower four-cylinder engine under the hood and a manual available, this spicy little Korean killer is a blast to drive. Sure, it’s not the fastest thing around, but its power and handling capabilities make it a fun commuter that makes every road a race track.

Combine that all with its sub-$25,000 starting price, and you’ve got a winning combo!

The 2023 Mustang offers a wide range of gear-rowing excitement from Ecoboost to roaring V8s

Ford Mustang EcoBoost parked in a lot
Ford Mustang EcoBoost | Ford

Right off the bat, we’re happy to admit that the $38,345 price tag for a base GT model is not the cheapest thing out there. However, when you consider the 450 horsepower output paired with a manual transmission, that price is pretty reasonable for the performance.

That being said, Kelly Blue Book reports that the base EcoBoost pricing is $27,770. At $10,000 cheaper, it’s easy to forget about the ridicule you’ll get from “car enthusiasts” about your choice to go without the V8 powerplant. You still get the fun driving characteristics and up to 29 mpg to boot.

The 2023 Chevy Camaro offers American muscle styling and an array of trim levels

A blue manual transmission Chevy Camaro SS, a rival of the Ford Mustang GT, drives on a lakeside road.
Chevy Camaro SS | General Motors

Much like the Mustang, the Camaro offers buyers a bit of Americana with varying degrees of trim levels from mild to wild.

On the low end of things, a 2.0-liter turbocharged 2023 Camaro is available for as little as $27,795 with a manual transmission. Additionally, the cheapest manual V8 offering is exactly $10,000 more.

Classic styling and rowing your own gears make for a good time no matter what road or track you’re on!

The 2023 Mini Cooper S is a compact carnival guaranteed to offer a fun driving experience

Fully loaded 2024 Mini Cooper John Cooper Works
2024 Mini Cooper | BMW Group

In comparison to its competitors, the Mini Cooper lineup isn’t the most affordable option. That being said, there are a handful of sub-$30,000 offerings from the iconic British-turned-German marque.

With manual transmissions and a 189-horsepower turbocharged engine available, the fun-loving spirit of the original Mini is alive and well with the 2023 lineup.

Overall, these cars may not be the kingpins of horsepower and performance. They are all great fun to drive, though, whether you’re just cruising around your favorite windy roads or making a run to the grocery store.


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