5 Cheap Sports Cars With a Manual Transmission for Six-Speed Smiles Under $30,000

The “stick shift” is a dying feature among all vehicles, even dedicated sports cars. However, there is still hope for car enthusiasts who want to select their own gear. For instance, the 2022 Chevy Camaro 1LT and 2023 Subaru BRZ pack standard three-pedal setups. Check out some new cheap cars with sports car DNA and manual transmissions that won’t break the bank. 

  • 2022 Chevy Camaro 1LT
  • 2022 Ford Mustang EcoBoost
  • 2023 Subaru BRZ
  • 2023 Toyota GR86
  • 2022 Mazda MX-5 Miata

Does anyone still offer a manual transmission?

While many makes and models don’t offer a manual transmission in their current American market lineup, some options still happily host a three-pedal setup. For instance, some cheap sports cars, like the 2023 Subaru BRZ and the 2022 Chevy Camaro 1LT, pack six-speed manual transmissions. In fact, all five of U.S. News’ picks for the best cheap sports cars under $30,000 offer a row-your-own-boat option. 

This Subaru BRZ, like the Camaro 1LT, is a contender for the one of the best cheap manual cars.
Subaru BRZ | Subaru

Moreover, many higher-tier sports and muscle cars still offer a manual transmission. For instance, Dodge’s last Challenger SRT Hellcat model year is bringing back the six-speed as a swan song option. Also, the Toyota GR Supra 3.0 offers a three-pedal setup for those fans who don’t want the lightning-fast automatic. 

Does a Camaro have a manual transmission?

The Chevy Camaro has a six-speed manual transmission. Better yet, fans who want a cheap sports car option can still opt for the 2022 Chevy Camaro 1LT V6 instead of the 275-horsepower four-cylinder mill. The LT1 V6 option starts at around $27,695 and produces a much more enthusiastic 335 horsepower from its 3.6L six-cylinder engine. Whichever engine potential owners want, the Camaro has a manual option.  

The Chevy Camaro 1LT like this one in red is one of the cheap manual cars left on the market with a real manual transmission.
Chevy Camaro LT1 | General Motors

Does the EcoBoost come in a manual?

While the Ford Mustang EcoBoost isn’t getting a three-pedal application for the seventh-generation Mustang lineup, the current EcoBoost offers a manual transmission. For instance, U.S. News says the 2022 Ford Mustang EcoBoost starts at around $27,470 with a standard six-speed gearbox. While it has a higher starting price than the entry-level Camaro, the EcoBoost undercuts the Camaro 1LT V6 and produces 310 horsepower from a more efficient turbocharged four-cylinder mill. 

Does the Subaru BRZ come with a manual transmission?

The 2023 Subaru BRZ comes with a manual transmission or an optional automatic for owners who don’t want to shift their gears. Moreover, with a starting price of around $28,585, the BRZ is a cheap sports car for the new car market. Subaru’s diminutive sports coupe also performs as a driver’s car. It has a short wheelbase, an engaging driving experience, and a back-to-basics focus on sports car ownership. 

In addition to the BRZ, the Toyota GR86 has a six-speed option for fun-filled drives and smile-inducing slides. Also, since the GR86 shares the BRZ’s 228-horsepower flat four-cylinder engine, the choice comes down to your preference of badge and chassis stiffness; the Toyota is a slightly sharper, stiffer ride. 

Are all MX-5s manual?

The Mazda MX-5 Miata has offered a manual for every one of its over 20 model years. That’s good news for enthusiasts who want a small, sharp sports car with an engaging driving experience. While the 2022 Mazda MX-5 Miata only produces 181 horsepower, it manages around 34 mpg on the highway and has two different types of convertible tops. 

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Why are manual transmissions dying?

Manual transmissions are dying out to make room for easy-to-use, quick-shifting automatics. The auto industry is switching gears from engaged driving experiences to decreasing levels of driver involvement. Moreover, the newest generations of electric vehicles (EVs) are increasing the roles of autonomous and semi-autonomous systems. We’re closer to cars that drive themselves than mainstream driver’s cars.