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It’s easy to assume that one would have to sacrifice fuel economy for the sake of driving a fun car. That isn’t necessarily the case, though. There are a handful of fuel efficient cars that are plenty of fun to whip around windy roads and bury your foot into the skinny pedal that won’t require an arm and a leg in fuel. They may not pass any legendary supercars, but they will pass a gas station!

Mazda3 Turbo

A black 2023 Mazda MAzda3 Hatchback front 3/4 shot at sunset in an industrial complex
2023 Mazda3 Hatchback | Mazda

The latest version of the Mazda3 is an incredibly stylish car. U.S. News gives high praise because it is available in either sedan or hatchback form, and in its spiciest form, it comes with a turbocharged 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine. On 93 octane fuel, the Mazda3 puts out a plentiful 250 horsepower and 320 pound-feet of torque. Better still, it’s all-wheel drive.

Mazda says the 2023 Mazda3 Turbo sees 23 mpg city and 31 mpg highway. Overall, the Mazda3 is an awesome car that’s both good on gas and fun to drive. The one downfall automotive enthusiasts will track is that it’s only available with an automatic transmission.

BMW Z4 sDrive30i

A BMW Z4 M40i performance-focused sports car coupe model parked on a gravel/sand plain
BMW Z4 | BMW Group

When you think of the modern BMW Z4, you likely immediately think of the ferocious B58 six-cylinder engine that it shares with the Toyota Supra. However, the sDrive30i version of the Z4 has a modest turbocharged four-cylinder. It makes 255 horsepower and 295 pound-feet of torque. With its rapid-shifting eight-speed transmission and top-down tactics, the four-pot engine in this chassis offers nothing short of a good time behind the wheel.

Impressively, U.S. News reports that the 2023 BMW Z4 sDrive30i sees 25 mpg city and 33 mpg highway. So go ahead! Take that top-down road trip you’ve been dreaming about!

Ford Fiesta ST

2016 Ford Fiesta ST with over 200,000 miles on it after years of road trips and use as a rocket and car parts transport vehicle sitting on the jean dry lake bed outside of Las Vegas nevada
2016 Ford Fiesta ST | Braden Carlson, MotorBiscuit

This one is a bit of a personal entrant. However, having owned a Fiesta ST for over five years and 180,000 miles, I think I’m decently qualified to add this to the list.

The Fiesta ST has a punchy turbocharged four-cylinder engine that makes 197 horsepower. Pushing that power through a six-speed manual transmission and combining it with sport-tuned suspension makes every road a race track in a Fiesta ST. It truly is one of the most fun and affordable hot hatchbacks you can find on the used market.

Furthermore, its EPA ratings of 25 mpg city and 32 mpg highway make for affordable and fun daily driving. I’ve even managed to crack nearly 40 miles per gallon on road trips before, with consistent fuel economy readings north of 35 mpg across the span of several thousand miles on trips.

Volkswagen GTI

MK8 GTI in grey
2023 Golf GTI | Volkswagen

If I’m going to include a hot hatch, I’d best back it up with the original hot hatch. The Volkswagen GTI. With spacious cargo and comfortable, surprisingly top-tier interior components, the GTI is an absolute pleasure to drive. Like the Fiesta ST, it has remarkable handling capabilities but has a more comfortable ride quality for daily use.

The GTI offers an option for everyone in both manual and dual-clutch. It’s a sporty and fun turbocharged hot hatch! What’s not to love? Adding its 24 mpg city and 34 mpg highway ratings is really just the cherry on top.

Mazda MX-5 Miata

Front 3/4 of a Mazda MX-5 Miata driving down a highway
Mazda MX-5 Miata | Mazda

Come on, you knew this was coming. Miata is always the answer!

Do we really need to tell you all about the MX-5 Miata’s legacy as one of the best-handling sports cars out there? Do we need to re-hash its heritage as an affordable daily that doubles as a track weapon or windy road warrior? We didn’t think so.

The 2023 Mazda MX-5 Miata continues that legacy, carrying 25 mpg city and 35 mpg highway ratings.

Is something missing from this list? Let us know your favorite fun and fuel-efficient car in the comments, whether they’re old or new!


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