Sports cars are fun to look at and drive around town, but the real fun comes when you take them to the canyons. The undulating turns and quick straightaways can put any sports car to the test, and there’s plenty of fun to be had behind the wheel when driving in a canyon. If you’re looking for a good car for canyon carving, which one would you pick? Here are a few good examples.
2009 BMW 135i
If you were to ask Matt Farah from The Smoking Tire, he would likely suggest a 2009 BMW 135i as a good canyon carving daily driver. In a recent video, Farah put a 90,000-mile 135i through its paces on a canyon road to showcase its abilities. And while we can’t get the sensation of driving the car by watching a video, we have to agree that it would be a good platform to start with.
In stock form, the BMW 135i could get to 60 mph from a standstill in 5.6 seconds and down the quarter-mile in 13.6 seconds. That’s pretty darn quick. But it’s not too surprising considering it has 300 hp and 300 lb-ft of torque from the turbocharged inline-six engine under the hood. Add its 3,400-pound curb weight into the equation, and it’s no wonder this little BMW is good at tackling the turns.
Porsche 986 Boxster S
It’s hard to argue with a mid-mounted engine and rear-wheel-drive Porsche. Sure, the 986 Boxster S looks weird compared to the newer models, but it’s still very agile and quick in its own right. The Boxster S has over 200 hp and has a nearly perfect weight balance, which enables it to hit the corners quickly and effectively carry the speed through. The best part is that you don’t even need to spend $30,000 on a good used example nowadays. Many of them are selling in the $20,000 range.
No, we’re not biased. OK, maybe a little. Anyway, the Honda S2000 feels right at home in the canyons with its front and rear double-wishbone suspension, high-revving VTEC engine, and 50:50 weight distribution. The S2000 is undoubtedly one of the best cars you can fling around a series of corners. But you need to be careful as snap oversteer can bite you if you’re not careful.
Mazda MX-5 Miata
A list of worthy canyon carvers cannot be complete without the Mazda MX-5 Miata. After all, there’s a reason that it’s been around for over 30 years. It may not have a ton of horsepower, but the Miata’s unrivaled agility and small dimensions make it one of the best cars to attack the back roads with. Best of all, even though its suspension is tight enough for hairpin turns, it is still comfortable enough for the daily drive.
Whether you buy a used Scion FR-S/Subaru BRZ or you go with a new Toyota GR86, you’ll be thankful you did. Every iteration of this car features a well-balanced rear-drive platform with a spritely naturally aspirated engine. What makes it even better is that it’s comfortable and practical enough to be driven every day. We highly recommend it.
Best canyon carvers for $30,000
Although plenty of great-handling cars are on the new and used market, these are our top five. It’s hard to deny that nearly any car with a rear-drive configuration and some decent power could put a smile on anyone’s face when ripping through a canyon road. If you’re in the market and are not sure which car to pick, you can’t go wrong with one of these five.