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Tensions are high with the current used car market shooting to the moon on a rocket-powered by inflated prices. The good news is, there are many interesting cars for sale out there, even with a $15,000 budget. Whether you’re looking for something sporty, compact, efficient, or just plain fun, the used car market is flush with all kinds of exciting and affordable possibilities. If you’re in dire straights, but can’t yet afford a new car, any one of these used manual sedans should hold you over, at least until the market corrects itself.

2011 BMW 328i

2011 BMW 328i on display in Germany
2011 BMW 328i on display in Germany | ANDREAS GEBERT/DPA/AFP via Getty Images

With 230 horsepower, the 3,362-pound 2011 BMW 328i might feel slightly sluggish, especially with the automatic transmission. Fortunately, BMW released it with a manual transmission, and it’s a much greater pleasure. The car feels solid to drive, and while the seats aren’t the most comfortable, the materials on the inside feel higher quality than you might find in a Ford or Toyota, which is expected. There might be reservations for buying a BMW as old as 2011, but if the owner was meticulous enough, it could have been appropriately maintained, and everything that was going to break has been replaced. Hopefully.

2013 Honda Accord Sport

2013 Honda Accord on display in Los Angeles
2013 Honda Accord on display in Los Angeles | David McNew/Getty Images

This is the reliable used manual sedan on the list. 2013 Honda Accords are comfortable, they provide ample interior space, and even with the inline-four have a decent amount of low-end torque. Valve ticking can occur but shouldn’t hamper performance. The serpentine belt tensioner may make some grinding sounds after a while, but replacing it is a quick project. The Honda Accord Sport comes with 189 horsepower from a 2.4-liter inline-four, gets decent mileage, and is dependable. Front-wheel drive may seem a bit boring to some drivers, but the Accord will do whatever else you want.

2014 Fiat 500 Abarth

2014 Fiat 500 Abarth on display in Los Angeles
2014 Fiat 500 Abarth on display in Los Angeles | FREDERIC J. BROWN/AFP via Getty Images

As the most fun used manual sedan on this list, the 2014 Fiat 500 Abarth exists to please, but in one specific way, and probably for particular people. It doesn’t offer much in the way of cargo space or interior space but has some serious get-up-and-go. It uses a turbocharged 1.4-liter engine that makes 160 horsepower, which might not sound like a lot in a car that weighs 2,500 pounds, but in the mountains is where it shines. Quick ratcheting corners will allow the Abarth to pull all the stops and show you what it’s made of. Reliability-wise, the Abarth can only handle 2.5 stars out of 5, according to J.D. Power, but you’re not getting a Fiat for reliability anyway.

The BMW is the best choice

The BMW is the most interesting rear-wheel-drive car this side of the 20th century with a manual transmission. It’ll swing its tail end out, get decent mileage, and has plenty of interior space. That said, before buying a BMW, make sure you have a savings account you don’t mind depleting. 


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