There’s an old adage about how speed costs money, and with the increase in car prices over the past two years, that certainly seems true. But fortunately, there are still some fast, cheap cars you can buy new. Recently, U.S. News & World even put together a list of the fastest, cheap cars for under $40,000. Using that list as a starting point, we’re highlighting some of our favorite fast, cheap cars on the road today.
The 2022 Honda Civic Si is a fast cheap car
First, let’s talk about the 2022 Honda Civic Si. While 200 horsepower may not seem like a lot these days, the Honda Civic Si makes the most of it. And, for $27,3000, it’s one of the most entertaining and practical sedans you can buy on a budget.
The Civic Si features a turbocharged four-cylinder engine paired with one of the best manual transmissions in the business, a rev-matching unit from the 2021 Civic Type R. The Si includes a stiffer suspension for responsive handling but doesn’t sacrifice comfort. Steering is also responsive, offering a precise feel that is properly weighted for both in-town and highway driving.
All in all, it’s no surprise U.S. News included the 2022 Honda Civic Si on its list of the fastest affordable cars under $40,000. And if the Civic Si sedan is not your cup of tea? Wait for the 2023 Civic Type R, which will soon return as Honda’s ultimate hot hatch.
The 2022 Mazda3 2.5 Turbo Hatchback aims to thrill
Next up is the 2022 Mazda3 2.5 Turbo Hatchback. The Mazda3 has long been a great option for drivers wanting a fun, practical car and the 2022 model is no different. The 2.5-liter turbocharged four-cylinder produces 227 horsepower, giving the Mazda3 2.5 Turbo Hatchback sprightly performance. All-wheel drive is standard with the turbo engine and compliments the car’s athletic handling.
The Mazda3 2.5 Turbo starts at $31,550. Other trim models, including a non-turbo model, are cheaper, but for an enthusiast on a budget, the 2022 Mazda3 2.5 Turbo Hatchback is the sweet spot. Buyer’s looking for a little more luxury can opt for the Turbo Premium Plus trim level, which includes standard leather upholstery for $34,400.
The 2022 BMW 230i Coupe is an affordable BMW model
One surprise on this list is the appearance of a BMW model under $40,000. The 2022 230i might be a budget Bimmer, but it’s no slouch in the performance department.
Equipped with a 255 horsepower 2.0-liter turbo four-cylinder and eight-speed gearbox, the rear-wheel drive coupe offers a lot of performance for a low base price. Add the $2,000 Dynamic Handling package, which includes M Sport brakes, and you’re still under the $40,000 mark.
The 230i is also a surprisingly fuel-efficient car, with a combined rating of 29 mpg. But what makes it stand out is the car’s balance and composure. It provides an ideal blend of comfort with sharp handling, giving the 230i traits shared by a long line of BMW M cars.
The 2022 Chevrolet Camaro LT1 is a fast car under $40,000
It’s hard to believe you can still get a big, 455-horsepower V8 performance car for under $40,000, but there are two on U.S. News’ list of fast cheap cars. First up is the 2022 Chevy Camaro with the evergreen small-block, 6.2-liter engine. Ordering the LT1 package gets you the V8, upgraded performance suspension, and Brembo brakes.
The Camaro is a classic muscle car updated with modern braking and handling. Unfortunately, it suffers from classic muscle car fuel economy, getting 19 mpg combined. But for fans of a big, rumbling V8 soundtrack, there’s no substitute for cubic inches.
The 2022 Subaru BRZ and Toyota GR86 made the list
The 2022 Subaru BRZ and Toyota GR86 are fraternal twins. A joint effort between the two car companies, both fast cheap cars share the same platform and mechanical components but differ slightly in appearance and options packages.
Both cars feature a new 228-horsepower flat-four cylinder engine and six-speed manual transmission, which provides 0 to 60 mph times in about six seconds. No matter which car you pick, both the BRZ and GR86 are great fun to drive.
The 2022 Volkswagen GTI is a small car that’s fun to drive
Almost 50 years ago, VW stuffed a hot motor in a Golf, jazzed up the suspension, and created one of the original wickedly fun “hot hatches.” Today you can still buy a new GTI that carries the spirit of that original car.
The 2022 Volkswagen GTI has a four-cylinder turbocharged engine that makes 241 horsepower and is linked to either a six-speed manual or seven-speed dual-clutch transmission. But what stands out are the strong brakes and quick, go-kart reflexes. It’s a car that’s genuinely fun to drive, and when you combine that with the hatchback’s practicality, you have an almost unbeatable combination for an everyday driver.
The 2022 Mazda MX-5 Miata Grand Touring is surprisingly quick
Available as a roadster or retractable Targa-like hardtop, the Miata can be loaded up with options and still come in under $40,000.
Regardless of trim, the Miata is equipped with a 181-horsepower naturally aspirated four-cylinder engine, six-speed manual transmission, or an optional automatic. The joy comes from the engine’s free-revving nature and light, agile handling. But the Miata is also surprisingly quick, with 0 to 60 mph times in the mid-five second range.
The 2022 Ford Mustang GT topped U.S. News’ list
The 2022 Ford Mustang tops U.S. News’ list of cheap, fast cars. There is a flavor of Mustang for just about everyone, including economy-minded coupes and convertibles, to high-performance sports cars.
Like the Camaro, you can get a lot of V8 bang for your buck – in this case, a 5.0-liter 460-horsepower engine. Add the GT’s performance package with Brembo brakes, limited-slip differential, and a more track-tuned suspension, and you’ve got a serious performance car.
Which fast cheap car will satisfy your need for speed?
You can’t go wrong with any of the cars on this list. It really just comes down to what you like the best. From front-wheel and all-wheel drive sedans and hot hatches to rear-wheel drive muscle, there are a lot of great choices for cheap, fast cars.