More and more a car’s most-important task is providing driver enjoyment, to engage and reward for driving well with good responses and maybe add a little excitement to even the most humdrum days. And hey, of course a Porsche is fun to drive, but it ain’t cheap! The good news is you can spend less than $40,000 on a brand new car and still have a few thrills behind the wheel. Here’s a list of 20 cars that do exactly that, in order from most to least expensive.
Guess now, which car is the least expensive on our list?
You get sports sedan agility and refinement, but keep some of your money in the bank.
Learn More about the Genesis G70 Here
It might not look it at first glance, but the Civic Type R brings hatchback utility and supercar athleticism to the table.
Learn More about the Honda Civic Type R here
The second-generation little Mercedes provides a stout motor with a solid dual-clutch gearbox. Moreover, it scoots around the curvy countryside with a light playful nature.
Learn More about the Mercedes-Benz CLA 250 Here
Despite being front-wheel-drive based, the all-wheel-drive 228i willingly darts around providing entertainment along the way.
Learn More about the BMW 228i xDrive Gran Coupe Here
Chevrolet small block V8 paired with the capable Alpha chassis makes the Camaro a blast down the canyon all while delivering a throaty V8 soundtrack.
Learn More about the Chevrolet Camaro SS Here
The most surprising part of the STI is how little it’s changed since making its debut here in the U.S. in 2004. And we still love the old-school, analog feel.
Learn More about the Subaru WRX STI here
460 horsepower from an enthusiastic V8 and nimble handling that belies its muscle car roots. It all spells F. U. N.
Learn More about the Ford Mustang GT here
It’s a mainstream family sedan and yet delivers strong pull from the turbo 2.5-liter and fantastic engagement and feel from the wheel.
Learn More about the Mazda 6 Signature here
Listen to how we feel about it on this episode of Quick Spin
We’re almost halfway into the list before we get to less than 35K. And this Audi A3 is the perfect car do bring in the new milestone. Think of it as an upscale GTI sedan. Yeah, it’s that good.
Learn more about the Audi A3 here
You don’t need eight-cylinders to enjoy a Mustang. The High Performance Package offered with the 2.3-liter turbo four delivers crisp handling and good engagement.
Learn more about the Ford Mustang Hi Po here
This is little pocket rocket of a car has 275 hp and drives brilliantly well. And it still has Hyundai’s mega powertrain warranty.
Learn More about the Hyundai Veloster N here
I know, I’m as surprised as you are to see a Toyota Camry on this list, but the TRD variant is a lark. Trust us, you’ll surprise more than a few folks on your favorite canyon road.
Learn more about the Toyota Camry TRD here
This is a low cost, nice handling, proper sports car with a 50+- year history. And a new one is on the way. You gotta love the Z.
Learn more about the Nissan 370 Z here
The 1LE package turns any Camaro into a quick reacting, track capable toy. It’s mega fun and a mega value, too.
Learn more about the Chevrolet Camaro Turbo 1LE here
The Volkswagen brand is on a roll here, as the GTI is the first car to cost less than 30K, and the GTI is the quintessential low cost high fun car. It is the founding father of hot hatches, after all.
Learn more about the Volkswagen GTI here
While not as pure as the STI, it’s also nearly 10k less expensive. And you still get a turbocharged flat-four and all-wheel-drive to play with. It’s a troublemaker in the best possible way.
Learn more about the Subaru WRX here
Mazda builds one of the best driving cars regardless of price. It’s a bonus that the Miata also sets you back less than your average family hauler.
Learn more about the Mazda MX-5 Miata here
Another Toyota? And a Corolla no less?!? Yup. The Apex is no-nonsense fun to drive. And, of course it’s practical, too.
Learn more about the Toyota Corolla Apex here
This is a lot of car for not a lot of dough. Enough so that resident I wanna go fast man, Jake Lingeman thinks he’d take it over a Civic Type R.
Learn more about the Honda Civic Si here
Okay, who guessed it? You don’t need a GTI to reap the benefits of a hatchback shape with good engagement and lively handling. The Golf delivers all the fun and practicality and, indeed, economy that so many seek in a car. And all for under 25k.
Learn more about the Volkswagen Golf here
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