Porsche 718 – $49,900
The new 718 is a bit over the $50,000 budget, but it is so good that it’s worth saving a bit more. When they presented the Porsche Boxster in 1996, it was a big step forward for the company. They replaced the four-cylinder 944/968 series with a mid-engine six-cylinder sports car to provide great road handling.
Fast forward to 20 years and there is a new generation with a new name and new engines. Porsche calls it the 718. It’s a fully restyled, redesigned Boxster with 2.0 and 2.5-liter four-cylinder engines.
The smaller engine delivers 300 HP, while the bigger one provides 350 HP with the help of turbocharging. This kind of power guarantees a brutal performance. The 718 is capable of sprinting to 60 mph in 5.0 seconds, topping 170 mph. If you choose the more powerful version, you can reach the 60 mph mark in 4.1 seconds, but the top speed will stay the same.
Honda Civic Type R – $33,200
The latest addition to the powerful four-cylinder car club is the fifth generation Honda Civic Type R. The new performance Civic looks like every racer’s dream with numerous spoilers, scoops and air vents all over the body. The aggressive design, great performance and JDM appeal make this Civic a valuable, desirable addition to the hot hatch class.
Honda has always resisted the temptation to turbocharge its performance engines, but the Civic Type R has exactly that under the hood, like other competitors in its class. The 2.0-liter turbo four delivers 306 HP and can propel the Civic Type R to 60 mph in 4.9 seconds, topping 170 mph. The acceleration times are somewhat slower than its competitors.
The reason is that the Civic is a front-wheel drive and not AWD as most other models in class. On the other hand, the absence of that heavy all-wheel-drive hardware makes the Civic Type R a light, nimble car that hardcore performance driving enthusiasts will appreciate.
Audi TT – $43,950
Audi presented the new generation TT in 2016. It immediately established itself as one of the most advanced, dynamic four-cylinder sports cars on the market. Ever since they introduced the first TT, this compact sports coupe has redefined the “tiny package – big fun” mantra. The 2017 model for the U.S. market is equipped with Audi’s TFSI signature technology. This means it packs 2.0-liters of displacement, advanced turbocharger and delivers 220 HP to all four wheels.
This four-cylinder is common in the VW-Audi range. It can produce from 200 to over 300 HP, depending on the engine tune. It is a lightweight and advanced unit that is also efficient. The performance of the new TT is also amazing.
Going from 0 to 60 mph takes just 5.7 seconds, but Audi has electronically limited the maximum speed to 130 mph. The rumor is the TT with this engine will top 150 mph if you remove the electronic limiter.
Ford Focus RS – $36,120
The first-generation Focus RS had a powerful 2.0-liter turbocharged engine with 220 HP. But it was a limited production model not available in the U.S. Second generations had a five-cylinder engine, so it doesn’t belong here, but the third one is the one you should know about. It has one of the most powerful four cylinders on the market. However, it is also available as a regular production model to U.S. buyers for the first time ever.
Under the hood of the new Focus RS, there is a 2.3-liter turbocharged unit that delivers 345 HP to all four wheels. This makes the Focus RS a capable hot hatch beast. The performance is incredible. Accelerating from 0 to 60 mph takes only 4.7 seconds with top speeds of 165 mph.
This kind of performance deserves special packaging. So, they gave the Focus RS a unique front spoiler, bulged fenders, side skirts and a spoiler. Just looking at this furious compact will tell you this is a genuinely fast Ford.
BMW 240i xDrive – $47,300
The fabulous M2, along with its bigger brothers M3 and M4 are filling the pages of car magazines. As some of the best performance cars you can buy, these powerful machines are well over the $50,000 limit. However, you can buy the next best thing – a compact BMW 240i with the xDrive all-wheel-drive option.
You will save a lot of cash, yet you will get nearly the same power level, composed chassis, precise steering and performance numbers. The 240i has a 3.0-liter turbocharged six-cylinder with 335 HP capable of launching it from 0 to 60 mph in 4.3 seconds.
The performance is enough to call this coupe a sports car and to bring a smile to any driver`s face when putting the right foot down. The xDrive all-wheel drive is an option that it adds some weight to the car yet it still delivers exceptional road holding. You’ll have a sure grip and safety in all weather conditions. You can do without it, but if you live in a cold climate, you should consider paying a bit extra for it.
Dodge Challenger Scat Pack – $38,995
Even though most muscle cars are faster than European sports coupes with their advanced technology and innovative systems, some people still want a classic American muscle coupe with a roaring V8 and a lot of attitude. For those folks, Dodge has the Challenger, a cool retro muscle car with modern technology and a Hemi V8 with 6.1-liters and 485 HP.
The price limit of this list doesn’t allow you to buy a crazy Challenger Hellcat with 707 HP and rear tires as wide as the highway. However, you can still get the Scat Pack version, which is more than enough. The 0 to 60 mph times are in the 4.5-second range and top speeds are close to 170 mph. However, the Challenger is the oldest muscle car on the market. This makes it construction heavy and somewhat outdated compared to the Mustang or Camaro.
Subaru BRZ – $26,315
For those who want a classic, screamer Mustang with a Shelby heritage, but with modern technology and unbelievable V8 performance, the new GT 350 R is a perfect choice. Although they based the Shelby on the Mustang GT, much of the car’s suspension, design, aero package and engine were new.
The biggest single difference was the Voodoo engine, which has a 5.2-liter displacement, 526 HP and 429 lb-ft of torque. The main feature of this high-revving powerplant is the flat plane crank technology, allowing the big V8 to scream to almost 9,000 rpm. It is the same technology exotic manufacturers like Ferrari use.
However, this is the first time a muscle car has such an advanced engine. Ford’s investment into the Shelby GT 350 paid off since the performance is mind-boggling with 3.9 seconds for 0 to 60 mph. But the numbers don’t do justice to this car. The Shelby GT 350 is a pure sports car that delivers fantastic driving dynamics and experience to the driver.
It is closer to the Porsche GT3 in terms of precision driving and cornering speeds than it is to humble Mustangs of yesterday. This car is not only one of the fastest Mustangs ever, it is also one of the best sports cars in recent years.
Ford Mustang Shelby GT350 – $49,995
But for those who want the classic, screamer Mustang with Shelby heritage but with modern technology and unbelievable V8 performance, the new GT 350 R is a perfect choice. Despite the fact that Shelby was based on Mustang GT, much of the car’s suspension, design, aero package, and engine were new.
The biggest single difference was the fantastic Voodoo engine, which has 5.2-liter displacement, 526 hp and 429 lb-ft of torque. The main feature of this high-revving powerplant is the flat plane crank technology which allows the big V8 to scream to almost 9000 rpm. It is the same technology which is used by exotic manufacturers like Ferrari and this is the first time that a muscle car has such an advanced engine. Ford`s investment into Shelby GT 350 really paid off since the performance is mind-boggling with 3.9 seconds for 0 to 60 mph.
But the numbers don’t do justice to this car. Shelby GT 350 is a pure sports car which delivers fantastic driving dynamics and experience to the driver. It is much closer to the Porsche GT3 in terms of precision driving and cornering speeds than it is to humble Mustangs of yesterday. This car is not only one of the fastest Mustangs ever, it is also one of the best sports cars made in recent years.
Volkswagen Golf R – $39,375
If you think the Golf GTI is the most powerful Volkswagen’s hot hatch, think again. The Golf R is the top of the line Golf with a powerful four-cylinder turbocharged engine, all-wheel drive and brutal performance for a family hatchback. The R version is the derivate of the mighty R32 Golfs from the early 2000’s, which featured 3.2-liter naturally aspirated V6 engines.
However, the latest versions feature a smaller, more powerful 2.0-liter turbo four that delivers almost 300 HP. As you can expect, the performance is quite brutal for what is basically a family compact. Acceleration from 0 to 60 mph takes 4.5 seconds and it tops 155 mph. Despite being less powerful than the Focus or the BRZ, this Golf is almost as fast while still being stealth in appearance. This makes the Golf R is perfect for surprising those drivers of expensive sports cars at traffic lights.
Nissan 370Z – $29,990
Available as a coupe or a roadster, the Nissan Z is a sports car legend in an affordable package. The handsome front-engine rear-wheel drive car has a potent V6 engine and limited slip differential as standard equipment. This feature makes it safe to drive hard and also makes it a favorite drift car. The enormous aftermarket support for this model means you can easily tune and customize your 370Z.
Nissan introduced it in 2008. The 370Z brought a new design and an upgraded V6 engine to the market and has remained popular since. The 300 HP engine and the sharper and agiler Nismo with 350 HP makes this model a desirable yet affordable sports coupe with perfect driving dynamics. The Nismo 370Z starts at $45,000.
Most people think they need astronomical amounts of cash to get a fast muscle car, but that’s not true. For a bit more than you’d spend on a family car, you can get a street monster that is still affordable. You just may be able to live your sports car dreams, after all.