9. Scion FR-S
The Scion FR-S is still in production, but there are many used models for sale. And some are even below your limit of $20,000. Available only as a coupe with a 200 HP engine, the little FR-S is a basic sports car. They conceived it to be light, nimble and fun, and it achieved all those goals. The performance of this vehicle is not that exceptional.
But the driving feel, steering feedback, and handling are amazing. It just shows that you don’t need a whole lot of horsepower to have a fun, spirited driving experience. You just need a little bit of clever engineering and weight reduction, and you’ll get a great car. Also, this Scion is relatively fuel efficient, so you can use it for daily driving.
8. Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution
Like the Subaru Impreza WRX STI, the Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution is a four-door sedan with a turbocharged engine and all-wheel drive. At first glance, you may mistake it for a regular compact sedan. But its aggressive body kit, big spoiler and bulged fenders indicate this is a true performance car.
With around 300 HP stock, most owners upgrade their Lancer Evolutions to crazy numbers with a wide arrange of performance upgrades. Although they discontinued production in 2016, there are many Lancer Evo models for sale. However, it is hard to find models in stock.
The availability and affordability of aftermarket items inspire almost all owners to personalize their rides. However, $20,000 is more than enough money to find a tastefully modified model, so you can start enjoying the fast acceleration and superb handling of the legendary Lancer Evolution.
7. Mazda MX-5
Ever since the first Mazda MX-5 saw the light of day, it has found a way into the hearts of sports car enthusiasts in all corners of the world. Even though it’s simple, small and a less powerful roadster, the MX-5 is still one of the best cars for spirited driving. It’s easy to modify and race, too.
Also, the MX-5 is the most affordable car if you want to experience the essence of sports car driving. What is the secret of the everlasting appeal of this small convertible? It offers good engineering and just enough power to keep things interesting. Also, it is lightweight and has great steering and handling.
For over 25 years, the Mazda MX-5 has been a bestseller in its class. They produced it in over one million models. This means that there are many different styles you can choose from, and for any budget. So, if you are looking for an affordable and exciting open-air sports car, the MX-5 is a perfect choice.
6. Mitsubishi Eclipse
Somewhat overshadowed by the popularity of the Lancer Evolution, the Mitsubishi Eclipse is still a great sports car for budget-oriented enthusiasts. It is inexpensive, with most models changing hands well below the $20,000 limit. This is a practical sports car with a big trunk and front-wheel drive. The base engine was a bit anemic at 162 HP, so you may want the more powerful 265 HP V6.
The handling is satisfying with precise steering and good brakes. As with other Japanese cars, there are numerous aftermarket offerings, too. So, you can personalize your Eclipse and add extra horsepower for approximately $200.
5. Audi RS3
From the outside, you could mistake the new RS3 Sedan for a regular A3 four-door since this model retains the elegance and proportions of the standard sedan. So, you might think that this is another rather boring compact sedan with nothing to show.
But as soon as you press the gas pedal, you will understand how wrong you were. The 2.5-liter unit delivers 400 HP and 354 lb-ft of torque. This makes it the most powerful car in its class. The power goes to all four wheels over the signature electronically-controlled Quattro AWD system.
This ensures the perfect traction and grip in all driving conditions. All of this translates to incredible performance numbers. In fact, the RS3 Sedan is capable of reaching 60 mph in just 3.9 seconds and topping 174 mph.
4. Mercedes CLA 45 AMG
The Mercedes CLA 45 is a compact executive sedan with an angry 2.0-liter four-cylinder turbocharged engine and all-wheel drive. This combination, along with 381 HP, means it produces astonishing acceleration times and brutal driving dynamics.
The small dimensions along with composed handling and sublime performance make this compact sedan the perfect getaway car for bank robbers and similar characters.
3. Dodge Challenger Hellcat
The Challenger Hellcat is the ultimate getaway car. This is due to the fact it is one of the most powerful cars Detroit has ever made. And it is still easy to drive.
It’s only when you press the throttle and unleash the fury of those 707 supercharged horses will you feel the brutality of the Hellcat package and power going to the rear wheels. The 0 to 60 mph times are in high three-second range and the car can top 200 mph.
2. Cadillac ATS-V
Cadillac introduced the ATS-V in 2016 as the newest American muscle four-door car. And the ATS-V is compact but immensely powerful. With this model, Cadillac attacked the likes of the Mercedes C Class and BMW 3 Series with a modern executive sedan bringing recognizable styling and brutal power.
Under the hood is the twin-turbo 3.6-liter V6 engine with 464 HP and 445 lb-ft of torque. This is enough to launch the ATS-V from 0 to 60 mph in just 3.7 seconds and top the speed of an astonishing 189 mph. Despite the fact that the ATS-V doesn’t have a V8, it is still a proper muscle car and precision machine available in two-door form, as well.
1. Ford Taurus SHO
For decades, fast and stealth cars were a European specialty. But with the introduction of the Ford Taurus SHO, Americans had their own muscle sedan. However, the best and the fastest is the current model. It is one of the coolest, most usable performance cars you can buy.
With a 3.5-liter EcoBoost engine that delivers 365 HP to all four wheels over its six-speed automatic transmission, the Taurus SHO is capable of convincing performance and high top speeds.
Scratch your sports car itch with one of these 30 affordable models. If you do your homework and look for one with a great service history, you won’t have many repair bills. Fast and fun, sports cars will always be popular with drivers who want to push the limits.