15 of the Most Fun New Cars You Can Buy for Less Than $40,000

Because no one should be stuck driving a boring car.

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Richard Pardon

If you're looking for an affordable car that's enjoyable to drive, these are some of the best.

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Kia
Kia Stinger GT - $38,350

The Kia Stinger is one hell of a car, and for less than $40,000, you can even option the bigger 3.0-liter twin-turbo V6 making 365 horsepower. That, combined with rear-wheel drive and some excellent chassis tuning, make for a seriously fun daily driver.

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DW Burnett/Puppyknuckles
Alfa Romeo Giulia - $38,195

The Giulia is one of the best-driving new luxury sport sedans out there, and if you're willing to live with a base model, you can get one for under budget. But don't worry, you still get a 280-horsepower turbocharged inline-four, an eight-speed automatic, and rear-wheel drive.

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Dodge Charger R/T Scat Pack

At $39,995, the Scat Pack Charger skirts just underneath budget. The 485-horsepower 6.4-liter Hemi V8 comes standard, as do Brembo brakes and an active exhaust. If you want an old-school muscle vibe in your new sedan, this is the car for you.

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Fiat
Fiat 500 Abarth - $19,995

With a punchy little turbo four-cylinder and a hilariously loud exhaust, the Fiat 500 Abarth is perhaps the world's angriest hot hatch. To drive, it's a total riot, and a bargain with a base price under $20,000.

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The Ford Fiesta ST is tiny, but so is its base price. And for the money, you won't find any other new car on the market that's as fun to drive. Sure, the Fiat 500 Abarth makes a louder noise, but the Fiesta ST is the king of small, inexpensive fun.
Zach Bowman
Ford Fiesta ST - $21,285

The Ford Fiesta ST is tiny, but so is its base price. And for the money, you won't find any other new car on the market that's as fun to drive. Sure, the Fiat 500 Abarth makes a louder noise, but the Fiesta ST is the king of small, inexpensive fun. And despite Ford announcing it will stop selling small cars in the US, you can still buy a Fiesta ST new from a dealership... for now, at least.

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2016 Mazda Miata in action
Mazda
Mazda MX-5 Miata - $25,295

What list of fun cars would be complete without the Miata? It's definitely a cliche at this point, but for good reason. The Miata is light, simple, affordable, and an absolute blast to drive.

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Brian Silvestro
Toyota 86 - $26,255

We were happy to see the FR-S survive the death of Scion. Despite never getting a turbocharged version, its outstanding handling and affordable price made the FR-S a performance bargain. Plus, the Toyota badge on the hood adds another five horsepower if you choose the manual transmission. And you should definitely choose the manual transmission.

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<p>The Volkswagen has been the king of hot hatches for years, and we can't see that changing anytime soon. It's more refined than ever before, but it's still a blast to drive. We recommend springing for <a href="http://quizcards.info/new-cars/future-cars/news/a29704/2017-volkswagen-gti-sport/" target="_blank">the GTI Sport</a> and leaving it at that. But if you want even more power and all-wheel drive, <a href="http://quizcards.info/new-cars/first-drives/reviews/a24608/first-drives-2015-volkswagen-golf-r/" target="_blank">the 292-horsepower Golf R is a great buy</a>, as well.</p>
Volkswagen
Volkswagen GTI - $26,415

The Volkswagen has been the king of hot hatches for years, and we can't see that changing anytime soon. It's more refined than ever before, but it's still a blast to drive. We recommend springing for the GTI Sport and leaving it at that. But if you want even more power and all-wheel drive, the 292-horsepower Golf R is a great buy, as well.

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Jeep
Jeep Wrangler Rubicon - $27,895

The new 2018 Jeep Wrangler is one of the most capable off-roaders you can buy from the factory. Compared to most new SUV's, it's incredibly old-school, one of the main reasons it's so popular.

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Honda
Honda Civic Type R - $34,100

After years of waiting, Honda has finally brought the Civic Type RStateside. It's everything we asked for more, with a 305-horsepower turbocharged engine and a wing bigger than most supercars.

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<p>When BMW gave the 228i a few extra horsepower, the little coupe also got a new name—<span class="redactor-invisible-space" data-verified="redactor" data-redactor-tag="span" data-redactor-class="redactor-invisible-space">230i. And if you equip it with the Track Handling Package, we expect the 3&nbsp;to be just as much fun as its predecessor.&nbsp;</span>The M2 is still faster, but for the money, <a href="http://quizcards.info/car-culture/a29245/bmw-2-series-comparison-test/" target="_blank">you'll have a hard time beating the regular 2-Series</a>.&nbsp;</p>
BMW
BMW 230i - $34,950

When BMW gave the 228i a few extra horsepower, the little coupe also got a new name—230i. And if you equip it with the Track Handling Package, we expect the 230i to be just as much fun as its predecessor. The M2 is still faster, but for the money, you'll have a hard time beating the regular 2-Series.

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Ford
Ford Mustang GT - $35,190

You can equip other, less-expensive Mustangs to still be a blast, but the one you really want is the Mustang GT. Equipped with the Performance Pack, it's not good for a Mustang. It's downright good.

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Subaru
Subaru WRX STI - $36,095

In comparison to a lot of other cars you can get for $36,000, the WRX STI doesn't have a lot of power. But take one down a winding back road, and you won't care at all. The less-powerful WRX is also a fantastic performance bargain, but the STI is still the one to get if you have the budget.

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Chevrolet
Chevrolet Camaro SS - $37,995

It's hard to describe exactly how good the new Camaro SS is. Not only does it have the same motor as the Corvette, it was also the clear winner in our last head-to-head comparison of it and the Ford Mustang GT. As we said in our first drive, it's "very, very good. Very good. Damn good."

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<p>Dodge didn't want to be left out of the group that lets you get a lot of muscle car for less than fifty grand. This one has even more power than the cars from Chevy or Ford with 485 horses from its Hemi V8, starting at $38,995.</p>
Dodge
Dodge Challenger R/T Scat Pack - $39,995

The Dodge Challenger isn't nearly as athletic as the new Camaro or Mustang, but it offers some pretty wild paint colors. Oh, and you can also get a ridiculous amount of power for surprisingly little money. 485 horsepower, to be specific. And if you need more space, you can always go with the four-door version, the Charger Scat Pack.

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