The market for affordable sports cars is bigger than ever. There's a whole bundle of choices available for less than $45,000, but not all of them are worth going for. Here are the ones worth a second look.
The Veloster N is the newest hot hatch on the block, and Hyundai's first real performance car. Developed by ex-BMW M boss Albert Biermann, it's fantastic to drive, and a real bargain considering the performance you get. Just make sure to option the $2100 performance pack.
Fiat's punchy little hot hatch has been on sale for awhile now, but it hasn't gotten any less fun. Plus, thanks to generous dealer incentives, you can get into one for well under MSRP all day long.
The base Audi TT coupe falls just under the $45k mark, and for that, you get Golf GTI performance in a sleek, luxurious package ( the company's signature Quattro all-wheel drive system).
One benefit of choosing Korean over German is cost. The rear-wheel drive Kia Stinger GT, with its 365-horsepower twin-turbo V-6, comes in at just over $38,000. That's a whole lot of car for not very much cash.
If trucking is more your thing, there is perhaps nothing more capable on the market right now for under $45,000 than the Colorado ZR2. Thanks to a set of magnificent Multimatic DSSV dampers, it can conquer any terrain with ease.
The Focus RS is currently the hottest hatch on the market. With 350 horsepower, a manual transmission, a trick all-wheel drive system, and a dedicated drift mode, it's well worth the money. Better act fast if you want one, though, because production is just about over, and dealer inventory won't last long.
The V-8-powered 1LE squeezes just under the $45,000 mark, and believe us, it's a bargain. You get a world-class chassis, good looks, a lovely V-8 engine, and old fashioned six-speed manual transmission. What more could you want?
If you're looking to tick all the boxes, the Audi S3 comes close. It's an all-wheel-drive, four-door sedan with enough power to make you smile on a backroad, with the luxury to back up that famous four-ring badge.
Honda finally decided to give us Americans a taste of the Type R pie with this generation's Civic. The 2018 Civic Type R is every Honda fanboy's dream, with 305 horsepower, eccentric styling, and of course, a huge rear wing.
If you're not into the Type R's flashy looks (many aren't), Honda offers a great alternative: The Accord 2.0T. It uses a slightly detuned version of the Type R's turbocharged engine, and can still be mated to a manual gearbox.
Like the Miata, the Subaru BRZ and Toyota 86 fall under the $45,000 mark, but their hilariously fun-to-drive characteristics means they deserve a spot on this list. With just 205 horsepower, you might be wanting for more shove at times, but once you take a corner at speed, you'll forget all about that.
Planning on driving your BRZ on the track? The STI-branded BRZ tS doesn't come with any more power, but it still gets a ton of race-worthy upgrades. Things like stickier tires, better suspension, and that big wing are standard.
The Wrangler is all-new for 2018, and it's a whole lot better to drive than its predecessor. Pricing for the base model falls under $30,000, and things like a manual transmission, a folding soft top, and a V-6 engine are all available. And yes, you can still take the doors off.
The Challenger R/T Scat Pack is the baddest Challenger you can buy before stepping up to the mighty Hellcat. It comes standard with a 485-horsepower Hemi V8 and a six-speed manual transmission.
The Charger version of the Scat Pack is the same exact price, except you get two more doors and an automatic transmission standard. There's also four-piston Brembo front brakes, and that 6.4-liter Hemi V-8.
The Golf R remains one of the top choices in the mid-range sports car market thanks to its practicality, good looks, all-wheel drive, and fantastic interior. If you want luxury for cheap, this is the car to get.
Ok, hear us out. No, the Metris van isn't a sports car. But that doesn't mean it's fun to drive. Who needs an SUV or boring minivan when you can have a C-Class luxury experience with all the cargo room in the world? We know which we'd choose.
The 124 Abarth might not be as good to drive as its Miata cousin, but it's still fantastic. With a turbocharged engine and a blacked-out hood, its the perfect affordable convertible for those not into Mazdas.
Ford recently unveiled a face-lifted version of the Mustang, and this is it. What hasn't changed is that 5.0-liter V-8, which now makes 455 horsepower, and gets the car from 0-60 in just 4 seconds. Yes, you can still get it with a manual.
You may be asking yourself why the base 2-Series is on this list instead of the more powerful M240i. Well we tested earlier versions of these cars together, and found the cheaper car was actually more fun to drive. If you value driving pleasure over speed, get the 230i.
The Subaru WRX STI's powertrain hasn't really changed in more than a decade. It's still the same flat-four EJ boxer engine, making 305 horsepower to all four wheels. Still, it's really fun to drive. And who can say no to a wing like that?