The 23 Best New Cars Under $45,000

There are a ton of fun cars out there that don't require you to break the bank. Here are some of the best.

Nate Hassler

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.

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Hyundai Veloster N - $27,785

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.

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Fiat 500 Abarth - $20,495

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.

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Audi TT - $44,900

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).

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Kia Stinger GT - $39,300

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.

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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 - $21,340

Though there's already a new Fiesta ST out in Europe (which we're not getting), the old one can still be purchased new in dealerships stateside. It's one of the biggst smile-inducing new cars you can buy at any price. Several of our writers have owned one, including myself. I miss it everyday.

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Brian Silvestro
Chevrolet Colorado ZR2 - $41,300

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.

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This is the first Focus RS to make it to our shores. Thankfully the wait is over and the RS is here. And at $35,900, it's a real deal for a 350 horsepower hot hatch.
Ford Focus RS - $41,120

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.

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manual transmission cars
Chevrolet Camaro SS 1LE - $43,995

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?

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<p>Yes, the Audi S3 comes with a manual in parts of the world that aren't the USA. The problem is, we're located in the USA. Having driven this car once before with a manual, we can tell you that it isn't faster, but it is way more fun. Come on Audi, send it over.</p>
Sean Klingelhoefer
Audi S3 - $44,500

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.

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DW Burnett/Puppyknuckles
Mazda MX-5 Miata - $25,730

The new Miata doesn't come close to this list's $45,000 limit, but it's so good to drive, we couldn't leave it out. Whether you into the pure open top convertible or the fastback-style RF, there's no going wrong with Mazda's greatest-ever creation.

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Honda Civic Type R - $35,700

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.

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Honda Accord 2.0T - $30,710

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.

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Subaru BRZ / Toyota 86 - $25,795 / $26,505

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.

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Subaru BRZ tS - $33,495

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.

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Jeep Wrangler - $28,045

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.

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Dodge Challenger R/T Scat Pack - $39,995

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.

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Dodge Charger Scat Pack - $39,995

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.

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<p>The first Volkswagen GTI, made back in 1984, was the granddaddy of an entire generation of hot hatchbacks and sport compacts. It wasn't rocket-quick, but it provided the kind of visceral driving experience that previously was available only on more expensive cars. The GTI remains one of the world's best inexpensive speed machines, but VW now offers a performance notch above the GTI called the Golf R. For around $37,000 it comes with a potent turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder tuned to 292 hp.</p><p>The Golf R shares many of its components with the Audi S3. The difference is that only the Golf R comes with a manual transmission. Choosing the stick shifter will save you $1,100 over the DSG automatic. That's right, purists, the Golf R is cheaper. Now if we can just get the Golf R in the new Sportwagon bodystyle like they have in Europe with a manual. We'd break out our checkbook.</p><p>Base Price: $35,650<br></p>
Volkswagen Golf R - $40,395

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.

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Chris Perkins
Mercedes-Benz Metris - $26,570

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.

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DW Burnett/Puppyknuckles
Fiat 124 Spyder Abarth - $28,295

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.

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Ford Mustang GT - $35,355

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.

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The BMW 2 Series is the least-expensive BMW you can buy. That makes it a great starting place for buyers who are new to the brand and don't have the budget for a nicer luxury car. But whether they're buying it because it's cheap or because it's cute, it's also fun to drive. After a few months behind the wheel, new owners are going to start to understand why enthusiasts love driving.
Dean Smith
BMW 230i - $35,300

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.

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Subaru WRX STI - $36,595

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?

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