Budget Performance: Top 10 Quickest Cars Under $25k [Video]

Earlier this week, Roman and Michael counted down the top 10 fastest cars of 2017. However, we realize that those cars, while certainly impressive, are very hard to get a hold of. Furthermore, there are very few places in the US where you can legally and safely go 200 MPH+. So, we decided to put together a much more relevant list of the top 10 quickest cars under $25k. These are cars that have a price roughly at or below $25,000 (we went slightly over on some of them. 0-60 times are somewhat finicky, so in the name of consistency, we decided to consult the help of the guys over at Car & Driver in Ann Arbor, MI. They do very comprehensive testing on their 0-60 times and we trust their data to be consistent and accurate.

The List

10. Mazda 3 2.5L – $23,145 – 6.8s

2016 Mazda3
[Photo: TFL]
This sporty yet affordable little Mazda scoots to 60 in a very respectable 6.8 seconds. That time is made possible by a 2.5L naturally aspirated 4-cylinder engine that cranks out 184 horsepower and 185 lb-ft of torque. Power is sent to the front wheels through a 6-speed automatic transmission.

9. Hyundai Elantra GT Sport – $23,250 – 6.7s

[Photo: Hyundai]
This is a vehicle that our friend Nathan recently drove, and raved about. It has a 1.6L 4-cylinder turbocharged engine that makes 201 horsepower and 195 lb-ft of torque. Power is sent to the front wheels through a 6-speed manual transmission. Although, a 7-speed dual clutch is available which will reduce the 0-60 time by 0.2 seconds. Either way, you have yourself a Nurburgring tested hot hatch for less than $25k.

8. Ford Fiesta ST – $21,140 – 6.7s

2014 Ford Fiesta ST
[Photo: Ford]
The Fiesta ST is a car that is unfortunately leaving us for a brief time. However, you can still buy them today. So, it is on our list. Helping it to our 8th spot is a 1.6L 4-cylinder turbo that makes 197 horsepower and 202 lb-ft of torque. A 6-speed manual transmission sends power to the front wheels. It may not be Ford’s quickest performance vehicle, but it is certainly the cheapest and one of the most fun to drive.

7. Honda Civic Si – $23,900 – 6.5s

Honda Civic Si
[Photo: Honda]
The old Civic Si was powered by a rev-happy VTEC engine. But, this time, Honda have turned to the gods of forced injection to help maintain power and increase efficiency. This Generation Si is powered by a 1.5L 4-cylinder turbo that makes 205 horsepower and 192 lb-ft of torque. Power is sent to the front wheels through a 6-speed manual gearbox.

6. Subaru BRZ – $25,495 – 6.5s

2017 Subaru BRZ
[Photo: TFL]
If its two doors, a manual transmission, and rear wheel drive that you are looking for, the Subaru BRZ (and Toyota 86) is one of the most inexpensive ways to get there. This entry-level sports coupe has a 2.0L boxer 4-cylinder that makes 205 horsepower and 151 lb-ft of torque. The rear wheels get their power thanks to a 6-speed manual transmission.

5. Ford Focus ST – $24,775 – 6.3s

[Photo: Ford]
This is the next step up from the Fiesta ST in Ford’s performance lineup. With the boost in price, you also get a boost in performance and a boost in interior room. The performance increase comes thanks to a 2.0L turbocharged 4-cylinder engine that makes an eye-popping 252 horsepower and 270 lb-ft of torque. Power is once again sent to the front wheels with the help of a 6-speed manual.

4. Mini Cooper S – $25,200 – 6.2s

[Photo: TFL]
This is a slightly tricky car to actually buy for $25k. I’ll explain that more in a second. What’s under the hood is a 2.0L turbocharged 4-cylinder that makes 189 horsepower and 207 lb-ft of torque. The front wheels receive their power from a 6-speed manual yet again. The reason it is so hard to buy one of these for $25k is because Minis are infinitely customizable. Most are ordered to the dealer with at least a few options, so it seems unlikely that you will find one for that cheap. Furthermore, there is only one paint option, Moonwalk Grey, that doesn’t cost $500. So, while it is technically possible to find one for that cheap, we wish you good luck in trying to do so. Here is one of our many reviews on this car.

3. VW Golf GTI – $25,595 – 5.9s

[Photo: Michael Curtis]
This is a car that I am quite partial to, mostly because I own one. Furthermore, I actually bought mine for roughly $24k brand new, so I can tell you that it is possible to buy one for under $25k. Regardless of how cheaply you can find one, it will come with a 2.0L turbocharged 4-cylinder that makes 210 horsepower and 258 lb-ft of torque. Power is sent, yet again, to the front wheels thanks to a – you guessed it – 6-speed manual transmission. But, for $25k you get a sub-6 second 0-60 car with plaid seats, and a golf ball for a shift knob. I can’t think of anything more to ask for.

2. Mazda MX-5 Miata – $24,965 – 5.9s

2016 Mazda MX-5 Miata Club Edition
[Photo: Mazda]
This may be the sports car bargain of the century. For that price you get a 2.0L naturally aspirated engine that makes 155 horsepower and 148 lb-ft of torque. A 6-speed manual transmission sends that power to the proper, rear wheels. Furthermore, you get one of the best handling cars of all time and infinite smiles-per-gallon. Watch it race another car on this list here.

1. Ford Mustang V6 Fastback – $25,185 – 5.5s

2015 Mustang EcoBoost
[Photo: Ford]
While the V6 is slated to be phased out for the 2018 model year, you can still buy them right now and boy, do they offer an enticing package for a touch over $25k. You get a 3.6L naturally aspirated V6 with 305 horsepower and 285 lb-ft of torque paired with a 6-speed manual. Since it is a muscle car, the power is logically sent to the rear wheels only.

Bonus. Chevy Camaro 2.0L – $25,905 – 5.4s

[Photo: Chevy]
As always, we like to include a bonus car. The reason this is the bonus is due to the fact that it is only $95 away from being $26,000 which is our cut-off for this list. That being said, you still get a great deal considering this turbo 4-cylinder makes 275 horsepower and 295 lb-ft of torque. Three pedals and a 6-speed gearbox ensure that power is sent back to the rear wheels. Furthermore, Chevy has turned this car into one of the best handling chassis you can buy today, making this more of a sports car than a traditional muscle car. Still, it is an awesome deal for what you pay. Check out the specs here.

Double Bonus. Fiat 500 Abarth – $19,995 – 7.0s

[Photo: Fiat]
As it turns out, there are a lot of cars at or under $25k that can put a huge smile on your face. However, the cool thing about this one is that it is actually under $20k. For that money you get a snarling little 1.4L turbocharged motor that makes 160 horsepower and 170 lb-ft of torque. Due to the engine’s small size, it burns very clean, meaning you don’t need a whole lot of emissions equipment. As such, this little beast sounds awesome, putting a huge smile on your face any time you step on it. Total bargain for sub-$20k. Check out our review here.

We hope that you enjoyed this list, and found it to be a bit more relevant than those multi-million dollar rocket ships that Roman and I covered last time.

If you can think of any other cars that could make it onto the list, please drop a comment below!

Be sure to watch the whole video to hear what we have to say about each car.