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Mr. Frugal Presents: Eight Hoonmobiles That Won’t Break The Bank

A while back I ran a piece on the ten least expensive new cars to insure. As you’d imagine, none of them were even remotely entertaining to drive. So is there no hope for a car enthusiast on a budget? RideLust feels your pain, so I’ve researched eight 2010 models that are guaranteed to amuse without costing you an arm and a leg.

First, I looked at insurance costs for all 2010 models (based on a national average, for a 40 year old male with no points on his license). Next, I looked at which ones were entertaining to drive, then assigned a completely subjective “fun to drive” score from 1 to 10. I looked at the MSRP. Finally, I calculated the five year cost of insurance plus the purchase price; once I had all this data, I sorted the winners in the order I liked best.

8. Chevrolet Camaro SS

2010 Camaro SS

MSRP: $32,000.00
Annual insurance: $1,445.00
Five year cost: $39,225.00
Fun factor: 8

I like the new Camaro well enough, even if it is hard for anyone over five foot eight inches tall to get in or out without smashing their head. What put it in last place was simply the high purchase price and limited options for driving at 100%. If you’ve got to have one, get the stick; the slushbox costs you 26 horsepower and feels sluggish off the line.

7. Mini Cooper S John Cooper Works Package

2010 Mini Cooper S JCW

MSRP: $29,500.00
Annual insurance: $1,360.00
Five year cost: $36,300.00
Fun factor: 10

The Mini Cooper may well be the most entertaining front wheel drive car on the planet, and it is one you can drive at 10/10s every time you get behind the wheel. The JCW version makes 208 horsepower, good enough to launch the Mini to 60 in around 6 seconds. Handling is very good right out of the box, and strong aftermarket support allows you to tune the car as your taste and budget allows.

6. Ford Mustang Convertible

2010 Mustang Convertible

MSRP: $27,500.00
Annual insurance: $1,371.00
Five year cost: $34,355.00
Fun factor: 6

So how can a Mustang convertible only score a fun factor of 6? Sadly, we’re talking about the fuel-hungry-but-anemic 2010 V6 model here, the one with 210 horsepower and a city rating of 18 mpg. Still, it’s a Mustang and it’s a ragtop, and there are plenty of ways to add a bit more scoot and tighten up the handling. In stock form you won’t keep up with a 2010 Miata on a racetrack, but you can still enjoy those sunny days in style.

5. Hyundai Genesis Coupe 2.0T Track

2010 Hyundai Genesis Coupe

MSRP: $27,500.00
Annual insurance: $1,421.00
Five year cost: $34,605.00
Fun factor: 8

Just in case you’ve been living in a cave for the past few years, the Genesis Coupe is the new ride to have for the tuner set, and with good reason. The 2.0 liter turbocharged motor puts out 210 horsepower, which drives the (proper) rear wheels and gets the car to 60 in around 6.5 seconds. It’s rated at 21 mpg city, 30 mpg highway so it won’t eat you out of house and home. It’s damn comfortable (unless you’re sentenced to the back seat, which counts as cruel and unusual punishment), it’s stylish and it’s backed by one of the industry’s best warranties. Unless you’re a badge snob (in which case you wouldn’t be reading this list anyway), you really need to drive a Genesis Coupe if you’re in the market for a two door ride.

4. Volkswagen GTI

2010 VW GTI

MSRP: $26,000.00
Annual insurance: $1,406.00
Five year cost: $33,030.00
Fun factor: 8

The original hot hatchback is still one of my personal favorites. Sure there are quicker cars out there, and there are cars at the same price point with better handling. Somehow, nothing seems to deliver quite the same feel and solid build as the VW. A huge aftermarket can supply any kind of go-fast parts you’d ever want, but the stock GTI is plenty enjoyable to drive as is. Think of it as the thinking hoon’s commuter car of choice.

3. Mazda MX-5 Miata

2010 Mazda MX-5

MSRP: $26,000.00
Annual insurance: $1,290.00
Five year cost: $32,450.00
Fun factor: 10

There are two kinds of people who buy Miatas: those who want a perfectly balanced sports car with just enough power to make things interesting, and those who want a cute convertible. Fortunately for us enthusiasts, the little old ladies buying Miatas outnumber the hoons by at least 5 to 1; therefore, insurance companies view the Miata as a 2 liter, four cylinder economy car. Just don’t tip them to the fact that it’s got it’s own racing series, or that with a few afternoons turning wrenches you can embarrass cars costing 3x as much in the twisties. If you still think a Miata is a chick car, then you’ve never driven one at speed; do so, and I guarantee it’ll change your perspective.

2. Mazda Mazdaspeed 3

2010 Mazdaspeed 3

MSRP: $24,000.00
Annual insurance: $1,480.00
Five year cost: $31,400.00
Fun factor: 8

Just look at the numbers: 263 horsepower, with a zero to sixty time of 6.1 seconds. Vented front discs that are 12.6 inches in diameter, with rears that are 11 inches. A limited slip differential and a 155 mile per hour (governed) top speed, all for under $24,000.00. Sure, the new styling was penned by an anime artist on a bad acid trip, and the interior is guaranteed to induce motion sickness while you’re parked, but who cares? You’d be hard pressed to find a better bang for the performance buck, and the Mazdaspeed 3 can handle anything from daily commutes to weekend track days.

1. Honda Civic Si Sedan

2010 Honda Civic Si Sedan

MSRP: $23,500.00
Annual insurance: $1,480.00
Five year cost: $30,900.00
Fun factor: 8

My real preference is for the more attractive two door coupe, but the sedan is significantly cheaper on insurance. If you’ve never driven the new Civic Si models, go do so immediately. Like the Miata, they make you feel like a much better driver than you probably are. The six speed gearbox in the Civic Si models is among the best in the industry, and is nearly as good as the gearbox in the S2000 (which, as everybody knows, is handbuilt by God himself). Are they small? Yes, they’re small. Are they high strung? Yes, you need to wind them up to make power. Will you have every modded Civic and Acura within a 100 mile radius want to dice with you light to light? Sure, but that’s part of the fun. The Civic Si is one of the few cars that can be socially respectable and hoonable at the same time. The neighbors won’t bat an eyelash if they see one in your driveway, so don’t let on that you bought it because it’s a blast to drive.

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11 Responses

  1. Dave says:

    Alright, not to start a Mustang vs. Camaro war here, but why do you use the top of the line Camaro SS and then the bottom of the barrell V6 Stang?

  2. Dave says:

    Question unrelated to article: Is there a problem with the site? I don’t get any articles\pages past the one about smoking tires on the 2011 Stang.

  3. Kurt says:

    Dave: only because of insurance. The Camaro SS is actually CHEAPER to insure than the V6 Camaro; the V8 Mustang, on the other hand, is much more expensive to insure than the V6. Go figure,

  4. Not interested... says:

    ….ummmm, 7 out of 10, I wouldn’t step foot in, no matter how “cheap” the insurance is. -And the Miata, HA, you couldn’t pay ME to drive it, nevermind the insurance cost, its about self dignity.
    -this list could have been better Kurty

    • Kurt says:

      The list was based on insurance cost and vehicle cost, so it was what it was. Not my choice.

      As for the Miata thing, what do YOU drive? Can you drive it at 10/10s every time you get behind the wheel? Is it affordable AND entertaining? Does it have a huge aftermarket support and its own racing series? Does it forgive mistakes (like throttle lift at apex, or down-shifting mid corner)? Does it make you a better driver?

      I’m too comfortable in my own skin to worry about the whole percetion thing. Sorry you’re not.

  5. Not interested... says:


    …anything else

  6. Kurt says:

    Not interested, I call bullshit. Tell me where in America you can drive an M3 at 10/10s every time you get behind the wheel? How is a $50k car affordable? Also, turn the vehicle stability control off and tell me the M3 is a forgiving car when driven at speed.

    I’m forgetting internet rule number 1: never feed the trolls, as it makes them irritable and ruins their natural ability to forage for food…

  7. Not Interested says:

    …c’mon Kurty- You can do better. My ride is a dd, costing no where near 50k, and why would you turn off stability control ?! that makes no sense. I am forgetting some rules as well- don’t listen to the guy with the little man miata! lol

  8. Belleropheron says:

    I knew that BMW owners had small cocks and were compensating. Not Interested proves it.

  9. BigRuss says:

    minis and miatas are a blast to drive… and hell sack up and put some time in one….