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The Best New Sports Car for $25k or Less.

Posted in Fast Cars, Ford, Honda, Hyundai, Mazda, Mini, One Lap of America, Racing, Rally, Volkswagen by MrAngry | May 13th, 2010 | 4 Responses |

I’ve been back for exactly 4 days after running the 2010 One Lap of America and already I am getting bombarded with questions as to if I’ll be running next year. Obviously the key to not only finishing the event but placing well is showing up with the right car. This year, instead of bringing a gun to a knife fight, we brought a sledge hammer and man was it a rough deal. Trying to sling that Charger around 8 racetracks while competing against Porsche’s, Corvette’s and all manner of imports proved to be an exercise in futility. I then started thinking about what would be the best car to come out of each price range and came up with the following price points: $25,000 or less, $50,000 or less, $75,000 or less, $100,000 or less and $100,000 or above.

We’ll be looking at things like fuel economy as well as performance and storage capacity. These are key elements to finishing not only this event, but any open road rallies that you may wish to participate in. Keep in mind that the One Lap of America has 12 classes you can run in – this is a lot. Over the next few days I am going to give you what I think are the best cars for the event based on price and performance. All the cars will be new, I’ll give you some manufacturer performance data as well as some real world thoughts about each model and why I think they’d make the cut. Some of you will agree with me, others will not. The key here is to give you guys some insight based on real world experience as to why I think these cars are good choices for not only the One Lap of America, but for any open road event you choose to participate in.

• 2010 Honda Civic Si

2010 Honda Civic Si

The Civic Si has been around for quite some time now and has gained a cult like following from those who know it. It’s small, quick and most importantly, reliable. The Civic Si brings all of that to the table and more. There was one of these on the 2010 One Lap of America and I must say that it was an impressive little car. The handling was crisp and with a curb weight of under 3000 lbs it was able to put the power down and squirt out of corners. The biggest issue with the Civic Si is its lack of torque. Yes, you can make this little car move but you had better be prepared to keep that little mill revving in order to do so. The other negative is the lack of cargo space. For an event like One Lap you need to have a weeks worth of luggage, racing gear, tools and supplies. Now, if you can fit that in 11.5 (cu ft) than God bless you, I know I couldn’t.

Pros:
• 0-60 mph: 6.7 seconds
• 21 City/29 Highway mpg
• Top Speed 140 mph
• Curb Weight 2954 lbs.
Cons:
• Cargo Volume 11.5 (cu ft)
• 197-hp / 139 lbs. tq
• Price as-tested: $22,500

• 20101 Volkswagen GTI

2010 VW GTI

GTI’s have been around since the 80’s and why not, they’re great cars. The current 2010 GTI is a strong runner, but it’s also one of the most expensive in the group. The other issue I have is that with every GTI I’ve driven on the track, the stock brakes go away after 3 laps. Sure you can put on new lines, pads and run different fluid, but wouldn’t it be better if they just addressed this from the factory?

Pros:
• 0-60 mph: 6.8 seconds
• 207-hp / 207 lbs. tq
• 21 City/31 Highway mpg
• Cargo Volume (cu ft) 15.1
Cons:
• Top Speed 130 mph
• Soggy Brakes
• Price as-tested: $24,800

• 2010 Hyundai Genesis 2.0T

2010 Hyundai Genesis

The Genesis Coupe is Hyundai’s first real entrant into the compact sports car market. Sure there was the Tiberon, but that thing was laughable at best as a sports car. On the bright side the Genesis has rear wheel drive which in my opinion totally ups the fun factor, but with a cargo capacity of only 10.0 (cu ft) you’ll be hard pressed to get everything you need in that trunk for an extended week long track excursion.

Pros:
• 0-60 mph: 6.8 seconds
• Rear wheel drive
• 210 hp / 223 lb-ft
• Top Speed 137 mph
Cons:
• 21 City / 30 Highway mpg
• Price: $24,625
• Cargo Volume (cu ft) 10.0

• 2010 Mazda Speed3

2010 MazdaSpeed3

I’ll say it right now that the Mazdaspeed3 is my top pick out of this eco-friendly bunch. It’s the fastest and best handling car out of this group by far and also gives you a decent amount of cargo space. Plus at just over 23K the car is a downright bargain when you think of the performance levels it can achieve. The old Mazdaspeed3’s (2008-2009) suffered from wicked torque steer, but for 2010 the engineers at Mazda where able to make it more manageable by limiting the amount of power that is initially transmitted to the front wheels. The other issue is fuel consumption. Race track mileage should be about 10-12 mpg, with interstate mileage running at 90 +mph seeing somewhere around 23 mpg. Not super terrible, but not great either.

Pros:
• 0-60 mph: 5.6 seconds
• 263 hp / 280 lb-ft
• Cargo Volume (cu ft) 17.0
• Top Speed 155 mph (limited)
• Price: $23,500
Cons:
• Torque Steer
• 18 City / 28 Highway mpg

• 2010 Mini Cooper S

2010 Mini Cooper S

The Mini Cooper S handles like a go-kart, gets great gas mileage and is actually quite quick. The problem however lies in the fact that unless you take the back seats out, you’ll be hard pressed to get a bag of groceries back there as it only has 5.7 (cu ft) of cargo space. It’s a great little car, but you’ll need some really small clothes, tools and gear to make this trip.

Pros:
• 0-60 mph: 6.7 seconds
• 29 City / 34 Highway mpg
• Top Speed 139 mph (limited)
• Handling
Cons:
• Cargo Volume (cu ft) 5.7
• 172 hp / 177 lb-ft
• Price: $24,500

• 2011 Ford Mustang V6

2011 Ford Mustang V6

I bet you didn’t see this one coming did you, but rest assured the new 2011 Ford Mustang GT has every right to be on this list. It’s under 25k, packs over 300 hp, is rear wheel drive and gets over 30 mpg. So why didn’t it beat the Mazda you might ask? Well, there are two reasons. First and foremost is the speed governor which limits the top end to 113 mph. On a big road course like Road America the only thing this would do is piss you off because you’d be bouncing off the speed limiter constantly. The other item is the price of a properly equipped V6 comes in at just under 25k. Yes it does make the 25k cut, but only barely. If they could only lower the price and pop off the speed limiter, it may just reign supreme.

Pros:
• 305 hp / 280 lb-ft
• 0-60 mph: 5.5 seconds
• 19 City / 31 Highway mpg
• Handling
Cons:
• Cargo Volume (cu ft) 13.4
• Price: $24,800
• Top Speed 113 mph (limited)

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4 Responses

  1. Blix says:

    As much as I dislike the Si (only b/c my friend who owns one says every car is a POS in comparison) that car has a gearbox designed by God. One can completely forget they’re driving a no-torque econobox when snapping through the gears in that car. The exhaust note isn’t bad either.

  2. Car Games says:

    Love the Si…and I would never drive anything made by Hyundai. Also, the Mustang and MiniCooper doesn’t look that good too.

  3. Kurt says:

    Actually, Blix, the gearbox in the S2000 was designed AND handbuilt by God. The transmission in the Civic Si may have been designed by God, but he subcontracted the assembly.

    Car Games, people said the same thing about about Japanese cars back in the ’70s. Go take a Hyundai for a test drive – you’ll be amazed at how far the Koreans have come.

  4. MrAngry says:

    You guys are lucky… my big 6’4″ 240 lb. body doesn’t fit in either of those things…