While it may seem that automakers are focusing more on fuel efficiency than performance these days, cars are actually getting faster and (in some cases) cheaper. If you’re in the market for a performance car under $50,000, you might be surprised just how fast they can get.
Taking a look at 0-60 mph acceleration times*, we have compiled a list of the Top 10 fastest vehicles available on today’s market for under $50,000 including destination.
10. Nissan 370Z – 4.8 seconds
The Nissan 370Z kicks off the list with its ability to accelerate to 60 mph from a standstill in 4.8 seconds. The popular sports car from Nissan is powered by a 3.7-liter V6 engine with 332 hp and 270 lb-ft of torque and nets 18 mpg in the city and 26 mpg on the highway. It’s affordable too, with a starting price of $30,800 including destination. Those willing to dig deeper into their pockets can opt for the Nismo variant which starts from $43,830. It offers slightly more performance with 350 hp and 276 lb-ft of torque along with aerodynamic styling upgrades, stickier tires and upgraded suspension.
9. Subaru WRX – 4.7 seconds
Surprised to see the standard Subaru WRX on the list and not the WRX STI? That’s because the WRX is lighter and doesn’t have all the bells and whistles that makes the STI a better handling machine. As a result, the WRX goes from 0-60 mph in 4.7 seconds and has a really attractive starting price of $26,565. But that’s not to say that the WRX is a better car than the STI. Sure it’s faster accelerating to 60 mph, but that’s about its only advantage when it comes to true sports car performance. The WRX features a 2.5-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine with 265 hp and 244 lb-ft of torque while the STI is more powerful with 305 hp and 290 lb-ft of torque. The other benefit the standard WRX has over its STI counterpart is that it’s more fuel efficient, getting a 19 mpg city, 25 mpg highway rating. The STI on the other hand is rated at 17 mpg in the city and 23 mpg on the highway.
8. BMW 135i – 4.6 seconds
The BMW 135i is a formidable sports car, accelerating from 0 to 60 in 4.6 seconds. Lurking under the hood is the German automaker’s popular 3.0-liter turbocharged six-cylinder engine with 300 hp and 300 lb-ft of torque. Equipped with a manual transmission (as it was for its 0-60 test), the 135i also gets a respectable 20 mpg city, 28 mpg highway rating. It has a starting price of $40,525, landing it closer to our $50,000 threshold.
7. Dodge Challenger SRT8 392 – 4.6 seconds
Want some good ‘ol American muscle? The Dodge Challenger SRT8 392 does its 0-60 sprint in 4.6 seconds at a cost of $45,190. Powering the American sports car is a 6.4-liter HEMI V8 engine with 470 hp and 470 lb-ft of torque. Don’t expect good fuel economy however, as the Challenger SRT8 392 gets just 14 mpg in the city and 23 mpg on the highway. It’s not all about straight-line speed for the Challenger though, as it comes standard with Brembo brakes that allow it to stop from 60 mph to 0 in 117 feet.
6. Audi S4 – 4.4 seconds
The luxury performance S4 sedan from Audi is next on the list, with a 0-60 time of 4.4 seconds. Powered by a six-cylinder 3.0-liter supercharged engine, the Audi S4 has 333 hp and 325 lb-ft of torque while getting an EPA-estimated 17 mpg in the city and 26 mpg on the highway. The S4 however is the most expensive car on our list with a starting price of $48,995 with standard quattro all-wheel drive and a six-speed manual transmission.
5. BMW 335i xDrive – 4.4 seconds
BMW‘s main competitor to the Audi S4 is the 335i both in terms of price and performance. Of course there’s the more powerful M3, but given its price tag, the M3 won’t be finding its way onto this list. Since the S4 comes with all-wheel drive as standard, it’s only fitting that we compare it do the 335i xDrive which also features all-wheel drive. Priced from $46,325, the 335i xDrive has an advantage in the pricing department while its 0-60 time is identical to the S4 at 4.4 seconds.
4. Dodge Charger SRT8 – 4.4 seconds
Want American V8 power but need four doors? The Dodge Charger SRT8 is exactly what you need. Given how potent the 6.4-liter HEMI V8 is – the same motor found in the Challenger SRT8 392 – it’s no surprise that the Charger SRT8 can hit 60 mph in 4.4 seconds. It is however, more expensive than the Challenger SRT8 with a starting price of $47,445.
3. Chevrolet Camaro SS – 4.3 seconds
The popular Chevrolet Camaro SS is third on the list, though its 0-60 time of 4.3 seconds is actually tied with our next car. The Camaro 1SS can be had from $35,045 while those looking for more goodies can choose the 2SS trim, which starts at $38,845. Under the hood is a 6.2-liter V8 engine with 426 hp and 420 lb-ft of torque while getting a modest 16 mpg in the city and 24 mpg on the highway. Of course there’s the more powerful ZL1 with 580 hp, but that’s well above our $50,000 price range.
2. Ford Mustang GT – 4.3 seconds
The Ford Mustang GT ranks second, despite the same 4.3-second 0-60 time as the Chevrolet Camaro SS. Reason being, the Mutsang GT is priced from $32,035, over $3,000 less than the Camaro. The 5.0-liter V8 engine boasts 420 hp and 390 lb-ft of torque while getting a 15 mpg city, 26 mpg highway rating with a manual transmission. Of course the Camaro and Mustang have been compared side-by-side for decades now, and choosing which one is for you could just come down to brand loyalty. Then again, you’re almost better off just hanging tight for the 2015 model year to hit dealerships.
1. Mercedes-Benz CLA 45 AMG – 4.2 seconds
The Mercedes-Benz CLA-Class has already done wonders for the German automaker in terms of sales, and the CLA 45 AMG model is setting a new benchmark in luxury performance. Boasting the world’s most powerful four-cylinder engine, the CLA 45 AMG is powered by a 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine with 355 hp and 332 lb-ft of torque. Perhaps even more impressive is the fact that the CLA 45 AMG delivers 23 mpg in the city and 31 mpg on the highway. Best of all, real-world testing proves that the CLA 45 AMG accelerates to 60 mph in 4.2 seconds, even faster than what the German automaker advertises. You can have it all for just $48,375.
*All 0-60 times are based on independent data, not manufacturer estimates.