Top 10 Most Fun-to-Drive Cars Under $25,000

Jason Siu
by Jason Siu

If you’re in the market for a fun-to-drive car for under $25,000, has you covered.

There’s a lot to choose from when it comes to shopping for a new car, but if you’re looking for a sports car that’s not only afford but fun-to-drive, then you’ve come to the right place. We’ve compiled a list of the top 10 fun-to-drive-cars under $25,000 (excluding destination) and you simply can’t go wrong with any of the choices here. Chances are, you will leave the dealership lot with a smile on your face and you won’t be too upset when the monthly car payments gets withdrawn from your bank account.

SEE ALSO: Top 10 Cars From the LA Auto Show We NEED to Drive

Mazda3 – $18,545

A previous Car of the Year, the Mazda3 is the most affordable fun-to-drive car on our list with the five-door hatch starting from $18,545. The 2016 Mazda3 is powered by a 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine sporting 155 horsepower and 150 lb-ft of torque. When equipped with a six-speed manual transmission, it returns 29 mpg in the city and 40 mpg on the highway, making it quite economical as well.

Ford Fiesta ST – $20,970

The range-topping Ford Fiesta offering is the ST model, sporting a 1.6-liter turbocharged EcoBoost four-cylinder engine with 197 hp and 202 lb-ft of torque. The fun-to-drive hatch comes exclusively with a six-speed manual transmission, 17-inch wheels and ST-unique sport suspension while the interior is decked out with aluminum pedals, race-inspired Recaro leather-trimmed front seats and special ST design elements.

Fiat 500 Abarth – $22,495

Compact and filled to the brim with Italian styling, the Fiat 500 Abarth is one hot hatch on a budget. Under the hood is a 1.4-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine with 160 hp mated to a standard five-speed manual transmission. A six-speed automatic unit is available as an option. Fuel economy is not too shabby either, returning 28 mpg in the city and 34 mpg on the highway.

Hyundai Veloster Turbo – $22,600

Hyundai’s little hot hatch features a 1.6-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine under the hood, providing 201 hp and 195 lb-ft of torque. Mated to the engine as standard is a six-speed manual transmission, although a seven-speed EcoShift dual-clutch unit is available as an option. Curb weight on the Veloster Turbo ranges from 2,877 lbs to 2,932 lbs with a manual transmission while the DCT tips the scales at 2,943 lbs to 2,998 lbs. When paired with a manual transmission, the Hyundai Veloster Turbo gets an EPA-estimated 25-mpg city, 33-mpg highway rating while the DCT returns 27 mpg in the city and 33 mpg on the highway.

Honda Civic Si – $22,890

Those that just can’t wait for the new 2016 Honda Civic Si to make its debut can settle for the current model, sporting a 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine with 205 hp and 174 lb-ft of torque. Mated to a close-ratio, six-speed manual transmission, the Honda Civic Si also comes standard with a Helical limited-slip differential. Its curb weight comes in at 3,002 lbs and you can expect to get 22 mpg in the city and 31 mpg on the highway.

2015 Chevrolet Camaro – $23,705 (2016 is $25,700)

We’re well aware that the 2016 Chevrolet Camaro is the new hotness, but it’s also priced at $25,700 while the outgoing model is $23,705. Best of all, you can probably score a better deal as dealerships look to get rid of aging inventory in preparation for the new model’s launch. The base-model Camaro comes powered by a 3.6-liter V6 engine with 323 hp and 278 lb-ft of torque, easily making it one of the most powerful cars under $25,000 as well. Fuel economy ranges from 17 to 19 mpg in the city and 27 to 30 mpg on the highway depending on trim and transmission.

Ford Mustang – $23,895

Any list that has a Chevrolet Camaro almost guarantees that there’s a Ford Mustang not far behind. Standard on the pony car is a 3.7-liter V6 engine with 300 hp and 280 lb-ft of torque while fuel economy is comparable to the Camaro, returning 17 mpg in the city and 28 mpg on the highway when paired to a manual transmission. Automatic Mustang V6 owners can expect to get slightly better mpg at 19 city and 28 highway.

MINI Cooper S – $24,100

The MINI Cooper S is powered by a 2.0-liter MINI TwinPower Turbo four-cylinder engine generating 189 hp and 207 lb-ft of torque. That’s good for a 0-60 mph time of 6.4 seconds while the compact hatch has a top speed of 146 mph. Now, if you can dig a little deeper into your pockets, you can spring for the John Cooper Works model that starts from $30,600 and has a much more fun 228 hp and 236 lb-ft of torque.

Ford Focus ST – $24,425

The Ford Fiesta ST doesn’t quite get your blood going? Maybe the Ford Focus ST will. Sure the Ford Focus RS hot hatch is on the horizon, but if you are looking to keep things under $25,000 then the ST model is the way to go. Under the hood is a 2.0-liter turbocharged EcoBoost four-cylinder engine with 252 hp and 270 lb-ft of torque that returns 22 mpg in the city and 32 mpg on the highway. Like the Fiesta, the Ford Focus ST has specially tuned sport suspension for excellent handling, high-performance brakes and available Recaro seats for the interior.

Mazda MX-5 Miata – $24,915

For decades, the Mazda MX-5 Miata has become synonymous with fun-to-drive and the latest generation of the roadster is no different. Powered by a 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine with 155 hp and 148 lb-ft of torque, the convertible sports car weighs just 2,332 pounds with a manual transmission and 2,381 lbs with an automatic. It has a near-perfect 50/50 weight distribution at 53 front and 47 rear.

Volkswagen Golf GTI – $24,995

Barely making the cutoff at $24,995 excluding destination, the Volkswagen Golf GTI packs a 2.0-liter TSI four-cylinder engine with 210 hp and 258 lb-ft of torque. The front-wheel-drive hatch comes standard with 18-inch wheels and weighs 2,972 lbs while returning 25 mpg in the city and 34 mpg on the highway. Available transmissions include a six-speed manual and six-speed DSG automatic with Tiptronic and Sport mode while interior amenities include rearview camera, heated front seats and multi-function sport steering wheel.

Jason Siu
Jason Siu

Jason Siu began his career in automotive journalism in 2003 with Modified Magazine, a property previously held by VerticalScope. As the West Coast Editor, he played a pivotal role while also extending his expertise to Modified Luxury & Exotics and Modified Mustangs. Beyond his editorial work, Jason authored two notable Cartech books. His tenure at saw him immersed in the daily news cycle, yet his passion for hands-on evaluation led him to focus on testing and product reviews, offering well-rounded recommendations to AutoGuide readers. Currently, as the Content Director for VerticalScope, Jason spearheads the content strategy for an array of online publications, a role that has him at the helm of ensuring quality and consistency across the board.

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  • DK DK on Mar 04, 2017

    I have often been tempted to buy a Mazda but the rust issue kept me away. Does anyone have any updates on what Mazda has done to address that siue?