/Affordable Performance Cars

Affordable Performance Cars

subaru wrx sti at Affordable Performance Cars

When it comes to owning a performance car you don’t necessarily need a bulging wallet and plush carpets on your garage floor. “Performance” doesn’t have to cost the price of a house, or even a moderately priced house – there are many non-Italian manufactures out there offering cars with amazing performance specs at a snip of the price.

Don’t think “at a snip of the price” means a snip in the quality, as today’s technological advancements in the automotive business – mainly Japanese – have well surpassed the days of rust, bad electrics and unreliability.

If you are a driver’s driver and really appreciate a car that handles well, a machine that hugs the bends, rockets along the straights and stops as though it has a fitted dragster parachute, then take a look at what’s on offer for around the £30,000 mark.

Mazda RX-8

Mazda at Affordable Performance Cars

Performance cars this good looking, fast and reliable rarely come at a low price, however, this practical yet insanely fast 227-bhp car can be found at around £16,000. They discontinued the RX-8 in 2012, so if you find a mint used example, it’s a real bargain.

There are various models of the RX-8 but the one you want is the 227-bhp version. Although the 189-bhp model is nimble and quick, the extra grunt really sets this car apart from any other practical coupe. It provides four doors and four seats, of which the rear will seat adults in complete comfort.

Once you’re behind the wheel, 62-mph comes in 6.2-secs and it will top out at 146-mph. Not only good to look at and extremely lively, the 1.3L engine sounds superb.

Add to all this its excellent build quality and cast-iron reliability and you have a really affordable and low maintenance rocket.

Volkswagen Golf R

golfr at Affordable Performance Cars

Whilst the Golf GTI is probably the most famous hot hatch ever built, VW have offered faster models since it’s first generation. There’s been the VR6 and the R32, both V6s. However, there is a new kid in town and it’s simply called the “R”. It replaces the R32 – the drop of the “32” is that because it no longer uses a 3.2-L V6 engine. Boosting this VW to 62-mph in 5.7-secs is a 2.0L turbocharged unit capable of 271-bhp – a whole second faster than the GTI.

Although the top secs version costs around £34,000, you are getting the German build quality and reliability. If you’re not the sort of person who likes to lose thousands of pounds driving a car out of showroom, you can pick up a “nearly new” Golf R for under £30,000.

Toyota AE86

AE86 at Affordable Performance Cars

2012 saw the return of the still loved AE86, the original 80’s model now considered a legend in the drifting and time attack events. Although the Toyota GT86’s performance isn’t as fast as the aforementioned cars, its 2.0-L unit pumping out 197-bhp still manages to hit 62-mph in 7.7-secs. But with this car it isn’t all about the sprint as the GT86 produces a mean growl that really changes pitch as the revs rise – a great sensation actually hearing the engine work… and work it does because its peak power figures don’t come into play until around the 6,400-rpm mark.

This is a great handling and extremely reliable performance car for the driving enthusiast – you have to ring its neck to get the best from it.

The top model cost around the same as the Golf R, although you can knock a massive £10,000 off for a 1-year-old example.

Subaru WRX STi

STi at Affordable Performance Cars

This car doesn’t really need much of an introduction. The new STi hit the market in 2011, its continuous rally-inspired evolution producing a car capable of hitting 62-mph in 5.2-secs. It continues to use its legendary ‘boxer’ unit, a 2.5-L turbo producing 295-bhp and able to take the STi to 158-mph.

Renowned for its unbeatable AWD handling and its good reliability, you won’t find a car this competitive for around £30,000. Find a mint used example and you really will get a massive bang for your buck.

Ford Focus RS

FocusRS at Affordable Performance Cars

This is the Focus RS, Ford’s 300-bhp super-hatch. Ford’s designers and engineers put their hearts and souls into this to ensure the RS was the ultimate streetcar. It looks aggressive, with its twin-blade spoiler and extreme body kit. Ford’s turbocharged 2.5-litre engine delivers power smoothly across all the rev range, with amazing acceleration in the high gears. It can hit 62-mph in under 6-secs and continue up to 163-mph, and as it slows and down changes, you are rewarded with little exhaust pops and cackles.

The last RS rolled off the production line in 2010, so at under £26,000, this car really delivers in the satisfaction department – it looks great, drives well, and scores high on reliability.

So you see, you really can own a performance car for under £30,000. And unlike the pricier cars out there, a clutch change won’t cost you £3000, a set of tyres £1000, and a simple service £1000. If you correctly maintain the above examples, they’ll only cost you a little more than your average 2.0L family car to keep on the road. Depending on the engine, if its over 2.0L or turbocharged, you will pay slightly more on road tax.

To cut ownership costs further, you can research the web and source some great performance car insurance companies, such as http://cherished.carolenash.com/. These brokers specialise primarily on the performance vehicles and will offer you a quote well below the average insurance company.

(Journalist) – James is a published fiction and article writer from London (UK) with a serious penchant for Ferrari F1, anything with an engine, and English Pointers.