The Speediest Cars Under $40k
People commonly fantasize about owning a fast car. But given the price tag and limited utility of most sports cars, many choose to own a more practical vehicle instead. While many high-performance sports cars are in the six-figure range, there are plenty of new and used sports cars that can help you live life in the fast lane for under $40,000.
Here are the sports cars that provide an adrenaline rush without the high price tag.
Fastest New Sports Cars Under $40,000
These new sports cars all have starting prices of under $40,000 and are ranked in ascending order of the 0-60 time for their corresponding trim levels. Many of these cars are either higher trim levels than the new vehicles on our fastest cars under $30,000 list or new versions of the used vehicles on the list.
Fastest New Sports Cars Under $40,000
iSeeCars Quality Score
Chevrolet Camaro SS
Ford Mustang GT
Dodge Challenger RT
Mazda MX-5 Miata
Toyota GR 86
1. Chevrolet Camaro
The “everyman’s sports car,” the Chevrolet Camaro earns the top spot. The Chevy Camaro’s base model standard turbocharged 2.0 liter four-cylinder engine with 275 horsepower goes from zero to 60 in 5.4 seconds and reaches a max speed of 155 mph. For under $40,000, buyers can choose higher trims including the LT1 and 1SS which have a 455-horsepower 6.2-liter V8 engine and 6-speed manual transmission. Opting for the more powerful V8 in these trims provides a 0-60 time of 4.3 seconds
2. Ford Mustang GT
The Ford Mustang earns the second spot as the fastest new sports car for under $40,000. It’s also the sports car with the highest iSeeCars Quality Score of 8.4 out of 10 for its coupe version and also ranks high on our list of best sports cars. The highest-performance trim under $40,000 is the GT trim, which features a 5.0-liter V8 with 460 horsepower and 420 pound-feet of torque that can reach 0-60 in 4.2 seconds. This is an upgrade from base EcoBoost model that comes standard with a 2.3-liter turbo four-cylinder engine with 310-horsepower. A GT performance package is available, which includes summer tires, Brembo front brakes, heavy-duty front springs, chassis bracing, a larger radiator, retuned chassis and stability control, and a Torsen limited-slip differential. However, this performance package will take the price to well over $40,000.
3. Dodge Challenger RT
An American muscle car ranks third, the Dodge Challenger two-door coupe. It is among the best sports cars on the market with an iSeeCars Quality Score of 8.0. The base V6 Challenger goes from zero to 60 mph in 5.3 seconds and reaches a maximum speed of 156 mph. The Challenger R/T upgrades to a 5.7-liter V8 with 375 horsepower and a zero-to-60 time of 5.0 seconds. Higher SRT trims offer more powerful V8 engines, including the 717-horsepower supercharged 6.2-liter V8. These more powerful engines can go from 0-60 in less than 3.5 seconds.
The Honda Civic Type R ranks fifth. The Civic Type R hatchback is the high-performance version of the compact Honda Civic. The Type R has a turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine with 306 horsepower and can go from 0-60 in 5.1 seconds.
4. Kia Stinger
Ranked fourth is the Kia Stinger sports sedan. For under $40,000, you can get the base GT-Line model, which for 2022 comes standard with a 2.5-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine with 300 horsepower and 311 pound-feet of torque. The GT-Line Kia Stinger can go from zero to 60 in a respectable 5.2 seconds. The Stinger comes standard with rear-wheel drive, but features an optional all-wheel drive system.
5. Mazda MX-5 Miata
Earning the fifth spot is the Mazda MX-5 Miata two-seat roadster. The Miata can go from zero to 60 in 5.7 seconds and reaches a maximum speed of 135 mph with its softtop convertible roof. RF models with the hardtop roof have a slightly slower time of 5.8 seconds. The Miata has one engine choice, a 2.0-liter four-cylinder with 181 horsepower and 151 pound-feet of torque. It also returns excellent fuel economy at 26 mpg in the city and 35 mpg on the highway, an excellent rating for the sports car class. Tha Miata also comes standard with safety features including automatic emergency braking with forward-collision warning, blind spot monitoring with rear-cross traffic alert, and lane departure warning. Because the Mazda MX-5 Miata only has one engine, higher trims don’t boost the acceleration, ??but the top Grand Touring Trim starts at $31,770 and adds features like automatic high-beam headlights, rain-sensing windshield wipers, traffic sign recognition, climate control, leather seats, and an auto-dimming rearview mirror.
6. Subaru BRZ
The Subaru BRZ ranks sixth. After a hiatus for the 2021 model year, the BRZ re-emerged in 2022 with a full redesign. The BRZ has a 2.4-liter four-cylinder boxer engine with 228 horsepower and 184 pound-feet of torque. A six-speed manual transmission and rear-wheel drive come standard, and a six-speed automatic transmission is optional. The BRZ can go from 0-60 in 5.8 seconds with its manual transmission, while the automatic transmission lags behind at 7.0 seconds. Like the Miata, the BRZ has one engine, but opting for the Limited trim adds ??leather upholstery, heated front seats, 18-inch wheels, blind spot monitoring, rear cross traffic alert, lane keep assist, adaptive headlights, and 18-inch wheels.
7. Toyota GR86
The Toyota GR 86, which is nearly mechanically identical to the sixth-ranked Subaru BRZ, ranks seventh. Just like the BRZ, the GR86 was redesigned for the 2022 model year and has a new name after being formerly known as the Toyota 86. The Toyota GR86 and the Subaru BRZ have some minor differences, including their exterior styling, interior materials, pricing, and some minor suspension tuning differences. As such, the Toyota GR86 has a slightly slower 0-60 time at 6.1 seconds and a maximum speed of 140 mph. Similar to the Subaru BRZ, the GR86 has only one engine across all trims. The Premium trim starts at $31,800 and while it won’t give you increased speed, it will add amenities like heated leather seats, 18-inch wheels, and a duckbill spoiler.
8. Volkswagen GTI
The Volkswagen GTI rounds out the list in the eighth position. ?? Formerly known as the Volkswagen Golf GTI, the Volkswagen GTI is the sportier, hot-hatch version of the Volkswagen Golf, and is the only version remaining after the Golf’s discontinuation. It has a 228-horsepower turbocharged engine and a six-speed manual transmission. Standard features include forward collision warning, automatic emergency braking, blind spot monitoring, rear cross traffic alert, and rain-sensing windshield wipers.
Fastest Used Cars Under $40,000
Sports car buyers with a budget of $40,000 can find used versions of performance cars and luxury sports cars. Along with used versions of the vehicles above, here are the fastest used sports cars that can be found for under $40,000.
Fastest Used Sports Cars Under $40,000
Average Used Car Price
iSeeCars Quality Score
2020 Subaru WRX STI
2020 Nissan 370z
2017 Audi S5
2019 Honda Civic Type R
2018 Audi TT
2016 BMW Z4
2022 Hyundai Veloster N
2017 Mercedes-Benz C-Class
1. Subaru WRX
The Subaru WRX sports sedan ranks first. Redesigned for 2022, the all-wheel drive (AWD) WRX comes standard with a 271-horsepower turbocharged four-cylinder engine that puts out 258 lb-ft of torque paired with a six-speed manual transmission. The WRX STI has 2.5-liter turbocharged flat-four with 310 horsepower and 290 pound-feet of torque, and can go from 0-60 in 4.6 seconds.
2. Nissan 370z
A classic Japanese sports car, the Nissan 370z comes as a coupe or convertible and has a 3.7-liter V6 engine with 332 horsepower. It goes from 0-60 in just 4.8 seconds and has a maximum speed of 155 mph.
3. Audi S5
The Audi S5 is the performance variant of the Audi A5 sedan. The S5 coupe has a supercharged V6 engine with 333 horsepower. The Audi S5 can go from 0-60 in 4.9 seconds and has a maximum speed of 155 mph.
4. Honda Civic Type R
The Honda Civic Type R ranks fourth. The Civic Type R hatchback is the high-performance version of the compact Honda Civic. The Type R has a turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine with 306 horsepower and can go from 0-60 in 5.1 seconds
5. Audi TT
The front-wheel drive Audi TT is an elegant sports car with a unique design and engaging driving dynamics. It also has the benefit of rear seats to offer seating capacity for four, but the rear seats are cramped and best for small children. The Audi TT from the 2018 model year has a 2.0-liter turbo four-cylinder engine with 220 horsepower and 258 pound-feet of torque, and it accelerates from 0-60 in 5.3 seconds.
6. BMW Z4
The BMW Z4 two-seat luxury convertible comes with a turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine with 240 horsepower. It can accelerate from 0-60 in 5.5 seconds and reaches a maximum speed of 130 mph.
7. Hyundai Veloster N
Ranked seventh is the Hyundai Veloster N hot hatch, which is the high-performance variant of the now-discontinued Hyundai Veloster. New versions of the Veloster N are just above $30,000 at $32,500. The Hyundai Veloster N has a 275 horsepower 2.0-liter turbocharged engine. While it comes standard with a manual transmission, an eight-speed dual clutch automatic transmission is available for an extra $1,500. The Hyundai Veloster N does 0-60 in 5.5 seconds and reaches a top speed of 155 mph. Along with being fast and fun-to-drive, the Veloster N offers more cargo space than typical sports cars thanks to its hatchback bodystyle. Other used versions are also fast, including the Veloster Turbo R-Spec, which comes with a 201-horsepower turbocharged four-cylinder engine and has a 0-60 time of 6.8 seconds.
8. Mercedes Benz C-Class
The Mercedes-Benz C-Class compact luxury sedan ranks fifth. It has one of the most upscale interiors in its class while also having powerful engine choices. Its base engine is a turbocharged four-cylinder that puts out 241 horsepower that can reach 60 mph in six seconds.
All sports cars are fun to drive, but the ones topping this list offer a fast-yet-practical option for those who want a thrilling driving experience. For a budget of $40,000, buyers can graduate from the base trim of many sports cars and afford later-model used luxury sports cars. Be sure to also check out our companion guide for the fastest sports cars under $30,000 and our list of the best sports cars under $30,000 for additional practical sports cars.
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This article, The Fastest Cars Under $40k, originally appeared on iSeeCars.com.