List: Top Ten Performance Bargains

By Steven J. Ewing

February 02, 2010


CADILLAC CTS-V ---- 556 supercharged horses, brute style, and a really excellent driving experience make the CTS-V one rip snorting supersedan. And with a starting price of $62,020, it makes the BMW M5 seem downright unnecessary. Hot diggity damn.


HYUNDAI GENESIS COUPE ---- When we tested a group of $30K sport coupes many months ago, we praised the Genny Coupe for being the best bargain in the group. Turbocharged four power starts at only $22,000, and the sweet V-6 is only $25,000. It's stiff competition for all those 370Zs out there.


MAZDA MX-5 ---- This car fits us like a glove. Sink in, put the top down, and rev the hell out of the most miniature of Mazdas. A true performance car in every way, the MX-5 is one of our favorite top-down sportsters, and at only $23,560, it's not that far out of reach, either.


NISSAN GT-R ---- The GT-R does to track days what Godzilla did to Tokyo. And while it will run along side your Porsche 911 Turbo with ease, its starting price of $80,790 means that you don't have to be in the highest tax bracket to afford one. Just don't destroy a city with it.


FORD SHELBY GT500 ---- In Ford country, the Shelby GT500 reigns supreme. It's as good to drive as it is to look at, and with a supercharged V-8 pumping out 540 horsepower, you'll never have to worry about impromptu stoplight drag races. What's more, this beast can be yours for a mere $46,725. In terms of power per dollar, the GT500 might be the best bet on the market today.


JAGUAR XF SUPERCHARGED ---- Why didn't we pick the top-model XFR? Because the Supercharged XF is only slightly less brutal and only costs $12,000 less than the fastest cat in the stable. M5 performance for $68K? We'll take one. Or two.


MINI COOPER S ---- For only $23,000, we're hard pressed to think of a bargain performer as totally chuckable as the Cooper S. It may be small and may only have 172 horsepower, but you can really drive it as hard as any other car in this list and still feel rewarded. Plus, every Mini comes standard with a healthy dose of hipster style, making it track- and fashion-friendly (Gaucho pants not included).


JEEP GRAND CHEROKEE SRT8 ---- The world of high-performance SUVs is quite small, but if you're looking for a family hauler that can really, well, haul, the SRT8 Grand Cherokee will thrill you endlessly for only $43,325. Besides, there's nothing quite like a Hemi V-8 engine note coming out of a beefed up Jeep.


MAZDASPEED3 ---- It may wear a silly grin, but the latest Speed3 is an absolute lunatic. Good luck finding any other vehicle as vicious, rambunctious, and immensely fun as this one for only $23,945.


CHEVROLET CORVETTE ZR1 ---- It's the king of Corvettes. And while it may cost you $106,880, it'll do the work of your doubly expensive supercar with an even better exhaust note. This one definitely isn't for the faint of heart.


Not all performance cars live in the top-dollar end of the automotive marketplace. Sure, supercars are fun, but they're also really expensive, and they don't necessarily fit the bill as everyday drivers. What's more, we firmly believe that you can have all sorts of performance thrills in the budget class, too (we're looking at you, Mazdaspeed3).

In this list, we detail ten cars that really get you the most bang for your buck. Some of these aren't the most wallet-friendly of cars, but when it comes down to what class they compete in, you'd be hard pressed to find something just as good for the same price.

Of course, there are many more performance bargains than just these ten examples, and we invite you to sound off with your own opinions, in comments.