While the one-percenters might be swinging six-figure supercars around, the rest of us are still itching to feed our need for speed in more affordable vehicles. We recently asked you what the best handling used manual cars are on the market for $25,000 or less. The answers you provided are a class on getting champagne handling on a beer budget.
R53 John Cooper Works Mini Cooper S
o0o.paw made a great call on the R53 Mini. I can attest that before owning an R53 Mini Cooper S I was in the ignorant camp that believed it was impossible for a FWD car to handle well. However the Mini made me changed my mind as it’s small, light, punchy, and eager to carve corners in stock form. The John Cooper Works version has even more power than the normal S and can be had for well under our proposed budget.
One of the three cars that we mentioned in the original QOTD and that many of you agreed with are the Toyobaru twins. Both the GR 86 and the BRZ are well-known for their handling above all else.
Ben dropped a great idea with regard to the BMW 135i. It’s small and handles great and has BMW’s N54 engine under the hood. In stock form, the twin-turbocharged inline-six develops about 300 hp (223 kW). It’s incredibly robust when tuned too. The downside is that maintenance is resource-consuming.
Mazda MX-5 / Miata / Roadster
The answer is always Miata and you folks felt the same way. There’s a reason that this light little drop-top is a legend. On top of that, there are multiple generations to choose from and an aftermarket that’s so big that just about anything can be done.
Chevrolet C5 Corvette
Finally, TBG laid out maybe the best-balanced choice, the 1999 or 2000 Chevrolet Corvette fixed-roof coupe. We’ll let him explain: “Its just hard to beat the entry costs at under $15k for many, some with higher miles come in at $10k. But the aftermarket support is where its at with those cars. Good coilovers & swaybars with good tires and C6Z brakes makes for a cost-effective weapon under 25K.”
That’s the top five from the selection of options Carscoops readers submitted. A few choices, like the Alfa Romeo SZ and RZ, were great too but way over budget. What do you think of the list? Let us know if the group missed something obvious!