The Most Fun Cars to Drive Under $30K

2011 MINI Cooper

There are cars that are “nice to drive,” and there are cars that are “fun to drive.”

Plenty of options exist for the people who prefer a smooth ride, luxurious cabin, numb steering and no real connection between driver and pavement. I won’t name names here, but feel free to make assumptions.

On the other hand, some cars simply beg to be driven hard, because doing so provides an overload of sensory excitement and pure joy. Yes, many of those cost upward of $100,000, but for mere plebeians like me, driving joy can be had for $30K and under.

Keep reading for seven examples of inexpensive greatness.

BMW 1 Series

2011 BMW 1 Series

The base 2-door comes with RWD, a 3.0-liter 6-cylinder and a 6-speed manual transmission. It’s a bundle of driving fun that starts a shade under $30K!

MINI Cooper S

2011 MINI Cooper

It’s like a go-kart that’s street legal. And much, much safer! The Cooper is one of the best, if not the best, performers among small cars.

Mazda MX-5 Miata

2011 Mazda MX-5 Miata

No surprise here, right? This car is a dream, being as quick as it is agile and great on gas. And guys, don’t worry. The 2011 version isn’t as much of a chick car as past variants! You can drive feeling secure in your manhood.

Volkswagen GTI

2011 Volkswagen GTI

With a gutsy little turbocharged 2.0-liter, 4-cylinder engine that also sounds remarkably good, the GTI is a blast to drive while also offering a hefty dose of comfort.

Suzuki SX4

2011 Suzuki SX4

The SX4 is delightful. Don’t expect screaming fast 0-60 times, but when equipped with the manual transmission, this little hatch offers a zippy drive with extremely satisfying shifts.

Mazda Mazdaspeed3

2011 Mazda Mazdaspeed3

This one’s got it all, almost: enough cargo room and seating capacity to use as a daily driver, but enough “zoom zoom” to satisfy serious speed freaks. If only it had RWD or AWD…

Subaru Impreza WRX

2011 Subaru Impreza

The WRX is legendary because it’s fast, powerful and handles like a much more expensive car, with the added bonus of AWD!

Which inexpensive car do you think is the most fun to drive?


Find Used Cars in Your Area at CarGurus

Used BMW 1 Series
Used MINI Cooper
Used Mazda MX-5 Miata
Used Volkswagen GTI
Used Suzuki SX4
Used Mazda Mazdaspeed3
Used Subaru Impreza


  1. @ Randy
    The 265-hp WRX starts around $26K but the STI Limited trim, with 305-hp, gets close to $40K. Ouch!

  2. I thought you made some good choices and my favorites out of the group are the Subaru and BMW. Are you sure the Impreza is under $30K, though? I thought that was Subaru’s most expensive model.

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