As an observer of autocross activity, I’ve been considering a bunch of what if’s. One of those is about having the ability to choose whatever new car for under $25K.
There are a good number of new cars available today, in that price range. These are the criteria I would use to filter what I’d choose:
- Practical – having at least 4 doors (a sedan or wagon)
- Frugal with gas – usually that means a 4 cylinder engine
- Standard shift transmission – of course
- Fun to drive – not the entry-level, strippo model
- A daily driver that would also shine on the autocross scene
Therefore, in no particular order, except alphabetical, here are the candidates I would consider:
Mazdaspeed 3, 5-door Hatchback ($24,455 – 263hp, turbocharged 2.3-liter). A hot hatch of a sports car – all the reviews written seem to love this car, both practical & fun to drive. Zoom-zoom!
Honda Civic SI, 4-door Sedan ($24.590, the 2.0-liter engine has 197hp, with 6-speed manual, & the hot-rod Mugen trim). Requiring premium gas, the Si model returns 21 city and 29 highway mpg. Seems a bit stealthy, but a fun sounding vehicle with Honda quality. BTW, I owned a 1993 Honda Civic EX Coupe I bought new for 9 years, putting on 130,000 miles. I miss that car – would be a great autocrosser now… 🙁
Subaru WRX (2009 WRX at $24,995 for the sedan and $25,495 for the 5-door hatch). It’s all-wheel drive and has a turbocharged kick. Numbers? How about 13.3 psi of turbo boost, 265hp with 244 lb-ft of torque. Plus it looks close to it’s STi “big brother”. Need I say more?
Volkswagen GTI, 4-Door Sedan ($23,300 – FWD & turbocharged at 200hp and 207 lb-ft of torque). German autobahn heritage in a small, but potent package. I have a soft spot for VWs. My Dad bought a 1964 VW Bus new when I was a kid, and my wife (then girlfriend) had a new silver Bug/Beetle in Mexico City in the early 1980’s…
And 2 spoilers, out of curiosity & desire…
Suzuki SX4 Sport – I’m sorry (143 horsepower and 136 lb-ft of torque). I just like the way it looks & it seems to be a great value. No, I haven’t test driven one, but it’s on my curiosity list…
Pontiac G8 GT – I know, it’s outside the budget, it has 8 cylinders & no standard transmission (damn!). But, I like this one, too. It has those great Aussie Holden roots. Go Bob Lutz!
Now, if you feel I completely took a wrong turn here, or that there is another equally qualified car to add to this list of candidates, please express your opinion in the comments below. Racing Ready is always up to the task of being challenged.