You can’t beat fun for a good time. And you can’t beat a really fun car for less than $35,000. No matter how fun your Ferrari 458 Italia is, no matter how great your Lamborghini Aventador makes you feel, anyone who is larking about with a $27,000 grin-mobile can look at you and say: “I bought this with what it costs you to service your brakes.”
At least that’s what I’d say.
So with that in mind, here’s our list of top five fun cars under $35,000. (Why $35,000? It just seemed like a sensible number that had at least five cars that make me smile).
Fiat 500 Abarth: When Fiat left America in 1983, no-one thought they would come back with a charming, well-engineered, and (so far) reliable car like the 500. And certainly no-one guessed that they’d offer a wheel-smoking Abarth performance version. This is why small cars are fun. And, oh yeah, there’s that girl in the ad.
Subaru WRX STI and Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution X: Despite being bitter rivals for years, battling it out in the World Rally Championship, these are really the same car. And they’re both ludicrous. Want to feel like ten times the driver you really are? These are your vehicles.
Volkswagen GTI: Since 1983, the GTI has been putting smiles on the faces of American drivers. And it has always been an absolute blast to drive. Think front-wheel-drive isn’t for enthusiasts? Think again. This latest GTI is maybe the best ever. How great is this car? I just bought one. No really, I just went out and bought one.
Ford Mustang 5.0: This is the culmination of everything that’s good about muscle cars. You just wanna break the law. It’ll drift, it’ll burnout, it may get you a girl. What’s not to like? OK, everybody’s got one. But don’t let that stop you.
Scion FR-S (and Subaru BR-Z): God bless Toyota. They built the “Hachi” – the mid-eighties Toyota Corolla GTS AE86 – and now they’ve gone and built it again. It’s underpowered (but upgradeable…) but so, so, so much fun. Balanced, poised, and as much fun as spiking the punch at the retirement home. Pure gold.
In a way, this is a nonsensical list. Why would you drive a car that isn’t fun to drive? That’s like eating things that don’t taste good. Or dating people you’re not attracted to.