Buying Guides

The 7 Cars with the Fastest 0-60 Times Under $30,000

These are the cars that sprint the fastest for the least amount of money

Wade Thiel, Senior Staff Writer

If you've got a need for speed, one stat you're probably looking at when shopping is how fast a car can sprint from a standstill to 60 mph. This metric has been used for decades and is one of the key performance indicators for just about every automobile out there. We could have rounded up the fastest cars out there at any price point, but let's be real if it's over $30,000 you probably can't afford it. That's why we pulled together a buying guide to the quickest affordable cars. With this list, you can pick a fast car that won't break the bank.

2017 Ford Mustang EcoBoost

 
  • PROS: Good handling and steering, muscle car looks, fast and fun to drive.
  • CONS: Cramped rear seats, odd interior design, turbo lag, wimpy sounding engine, subpar visibility.

The Ford Mustang is known as a V8 muscle car speed machine, but you don’t have to get the V8 engine to have some fun. The rear-wheel drive coupe can be had with a turbocharged four-cylinder that makes 310 hp and 320 lb-ft of torque. It feels lighter than its eight-cylinder brethren, and it’s still genuinely quick, with reported 0-60 times as low as 5.2 seconds. The only down side to getting a muscle car without a V8 is that the engine’s song doesn’t match the exterior’s looks.

2017 Volkswagen Golf GTI

 
  • PROS: Spacious cargo and interior space, excellent driving dynamics, comfortable seats, and stylish looks, way fun.
  • CONS: Long clutch travel in the manual, the infotainment system's screen and controls could be better.

The Volkswagen Golf GTI is arguably one of the best all-around cars out there. It’s as practical as any other hatchback car on the road, good looking, and comfortable. It’s a true Jack-of-all-trades car. The 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder produces 210 hp and 258 lb-ft of torque and can shoot the little car from a stop to 60 mph in just 5.9 seconds. Pair that with some of the best steering and handling this side of $30k and you have an excellent and easy to love sporty car. VW’s infotainment systems aren’t the best in the business, but the GTI drives so well, you won’t care too much about that.

2017 Subaru WRX

 
  • PROS: All-wheel drive, easy to control, good road holding ability and handling.
  • CONS: Non-linear throttle response due to turbo lag, ride on the harsher side, road noise makes it through to the cabin.

If you live in an area of the country that gets a fair amount of snow, you probably want a car that has all-wheel drive, making the Subaru WRX a logical choice if you want a sporty year-round car. Power to all four wheels helps when roads are slick, but it also helps in terms of acceleration. The WRX is powered by a 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder that produces 268 hp and 258 lb-ft of torque. That engine pushing power to all four wheels makes the WRX good for 0-60 times of 5 seconds flat or even a little less in some cases. This car isn’t as refined as some of the others out there, but it’s a pleasure to drive nonetheless.

2017 Chevrolet Camaro 2.0T

 
  • PROS: Refined ride and handling capabilities, quick and fun to drive, attractive exterior.
  • CONS: Small back seat, poor visibility, not as powerful as its chief competitor (Ford Mustang).

The Chevrolet Camaro is one of the better cars to drive under $30k. It has excellent handling and steering, a sexy and almost mean-looking exterior, and an affordable price. While you’re probably thinking V8 when you see a Camaro, the base engine is a 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder with 275 hp and 296 lb-ft of torque. That is less power than the Mustang, but surprisingly, the Camaro manages to get a comparable 0-60 time of 5.4 seconds, only a couple tenths behind Ford’s pony car. That’s not much of a difference and if the Mustang doesn’t quite do it for you, this is an excellent alternative.

2017 Mazda MX-5 Miata

Best

for sunny days

  • PROS: Truly focused on driving enjoyment, dropping the top takes seconds, improved interior, looks fantastic.
  • CONS: Not much interior room or trunk space.

The Mazda MX-5 Miata is the car that made roadsters fun again and the latest model takes all that up a notch. It’s downright sexy exterior and refined interior help make living with the impracticalities of a small roadster more tolerable. The car will keep you smiling for years to come because it’s just so darn lovely to drive. Under the hood is a 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine that makes 155 hp and 148 lb-ft of torque. That might not seem like a lot of power, but the MX-5 only weighs about 2,300 lbs, which means it’s enough to shoot the car to 60 mph in just 5.8 seconds.

2017 Toyota 86

 
  • PROS: Sharp steering, superb handling, stylish exterior, and a comfortable interior for driver and front passenger.
  • CONS: Poor rear legroom and headroom, limited cargo space, the ride is on the harsher side due to firm suspension.

The Toyota 86 is one of the best sporty rear-wheel drive coupes you can buy right not. It’s different than the pony cars and the roadsters and offers a racy package that’s easy to enjoy. The Subaru BRZ is essentially the same package and manages to run the same 6.2-second 0-60 time. Both cars have a 2.0-liter flat four-cylinder engine under the hood. The 86 makes 205 hp and 156 lb-ft of torque, which is more than enough to have a little fun in this car. The rear seats may be small and the car overall impractical, but it’s got more space than the Miata, and it’s at least as fun.

2017 Dodge Challenger SXT

 
  • PROS: Best looking modern muscle car out there, smooth engine, comfortable interior with a real usable back seat.
  • CONS: Large overall size, rather heavy and handles like a muscle car (not great), and poor visibility.

The Dodge Challenger is the most attractive muscle car on the road today. It almost perfectly blends retro styling elements with new technology and styling conventions. The Challenger doesn’t just look good, though. The car can be had with an extremely powerful 707 V8, but if you want to stay under $30k, you’ll have to go with the silky smooth 3.6-liter V6 engine in the SXT trim level. Don’t fret too much. The V6 still makes 305 horsepower and 268 lb-ft of torque, which is enough to make the car go from 0-60 mph in about 6.1 seconds.

Why should you buy a fast car?

  • If you care more about fun that practicality.
  • Solid passing power and generally good handling.
  • They're designed to back up the power with good design.

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