Budget Performance: Five Upcoming Affordable Enthusiast Cars to Be Excited About
If you like high performance and enthusiast-oriented vehicles, today’s market offers a lot of cars to be excited about—from the mid-engined C8 Corvette to the envelope-pushing Shelby GT500 Mustang.
Yet as great as those new cars are, they still remain out of reach for a lot of gearheads when it comes to price. Fortunately though, if you are looking for a fun, exciting, new car that doesn’t break the bank there’s a lot of stuff coming down the pipeline that proves budget performance is alive and well.
Here are five upcoming models in particular that will be worth the wait.
2022 Subaru WRX
Ever since it arrived in North America nearly 20 years ago, the Subaru WRX has been a textbook example of cheap (and practical) speed. The WRX has evolved over the years, but its AWD, turbocharged boxer formula has remained the same.
The current iteration of the WRX has been available since 2014 with just minor appearance changes in the years since—and It still provides a great bang for the buck. It’s getting long in the tooth particularly in terms of exterior and interior style, and it’s currently the only Subaru product that hasn’t moved to the brand’s much-improved new global platform.
At this point we don’t know exactly what the next gen WRX will look like, but Subaru’s recent VIZIV Performance Concept provides a pretty good idea of the direction the next gen WRX may be heading when it moves to the new platform. The next WRX should bring a nice improvement in refinement and tech over the current car, and rumors suggest it should be showing up pretty soon.
2021 Mazda3 Turbo
While earning praise for the styling and handling, Mazda’s recent cars have never been known for the generous horsepower ratings. However, in the last couple years the brand has started offering its turbocharged 2.5 liter SkyActiv engine into more of its vehicles.
The most recent to get the turbocharged engine is the upcoming 2021 Mazda3, which will pair the available 250hp, 320 foot pound of torque engine with an all-wheel-drive system for maximum traction.
Is the Mazda3 Turbo going to be the second coming of the fire-breathing MazdaSpeed3? Most likely not. What it will do though, is take the high-end feel and great dynamics that Mazda3 is known for and add a big helping of turbocharged torque.
Second Gen Toyota 86/Subaru BRZ
It’s been more than eight years since the rear-drive two-door coupe engineered by Subaru and Toyota broke onto the scene as a breath of fresh air for driving enthusiasts.
Needless to say there’s been a lot of anticipation for a second generation of the Toyota 86 and Subaru BRZ, and while we still don’t know exactly when the next gen version will appear, we know that Toyota and Subaru are working on it.
One of the biggest criticisms of the current car is its lack of power, and while we don’t expect the new one to be radically different, rumors suggest a displacement bump to 2.4 liters should give the next gen version a noticeable increase in both horsepower and torque.
2022 Mk.8 Volkswagen GTI
The Volkswagen GTI is a car that has written the book on affordable and practical performance. Volkswagen has long used an iterative approach when releasing a new version of the GTI, and the upcoming Mk.8 version very much follows that pattern.
Taking everything that’s great about the current GTI and improving it, the Mk.8 GTI will make 241hp from its 2.0 liter turbocharged four-cylinder, with a six-speed manual or optional seven-speed dual clutch automatic.
If there’s one problem with the Mk.8 GTI it’s that those of us in North America will have long wait to get one. In Europe that car will be arriving before the end of this year, but over here it won’t arrive until the 2022 model year.
Toyota Corolla GR Hot Hatch
Last but not least we get to a car that will be a newcomer to the world of affordable enthusiast cars—a turbocharged, hot hatch version of the Toyota Corolla.
Toyota recently debuted a rally-bred version of its subcompact Yaris for overseas markets, packing a 257hp turbocharged three-cylinder engine with a manual transmission and AWD, but sadly that car won’t be coming to the USA.
Instead, Toyota has heavily hinted that the American market will get a hot hatch version of the larger Corolla instead. We don’t know whether it will feature the same drivetrain as the Yaris, but we expect to know more in the coming months.
As you can see, it’s not just the high end, high dollar performance cars that are the big story these days. All of the aforementioned cars should be able to handle both track days and the daily commute while hopefully coming in near or even below the $30,000 starting mark.
Bring ‘em on.