A $10,000 budget may not seem very generous to someone looking for a true performance car, especially ones built to drive like a dream. However, you’d be surprised how many cool, cheap car options are looming in the world used car market waiting to be picked up.
At this kind of price you can’t dream of driving Lamborghinis and Ferraris for this kind of budget. However, you can still manage to get your hands on some great driving cars from America, Japan and Germany. Most of the cars listed here have modest power under the hood, but what they certainly offer is great suspension, precise steering and a lot of driving pleasure in the back roads and canyons. Plus, their performance-oriented designs and handling make them great potential project cars and real track weapons, should you later decide to increase their power.
Without further ado, let’s dive straight into the 10 best performing cars you can grab in 2022 to satisfy your itch for great handling.
10 2008 Subaru Impreza WRX
If you’re a performance car enthusiast, you’ll definitely know Japan’s legendary rally champion Subaru Impreza WRX. Revered for its boxer engine and manual transmission and AWD system, the STI is definitely an exceptional driving machine. The incredible character of this performance sedan is enhanced by the stiffer suspension and short-throw five-speed transmission.
Not to mention that it can also serve as an excellent daily driver for family tasks. Subaru also offered the Impreza WRX as a hatchback in 2008 (although it did get some flak). So if you’re interested in any of these JDM legends, you can get a used 2008 Subaru Impreza for under $10,000†
9 Hyundai Genesis Coupe 2011
The Hyundai Genesis Coupe is easily one of the most underrated cars in our opinion. For a brand like Hyundai that isn’t exactly famous for making a ton of enthusiast cars, the Genesis Coupe is a great performance car and good value for money. With its standard 210hp 2.0-litre turbocharged four-cylinder engine with RWD layout, the Genesis can be very happy when driven aggressively
The Genesis Coupe can effortlessly transfer its performance from driving on the track to driving on the road. Its steel chassis, gas-pressurized dampers and MacPherson dual-clutch struts are some of its assets that help it do that. And that reliability from Hyundai is an added bonus. Right now you can easily create one 2011 Hyundai Genesis Coupes for anywhere from $6,000 – $10,000 for a pretty decent model.
8 2013 Ford Focus ST
One of the best hot hatches of all time Ford Focus ST is a great pocket rocket that comes with a snappy engine and nimble handling. With its 2.0-litre EcoBoost four-cylinder engine, it may not be able to win drag races, but it can certainly give you a lot of fun on short trips on those windy back roads. Famous YouTube reviewer Doug DeMuro also said in his review that this hatchback offers a huge fun factor.
Responsive steering, minimal body roll, re-tuned suspension and bigger brakes are some of the features that set the Focus ST apart from the regular Focus. Currently quite a 2013 Focus ST can be picked up for just over $10,000†
7 2010 Ford Mustang (S197)
The American muscle car legend Ford Mustang is one of those coupes that fits into almost any reasonable budget. And for $10,000, you can easily get your hands on this 2010 S197 fifth generation Ford Mustang† With a stiffer suspension, limited slip differential, four-channel ABS with traction control and a ton of power, this pony can handle it like a champ.
When it was launched, the fifth-generation Ford Mustang brought a breath of fresh air to fans of this iconic American coupe. It looked modern and ditched its old interior for better quality. Ford did not skimp on power either, he offered the choice between a 4.6-liter V8 and a 4.0-liter V6.
6 2007 BMW 335i
Looking for a fast German to hug the corner? Well, don’t worry, because BMW has you covered. An E92 335i is the best choice to perform as a weekend cruiser and as a daily driver. This model is suitable for buyers who want a fast 3 Series, but don’t really want to spend a fortune on an M3.
This handy little coupé is notorious for its driving characteristics. It offers excellent body control thanks to its heavy but direct steering and its rigid sports suspension. The 335i is also equipped with the famous N54 engine that has been dubbed BMW’s 2JZ on numerous occasions as it can deliver massive amounts of power for a relatively low price. A fairly clean used one example in convertible form can be bought for less than $10,000† Or pick up is also possible this 2007 coupe for just over $10,000 budget†
5 2002 BMW Z3
While not the most famous of them all, the BMW Z3 still featured as the Bond car in the critically acclaimed film series. This happened for a very good reason, and that’s because the Z3 offered an exceptional balance of performance and handling. As the modern classic segment is slowly approaching, the Z3 is being referred to as the more expensive Miata, a testament to its light and agile handling.
The 170 horsepower 2.5-litre inline-6 engine offered in the Z3 is also considered one of the German manufacturer’s very best engines. A good clean example of the Z3 can be picked up for anywhere between $5,000 and $10,000. Here’s an original example of a 2002 Z3 for $10,000†
4 2008 Audi TT RS
When it comes to the most affordable, enjoyable and reliable German cars, the Audi TT RS is a hard-to-miss option. The light and agile Audi sports coupé is known for its precise and predictable handling. In 2008, Audi started offering the TT with an optional electromagnetically adjustable suspension that further helped it improve ride quality. The TT can easily be driven aggressively on the back roads without compromising the everyday city driving experience.
The Audi TT RS is a truly remarkable sports car that is already a favorite of many experts when it comes to driving pleasure for the right amount of money. Here is a great example of a 2008 Audi TT that can be picked up for $10,000†
3 2002 Mazda Miata
If a list of affordable, good-running cars misses the Mazda Miata, you know it’s not very believable. Since the beginning, the Miata has been the favorite, simple, affordable, reliable and enjoyable sports car. It offers such a driving experience that even some high-performance sports coupes and high-performance sedans can’t match.
The small sports car is one of the first choices for any enthusiast looking for a project car. The Miata also has huge aftermarket support and can easily be converted into a racing monster that can embarrass supercars for not a huge sum of money. You can find a fairly unobstructed one? 2002 Miata in this budget just like this†
2 1998 986 Porsche Boxster
A Porsche for under $10,000? Yes, you heard that right! We are sorry to inform you that it is not a 911, but it is still a Porsche. The 986 Boxster is the car that saved Porsche from impending bankruptcy. It is essentially a smaller convertible 911 that can provide an equally enjoyable driving experience with superb handling.
The excellent balance, steering precision, steering feel, grip, brakes and the assistance of the highly flexible engine make the Porsche Boxster one of the best driving sports cars ever made. Today a moderately used first generation 1998 986 Boxster can be picked up for under $10,000. Here is a nice example†
1 2005 Nissan 350Z
Arguably one of the best driving JDM cars that can be had on the tight $10,000 budget is the Nissan 350Z. Over the years, the Z has amassed a huge fan base and aftermarket support to transform a stock car into an absolute driving beast. One specific reason the 350Z has become so popular is its drifting potential. Professional drifters and rookies alike love their Z’s for sliding it through the streets and tracks.
The 350Z is also listed as one of the most versatile sports cars. The front-wheel drive layout and the powerful 3.5-litre VQ V6 engine serve as a perfect canvas for enthusiasts to make their Zs anything they want. So if you want to discover the potential of the 350Z for yourself, you can easily get a great example of a 350Z for just under $10,000†
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