Drifting is one of the most fun things you can do with a car, so it’s no wonder that car enthusiasts love to spend a weekend at a track that burns rubber.
When you start drifting, you need the right car for the job. You need rear-wheel drive, low weight and enough power to get sideways on a skid. This guide lists 10 cars that would make ideal candidates for drifting, just make sure you stay on a private track and not on public roads.
Our selection of the best cars for drifting is:
- Toyota GR86
- Mazda MX-5
- BMW M3 Competition
- Nissan 350Z
- Alpine A110
- Opel Monaro VXR
- Ford Focus RS
- Porsche Cayman
- Tesla Model 3 Performance
- Audi RS3
1. Toyota GR86
- Engine: 2.4 liter flat four
- Power: 231 hp
- Price: from £29,995
When Toyota launched the GT86 in 2012, it marked the return of the back-to-basics rear-wheel drive sports car. It was an instant hit with petrolheads around the world, and its successor simply followed the same recipe.
The new GR86 gets a 231 horsepower flat-four engine and limited-slip differential as standard, making it easy to throw the tail into corners. The low weight of 1,275 kg and the slick six-speed manual transmission makes it feel much more involved on the track.
2. Mazda MX-5
- Engine: 2.0 liter four-cylinder
- Power: 184 hp
- Price: from £30,360 (2.0-litre model)
If a little top-down drifting sounds fun, check out the Mazda MX-5. It doesn’t matter which generation you go for, they all offer lightweight rear-wheel drive fun; and you can pick up a clean example of an early model for just £2,000.
If you want comfort for the ride home, you want the latest Mazda MX-5. Go for a 2.0-litre model and you’ll get more power, but more importantly, a limited-slip differential as standard.
3. BMW M3 Competition
- Engine: 3.0-litre six-cylinder inline engine
- Power: 510 hp
- Price: from £78,175
The BMW M3 Competition really is the car that does it all. During the week, you can use it as a comfortable family lounge for commuting and taking the kids to school. But on the weekend, the M3 feels right at home on the track.
The 3.0-litre twin-turbo six-in-line delivers 510 hp and 650 Nm of torque, enough to make that tail slide around. It also doesn’t matter if you opt for the grippy four-wheel drive version, as you can shift it into rear-wheel drive only mode, giving you the best of both worlds.
4. Nissan 350Z
- Engine: 3.5 liter V6
- Power: 280hp
- Price: from £8,000 (used)
The 3.5-litre V6 engine is the star of the show in the Nissan 350Z. It has about 280 hp and more than 360 Nm of torque. It’s pretty fast and it sounds great too, plus you can pick up a well-used one for around £8,000.
It can be quite expensive to drive, with an annual tax bill of over £600 and 20mpg if you’re careful, but few cars offer this much fun to drive for the money. There’s also a huge aftermarket scene for the 350Z, so customizing it to your taste won’t be a problem.
5. Alpine A110
- Engine: 1.8 liter four-cylinder
- Power: 252 hp
- Price: from £49,990
If you think a sports car with a 1.8-litre four-cylinder engine isn’t very exciting, you might want to think again. The Alpine A110 weighs just 1,098kg, meaning it can swing to 60mph in just 4.5 seconds.
This low weight also does wonders for handling. It’s easy to slide this car around corners and it’s comfortable enough for everyday use. The interior may not be as plush as you’d expect at this price point, but this car is more about driving pleasure than luxury.
6. Opel Monaro VXR
- Engine: 6.0-litre V8
- Power: 400hp
- Price: about £16,000 (used)
If a 1.8-litre engine seems a bit puny, how about a 6.0-litre V8? With the Opel Monaro VXR, that’s exactly what you get. It’s a fantastic bike to listen to as you use its 400hp and turn the rear tires into smoke.
Monaros are getting thin on the ground these days, especially in a more powerful VXR form, but you can find them for around £16,000. It doesn’t cost the Earth to spin either. It may be thirsty, but the annual tax bill is £360, and it’s even ULEZ compliant.
7. Ford Focus RS
- Engine: 2.3-litre four-cylinder
- Power: 350hp
- Price: around £30,000 (used)
The Ford Focus RS is a pretty extreme example of a hot hatchback, with 350 horsepower and four-wheel drive. It sticks to the road really well when you push hard, but there’s a specific drift mode if you want to have fun on a track.
The Focus RS can send up to 70% of its power to the rear wheels, making it much easier to get the car sideways. The brisk ride can make it tough to live with, and they’re pricey on the second-hand market with prices starting at around £30,000, but few hatchbacks drive that well.
8. Porsche 718 Cayman
- Engine: 2.0 liter four-cylinder (entry-level model)
- Power: from 300hp
- Price: from £48,475
Porsche knows how to make a car drive well and the Porsche 718 Cayman is a perfect example of that. The mid-engine, rear-wheel drive layout and low weight make it great for spinning on a racetrack, and the flat-six engine makes a great sound too.
It wouldn’t be an ideal daily driver, thanks to a brisk ride and lack of storage space; but for a weekend blast it’s hard to beat. You can even go for a six-speed manual if you prefer to be more involved in the experience.
9. Tesla Model 3 Performance
- Motor: double electric motors
- Power: 490hp
- Price: £59,990
You might not expect an electric sedan to make this list, but the Tesla Model 3 Performance might surprise you. It has 490 horsepower from its twin electric motors, and all that power can be sent to the rear wheels at the push of a button.
Combine this with a stability control program that can also be turned off and you have a can that is actually pretty easy to get to the side. It’s also a great car to live with thanks to a whole host of technology to make driving easier and more comfortable.
10. Audi RS3
- Engine: 2.5 liter five-cylinder
- Power: 400hp
- Price: from £54,655
Speedy Audis are known for their Quattro four-wheel drive systems that provide excellent grip in all weather conditions, and the RS3 hot hatch is no exception. However, unlike other Audi RS models, this one comes with a drift mode.
If you decide that your tires still have a little too much tread, you can send up to 50% of the engine torque to the rear wheels, so you can have fun. Once that’s out of your system, the RS3 turns back into a comfortable, practical hatchback.
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