At first glance, $35,000 might seem a lot of money. But if you adjust for inflation, $35k today would be roughly $25,000 in 1996. And about 15 years ago, $25k would have scored some of the great fun cars that the kids yearn for today. Some examples would include Ford Mustang GT, Chevrolet Camaro SS, Nissan 240SX, Toyota MR2, Honda Prelude, and now the defunct Pontiac Firebird Trans Am.
In today’s market, the choices aren’t as dire as one might think. And people who say that today’s cars are not fun or soulless are the ones who just can’t let go of the past… or can’t afford new cars. Either way, the KarFarm Krew present you with this year’s crop, in alphabetical order – the KarFarm’s Top 10 Fun Cars of 2011!
Equipped with manual transmission, sport package, floor mats, and black kidney grille
Why?: The BMW 128i Coupe is the spiritual successor to the old BMW 2002tii and it happens to be the most fun German car under the $35k budget. The combination of outstandingly balanced chassis, German precision driving dynamics, and just enough power that will get yourself into a lot of trouble – you can’t ask for much more than the 128i Coupe.
2012 Ford Fiesta SES Hatchback – MSRP $19,090
Equipped with manual transmission and Premium Sport Appearance Package
Why?: The Ford Fiesta with its smart styling and features make it on our list. For first time buyers, city dwellers, students, and/or small car lovers will be in quite a treat with the space in this small car and good road manners.
2012 Ford Mustang GT – MSRP $32,544
Equipped with manual trans, Brembo brakes, 3.73:1 limited slip rear axle, and lower front fascia with fog lamps
Why?: 412HP 5.0-liter V8 for under $35k!!! That’s why. Also, we chose it over the Chevrolet Camaro because with the Mustang, you have better outward visibility, dashboard ergonomics, interior materials, and fit-and-finish. Also, the smaller and lighter Mustang is a bit more tossable than the Camaro.
2012 Hyundai Genesis Coupe 3.8 Track – MSRP $31,770
Equipped with manual trans, iPod cable, camber bolt, and floor mats
Why?: Great design, comfortable cruiser, nice sounding 306HP engine, leather interior, Brembo brakes, navigation system, multi-link rear suspension, HID headlights, and limited slip differential for under $32k… and it’s just a couple of tweaks away from being one of the best handling cars on the market!
2011 MAZDASPEED3 – MSRP $24,495
Equipped with manual transmission
Why?: 263 turbocharged horsepower engine matched with a glorious front-wheel-drive chassis, which does NOT torque steer, the MAZDASPEED3 proves that you can have huge amounts of fun for under $25k!
2011 Mini John Cooper Works Hardtop – MSRP $34,300
Equipped with manual trans, convenience package + MINI connect and nav, sport suspension, and Harman/Kardon sound system
Why?: C’mon… it’s a Mini! Without trying to sound like a broken record, the Mini does feature go-kart handling. The John Cooper Works edition carries a 208HP turbocharge engine in a rally race capable chassis – a recipe for a quintessential FUN MACHINE!
2012 Kia Soul ! – MSRP $20,350
Equipped with automatic transmission
Why?: Even with the cute Kia Hamsters aside, who could resist staring at the Kia Soul when one passes by? The 2012 models have received some welcome updates in the engines and interior NVH (noise, vibration, harshness) and brings even more funk to the subcompact party.
2011 Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution GSR – MSRP $34,890
Equipped as standard and no additional options
Why?: Nearly 300HP and AWD with high-tech differentials, and drivetrain electronics, the Evo is unlike most vehicles on the road today – or yesterday, for that matter. Of course, its arch rival, the Subaru Impreza WRX is on the list as well, but the Evo is the decidedly more high-tech car of the two. So high-tech, in fact, that the Mitsubishi Lancer Evo’s front end was inspired by the venerable Gundam anime robots.
2011 Nissan Juke SL AWD – MSRP $26,525
Equipped with CVT (continuously variable transmission), rear spoiler, and floor mats
Why?: Ugly? Yes. Fantastic design? Yes. Fun? OH, YES! The 188HP 1.6-liter turbocharged direct injection engine in this Nissan Juke should win any of the ‘engine of the year award’, hands down! And if you have not experienced how good the Nissan CVT can be, sit in the Juke and drive one for a few minutes, you will not be lusting for a third pedal – unless you just happened to be a short-attentioned individual that need to be doing something at all times.
2011 Subaru Impreza WRX STi Sedan – MSRP $34,720
Equipped as standard and no other options