If you’re like most people, you probably depend on your car. To take you to and from work, pick up the groceries, drop off the kids at school and soccer, and dance class, and band practice, and… well, you get the idea. The point is you spend a lot of time in your car.
So think of buying a car as an investment—an investment in your quality of life. How do you feel when you get behind the wheel? Is your car comfortable, stylish, and fun to drive? It can be. And you don’t have to break the bank to do it!
Here are the top five sportiest, most fun, and coolest cars under $30K.
- Honda Civic Si
The Civic Si delivers some of the best performance you can get in this price range—and one of the best values, overall. The 205 hp turbo engine packs plenty of power, taking you from 0 to 60 in just over six seconds. It rides smooth and handles like a dream. The highly stylized exterior makes it look like a street racer, but inside it’s quite practical with a no-nonsense black cloth interior with some of the most cargo space in its class. Buyers can choose either a coupe or sedan, but the 6-speed manual transmission is the only one available.
- Mazda 3 Hatchback
The Mazda 3 packs a lot of goodness into a compact car—style, performance, and driving pleasure.The base model sedan starts at just $21k, but the hatchback is the way to go. It offers greater utility, upgraded synthetic leather interior and remote keyless entry for only $2500 more. The 186 hp 2.5-liter engine won’t win any drag races, but it delivers plenty of power for a compact. And it handles like a Mazda, which, is to say, great.
- Volkswagen GTI
The GTI is a sportier version of the Volkswagen Golf, and it’s German engineering at its finest. The 228 hp turbo engine is instantly responsive, and it’s suspension and handling are best in class. This little hatchback grips the pavement and hugs the turns like a sports car, without sacrificing utility. Its surprisingly roomy back seat also folds flat to make tons of cargo space. A perfect daily driver that also delivers some serious performance.
- Kia Soul Exclaim
The Kia Soul is a great value, with its roomy interior and loads of cargo space. And Kia’s unique design sense gives this little car a big personality. The base model starts around $16k, but the 1.6-liter engine falls short on performance. Go with the Exclaim (!) package for $23k. Its 200 hp turbocharged motor and 7-speed dual clutch automatic trans is way more fun to drive. It also features an upgraded interior some premium touches, like leather accents and push-button start.
- Acura ILX
This entry-level compact luxury sedan is built on the same platform as the Honda Civic but decked out with Acura’s trademark quality and style. The ILX comes equipped with lots of premium features—including 17-inch wheels, sunroof, and heated front seats—all standard. Powered by a 200 hp 4 cylinder VTEC engine, it’s quick enough to be fun, without sacrificing any class or comfort. Save even more and look into a pre-owned program.