$10K-$20K

$10K-$20K

Back in the the 1970’s, the Celica was fighting the good sports car fight for Toyota as rival models, particularly the Nissan 240Z , burst into the scene. But it wasn’t until the latter part of that decade when Toyota decided to ramp up its efforts in the sports car market. That’s when the Toyota Supra was born. Based on the Celica until its third incarnation, the Supra became the sports car Toyota put up against some of the best its rivals had to offer. It’s popularity grew to such great lengths that the Japanese automaker even created a new logo just for the Supra.

The Toyota Supra may no longer exist and even with reports of its revival bubbling in the surface for years now, we can always look fondly at the first-generation Supra and say "that’s where it all began."

Click past the jump to read more about the 1979 - 1981 Toyota Supra.

Only one year has passed since Nissan revived its Datsun brand by introducing the GO hatchback , and the Japanese manufacturer has just confirmed its return to the compact car segment (C-segment in Europe) with a brand-new vehicle.

Dubbed Pulsar, a name previously used for a line of compact cars sold in Asia and Australia since 1978 (not to be confused with the Pulsar NX sports car marketed in the U.S. between 1983 and 1990), the new vehicle is a five-door hatchback aimed at models such as the Volkswagen Golf and the Ford Focus .

Nissan ’s recipe for the Pulsar is pretty much simple and includes an instantly recognizable design with styling cues borrowed from the Qashqai , small, turbocharged engine that deliver decent power and return attractive fuel economy, and a price tag that’s likely to put the hatchback below most of its competitors.

A big bet for the Japanese automaker in Europe, the Pulsar is basically insignificant to the U.S. market, with Nissan having no plans to ship it across the ocean. This might very well change depending on vehicle’s success in Europe, but we’re at least a couple of years away from a pertinent verdict. Either way, the Pulsar is a hatchback worth looking at, and that’s what we’re about to do after the jump.

Click past the jump to read more about the 2015 Nissan Pulsar.

In our most recent TopSpeed Podcast , Christian, Justin, and myself were asked the age-old question: If you had a reasonable amount of dough to blow on a sports car, what would you get? Well, we’d be lying if we said it wasn’t a constant fantasy in our subconscious. The idea of a sporty car with generous power and an accessible sticker price would make any gear head salivate.

To that end, we’ve gathered a list of eight respectably sporty cars that can be picked up for under $20,000. The list includes a mix of foreign and domestic brands with coupes, convertibles, and even a four-door sedan. Of course, this is hardly an exhaustive list that includes every good sports car under $20K, but it’s a good start and will likely generate ideas for other cars if you’re in the market.

And like we said on the podcast, it’s always a smart idea to have a trusted mechanic give the car a once-over before fronting the cash. Even if problems don’t exist on your car in question, it’s always a good idea to know the typical problem areas of that particular model.

So without further rambling, click past the jump for our list of cheap kicks. Oh, and don’t forget to leave your thoughts and suggestions in the comments below. It might just get covered in the next podcast.

Click past the jump for our list of cheap kicks

Factory Five Racing has been a front-runner in custom kit cars and hot rods for quite some time, building replicas of cars long since out of production. The California-based company also designed and built its own complete car called the 818 using drivetrain components from a Subaru WRX. However, for the particular car pictured above, the drivetrain takes a completely new spin on performance.

Missing is the usual Subaru Boxer engine, replaced by a AC35x2 motor fed by a 16-kWh lithium iron phosphate battery constructed of two 8-kWh sub-packs. The motor and battery unit is still connected to a WRX five-speed manual transmission that allows for reduced energy consumption and management of the motor’s output.

Speaking of output, the motor zaps out 165 horsepower and 189 pound-feet of torque to the rear wheels. It might not seem like much, but the entire car will weigh just under 2,000 pounds – even with its body panels attached. Its claimed top speed is 150 mph, and though its still untested, the goal is likely obtainable.

Putting this electrified beast together are two other California companies that know a thing or two about building cars and electricity. EV West is undertaking installing and calibrating the air-cooled, Hi Performance Electric Vehicle Systems-sourced electric motor while the guys at 33 Machine work to incorporate all the components within the modified Factory Five Racing tube chassis.

In a video past the jump, the naked car squirrels around a test track with all the sidewise shenanigans of a V-8-powered muscle car, but of course is completely silent while smoking its rubber.

Click past the jump to read more about 33 Machine’s 818 EV

Given how much Citroen has invested on the Chinese market, it was only a matter of time before the French automaker expanded its lineup in the country. That time has apparently come with the debut of the C-XR Concept at the 2014 Beijing Auto Show .

Okay, it doesn’t look as much of a concept as it does a near production-ready model that could be sent to dealerships sooner than later, possibly as soon as later in 2014. The C-XR also holds the distinction of being the first Citroen model the developed with the Dongfeng Motor Group, as clear a sign of where the C-XR is going to be offered once the production version is ready.

Overall, the C-XR is a sharply-designed crossover that should go over among Chinese customers, especially the young-and-hip crowd that puts a vehicle’s style and design over everything else, including its performance credentials.

That’s exactly the formula Citroen followed in developing the C-XR Concept. Only time will tell if the production version adopts the same architecture.

Click past the jump to read more about the Citroen C-XR Concept.

The 2015 Nissan Versa Sedan made its debut at the 2014 New York International Auto Show and if you were hoping to get wholesale changes to make the car more appealing to the public, then you’re in for a rude awakening. Granted, there are some upgrades, but not enough to make you itch to get your hands on one. Some simple tweaks to the front and rear sections and a slightly improved interior are the best that you can hope for with the 2015 model.

Even the engine, with its pedestrian 109-horsepower output, hasn’t been changed. We would’ve hoped that Nissan did something about that considering that a lot of its rivals offer significantly more power, even though you have to spend a little more for them.

In the end, the 2015 Versa Sedan does still hold the distinction of being the cheapest model in its segment, so Nissan is probably riding that advantage until the cows come home. How long will that strategy last depends on how fast consumers realize that spending a little more could get you a car much better equipped than the Versa Sedan. Then again, at this price point — typically aimed at young buyers with a very limited budget — every dime counts and sacrifices are made to save those dimes.

Click past the jump to read more about the 2015 Nissan Versa Sedan.

The General looks like it’s back to badge engineering these days, as the Chevrolet Trax treks across the state at the 2014 New York Auto Show. Though it might only be a reworked Buick Encore, the Trax is aimed at a completely different audience — one that is noticeably younger.

The Trax may be a new vehicle for the U.S., but it’s been sold in Canada and other markets around the world since 2012. Thought it’s not new, the Trax gets some needed updates before entering the U.S. market. The interior receives the majority of the updating with an upright dashboard, optional center touch screen and infotainment system, a Chevy Sonic- like gauge cluster, and a steering wheel copped from the Cruze .

The Trax seems aimed at those shopping for Sonics or Cruzes, but want something more high-riding and SUVish. That combination of small dimensions, an upright posture, and a large cargo hold (with the seats down) has worked well for Buick so far.

Like the interior, the drivetrain is rather familiar. Power comes from the 1.4-liter, turbocharged, inline four-cylinder making 138 horsepower and 148 pound-feet of torque. While it’s a direct bolt-in from the Cruze, the Trax does offer an all-wheel-drive option. That combined with the higher ground clearance, and the Trax seems well suited for trudging through those pesky Polar Vortexes.

Chevy’s newest crossover offers plenty of standard features across its trim levels. Available in LS, LT, and LTZ, the Trax comes standard with a backup camera, StabiliTrak with ABS and electronic brake force distribution, and 10 airbags.

Click past the jump to read more about the 2015 Chevrolet Trax.

Most of you are probably already familiar with the Honda Fit , the five-door subcompact that’s available nationwide with a puny, 1.5-liter four-pot under the hood. What you might not be aware of is that the automaker also builds a crossover on the same underpinnings. It’s dubbed the Vezel and has been offered in Japan since last December.

No biggie, because you’ll get to see it in person in the fourth quarter of 2014, when Honda brings it to America under the HR-V name. The new vehicle will fit right below the popular CR-V and will be manufactured in Mexico before being shipped to U.S. showrooms.

Details are limited at the time of this writing, but the first official photos released at the New York Auto Show reveal that the HR-V has very little in common with the Fit as far as design goes, bearing a styling of its own that includes a few trademark cues seen on the larger CR-V.

Honda says the HR-V will be quite the spacious and practical vehicle, thanks to "a unique center tank layout" and the Magic Seat system it will be fitted with. If you’re not familiar with the latter, it allows for multiple seating configurations and a second row that can be folded completely for extra cargo space.

There’s no word on powertrains, but expect the HR-V to be motivated by the same 1.5-liter four-cylinder unit found in the Fit. The engine delivers 130 horsepower and 114 pound-feet of torque through a six-speed manual transmission or a CVT, enabling the hatchback to accelerate from 0 to 60 mph in about 8.5 seconds.

Pricing is also a mystery, but our guess is the brand-new crossover’s sticker will sit anywhere between $18,000 and $19,000.

Click past the jump to read more about the 2015 Honda HR-V.

The success of the Volkswagen Jetta is unquestioned. After all, it doesn’t earn the distinction of being VW’s best-selling vehicle for nothing. That being said, it’s a little disappointing that the 2015 Jetta , which is set to make its debut at the New York Auto Show , didn’t receive as many upgrades as we had anticipated. But hey, Volkswagen seems to think that the modifications it did put in are enough to continue the Jetta’s path as its breadwinner. It’s hard to argue on that front considering that the variety of Jetta models that are likely to be offered in the market will run the gamut of customer preferences.

Be it an entry-level Jetta, or the diesel-sipping Jetta TDI, this Volkswagen sedan is as versatile as they come in the business. Oh, and it’s got a workhorse GLI model, too, just in case you’re looking for one that has 200 horsepower under its hood.

Click past the jump to read more about the 2015 Volkswagen Jetta.

The 2015 Ford Focus Sedan looks different, doesn’t it? That’s because Ford really went into detail on giving the sedan a refreshed look, at least much more than what you would expect when the word "refresh" is thrown around. But that’s been a Blue Oval strategy for the past few years and with that increased emphasis on keeping the car looking as fresh as possible should translate into renewed interest from the market.

In a lot of ways, the 2015 Focus Sedan is the latest example of that because the car is essentially the same save for the new face and a few interior updates. It’s hard to go against this strategy because Ford has been doing it in some capacity in the past few years and there have been occassions when other brands have adopted the same mindset.

But the real question is whether all these changes are enough to compel a new wave of buyers to be interested in the Focus Sedan, especially when you consider that it’s got some notable rivals in the form of the Honda Civic and the Toyota Corolla .

Ford’s banking on it and to its credit, it’s putting a lot of chips on the table to do it.

Click past the jump to read more about the 2015 Ford Focus Sedan.


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