These vehicles exude fun in their own way

Supercars are some of the most fun cars to drive, but their steep price tags inhibit a lot of people — myself included — from driving one, let alone actually buying one. In the absence of any form of financial resources to actually scoop up a six-figure exotic, there are other options on the table that allow us to have our proverbial cakes and eat them, too. Truth be told, there is a multitude of vehicles in the market today that allow us to enjoy some of the thrills provided by supercars without forcing us to fork over our life savings. We picked out the best 10 vehicles that will make you forget about owning the newest Ferrari. These vehicles don’t have to be fast or powerful, but they all are fun to drive.

2020 Mazda MX-5 Miata

2016 Mazda MX-5 High Resolution Exterior
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Pound-for-pound — or dollar-for-dollar, if that’s what you prefer — the Mazda MX-5 Miata is the best convertible in the market. The MX-5 embodies everything you want in a sports car. It looks the part of a full-blooded drop-top. It’s also lightweight, handles well, and has a peppy four-cylinder engine that comes alive the way you want it to. It’s also balls-to-the-wall-fun-to-drive. Throw in the MX-5’s reputation for reliability and it’s one of the best examples of a car that you can have a lot of fun in without worrying about the costs that come in buying one.

2016 Mazda MX-5 High Resolution Exterior
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2020 Mazda MX-5 Miata specifications
Engine: 2.0-liter inline-four cylinder engine
Horsepower: 181 horsepower
Torque: 151 pound-feet of torque
0 to 60 MPH: 5.7 seconds
Top speed: 130 mph
Weight: 2.381 pounds (1,080 kilos)
Power-to-Weight ratio: 76
Price: $25,700

Read our full review on the 2020 Mazda MX-5 Miata

Jeep Wrangler

2018 Jeep Wrangler Exterior Wallpaper quality
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It doesn’t matter if it’s the two-door or the four-door version, the Jeep Wrangler is one of the best vehicles in the market today. This is the ultimate go-anywhere ride that you can have fun in no matter where you go. The Wrangler can hit the open road with effortless aplomb and it can tackle rough terrain like nobody’s business. You won’t have to worry about bumpy rides, too. The Jeep’s excellent ground clearance and rugged suspension means that it’s capable of taking you anywhere you want to go. “Fun” doesn’t always mean going fast on an open road. It can also mean the ability to take you where you want to go and look effortless in doing it.

2018 Jeep Wrangler Exterior Wallpaper quality
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2020 Jeep Wrangler specifications
Engine: 3.6-liter Pentastar V-6 engine
Horsepower: 285 horsepower
Torque: 260 pound-feet of torque
0 to 60 MPH: 7.1 seconds
Top speed: 120 mph (estimate)
Weight: 4.439 pounds (2,013 kilos)
Power-to-Weight ratio: 128
Price: $28,295

Read our full review on the Jeep Wrangler

Subaru WRX

2019 Subaru WRX
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The Subaru WRX has an aggressive front fascia

The Subaru WRX is the jack-of-all-trades among sedans these days. It combines everything you’d want from a four-door model. From its aggressive design to its splashy interior, the WRX is pleasant to the eyes. More important than its aesthetics, the WRX packs a potent turbocharged four-cylinder engine, boasts a performance suspension system, and comes standard with all-wheel drive. That’s a great combination that equates to a nimble ride to go with performance mean streak that can be unleashed any time. And with a starting price that’s less than $30,000, the Subaru WRX offers the kind of bang-for-buck that you don’t get from supercars.

2019 Subaru WRX
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while the rear seems almost down to earh
Subaru WRX specifications
Engine: 2.0-liter flat-four engine
Horsepower: 268 horsepower
Torque: 258 pound-feet of torque
0 to 60 MPH: around five seconds
Top speed: 155 mph
Weight: 3,294 pounds (1,494 kilos)
Power-to-Weight ratio: 163
Price: $27,495

Read our full review on the Subaru WRX

Fiat Abarth 124 Spyder

10 Cars That You Should Pick Over a Supercar Anyday
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What happens when you take a Mazda MX-5 Miata and drop a large dose of Italian style on it? You get the Fiat Abarth 124 Spyder. It’s not as famous as the MX-5, for sure, but the 124 Spyder, with its independent suspension and mechanical limited-slip differential, has the tools to be one of the fun cars you can drive without burning holes in your pockets. Motor Trend even put the 124 Spyder to the test against several more expensive performance cars — BMW M2, Chevrolet Camaro, Ford Focus RS, Porsche Boxster S, and Toyota 86 — and determined that the 124 Spyder was the most fun car to drive among the bunch. That’s saying something considering that of all the cars the 124 Spyder competed against, only the 86 is in its price range. The rest are far and away more expensive.

10 Cars That You Should Pick Over a Supercar Anyday
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Fiat Abarth 124 Spyder specifications
Engine: 1.4-liter MultiAir Turbo engine
Horsepower: 168 horsepower
Torque: 184 pound-feet of torque
0 to 60 MPH: 6.7 seconds
Top speed: 144 mph
Weight: 2,477 pounds (1,130 kilos)
Power-to-Weight ratio: 135
Price: $29,390

Read our full review on the Fiat Abarth 124 Spyder

BMW Z1

1989 - 1991 BMW Z1 Exterior
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Not a lot of people remember the BMW Z1, and that’s criminal. Not only is it the first model in Bimmer’s line of Z series roadsters — the Z4 Roadster is a descendant of the Z1 — but it’s also one of the most unique BMW models ever built. The Z1 is best remembered for its plastic body panels and the quirky vertical sliding doors that drop into the door sills, but it’s also one of the first BMW models to use a multi-link rear suspension. It’s hard to come by a suitably running Z1 these days, but if you do get to chance upon one, have it restored and you’ll be the envy of your peers.

1989 - 1991 BMW Z1 High Resolution Exterior
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BMW Z1 specifications
Engine: 2.5-liter straight-six engine
Horsepower: 168 horsepower
Torque: 164 pound-feet of torque
0 to 60 MPH: 7.3 seconds
Top speed: 136 mph
Weight: 2,756 pounds (1,250 kilos)
Power-to-Weight ratio: 122
Price: $50,000 (used)

Read our full review on the BMW Z1

Honda Civic Si

2018 Honda Civic Si Coupe High Resolution Exterior
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The Honda Civic Type R is the obvious choice if you’re picking a version of the Civic for this list. But the Type R is a little too performance-oriented. It’s fun to drive if you know how to drive it, but it’s less fun if you don’t know how to. The Civic Si, on the other hand, fits the bill of an understated model that’s brimming with fun and confidence. The Civic SI not only looks the part with all the extra aero bits it’s carrying, but it also packs an impressive 1.5-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine. This unit delivers 205 horsepower and 192 pound-feet of torque, and when you combine those figures with the Civic SI’s limited-slip differential and adaptive suspension dampers, you have a hatchback that’s every bit as hot on the road as its raunchier sister.

10 Cars That You Should Pick Over a Supercar Anyday
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Honda Civic SI specifications
Engine: 1.5-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine
Horsepower: 205 horsepower
Torque: 192 pound-feet of torque
0 to 60 MPH: 6.5 seconds
Top speed: 136 mph
Weight: 2,756 pounds (1,250 kilos)
Power-to-Weight ratio: 137 mph
Price: $25,930

Read our full review on the Honda Civic Si

Kia Stinger GT

2018 Kia Stinger Exterior
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RWD standard; AWD $2,200 option

There are plenty of options in the market as far as performance sedans go, but if you’re looking for one that still comes with that new car smell and also boasts similar performance credentials as some of Europe’s finest has to offer, might I suggest you give the Kia Stinger a look. Sure, the Stinger isn’t exactly a sedan, but don’t let that cloud your decision-making. The Stinger, at its heart, is one heck of a fun car to drive. It doesn’t matter which engine you choose — opt for the 3.6-liter twin-turbo V-6! — because the Stinger is renowned for its excellent handling across its entire trim lineup. The aforementioned twin-turbo V-6 sits under the hood of the Stinger GT. The unit produces a whopping 365 horsepower and 376 pound-feet of torque, allowing the model to sprint from 0 to 60 mph in just 4.7 seconds. Throw in that all-wheel-drive setup and one of the roomiest interiors among models in its class and you have the makings of a truly special ride that costs less than $40,000.

2018 Kia Stinger High Resolution Exterior
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Kia Stinger GT specifications
Engine: 3.6-liter twin-turbocharged V-6 engine
Horsepower: 365 horsepower
Torque: 376 pound-feet of torque
0 to 60 MPH: 4.7 seconds
Top speed: 167 mph
Weight: 3,792 pounds (2,720 kilos)
Power-to-Weight ratio: 193 mph
Price: $36,500

Read our full review on the Kia Stinger GT

Ford Flex EcoBoost V6

2014 Ford Flex High Resolution Exterior
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The Ford Flex is probably the last among Ford’s myriad of crossovers and SUVs to deserve a spot in this list. While that might be true, the same can’t be said for a specific variant of the Flex that not a lot of people showered with the attention it (probably) deserved. The Ford Flex Ecoboost doesn’t look the part of a fun crossover to drive. It’s freakishly long and the retro wagon design was hit or miss among fans of Ford’s SUV lineup. But the Flex Ecoboost is in this list because of one little secret: some models were powered by Ford’s 365-horsepower twin-turbocharged Ecoboost V-6 engine. That unit produced 365 horsepower and 350 pound-feet of torque, enough to get the crossover to 60 mph from an idle position in just 6.7 seconds. The Flex shows off its “fun” card in unexpected ways. That, in some cases, is the point of it all, right?

10 Cars That You Should Pick Over a Supercar Anyday High Resolution Exterior
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Ford Flex Ecoboost V6 specifications
Engine: 3.6-liter twin-turbocharged V-6 engine
Horsepower: 365 horsepower
Torque: 350 pound-feet of torque
0 to 60 MPH: 5.9 seconds
Top speed: 130 mph (est)
Weight: 4,828 pounds (2,189 kilos)
Power-to-Weight ratio: 151 mph
Price: $38,500

Read our full review on the Ford Flex EcoBoost V6

Volkswagen GTI Up!

10 Cars That You Should Pick Over a Supercar Anyday High Resolution Exterior Wallpaper quality
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Why is a car with barely 200 horsepower on tap in this list? Because it’s a ball of fun to drive. That’s one of the things you’ll take with you when you drive the Volkswagen Up! GTI. The compact car only has a 1.0-liter three-cylinder engine, but that tiny mill is all sorts of spunky, producing enough power — 116 horsepower — to provide the Up! GTI with enough juice to hit 60 mph in just 8.8 seconds and hit a top speed of 119 mph! It’s not a perfect car by any means, but if you want a fun drive for the cost of under $20,000, the Up! GTI makes a very compelling case.

10 Cars That You Should Pick Over a Supercar Anyday High Resolution Exterior
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Volkswagen Up! GTI specifications
Engine: 1.0-liter three-cylinder engine
Horsepower: 116 horsepower
Torque: 147 pound-feet of torque
0 to 60 MPH: 8.8 seconds
Top speed: 119 mph
Weight: 2,198 pounds (997 kilos)
Power-to-Weight ratio: 106
Price: Under $20,000

Read our full review on the Volkswagen GTI Up!

Lexus ES 350 F Sport

2019 Lexus ES 350 F Sport
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For the longest time, Lexus has tried to establish itself as a worthy competitor to the BMWs, Audis, and Mercedes-Benzs of the world. It’s taken a while to get there, but with a model like the ES 350 F Sport, Toyota’s premium brand has finally stepped up with a model that allows you to enjoy the thrills of exotics in a far more affordable package. The ES is properly powered by a 3.5-liter V-6 engine that pumps out 302 horsepower and 267 pound-feet of torque. Beyond those figures, the ES 350 F Sport’s expressive and daring style is a welcome sight. It’s also a lot more fun to drive now, something that none of us could say about past versions of the model. Give Lexus credit for finally having a performance sedan that’s going to make you forget about wanting those exotics that are well out of your financial capabilities anyway.

10 Cars That You Should Pick Over a Supercar Anyday
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Lexus ES 350 F Sport specifications
Engine: 3.5-liter V-6 engine
Horsepower: 302 horsepower
Torque: 267 pound-feet of torque
0 to 60 MPH: 5.9 seconds
Top speed: 131 mph
Weight: 3,649 pounds (1,655 kilos)
Power-to-Weight ratio: 166
Price: Under $44,635

Read our full review on the Lexus ES 350 F Sport

 Which cars are the most fun to drive?

While supercars are often regarded as the cars that are most fun to drive on account of their power and performance capabilities, cars like the Mazda MX-5 Miata, Subaru WRX, and Kia Stinger GT have shown that you can enjoy the thrills of speed and fun drivability without having to spend six-figure sums on one car.

What are the most fun cars to drive?

In addition to models like the Mazda MX-5 Miata, Subaru WRX, and Kia Stinger, the Jeep Wrangler, Honda Civic SI, and Fiat Abarth 124 Spyder are some of the most fun cars to drive.

Who builds the most fun cars?

A lot of automakers build fun cars. Companies like Ferrari, Lamborghini, McLaren, and Bugatti are famous for their supercars while mainstream auto brands like Ford, Honda, and Mazda have shown the ability to build fun cars at a fraction of the cost compared to the Ferraris, Lamborghinis, and McLarens of the world.

What Sports cars are better than supercars?

The Mazda MX-5 Miata stands out, but you can also look at models like Fiat Abarth 124 Spyder and Lexus ES 350 F Sport as models that give you the kind of bang-for-your-buck that supercars don’t.

Kirby Garlitos
Automotive Aftermarket Expert - kirby@topspeed.com
Kirby’s first exposure into the world of automobiles happened when he caught Knight Rider on television as a five-year old boy. David Hasselhoff didn’t leave much of an impression on him (that happened later on in Baywatch), but KITT certainly did. To this day, Kirby remains convinced that he will one day own a car with the same ‘spirit’ as the original KITT (not the 2008 monstrosity). He doesn't know when that will be, but until then, he’s committed to expressing his love for KITT, and all cars for that matter, here at TopSpeed.  Read More
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