Why go for an SUV when these will provide a ton of fun?

Here’s a short list of 5 pocket-rockets every U.S. buyer can have instead of that big, sluggish SUV. And yes, such cars are more popular over the pond in Europe, but there are also plenty of choices from we can choose from I the States as well. Sure, an SUV will carry the kids during that trip you’ve been planning, or the groceries from the supermarket to your home, but it doesn’t come close to the thrills you’ll get from a proper pocket-rocket. Here are five go-fast cars you can buy in the United States and have a bucketload of fun with.

Ford Fiesta ST

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The Fiesta ST has been a review-favorite from the very moment it hit the market.

And, for good reason: it’s small, nimble, and fun to drive.

In the U.S., the Fiesta ST relies on a 1.6-liter, turbocharged, EcoBoost engine that’s bolted to a six-speed manual gearbox. The powerplant cranks out 197 horsepower and 202 pound-feet of torque – all of which is sent through the front wheels. Ford also fitted the Fiesta ST with a three-mode ESC system called AdvanceTrac as well as torque vectoring control. Inside, you’ll find ST-badged Recaro sports seats and Ford’s SYNC 3 infotainment setup. But in all honesty, you won’t have time to fiddle with it because the Fiesta ST simply begs to be driven.The 2019 Ford Fiesta ST starts at $21,340.

Read our full review on the 2018 Ford Fiesta ST

MINI John Cooper Works

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Are you looking for some spice on the inside and on the outside? Well, you might want to have a look at the MINI John Cooper Works.

Animated by a 2.0-liter, Turbocharged, four-cylinder engine that’s also direct-injected, the MINI John Cooper Works lays 228 horsepower and 236 pound-feet of torque at the driver’s right foot.

Harnessing those resources is a six-speed manual gearbox that pushes the souped-up MINI to 60 mph from a standstill in 6.1 seconds.

Optionally, you can pick the $1,500 Sport Automatic Transmission and F1-style paddle shifters. Moreover, MINI will gladly provide a long list of JCW upgrades, including a leather steering wheel, a sports exhaust system, and the optional Nitron suspension that comes with adjustable dampers front and rear. Visually, you can even fit the MINI JCW with aero bits and two-tone color schemes. The 2019 MINI JCW starts at $32,400.

Read our full review on the 2018 MINI John Cooper Works

Fiat Abarth 500

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Despite sitting on a decade-old platform, the Fiat Abarth 500 is still one of the most engaging pocket-rockets out there.

The Abarth 500 employs a 1.4-liter, turbocharged, four-cylinder powerplant that can be mated to either a five-speed manual or a six-speed automatic transmission. On manual models, the engine makes 160 horsepower and 170 pound-feet of torque, while automatic models are tuned to produce 154 horsepower and 184 pound-feet of twist. The suspension system has been imbued with stiffer spring rates and performance-grade front and rear shock absorbers from KONI that feature Frequency Selective Damping tech. On the visual front, the Fiat Abarth 500 comes with 16-inch forged aluminum wheels as standard, but they can be upgraded to 17-inch wheels with a 12-spoke design. Inside, the Italian pocket-rocket will greet you with racing-inspired bucket seats, a leather-wrapped steering wheel, and a leather shifter knob. The 2018 Fiat Abarth 500 starts at $20,495.

Read our full review on the 2018 Fiat Abarth 500

Volkswagen Golf GTI

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VW’s Mk7 Golf GTI is not exactly the most appealing hot hatch when it comes to looks, but once you get over that, the spec sheet doesn’t look half bad. Wolfsburg stuck a 2.0-liter, turbocharged, inline-four under Golf GTI’s hood. The unit makes 220 horsepower and 258 pound-feet of twist. It can be twinned to either a six-speed manual or a seven-speed dual-clutch transmission with paddle shifters.

Underneath the GTI works a sport-tuned suspension setup and, optionally, you can fit it with a torque-sensing limited-slip differential and DCC.

What DCC does is adjust the damper valves according to the situation thanks to a pre-defined algorithm that draws in data from the wheel sensors as well as front and rear acceleration sensors. Stopping power comes from ventilated disc brakes and GTI-badged calipers. What’s he best thing about the Golf GTI? It offers the same people-carrying credentials as a regular Golf, but with more oomph. The 2018 VW Golf GTI starts at $26,415.

Read our full review on the Volkswagen Golf GTI

Hyundai Veloster N

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Hyundai’s U.S. lineup doesn’t include the highly-acclaimed i30 N hatchback (only Europe gets to enjoy it), but the Veloster is back and is sold in high-performance guise under the Veloster N name. The Hyundai Veloster N works a 2.0-liter, four-cylinder, turbocharged engine that cranks out 250 horsepower.

The same powerplant can also be had with 275 hp, while maximum torque is rated at 275 lb-ft for both engine tunes.

Hyundai says the Veloster N (just like the i30 N) has been tuned after a gruelling session on the famed Nürburgring. There, engineers could see the electronically-controlled limited-slip differential and the rev-matching six-speed manual at work. There are four drive modes to choose from - Normal, Sport, N, and Custom. Moreover, the Veloster N has a CDC (continuous damping control) setup and rides on 18-inch alloy wheels. The 2019 Hyundai Veloster N starts at $26,900.

Read our full review on 2019 Hyundai Veloster N.

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