7 Cheap Performance Cars Under $35,000

authorBy Shreya

Hyundai Veloster N

Year of Launch: 2019
Starting: $32,500

Hyundai Veloster N

The first car offered in the N lineup is a car which is hard to forget. This hatchback will zoom past you leaving a trail of euphony made from the pops and crackles of its sports tuned exhaust. Designed under the former BMW M head and now the former head of Hyundai R&D division, this FWD performance hatch is blessed with great driving dynamics and driver involvement.

Its 2.0 liter 4-pot turbocharged engine churns out 275 hp and 278 lb-ft of torque. Available with a 6 speed manual or an 8 speed wet DCT, it launches to 60 mph from a standstill in just 5.1 seconds with some help from its limited slip differential.

It’s a car which is comfortable to live with since it has a lot of comfort oriented features and technology such as adaptive suspension, CarPlay and Android Auto, connected car tech and much more.

  • Power - 275 hp
  • Peak Torque - 278 lb-ft
  • MPG - 22 city / 28 hwy / 25 combined (MT) and 20 city / 27 hwy / 22 combined (DCT)
  • 0-60 mph in 5.1 seconds
  • Features : Infinity Premium Audio system with 8 speakers, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, Rear View Camera with dynamic guidelines, Bluetooth connectivity, and more.
  • Safety: 6 airbags, Blind Spot Monitoring, Lane Keep Assist and Forward Collision Warning as standard

Hyundai Veloster N was the Top Safety Pick of 2021 by IIHS


Year of Launch: 2022
Starting: $29,880 - $38,330


For decades, the GTI's formula for success has included German build quality, modern technology, and incredible performance. This German pocket rocket has been a trendsetter when it comes to hot hatches. It has always been one of the top performing vehicles in its segment and can give more expensive cars a run for their money.

The 2.0 liter turbo-4 engine produces 240 hp and 273 lb-ft of torque. It's available with a 6-speed manual or a 7-speed DSG TipTronic transmission, which is one of the greatest dual clutch transmissions on the market. It accelerates from 0 to 60 mph in just 5.1 seconds, which is again commensurate with the aggressive sports styling and GTI heritage.

The digital display, the all-new Volkswagen center touchscreen, and high-quality materials with excellent fit and finish welcome you inside the cabin. Whether you're attacking track bends or cruising down the interstate on your way to work, advanced driver assist technologies, soft seats, and a bright, spacious cabin keep you comfortable.

Overall, it looks excellent, has a lot of great features, provides a lot of safety, and is pretty practical- thanks to its spacious rear seats and trunk.

  • Power - 240 hp
  • Peak Torque - 273 lb-ft
  • MPG - 24 city / 34 hwy / 28 combined
  • 0-60 mph in 5.1 seconds
  • Features : 10 inch touchscreen, 12.3 inch Digital Cockpit, available Harman Kardon Premium Sound system, Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, App Connect, Wireless Charging, and more.
  • Safety: 6 airbags ; Pre Collision detection and braking, Intelligent Crash Response System, Blind Spot Monitoring, Lane Keep Assist are standard.

VW Golf GTI received 5 star rating by NHTSA

Mini Cooper S

Year of Launch: 2023
Starting: $30,900 - $35,900

Mini Cooper S

This is a classic British car that is easily recognized by folks. The Mini began as one of the British Motor Corporation's vehicles and has now evolved into its own brand. It has a stylish, sporty, and quirky style about it and it stands out even in the most poshest of areas.

This car has a 2.0-liter single turbo inline four engine that produces 189 hp and 207 lb-ft of torque and accelerates from 0-60 MPH in 6.4 seconds. The hardcore John Cooper Works (JCW) trim uses the same engine, which produces 228 hp and 235 lb-ft of torque and accelerates to 60 MPH in 5.9 seconds. In the S trim, it comes with a 6-speed manual or a 7-speed DCT, and in the JCW level, it comes with an 8-speed Sport Automatic Transmission.

The interior looks distinct and beautiful. It retains the inside design of the original Mini, albeit with a few layout alterations. The cabin is visually appealing and has a premium feel about it.

  • Power - 189 hp
  • Peak Torque - 207 lb-ft
  • MPG - 26 city /35 hwy / 30 combined
  • 0-60 mph in 5.1 seconds
  • Features : 8.8 inch touchscreen, 5 inch semi digital gauge, available 12 speaker 360 W Harman Kardon Premium sound system, available in-built Navigation, Sirius XM with 12 month subscription and Bluetooth.
  • Safety: 8 airbags, Rear Parking distance control, Emergency SOS, Park assist, Forward Collision Warning, Lane Departure Warning are standard.

2022 Mini Cooper S received a rating of Good from IIHS

Subaru BRZ / Toyota GR86

Year of Launch: 2022
Starting: $28,725

Subaru BRZ

This classic RWD sports car with a large hood and short trunk is the epitome of a true blue blooded sports car. It has a 2.0 liter Boxer 4 engine producing 228 hp and 184 lb-ft of torque. It is offered with a 6 speed short shifting manual transmission or a 6 speed automatic.

A standard limited slip differential, perfect weight distribution and skinny tires gives it the ability to do some controlled drifts but also allows it to race on tracks effortlessly. The driving dynamics are top notch and the driver involvement is as good as it gets from modern vehicles.

It looks amazing from the outside and has a decent amount of features which can let you “daily” this car. The interior has some obvious cost cutting done to it but still offers plenty when you consider the price and the performance on offer. Read more about Toyota GR86 here.

  • Power - 228 hp
  • Peak Torque - 184 lb-ft
  • MPG - 21 city / 31 hwy / 25 combined
  • 0-60 mph in 5.4 seconds
  • Features : 8 inch touchscreen, 7 inch digital gauge,Sirius XM Platinum with 3 month subscription, driving modes and Bluetooth.
  • Safety: 7 airbags, Blind Spot monitoring, Rear Cross Traffic Alert, Backup Camera are available.
  • Adaptive Cruise and Active Safety Suite which includes Pre Collision Auto Braking, Auto Throttle Management, Adaptive Cruise Control, and Lane assist is available as standard with Automatic Transmission.

Mazda MX-5 Miata ND2

Year of Launch: 2019
Starting: $27,650

Mazda MX-5 Miata

Back in 1989, this car was the one that kicked off the inexpensive RWD sports car craze. It provided a very engaging and entertaining driving experience by combining the very simple formula of economical power, RWD, well balanced chassis, and minimal weight.

The 2019 update to the powertrain bumped the power of the 2.0 liter inline 4 to 181 hp and 151 lb-ft of torque. It drives the rear wheels through a 6 speed quick shifting manual transmission or an optional 6 speed auto on the higher trims.

Miata looks sleek with smooth curves, long hood and short trunk which looks inspired from vintage British sports cars. Its interior looks well designed and well assembled with little to no creaks from the components. The dashboard looks minimalist but elegant at the same time.

With a limited slip differential and advanced traction systems, it's a car that craves being pushed to the limit.

  • Power - 181 hp
  • Peak Torque - 151 lb-ft
  • MPG - 26 city / 34 hwy / 30 combined
  • 0-60 mph in 5.7 seconds
  • Features : 7 inch touchscreen, available 9 speaker Bose Premium Audio system, Apple CarPlay (wireless on higher trims) and Android Auto and available in-built navigation.
  • Safety: 4 airbags ; Smart Braking (standard), Blind Spot monitoring, Rear Cross Traffic Alert, Backup Camera (standard) are available.

Mazda MX-5 Miata ND2 received 4 stars by Euro NCAP

Having trouble deciding between the Miata ND2 and the GR86? Click here to know how these vehicles stack up against one another.

Mustang EcoBoost Fastback

Year of Launch: 2019
Starting: $27,650

Mustang EcoBoost

Only a few vehicles are as iconic as the Mustang. This pony car-style sports automobile debuted in 1965 and quickly became a hit in the United States thanks to its affordable performance and aesthetics.

The EcoBoost Fastback is the entry level pony car from the mustang line up. To keep prices low but the performance adequate, Ford installed a 2.3 liter turbo 4 cylinder which makes 310 hp and 350 lb-ft of torque - impressive for a four cylinder but not so much for the Mustang nameplate. The EcoBoost also handles really well. Gone are the days of Solid Rear Axle which made it a notoriously difficult car to handle in the corners. Its independent rear suspension improves comfort and performance, both of which are essential traits in a sports car.

Ford also offers a host of options to spec up your EcoBoost. The interiors are and feel quite basic but at this price point with such an iconic nameplate, it feels unethical to expect more luxury.

Overall, this is a car for people who want to own and run a Mustang at an affordable price. Brace yourself for some criticism for owning a four cylinder Mustang from purists who believe that Mustangs should only have a V8.

  • Power - 310 hp
  • Peak Torque - 350 lb-ft
  • MPG - 21 city / 29 hwy / 24 combined
  • 0-60 mph in 5.1 seconds
  • Features : 4.2 inch infotainment display, available 9 speaker Audio system with 8 inch touchscreen which has Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, available in-built navigation.
  • Safety: 6 airbags, PreCollision Assist with Auto Emergency Braking, Blind Spot sensors, SOS post crash alert, Auto high beams (with optional Co-Pilot 360).

The car received 5 stars by NHTSA

Chevrolet Camaro LS

Year of Launch: 2019
Starting: $27,650

Chevrolet Camaro LS

This pony car was only designed with one purpose - to take down the Mustang. The Mustang-Camaro rivalry is one of the most well- known in the market and has been going on for the better part of the century.

But let’s just agree that the Camaro is one of the most iconic Chevy nameplates after the Corvette. It comes with a range of engine options, but the lineup starts with a four-cylinder engine that produces 275 hp and 295 lb-ft of torque.

When compared to the Mustang, the lower starting price justifies the lesser performance numbers, making it one of the most affordable cars.

Well, this margin in power tends to fade away as you move to the bigger engines on both the cars. Like the Mustang, the Camaro also comes with a lot of options to spec up the interior but mostly in terms of visual appearances. The Chevy trumps the mustang when it comes to standard infotainment features and interior design.

  • Power - 275 hp
  • Peak Torque - 295 lb-ft
  • MPG - 22 city / 30 hwy / 25 combined
  • 0-60 mph in 5.4 seconds
  • Features : 7 inch touchscreen, Wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, Auto Rev Match (optional), Bluetooth, Voice command, Wifi Hotspot and more.
  • Safety: 5 stars by NHTSA ; 8 airbags ; Rear View Camera, Teen Driver, Chevy Connected services, available Lane Keep Assist, available Rear Cross Traffic Alert, available Rear Park Assist and so on.

Chevrolet Camaro LS received 5 stars by NHTSA

Regardless of their performance characteristics, all of the vehicles on the list are equally at ease in the traffic as they are on the track. Most of these cars are adaptable enough to carry 5 passengers as well as some luggage in their appropriately sized trunks. Some cars have suspension that is designed to balance performance and comfort, while others feature adaptive suspension that allows them to be more flexible. 

In any case, having one of these vehicles will not need you yo make much compromise. These cars will do just fine on your daily drives.

Are you looking for budget cars? Check out new and used cars near you at Carweek.