15 Fastest New Cars Under $50,000

If you check our list of fastest cars ever made, you’ll see the buy-in starts in the low six figures and rises to millions of dollars. Those cars are ridiculously entertaining and gorgeous to behold, but they are not in the budget of the average person. Nonetheless, the list of affordable sports cars gets more impressive every year, and 2017 is another great one for enthusiasts.

To make the point, we rounded up cars with the quickest times to 60 miles per hour and the fastest quarter-mile runs with a base price below $50,000. Though they qualified in price, we did not include Nissan 370Z Nismo or the Cadillac ATS V6 because of their comparatively sluggish quarter miles. Likewise, Honda Civic Type R does not appear because pricing remained a mystery as of late spring.

Tests by Motor Trend and Car and Driver served as our speed standard. Since they all had zero-to-60 times around 5.0 seconds or below and quarter-mile times around 13.0 seconds, we ranked them from most expensive to least expensive. These are the 12 fastest new cars under $50,000 in 2017.

15. Infiniti Q50 Red Sport 400

Profile of blue Infiniti Q50 Red Sport sedan in blue

Infiniti Q50 Red Sport 400 | Infiniti

Base price: $48,700

Horsepower fiends don’t have to turn to Detroit muscle cars for eye-popping numbers. In the cool, collected Infiniti Q50 Red Sport sedan, drivers have access to a whopping 400 horsepower and 350 pound-feet of torque. Getting to 60 miles per hour from a stop takes only 4.5 seconds with this Q50, while reaching a quarter mile requires 13.0 seconds of your time. When you complete the sprint, your speedometer will show 109 miles per hour.

14. BMW 340i

View of BMW 340i sedan in Mediterranean blue metallic

2017 BMW 340i | BMW

Base price: $47,900

There isn’t anything too showy about a BMW 340i sedan, but there is a lot of power inside that familiar facade. Power comes via the 3.0-liter twin-turbo six-cylinder engine capable of 320 horsepower and 330 pound-feet of torque. Car and Driver confirmed the automaker’s estimate of 4.8 seconds to 60 miles per hour, and clocked its quarter-mile run at 13.3 seconds at 106 miles per hour. Upgrading to the xDrive model gets you an even faster ride that only costs a shade over $50,000.

13. Chevrolet SS

2017 Chevrolet SS

2017 marked the end of the line for the Australian-built Chevrolet SS. | General Motors

Base price: $46,625

If power and four doors are your top priorities, you’ll want to take a look at the 2017 Chevrolet SS. This GM Australia import packs 415 horsepower and the equivalent amount of torque, allowing it to top 60 miles per hour in 4.7 seconds. Quarter-mile sprints don’t take long, either, with the SS sedan reaching the mark in 13.2 seconds at 109 miles per hour. GM’s Holden factory won’t survive 2017, so consumers should take advantage of this buy soon.

12. BMW M240i xDrive

Rear view of red BMW M240i

2017 BMW M240i | BMW

Base price: $46,450

For those who can’t wait the full 5 seconds to reach 60, we present the BMW M240i. Using 335 horsepower and 369 pound-feet of  torque, this model blasted to 60 in 4.3 seconds during Car and Driver tests. Quarter-mile runs are exceptional, requiring a mere 12.7 seconds at 111 miles per hour. If you’ve wanted an M2 but could use the extra $8,000 for something else, this model is an excellent “compromise.”

11. Dodge Challenger 392 Scat Pack Shaker

View of red Dodge Challenger with scat pack shaker

2017 Dodge Challenger 392 Scat Pack Shaker | Dodge

Base price: $43,795

Those who crave a retro muscle car with air conditioning and extra power should check on the Dodge Challenger 392 with Hemi V8. The Scat Pack Shaker package bumps the power quotient to 485 horsepower and 475 pound-feet torque. Dodge says it can run to 60 miles per hour in 4.5 seconds, but Car and Driver got there in 4.2 seconds using an automatic transmission. For the quarter mile, this model takes 12.6 seconds and arrives at 114 miles per hour.

10. Audi S3

View of 2017 Audi S3 on a wooded lane

2017 Audi S3 | Audi

Base price: $42,900

It wasn’t long ago that the Audi S4 made the cut among the hottest cars under $50,000, but times change, and so do prices. These days, folks who want legit speed in a four-door Audi can turn to the S3. This model features 292 horsepower, 280 pound-feet of torque, and a top speed of 155 miles per hour. Testers have outgunned the automaker’s zero-to-60 time (4.7 seconds), so there’s no problem with acceleration. The S3’s quarter-mile runs are no slouch either at 13.3 seconds. 

9. Jaguar XE

Rear view of 2017 Jaguar XE

2017 Jaguar XE | Jaguar

Base price: $42,525

While we couldn’t get any quarter-mile times for the Jaguar XE with the supercharged V6, we can report this sport sedan features 340 horsepower and unanimously positive reviews. The automaker set its zero-to-60 time at 4.9 seconds, and no one who’s tested the most powerful XE shot it down. Jaguar limits the top speed to 155 miles per hour. Compared to the previous generation models built on a Ford platform, this model is true to brand heritage and a legitimate speed threat.

8. Dodge Charger Scat Pack

Side view of 2017 Dodge Charger with scat pack

2017 Dodge Charger with scat pack | Dodge

Base price: $39,995

It may not be the Hellcat or have a zillion horsepower, but there’s plenty of rumble inside the Dodge Charger with scat pack. This model produces a menacing 485 horsepower and 470 pound-feet of torque, making it capable of hitting 60 miles per hour in 4.2 seconds. Motor Trend got this Charger to the quarter-mile in 12.4 seconds, too, so if you’re looking for pure brawn with four doors at around $40,000, this would be the choice.

7. Alfa Romeo Giulia

View of 2017 Alfa Giulia with country setting behind

2017 Alfa Romeo Giulia | Alfa Romeo

Base price: $37,995

Alfa Romeo’s return to America did not exactly set the auto market ablaze. In its first full year (2015), the Italian brand sold 663 units of the 4C. Then the Giulia sport sedan arrived and did much better, moving 1,600 cars through the first four months of 2017. This model, which features 280 horsepower and 306 pound-feet of torque, can run to 60 miles per hour in about 5.0 seconds. Car and Driver had its quarter mile close to 13.7 seconds. Giulia’s formula appears to be working.

6. Chevrolet Camaro SS

View of Chevy Camaro SS on scenic road at dusk

2017 Chevrolet Camaro SS | General Motors

Base price: $36,905

It’s no secret why people swear by the Chevy Camaro SS. This model is among a handful of cars that tops impossible power ratings yet costs less than $40,000. The V8 Camaro features a 376 cubic-inch V8 that maxes out at 455 horsepower and 455 pound-feet of torque. In Car and Driver testing, it hit 60 miles per hour in 3.9 seconds, which outpaced the latest Mustang by half a second. Camaro SS’s 12.3-second quarter mile also puts it in elite company for its price range.

5. Volkswagen Golf R

View of blue Volkswagen Golf R on the track

Volkswagen Golf R | Volkswagen

Base price: $35,655

If you admire the hot hatch segment, you have a tough choice to make in 2017. In addition to the Civic Type R’s arrival, the Ford Focus RS also became available to the North American audience. Even with the competition,  many folks will opt for the explosive Volkswagen Golf R. This hatch boasts 292 horsepower and 280 pound-feet of torque, making the GTI model seem relatively tame. Motor Trend testers ran it to 60 in 4.5 seconds with a quarter mile time of 13.1 seconds at 105 miles per hour.

4. Ford Focus RS

View of gray Ford Focus RS adrift

2017 Ford Focus RS | Ford

Base price: $36,120

If you can imagine an all-wheel drive Ford Focus with 350 horsepower and a button that sends you into “drift mode,” you are ready for the 2017 RS. Its 2.3-liter Ecoboost engine also provides 350 pound-feet of torque, so if you don’t want a rear-wheel drive Mustang GT, this should be your Ford. It ran to 60 in 4.6 seconds and managed the quarter mile in 13.3 seconds at 103.3 miles per hour in Motor Trend testing.

3. Subaru WRX STI

View of 2018 Subaru WRX STI driving up a mountain

2016 Subaru WRX STI | Subaru

Base price: $36,095

Subaru WRX STI is another stalwart in the fast-but-affordable segment. Using the same powertrain in place since 2008 (305 horsepower, 290 pound-feet of torque), fans of STI know what to expect. Performance figures varied more on this model than for any other car on the list, but Motor Trend nailed down the fastest time at 4.6 seconds to 60 miles per hour. During the same runs, drivers completed the quarter-mile sprint in 13.1 seconds at 104.4 miles per hour.

2. Ford Fusion Sport

View of blue Ford Fusion Sport sedan

2017 Ford Fusion Sport | Ford

Base price: $34,350

All three Detroit automakers had sport sedans available for 2017. With Chevy SS on the way out, that will change in the near future, but the arrival of Ford Fusion Sport should take some of the sting away. Ford opted to add muscle to its midsize sedan for the first time this generation, and the results were respectable. Using 325 horses and 380 pound-feet of torque, Fusion Sport hit 60 miles per hour in 5.1 seconds and the quarter mile in 13.7 seconds at 101 miles per hour.

1. Ford Mustang GT

View of 2017 Mustang GT in red

2017 Ford Mustang GT | Ford

Base price: $33,195

Ford Mustang fans were happy to see performance once again improved for the 2015 edition, when the GT’s punch jumped to 435 horsepower and 400 pound-feet of torque. Even though it got an extra 87 pounds with manual transmission, Car and Driver took the 5.0 to 60 miles per hour in 4.4 seconds and to a quarter mile in 13.0 seconds at 112 miles per hour. After all these years, Mustang is still one of the best power values on the market.

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