The 5 Fastest Affordable Cars in 2022

Being on a budget doesn't have to mean being boring. We've found the fastest cheap cars with high horsepower, great performance scores and a price tag under $40,000.

These Cars Are Fast and Cheap

Inflation, supply chain issues, dealership shortages – finding a fast, fun new car on a budget can seem impossible. But that is not the case! We've found 5 cars with high performance scores and low prices. We imposed a budget cap of $40,000 and then chose the trim level with the highest horsepower under that limit.

Since we were looking to maximize engine power, these trims aren't always the cheapest models. There may be base models with lower starting prices and smaller engines. This list will give you somewhere to start in your search for the best fast car for your budget.

New information becomes available all the time, and we update our scores as that happens. The scores mentioned in this slideshow might not match the most up-to-date numbers in our reviews.

Let's take a look at the fastest affordable cars you can buy this year.

1- 2022 Subaru WRX

$29,105 | 271 hp | USN Performance Score: 7.0/10

The completely redesigned 2022 Subaru WRX has one available engine: A 2.4-liter turbo-four, though it only has 3 horsepower more than the previous model. It has great road grip, and the body feels planted in the corners. Steering is precise, and the brakes are strong.

But the WRX has its drawbacks, including some noticeable turbo lag, but once the engine is revving, there's plenty of power. The suspension is tuned for athletic driving, which means it can be a bit stiff for daily driving tasks.

The interior got an upgrade this year too, though it still has a utilitarian feel. You can upgrade to the WRX Limited trim, which adds Recaro seats, a larger touch screen, and more safety features, while keeping the price below $40,000.

2- 2022 Hyundai Veloster N

$32,500 | 275 hp | USN Performance Score: 7.5/10

In 2019, Hyundai debuted the performance-tuned trim of its sporty Veloster hatchback. Now the 2022 Hyundai Veloster N is the only trim available. The turbo lag is barely noticeable, and acceleration is zippy. A manual transmission is standard and an automatic with paddle shifters is available. Both deliver snappy shifts.

Its handling is tuned for maximum fun, with three drive modes and standard Pirelli P-Zero performance tires. Steering is precise, and the brakes are strong. As with other vehicles on this list, the Veloster N's athletic driving style makes for a stiff ride, especially in Sport or Sport+ mode.

Since there's only one trim, there's really only one price. The dual-clutch automatic transmission is the only major option available, for $1,500. Adding this option raises the price to $34,000.

3- 2022 Kia Stinger GT-Line

$36,090 | 300 hp | USN Performance Score: 8.0/10

The base engine in the 2022 Kia Stinger is much more powerful than the outgoing model's. The new turbo-four makes 300 horsepower, compared to last year's engine making 255. That's a big jump. Kia says the 2022 Stinger can move from zero to 60 mph in 5.2 seconds, which is very quick for this price point.

Since this is a sports sedan, it feels a bit heavier than some on this list, like the hot hatches. But it's still plenty of fun to drive, with a confident feel in the curves. Its comfort suspension setting makes the Stinger a good daily driver too.

There are more powerful engines and performance upgrades available for the Stinger, but they raise the sticker price to well above $40,000. The base model comes with enough features to keep most drivers happy.

4- 2022 Dodge Challenger R/T

$39,075 | 375 hp | USN Performance Score: 8.0/10

The 2022 Dodge Challenger is hardly hiding its performance chops. If it looks like a muscle car and sounds like a muscle car, it must be a muscle car. You can tiptoe up to the $40,000 line with the R/T and a manual transmission and get a powerful 5.7-liter Hemi V8 with 375 horsepower with the R/T trim. Opting for the automatic transmission drops the horsepower rating by three.

As you might imagine for a car this heavy, the Challenger is more of a straight-line racer than a nimble corner carver. One of the benefits of the R/T trim is that its suspension favors comfort over performance. Trims with more monstrous engines also have stiffer suspensions that can make everyday driving more (ahem) challenging.

5- 2022 Hyundai Kona N

$34,200 | 280 hp | USN Performance Score: 8.2/10

The 2022 Hyundai Kona is one of the best in its class, and we named it this year's Best Subcompact SUV for the Money. There are a few trims available, and performance shoppers will want to pay close attention. The Kona N-Line has a 195-horsepower engine, which is a step up from the base engine. But we're aiming for the Kona N (no Line in this model name), the top trim with the most power: 280 horsepower, and still well under $40,000.

The Kona N comes with other performance upgrades, including an eight-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission with paddle shifters, a sport-tuned suspension, and a limited-slip differential. Hyundai claims this model can climb from zero to 60 mph in about five seconds.

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