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Side view of an orange 2023 Toyota GR86 parked in a garage.

The 5 Best Affordable Performance Cars of 2024

Buying a performance car makes a statement that, for you, a car is more than just a way to get to where you’re going. In these vehicles, the journey itself is the experience. When you’re behind the wheel of a high-performance car, you’ll always feel like you’re in control of the road ahead. With so many options out there, you can find something that feels like it was made just for you.

One common drawback is that these vehicles can cost a pretty penny. However, finding the right performance car for sale doesn’t require a six-figure budget. We’re going to highlight some of the best performance cars of 2024 that all start at under $50,000—and some are substantially less than that. Whether you’re preparing to own your first new performance car or your tenth, any of the cars on this list will give you a great deal and a great drive.

#1 – 2024 Toyota GR86 and Subaru BRZ

Whichever version you purchase, these performance cars are ideal for those who want to get away from the highway to explore mountain roads, canyons, and backstreets. The Toyota GR86 and Subaru BRZ are the result of a collaboration between the two Japanese brands and are almost identical. However, there are some styling differences, and we found the GR86 lets you slide and manhandle the car a little more easily, adding a bit of extra personality to your ride.

The GR86 and BRZ are fun to drive—and with a starting price of around $30,000, they are amazing for performance enthusiasts with a limited budget. The 2.4L flat-four engine produces 228 hp and 184 lb-ft of torque, which exceeds rival roadsters like the Mazda MX-5. You can choose a six-speed manual or an automatic transmission, and these cars have all the standard connectivity features and even include a digital dash with a special track mode setting. The GR86 and BRZ are also among the safest vehicles in the segment, earning a Top Safety Pick+ rating from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.

These vehicles won’t have as good acceleration as some more powerful options, and the interior noise-dampening leaves a little to be desired. In terms of enjoyment for the dollar, though, the GR86 and BRZ are hard to beat. New special editions for 2024 (the BRZ tS and GR86 Trueno Edition) add even more features, such as Brembo brakes and premium suspension components.

A dark blue 2024 Chevy Camaro 3LT parked in a brick garage at night.

#2 – 2024 Chevy Camaro

The Camaro is one of the most famous pony cars in automotive history. However, with Chevy announcing in March 2023 that the Camaro will be discontinued after the 2024 model year, this could be your last chance for a while to own a new Camaro.

This isn’t a pity selection, though. Even after nine years, the sixth-generation Camaro remains one of the best budget-friendly performance cars around. The base engine is a 3.6L V6 that generates 335 hp. There’s also a 6.2L V8 in the LT1 and SS trims with 455 hp that can do 0-60 mph in 4.1 seconds and a supercharged V8 with 650 hp. A six-speed manual transmission is standard, but the 10-speed automatic option provides faster acceleration.

Perhaps most importantly, the Camaro is simply fun to drive. From the base 1LT coupe to the SS 1LE track package to the supercharged ZL1, the 2024 Camaro handles great wherever you take it. If you’re okay with having less interior and cargo space than some other cars in its class, the swan song of the sixth-generation Camaro will be a worthy addition to your collection.

#3 – 2024 Ford Mustang

Everyone who even casually knows cars knows the Mustang—and 2024 is a fantastic time to buy one. The seventh generation of Ford’s most iconic vehicle debuts with a host of modern upgrades. For starters, you have a choice of three redesigned power plants.

The 5.0L Coyote V8 in the GT received a 30 hp boost to offer 480 ponies and 420 lb-ft of torque, taking you from 0-60 mph in just 4.3 seconds. Ford has also added the Mustang Dark Horse that cracks the 500 hp barrier. If you want a more efficient, lower-cost option, you can get the 2.3L EcoBoost that delivers an EPA-estimated 26 MPG combined and still packs 315 hp.

The exterior, suspension, and interior were also overhauled. We don’t have space to list all the ways the 2024 Ford Mustang GT soars, but here are some highlights:

  • The optional Performance Pack includes an electronic drift brake, front strut tower brace, active suspension and exhaust, and engine oil cooler
  • New headlight and taillight styling complement the sharper lines
  • A flat-bottom steering wheel increases driver legroom
  • A massive 13.2-inch infotainment touchscreen provides upgraded connectivity
  • Overhead USB ports let you plug in your dash camera(s)

As the only car Ford still makes, we expected great things from the 2024 Ford Mustang redesign, and it has not disappointed us. We’re especially enthused about the drift brake, which lets you throw your Mustang around corners with some serious giddy-up.

A metallic blue 2024 Nissan Z driving under a bridge.

#4 – 2024 Nissan Z

The Z is an icon in the Nissan lineup. Year two of the seventh generation doubles as an homage to classic performance cars and a look to the future. Beneath its instantly recognizable retro body styling is a twin-turbocharged V6 engine with 400 hp and 350 lb-ft of torque. For 2024, Nissan is bringing back the Z NISMO, which bumps things up to 420 hp and 384 lb-ft of torque. If you’re a loyalist to manual transmissions, the Nissan Z is one of the remaining performance cars that still offers this as the standard option (you can also get a nine-speed automatic if you prefer).

As a two-seater touring model, the current Z offers an incredibly smooth highway driving experience with greatly improved cabin noise cancellation compared to the previous 370Z. Nissan has also updated the interior. The seats have comfortable suede upholstery and eight-way adjustment. You also get a large touchscreen display, onboard navigation, LED headlights, and Amazon Alexa. The Performance and NISMO trims come with a limited-slip differential, 19-inch alloy wheels, upgraded brakes, Bose speakers, and other features. Its refined nature makes the latest Nissan Z a vehicle for every generation of performance enthusiasts.

#5 – 2024 Lexus RC

Lexus is primarily known as a luxury brand, but the RC lineup shows its cars can pack some serious performance. Multiple engine options give you as much power as you desire. The base Lexus RC 300 sports a 2.0L turbocharged I-4 engine with 241 hp and an eight-speed automatic transmission. On the other end of the spectrum, the Lexus RC F has a 5.0L V8 engine that puts 472 hp at your fingertips and a limited-slip differential to improve grip when accelerating. There are also two V6 options, both starting under $50,000.

On top of that, the Lexus RC looks amazing. The aggressive nose and door lines will turn heads as you drive past. Inside, every trim delivers a smooth ride and has the comfort of supple leather seats with 10-way power adjustment. You get a standard eight-inch infotainment center and a 10-speaker sound system with optional upgrades. The 2024 model adds 19-inch Enkei wheels on the F Sport trims, plus more exterior finishes.

All in all, the Lexus RC is great if you want a sophisticated luxury coupe with a high-performance edge. It might not drive quite as sportily as the other vehicles on this list, and it’s been noted the rear legroom is a little tight (though the front is quite spacious). Still, it remains a worthy competitor in the affordable performance market.