You may be the biggest racing fan on the planet, and you want to try your hand at the circuit. What it all comes down to, though, is money. You can’t run with the big guns until you get a car and dedicate it to racing.
With all these souped-up racecars around, you may think it costs a fortune to get a car up and running for racing. This simply isn’t true. You can start with any basic, affordable sporty car – even a factory one, right off the assembly line. The point is, racers add to their cars as they go.
How do you think great racers started in the first place? That race-ready Volkswagen Jetta didn’t just fall into their hands – they worked hard to get it there. You can, too; but you’ll need to pick a set of wheels first. Here are some cheap and reliable suggestions:
Volkswagen Golf GTI
If you’re looking for the perfect starter, look no further than the Golf. Hailed by racers for a little more than a decade, this is a modder’s dream car. It’s a hot little hatch with some screaming power – 210 horsepower and a 2.0 liter turbocharged engine.
While the car’s acceleration is a tad slow at 8.5 seconds, it makes up for it with its unrivaled agility.
Ford Focus SE Hatchback
While there are currently six different variations of the Focus, the SE features the sportiest looks and performance. It has a two-liter, four-cylinder engine, putting out a healthy 160 horsepower and 146 foot-pounds of torque.
If that isn’t enough to sell you, try 0-60 in 7.5 seconds. Electronic stability control and antilock brakes keep you safe in the driver’s seat when you’re cruising around those hairpin turns.
The Focus has a dedicated following, which means modding yours will be a snap. You can easily upgrade your brakes, suspension, wheels and even add a spoiler or body kit.
Kia Forte EX
Remember when Kia was the newcomer to the racing circuit? It’s gotten a lot better over the years, and the Kia Forte EX is a stellar effort at a performance vehicle. It’s cheap at just shy of $20,000, and it can go from 0-60 in 7.8 seconds.
The EX is the trimmest model you can get out of this car, and it proves its worth with 173 horsepower and 154 foot-pounds of torque under the hood.
You want even cheaper, you say? You can pocket $1,000 if you purchase a Jetta, and you’ll get all the other benefits of owning one. A turbocharged 1.8-liter, 170-horsepower, four-cylinder engine provides the power, which can launch the Jetta from 0-60 in 7.3 seconds.
If you’re feeling particularly sinister, you can opt for the Jetta GLI 2.0T, which boosts the horsepower up to 210 for only a couple thousand more.
It’s made several best-of lists each year for a reason. The Mazda 3 is just a great bang for the buck. For around $17,000, you get a 0-60 time of 6.9 seconds, a 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine and 184 horsepower.
It has looks that could kill, and fuel economy that could kill all those other gas-guzzling racers – up to 40 mpg.
It doesn’t take a lot of scavenging to find a good starter car for racing these days. With all of these hot two- and four-doors on the road, you might already know what you want. These five cars are a great place to start, and before you know it, you’ll be off to the races.