Cheap Cars That Turn Heads
While a new Ferrari 488 Spyder will certainly turn heads, that supercar is out of reach for many. Lucky for us, there are several great looking choices under $25,000 that offer an engaging drive and turn heads on the street. If you’re looking to get attention on the cheap, consider these new and used cars from the last 10 years.
Saturn Sky Redline
The Sky was unknowingly Saturn’s swan song, coming out just a few years before the brand died. The base model was just over $23k, and with the up-rated Redline version, it was roughly $26,000. That cash bought you a 2.0 liter direct injected and turbocharged four cylinder belting out 265 hp. The Kappa platform is solid, although relatively heavy, and makes for a great daily driver. While the interior hasn’t aged well, the exterior still looks great, It was the best looking Saturn ever made, and arguably the best looking car on the road under $50,000 when it debuted.
Technically a motorcycle, the Slingshot makes this list as it looks like a wild concept car from the seats forward, and it provides every bit as much fun as its looks promise. The forged-aluminum double wishbone suspension has coil-overs and electronic stability control. A 2.4 liter Ecotech isn’t the greatest powerplant, but with 173 hp and weighing in at just 1700 lbs, the Slingshot has the best power-to-weight ratio on this list. It is also a reverse tricycle and has no roof. It gets a lot of looks.
While pretty much no one lusts after the base model Mustang, it does have a lot going for it a just $23,800. The new ‘stang sports a 3.7 V6 with 300 hp and 280 lb/ft. This combo is good enough for a very livable 5 second run to sixty, and 28 mpg on the highway. The fun factor is there with a 6-speed manual or auto with paddle shifters. Not bad, and it looks every bit as good as the V8 models. While it will become commonplace soon, the base Mustang still turns heads.
One of the ultimate driver’s cars (at any price), the Miata is a compact blast that will cost you just a hair under $25,000. The base version, appropriately called “sport,” offers a lot of standard features. There’s only 155 hp under the hood, but that is plenty when the car weighs only 2,332 lbs with a 6-speed manual, and the convertible top is easy to- er, convert. Nothing gets looks like a roadster, and the new Miata certainly looks the part. It’ll make the bystanders, and you, smile.
The snazzy looking CR-Z’s design pays homage to the ever popular CRX of a couple decades ago. Beyond this two seater’s low starting price of $20,145, it offers fantastic fuel economy of 36 city/39 highway. This shark like hatchback features swooping and sharp edges that help it really stand out of a crowd.
Speaking of Mini, the sub-brand offers 5 models under 25 grand. While the base hardtop 2-door is the original, fun, and very cheap, it is also a design that is dated. For a new take on tiny British motoring, look to the coupe. It looks wildly different from anything else on the road, but still offers all the driving punch of the original. Yes, the suspension is rough, but so communicative you will never go back to an SUV. All the gawking bystanders don’t hurt either.
Ford Fiesta ST
Ford is on a roll lately, and for proof, look to the cars with an ST badge. Yup, $21k buys a hot hatch with a turbo 1.6 liter four cylinder. This engine is direct injected, and makes 197 hp and an impressive 202 lb/ft of torque. The handling is every bit as good as the power, with auto reviews raving for the Fiesta ST. It even looks cool with the new Aston-inspired design language. Cheap no longer means boring.
Hyundai Veloster Turbo
What a weird car. The front end looks like an angry Hyundai sports car, but the rear is an alien hatchback thing. It’s a coupe on the driver’s side, but a sedan on the passenger side. The interior is wild, but nicely laid out, even if it is a bit cheap. Still, nothing else for $22,600 will get you this many looks, and the turbo engine does offer a lot of mad potential. This might be the tuner’s Civic Si, twenty years later.
Fiat 500 Abarth
Just $22,500 buys a pretty sweet performance coupe from Fiat that gets a lot of looks. While the base 500 is slow its designed that way as a daily commuter car. The Abarth version is designed to be fun and toss-able, and it is with brilliant steering and handling. A little 1.4 liter and a turbo make an impressive 160 hp, in a vehicle that weighs just 2,500 lbs. It’s the car that can out Mini the Mini.
Jeep Wrangler Sport
Unlike the others on this list the Wrangler proves you don’t have to go fast (or even pretend) in order to turn heads. The Jeep is uniquely American, tall and boxy, with massive off-road capability. $23,000 buys a base model that can be wildly custom configured. While the 3.6 liter V6 won’t win any races, it doesn’t have too in order to be fun. Take down the top – and take of the doors – and even your base model will look like the most badass weekend toy.
Sure, you will have to buy this one used to get under $25k, but there are a lot of them out there for that price. This is the car the 305Z should have been: lighter, more powerful, and way better looking. The sports car lines are utterly unique, and yet somehow timeless. In black and with the optional 19”s, this car looks killer. It goes as well as it looks, and if you are willing to pay nearly forty grand for a new one, do it. However, used can be just as head turning, without the fear of voiding the warranty. You know you’re gonna anyway….
Any other sweet looking rides for under $25,000 that you would recommend? The big criteria here is being a head turner under $25k, but feel free to add to the list whatever makes you do a double take when you see it go by.