There's an old expression in the world of high performance: Speed costs money, how fast do you want to go? Well, fortunately for those of us who have to carefully budget out our go-fast fix, there are a growing number of sporty automobiles that check in at under $50,000. These cars hail from the luxury, the economy, and the sports car segments of the vehicle market, but they all have one thing in common: they go fast, for not very much money in comparison to more exotic fare. Let's take a look at 10 of the fastest cars under $50k.
1) 2015 Audi S4 - MSRP $48,400
The 2015 Audi S4 might not be the full-out performance model that it once was, but it still packs plenty of firepower for its price. The Audi S4 sedan is motivated by a 3.0-liter V-6 that is supercharged to help it generate a respectable 333 horses and 325 lb-ft of torque. Quattro all-wheel drive is of course standard with the Audi S4, and buyers can choose between either a six-speed manual transmission or an eight-speed dual-clutch automated manual gearbox. A torque-vectoring rear differential (optional) helps the S4 reach 60 mph in roughly 4.7 seconds.
2) 2015 Dodge Charger SRT 392 - MSRP $48,990
The 2015 Dodge Charger SRT 392 follows a well-respected formula in the muscle car business: stuff an enormous V-8 engine under the hood of a family sedan and call it a day. OK, so it's not quite that simple - the Dodge Charger SRT 392 also gains suspension and styling tweaks to go with its horsepower - but there's no denying that the major charm of this sedan is its 485-horsepower, 6.4-liter eight-cylinder motor. Also capable of producing 475 lb-ft of torque, that thrust is channeled to the rear wheels via a stout eight-speed automatic transmission, allowing the car to leap to 60 mph in 4.3 seconds.
3) 2015 Ford Mustang GT - MSRP $36,300
The 2015 Ford Mustang GT isn't designed just to be quick in a straight line, as this track-ready coupe comes with an independent rear suspension system along with a long list of modifications to its braking and cooling systems that help keep it potent lap after lap. Of course, drag racers will be all-too-happy with the Ford Mustang GT’s 435-horsepower 5.0-liter V-8, an engine that also delivers 400 lb-ft of torque. The 2015 Mustang GT also offers launch control, when ordered with the manual transmission, to help this pony simply leap off the line and make it to 60 mph in 4.4 seconds.
4) 2015 Hyundai Genesis Coupe 3.8 R-Spec - MSRP $29,500
It's not quite as brutish as others on this list, but the 2015 Hyundai Genesis Coupe 3.8 R-Spec wraps Korean muscle in a similarly full-size package. This big sedan takes the affordable luxury concept in a rapid direction thanks to the availability of the Hyundai Genesis 3.8 R-Spec 3.8-liter V-6 engine. This unit provides 348 horsepower and 295 lb-ft of torque, and its eight-speed automatic transmission shuttles enough of that output to the rear wheels to allow the automobile to sprint to 60 mph in a healthy 5.2 seconds. Also on board with the R-Spec trim are a stiffer suspension system and quicker steering in order to properly take advantage of its extra performance.
5) 2015 Chevrolet Camaro SS - MSRP $33,505
The 2015 Chevrolet Camaro SS is all about delivering maximum speed on a minimal budget. One of the most affordable vehicles on our list of the fastest cars under $50k, the Chevrolet Camaro SS takes retro styling cues from its glorious ‘60s past and merges them with modern design techniques to create what is essentially a rolling burnout machine. Shoehorning a 6.2-liter V-8 engine between the front fenders of almost any car is a recipe for performance, and in the Camaro SS it generates 426 horsepower and 420 lb-ft of torque when ordered with the vehicle's standard six-speed manual transmission. When launched hard, the SS blows past 60 mph in five seconds.
6) 2015 Subaru WRX STI - MSRP $34,495
The Subaru WRX STI, totally redesigned for 2015, offers would-be rally racers the chance to drive one of their idols. Inspired by generations of World Rally Championship entries from Subaru, the WRX STI is motivated by an advanced turbocharged 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine that boosts out 305 horsepower and 290 lb-ft of torque. A six-speed manual transmission harnesses that output, while standard all-wheel drive (complete with a driver-controllable center differential) ensures that maximum traction is achieved at any throttle position. The Subaru Impreza WRX STI takes about five seconds to hit 60 mph.
7) 2015 Nissan 370Z NISMO - MSRP $41,990
The 2015 Nissan 370Z NISMO sharpens the fine edge of the already fun-to-drive 370Z base model. The two-door sports coupe features a suspension system and brakes that are a clear upgrade over the entry-level Z car, along with a distinct aero package that further sets the 370Z NISMO apart from its roots. Power is also up, thanks to a massaged version of Nissan's 3.7-liter V-6 that offers 350 horses and 276 lb-ft of twist. A further benefit of the NISMO is that its six-speed manual transmission automatically blips the throttle when downshifting, which makes for smoother driving at high speeds. The Nissan 370Z NISMO can hit 60 mph in just five seconds.
8) 2015 BMW M235i - MSRP $43,100
The 2015 BMW M235i is a compact luxury coupe that brings out the full potential of its turbocharged, 3.0-liter inline six-cylinder motor. The BMW M235i pushes up the boost when compared to the standard 235i, which means that its 3.0-liter mill provides 320 horsepower and 330 lb-ft of torque. This drivetrain helps ensure a sub-five second rip to 60 mph. A pair of transmissions - a six-speed manual and an eight-speed automatic - can be had with the M235i, and the car is available in coupe and convertible body styles.
9) 2015 Volvo S60 T6 R-Design - MSRP $43,800
The 2015 Volvo S60 T6 R-Design might at first seem like an unusual entry on a list of the fastest cars under $50k, as the Swedish automaker is not widely known for producing high performance vehicles. The Volvo S60 T6 R-Design is in many ways the herald of a new design philosophy for the company, and it represents the apex of speed in Volvo showrooms. The four-door sedan is built around a turbocharged, 3.0-liter six-cylinder engine that grinds out 325 horsepower and 354 lb-ft of torque, and combined with all-wheel drive and a six-speed automatic transmission, the car can reach 60 mph in five seconds.
10) 2015 BMW 335i - MSRP $43,750
BMW’s second entry on this list of the fastest cars under $50k, the 2015 335i is a small sedan that offers a carefully calculated blend of luxury and performance. The 335i features 300 horsepower in the form of a turbocharged 3.0-liter inline-six cylinder engine, capable of hitting 60 mph from a standstill in 5.1 seconds. That means it’s not the fastest car on this list, nor is it the cheapest. But this BMW 3 Series also offers plenty of comfort and style along with its power.