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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.
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Fastest Cars Under $50k - 01 - 2013 Audi S4 - MSRP $47,600
The 2013 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 chose between either a six-speed manual transmission or a seven-speed dual-clutch automated manual gearbox. A torque-vectoring rear differential (optional) helps the S4 reach 60-mph in roughly 4.7 seconds.
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Fastest Cars Under $50k - 02 - 2013 Dodge Charger SRT8 - MSRP $45,995
The 2013 Dodge Charger SRT8 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 SRT8 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 470 horsepower, 6.4-liter eighty-cylinder motor. Also capable of producing 470 lb-ft of torque, that thrust is channeled to the rear wheels via a stout five-speed automatic transmission, allowing the car to leap to 60-mph in less than five seconds.
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Fastest Cars Under $50k - 03 - 2013 Ford Mustang Boss 302 - MSRP $42,200
The 2013 Ford Mustang Boss 302 isn't designed just to be quick in a straight line, as this track-ready coupe comes with an adjustable 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 Boss 302's solid rear axle and 444 horsepower 5.0-liter V-8, an engine that also delivers 380 lb-ft of torque. A dual-mode exhaust contributes to the aural pleasure of driving the Boss 302 with the throttle pinned, and when properly launched it can hit 60-mph from a standing start in a hair-raising 4.0 seconds.
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Fastest Cars Under $50k - 04 - 2013 Hyundai Genesis R-Spec 5.0 - MSRP $46,800
It's not quite as brutish as the Charger SRT8, but the 2013 Hyundai Genesis R-Spec 5.0 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 R-Spec 5.0's 5.0-liter V-8 engine. This unit provides 429 horsepower and 376 lb-ft of torque, and its eight-seed automatic transmission shuttles enough of that output to the rear wheels to allow the automobile to sprint to 60-mph in a healthy 5.3 seconds. Also on-board with the R-Spec 50 trim are a stiffer suspension system and quicker steering in order to properly take advantage of its extra performance.
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Fastest Cars Under $50k - 05 - 2013 Chevrolet Camaro SS - MSRP $32,635
The 2013 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 60's 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.
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Fastest Cars Under $50k - 06 - 2013 Subaru Impreza WRX STI - MSRP $36,295
The 2013 Subaru Impreza WRX STI offers would-be rally racers the chance to drive one of their idols. Inspired by generations of World Rally Championship entries from Subaru - and available in both hatchback and sedan editions - the Impreza 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 only 4.5 seconds to hit 60-mph.
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Fastest Cars Under $50k - 07 - 2013 Nissan 370Z NISMO - MSRP $43,020
The 2013 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.
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Fastest Cars Under $50k - 08 - 2013 BMW 135is - MSRP $43,250
The 2013 BMW 135is is a compact luxury coupe that brings out the full potential of its turbocharged, inline six-cylinder motor. The BMW 135is pushes up the boost when compared to the standard 135i, which means that its 3.0-liter mill provides 320 horsepower and 317 lb-ft of torque. This is 20 more ponies than are delivered by the top-spec 135i, and it helps ensure a sub-five second rip to 60-mph. A pair of transmissions - a six-speed manual and a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic - can be had with the 135is, and the car also comes with a performance-oriented suspension system, a sporty aero package, and 18-inch special rims.
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Fastest Cars Under $50k - 09 - 2013 Volvo S60 T6 R-Design - MSRP $44,100
The 2013 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 300 horsepower and 325 lb-ft of torque, and combined with all-wheel drive and a six-speed automatic transmission the car can reach 60-mph in 5.9 seconds.
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Fastest Cars Under $50k - 10 - 2013 Hyundai Genesis Coupe 3.8 R-Spec - MSRP $28,750
Hyundai's second entry on this list of the fastest cars under $50k - and the least expensive model to make the cut - the 2013 Hyundai Genesis Coupe 3.8 R-Spec has been designed from the ground-up to go head to head with both traditional muscle cars and the modern sports cars that hover above its price point. The two-door compact car enjoys V-6 power from a 3.8-liter mill that produces 348 ponies and 295 lb-ft of torque. The R-Spec's manual transmission boasts six forward speeds, and the car also comes with big brakes, a suspension system that can handle track duty, and a limited-slip differential out back that assists in planting the six-cylinder's torque firmly on the pavement. The Hyundai Genesis Coupe 3.8 R-Spec reaches 60-mph in only 5.3 seconds.
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