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Want to go fast, but don't want to spend a lot of money? There are quite a few different new cars out there that can accommodate your needs. The fastest cars under $40k prove that it's not necessary to swallow a monster payment every month in order to enjoy the visceral thrills offered by strong acceleration, a lively exhaust note, and a willing chassis. Technology has put affordable speed into the hands of almost everyone, and the list of quick and affordable cars gets longer with each passing year.
Let's take a brief look at 10 of the fastest cars under $40k.
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Fastest Cars Under $40k - 01 - 2013 Ford Mustang GT
The 2013 Ford Mustang GT is a muscle coupe that puts down a startling amount of power from its 5.0-liter V-8 engine. The Ford Mustang GT's motor is rated at 420 horses and 390 lb-ft of torque - figures which wouldn't have looked out of place if they had been associated with a supercar of only ten years ago. This allows the GT to sprint to 60-mph in roughly 4.7 seconds. The Mustang GT also offers a Performance package, which upgrades the suspension system, brakes, and rear end in order to make it more track-capable, and it can be ordered with either a six-speed manual or a six-speed automatic transmission.
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Fastest Cars Under $40k - 02 - 2013 Nissan 370Z
The 2013 Nissan 370Z is an affordable sports coupe that is guaranteed a spot on our list of the fastest cars under $40,000. The Nissan 370Z is built around a 3.7-liter VQ-series V-6 that can be relied on to produce 332 horsepower and 270 lb-ft of torque. A six-speed manual transmission is the best option for sending this output to the rear wheels, but an advanced seven-speed automatic unit (with auto-rev matching on downshifts) is also available with the Z. 60-mph arrives from a standing start in a quick 5.1 seconds, and the Z car offers the kind of chassis that is equally at home on a road course as it is on a drag strip.
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Fastest Cars Under $40k - 03 - 2012 Subaru Impreza WRX STi
The 2012 Subaru Impreza WRX STi is in many ways the ultimate in inexpensive speed. The philosophy is simple enough: take the relatively lightweight chassis of a compact sedan (or hatchback), stuff a turbocharged engine under the hood, garnish with all-wheel drive, and enjoy! The Subaru Impreza WRX STi benefits from a 2.5-liter, four-cylinder turbo engine that develops 305 horsepower and 290 lb-ft of torque, and combined with its full-time all-wheel drive system this is good enough to propel the WRX STi to 60-mph in 4.5 seconds. A six-speed manual is the only transmission available with the Subaru, and it also features a beefy suspension system and Brembo brakes.
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Fastest Cars Under $40k - 04 - 2013 BMW 135i
The 2013 BMW 135i isn't just a luxurious entry-level compact coupe - it's also one of the quickest cars in the company's lineup under $40k. Just barely squeaking in under our $40k limit, the BMW 135i is motivated by a 3.0-liter, six-cylinder engine that generates 300 horsepower and 300 lb-ft of turbocharged torque. A six-speed manual transmission is standard, but seven-speed dual-clutch automated manual transmission is also available to handle the shifting duties for the small two-door BMW. 60-mph is achieved in five seconds when the 135i is launched hard, and if one is willing to spend a little bit more money then a number of performance upgrades can be grafted onto the BMW coupe by way of specific options packages.
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Fastest Cars Under $40k - 05 - 2013 Ford Focus ST
The 2013 Ford Focus ST is a new entry for the current model year and it snazzes up the compact hatchback platform with a host of power and performance upgrades. What does the ST trim level bring to the Ford Focus party? For starters, the Ford Focus ST provides a electronic limited-slip differential, an active anti-torque steer feature, and a suspension system that grips the road far better than that of the standard Focus. The ST also offers a 2.0-liter, four-cylinder engine that has been turbocharged to generate 252 horsepower and 270 lb-ft of torque. This engine is matched with a six-speed manual transmission, and 60-mph is achievable in roughly six seconds with the foot to the floor.
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Fastest Cars Under $40k - 06 - 2013 Chevrolet Camaro SS
The 2013 Chevrolet Camaro SS is the fire-breathing edition of the brand's retro-themed pony car. The Chevrolet Camaro SS sets hearts a-quiver with the bark of its dual exhaust system, which is itself connected to a 6.2-liter V-8 engine. This beastly drivetrain has been massaged by Bowtie engineers to deliver 426 horsepower and 420 lb-ft of torque when paired with its standard six-speed manual transmission (those who opt for the six-speed autobox will see output drop to 'only' 400 horses and 410 lb-ft of twist). Unsurprisingly, the Camaro SS will peg the speedometer at 60-mph after only five seconds of throttle application.
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Fastest Cars Under $40k - 07 - 2013 Hyundai Genesis Coupe 3.8
The 2013 Hyundai Genesis Coupe 3.8 is a treat for budget-conscious performance fans looking for a healthy amount of equipment to go with their affordably-priced sports car. The compact Hyundai Genesis Coupe 3.8 is the quickest version of the Korean Mustang-fighter, and it offers a 348 horsepower, 3.8-liter V-6 under its hood. Also capable of generation 295 lb-ft of torque, the Genesis Coupe 3.8's mill helps it achieve a zero to 60-mph time of 5.3 seconds - right up there with its V-8 competition. The Hyundai can additionally be ordered in R-Spec trim, which includes Brembo brakes, a mechanical limited-slip rear differential, and stickier tires.
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Fastest Cars Under $40k - 07 - 2013 Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution
The 2013 Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution can be thought of as the more hardcore counterpart to the WRX STi. The Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution is also predicated on the 'turbo motor, compact platform' concept, but it throws in more technology in the form of all-wheel drive featuring an active center differential with active yaw control, and the availability of a dual-clutch automated six-speed manual transmission (a traditional five-speed manual is also available with the Lancer Evolution). A 2.0-liter, turbocharged four-cylinder engine putting out 291 horsepower and 300 lb-ft of torque allows the Mitsubishi to spin up to 60-mph in just a tick under five seconds.
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Fastest Cars Under $40k - 09 - 2013 Dodge Charger R/T
The 2013 Dodge Charger R/T is an aggressive-looking full-size family sedan that also doubles as a comfy muscle cruiser. The Dodge Charger R/T comes with a 5.7-liter Hemi V-8 engine that impresses with 370 ponies and 395 lb-ft of torque. A five-speed automatic transmission (and rear-wheel drive) are standard with the Charger R/T, which can make the run to 60-mph in 5.4 seconds. Should additional handling be desired, the Super Track Pak options package installs a more finely-tuned suspension system, quicker steering, adjustable electronic stability control, and bigger brakes. All-wheel drive is also available with the Charger R/T.
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Fastest Cars Under $40k - 10 - 2013 Infiniti G Sedan
The 2013 Infiniti G Sedan shares much of its platform with the Nissan 370Z, and despite having four doors instead of two the vehicle does an excellent job of providing owners with an engaging driving experience. The Infiniti G Sedan can be had in either rear or all-wheel drive configurations for less than $40,000, and its top-tier 3.7-liter V-6 puts out 328 horsepower and 270 lb-ft of torque. A seven-speed automatic is the only transmission available under our price cap, but it allows the G Sedan to reach 60-mph from a standing start in roughly 5.4 seconds.
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