Do you have the need for speed but only have $15,000? We searched for some cheap speedsters that will fit your budget! Here are some fast cars under $15K.
Wanting to go fast comes at a premium price, that is if you don’t know what to look for. We’ve already taken a look at some new sports cars and fast cars for under $10,000 here on the blog, but let’s start to inch towards the middle when it comes to price. If you have $15,000 and want a quick whip, we’ve found some used choices for you. These choices may have some extra miles on the odometer and will need some TLC, but you’ll end up with a fun car that can run to 60 mph in less than 6 seconds and keep pulling from there. From sports coupes to speedy sedans to even a hot hatch, there’s bound to be a fast car here that fits your style. So, let’s find your next fast car for under $15K!
Starting off the list is a brand not typically known for their performance prior to their N models. The Hyundai Genesis Coupe was a shortened version of the Hyundai Genesis sedan that acted as Hyundai’s foray into the sports car world back in the 2010s. The Genesis Coupe built a reputation for being a capable drift car and for being a well-priced enthusiast model during its short stint. For $15K, the rear-wheel drive Genesis Coupe can be found sporting either a 2.0L turbocharged inline-four or a naturally aspirated 3.8L V6.
Of those options, the V6 will be the one you want and you’ll also want to take a look at the revised models following 2012. These Genesis Coupe models will feature a GDI 3.8L V6 that makes 348 horsepower and 295 lb-ft of torque that’s paired to either a six-speed manual or eight-speed automatic transmission with paddle-shifters. The V6 a capable of sending the Genesis Coupe to 60 mph in 5.2 seconds and reaching a top speed of 162 mph. Not too shabby for an older Hyundai.
The Saturn brand has been long gone, but they did provide car enthusiasts with a fun roadster in the late 2000s. Saturn’s Sky acted as an alternative to the Pontiac Solstice it was based on, so it featured some of the same performance while featuring a different look. For $15K in today’s market, the Saturn Sky is a steal. A lot of the used models are well below the 100,000-mile mark and they’re still some fast cars. The model you’ll want to be on the lookout for is the Sky Red Line one with the 2.0L turbocharged I4 making 250 horsepower and 260 lb-ft of torque (bonus points if you can find ones with the LNF Turbo Power Upgrade package that bumped horsepower up to 290).
This 2.0L I4 engine is essentially the same engine found in the Solstice GXP featuring the same five-speed manual or five-speed automatic transmissions mated to it and sending power to the rear wheels. This setup found in the Sky Red Line allows it to sprint to 60 mph in 5.2 seconds and reach a top speed of 142 mph. That’s quicker than the Solstice GXP’s 5.5 second 0-60 time and it also looks cooler than the Solstice in my opinion.
Let’s throw in a hot hatch for a fast car under $15K option with the Mazdaspeed3. Mazda took their economy classed Mazda 3 hatchback and gave it the Zoom-Zoom treatment. They threw a turbocharged engine, performance parts, and cool exterior additions to create the Mazdaspeed3. The MZR 2.3L turbocharged I4 making 263 horsepower and 280 lb-ft of torque is paired with a six-speed manual transmission. This makes the front-wheel drive hatchback capable of speeding to 60 mph in 5.3 seconds and reaching a top speed of 155 mph.
If you want to get more value out of this hot hatch choice, look for second generation Mazdaspeed3 models starting in 2010. These not only look sportier with the added functional hood scoop and revised appearance, the second gen received performance upgrades over the previous generation to the ECU, transmission, suspension, optimized intercooler performance, and gained a standard torque-sensing conical limited-slip differential. This Mazda is also the most practical fast car under $15K with its rear seating and helpful cargo space.
You don’t see Mercedes-Benz go for $15K too often, let alone an AMG model, but the CLK 55 AMG from the early 2000s fits right into our fast cars under $15K budget. Now, I know the design may feel a bit dated and look like something a grandparent may drive, but that just makes this a great sleeper. If you throw some new wheels on it, add a lowering kit, and polish it up, this thing will morph into a show stopper.
This performance luxury model comes as either a coupe or convertible and features a hand-built 5.4L V8 engine crafted with AMG parts. The AMG tuned V8 makes 362 horsepower and 376 lb-ft of torque and is mated to a five-speed automatic transmission that directs power to the rear wheels. With a 0-60 mph time of 5.2 seconds and top speed of 155 mph, there’s no wonder it was chosen to be an F1 pace car.
Nissan’s luxury brand Infiniti has a fast car for under $15K in the form of a used Infiniti G37. The G37 takes a lot of influence from the Nissan 370Z under the skin, but ups some luxury points. Inside the G37 is an upscale interior that’s sole purpose was to attract shoppers away from performance luxury car brands like BMW. Plus, the Infiniti isn’t just available as a coupe or convertible like the 370Z, you can also have it as a sedan.
Under the G37’s hood is a 3.7L VQ37VHR V6 engine, the same version found in the 370Z. This V6 features variable valve timing for better throttle response and creates a smoother experience while climbing into higher rpms. Horsepower is rated at 328 while torque comes in at 269 lb-ft. This engine could be paired with a six-speed manual, a short lived five-speed automatic, or a seven-speed automatic. Shoppers also had the choice of RWD or available AWD found on G37x models. While that AWD option on the coupe may sound alluring, it’s actually the RWD Sedan that’s capable of a 5 second flat 0-60 time and a top speed of 155 mph.
Speaking of Nissan’s luxury car based off of the 370Z, how about just shooting for the Nissan 370Z itself? Yes, this sports car carrying on the Z car history can be had for less than $15K now. The 370Z comes as a coupe or convertible and features a 3.7L VQ37VHR V6 engine mated to either a seven-speed automatic or six-speed manual transmission. 332 horsepower and 269 lb-ft of torque is routed to the rear wheels allowing this Nissan to speed to 60 mph in as fast as 5 seconds flat and reach a top speed of 155 mph.
While you won’t find any of the special editions like the illustrious NISMO 370Z at $15K, these sports cars are one of the best for tuning. There are tons of aftermarket products specifically crafted to fit the 370Z to give it better handling and more power. There are also numerous body kits available to give your 370Z a unique exterior to separate it from the pack.
Audi is a brand where you can find a comfortable ride while also encountering some blistering speeds. The B8 generation of the Audi S5 is the sweet spot for finding a fast Audi for under $15K. The S5 came as either a coupe or convertible with either a supercharged 3.0L V6 or a rumbling 4.2L V8 engine for the B8 generation. The V6 is better for those looking to modify their ride to really push the car to its limits, while the V8 is ready to run right from the lot.
The 4.2L V8 engine generates 354 horsepower and 325 lb-ft of torque and is mated to a six-speed manual, eight-speed automatic, or seven-speed semi-automatic transmission. Being an Audi, you get the Quattro all-wheel drive setup that’s been lauded since their famous rally car used it. The Quattro drivetrain paired with the V8 allows the Audi S5 coupe to reach 60 mph in 4.8 seconds and reach a top speed of 155 mph.
Another defunct GM brand that had a fast car you should take a look at is Pontiac. I already mentioned the Solstice GXP from them, but the fifth generation GTO is the one to grab for under $15K. Based off the Australian built Holden Monaro, the fifth gen Pontiac GTO was a modern muscle car that lasted just three years while featuring an LS engine under the hood. More specifically, a 5.7L LS1 V8 for 2004 models or a 6.0L LS2 V8 after that.
The LS1 GTO has 350 horsepower and 365 lb-ft of torque that can get you to 60 mph in 5.3 seconds and reach a top speed of 160 mph. GTO models carrying the larger LS2 will really hit you with some speed though. The LS2 made 400 horsepower and 400 lb-ft of torque that was sent to the rear wheels allowing the GTO to reach 60 mph in 4.8 seconds and could reach a top speed of 180 mph. Why go through the trouble of LS swapping when these Pontiacs are just sitting out there?
I know some Corvette fans don’t like seeing their car on a cheap car list, but the C5 Corvette fits perfectly in the fast cars under $15K list here. The first Corvette to come with an LS under the hood and one of the last cars to offer pop-up headlights is now as affordable as ever. We obviously can’t get a Z06 or an Indy Pace Car Edition version of the C5 Corvette for this price, but the lower trim models are still worth a look for a fast car.
The 5.7L LS1 V8 in this Corvette makes 345 horsepower and 350 lb-ft of torque and is mated to a rear-mounted transaxle that came as either a four-speed automatic or six-speed manual. The rear-wheel drive American sports car has carried a range of 0-60 times depending on the year, but you can expect to hit 60 mph in 5 seconds flat for the most part.
We seem to have a trend to end the list here, as Cadillac caps us off with another car carrying an LS motor that can be had for under $15K. The CTS-V of the 2000s was Cadillac’s attempt at combining their luxurious CTS sedan with the power from the Corvette of the same time. That’s right, a 5.7L LS6 V8 pumping out 400 horsepower and 395 lb-ft of torque that was found in the Corvette Z06 can be found in this Caddy from 2004 to 2005. Subsequent years received the 6.0L LS2 V8 that generated the same power and torque ratings, just with a wider torque band.
The only transmission available for either LS engine was a six-speed manual transmission that sent power to the rear wheels. Whether it is the LS6 or the LS2 engine under the hood of this luxury sports sedan, the CTS-V will speed from zero to 60 mph in under 5 seconds and top out at 163 mph. Pretty great numbers for a car that costs under $15K and has room for five inside.
Do you have any other fast cars you’ve found on Carsforsale.com that could make this list? Let us know! We know there are a handful of others out there that’ll help with that need for speed on a budget.