If you are an auto enthusiast then you know the thrill of driving a rear-wheel drive (preferably manual) car for the first time. Sure front and all-wheel drive cars are good--but there’s something more visceral about driving a rear-wheel drive. There’s a purer driving experience, a more direct sense of the road beneath the tires, and the physics of being pushed rather than pulled and steered makes sense for those of us who want the thrill of driving, rather than just owning another appliance that gets us from point A to point B.
So for those of you who are looking for something fun and affordable look no further than some of the best (and cheapest) used rear-wheel drive cars on the market.
If you’ve ever seen those groups of people gathered in parking lots on the weekends, screeching their way through a cone course, you know that MX-5s are massively popular with the folks who autocross. Why? The Mazda MX-5 is still one of the purest driving experiences you can get within a totally obtainable budget.
It’s lightweight and relatively powerful AND, an MX-5 is relatively simple to work on yourself. It’s also, according to Autobytel, the choice for beginner track rats. It’s fun, fast and easy to throw around--a great choice for a fun rear-wheel drive convertible.
Back in 2010 Hyundai surprised everyone by unveiling a really good-looking coupe that they called the Hyundai Genesis. Yes, there is the softer more sedate sedan boasting a similar name, but it is nothing like the Genesis Coupe. The Genesis Coupe got some serious accolades for being fun in the corners, and for offering up 7 trim levels in its first iteration, all for an affordable Hyundai price.
In 2013 Hyundai updated the Genesis Coupe and gave it more aggressive styling, a new automatic transmission and boosted both the V8 and the V6 versions to higher outputs. The biggest bonus about getting a Hyundai is they have 100k mile warranties, which isn't offered by many other brands.
The Nissan 350Z was the fifth Z generation car to come from Nissan. Nissan used its introduction of the Nissan 350Z in 2003, as a rebirth of sorts in the states, according to Edmunds. Nissan made a whole lot of super boring cars, but finally in 2008 got back its “spirit and fun,” with the 350Z and it debuted to some pretty solid reviews. The 350Z got a lot of updates throughout the years including some things like more powerful engines, Brembo brakes, and different trim levels.
The convertible debuted in 2004. Both cars were produced until 2009 and 2010 respectively and were updated to become the 370Z by 2010/2011. The 350Z is a sports car, so the ride is rough and some people complained of noisiness in the cabin and cheap looking interiors. The trick with buying a 350Z is to get one that is from the newest year possible because airbags and traction control were optional and not always included in customer built cars.
Between 2000 and 2009 Honda produced a fantastic little RWD two-seat convertible that was a powerhouse. Meet the Honda S2000. Personally, I remember this being one of the first sports cars I ever really wanted. It was more powerful than a Miata (but more expensive) with a nearly perfectly 49/51 weight distribution and just fantastic to drive. Fun fact, according to Edmunds, the S2000 had one of the longest production runs of any modern car because it was so popular.
Over the years Honda made gradual, mostly minor updates. It got a new soft top with a glass rear window, a new radio, and a new optional hardtop, amongst other things. Depending on the year you get, you could end up with a bigger more powerful 2.2 L engine (the original was a 2.0 L inline-4) and shorter gears which means more tail-happy fun on twisty roads. Another bonus of buying a Honda is reliability. Honda consistently rates as one of the highest in long-term reliability testing.
Also known in automotive circles as one of the “Febreeze Twins,” the Subaru BRZ is a fun, light, tossable, RWD coupe that came in at a really affordable price when it first made its debut in 2013. The BRZ was developed alongside the Scion (Toyota) FRS and both cars share the same powertrain and engineering with differing levels of trim and features.
Subaru's BRZ only comes in rear-wheel drive, which for a company like Subaru who prides themselves on offering AWD on all their models was quite a departure. You can get the BRZ in manual or automatic (I prefer the manual version for the sheer fact that it’s just a whole lot more fun), and get a fantastic car for the price. Oh, and for the record, donuts come easy in this little RWD coupe.
Interested in one of these cars? Check out the local availability at Instamotor and see if you can take a hoonable ride home today.
Digital media content producer/consultant & former CNN senior producer, now running CN'TRL : Cars, Tech, Real Estate & Luxury.