The question of which rear wheel drive car is so broad that we couldn’t possibly narrow it down to just one car. There are simply too many factors to consider. First of all, the car needs to be balanced and for its purpose should be focused. For instance, the Mazda MX-5 performs well as a sports car but is horrible at anything else like seating four people (mainly because there are only two seats).
Regardless it’s a decent RWD car to compare against when it comes to performance per dollar. We took a look at performance per dollar and practicality in order to decide which RWD car is best for its function, since the RWD layout is present primarily in performance cars.
If you’re in the market for a four-door powerhouse, the CTS-V has everyone beat. True, it does have an enormous price tag ($86,000) but with that, you’re getting Cadillac comfort with Corvette power. Yes, underneath the hood is the supercharged V8 from a Corvette Z06, producing a mad 640-horsepower. That works out to about $134 per horsepower.
Now that is a lot of money, but if you decide to buy used, a second generation 2014 model with average mileage (45,000) for instance, that should only cost about $40,000 (according to KBB) and net you 556-horsepower. That means a 2014 Cadillac CTS-V only costs you about $72 per horsepower. Plus since it's the second generation, so you can probably find one with a manual transmission.
If we’re talking brand new cars, the 2017 Mustang GT provides exceptional value. With an MSRP of about $33,200 and a V8 producing 435 naturally aspirated horsepower, the Mustang GT costs around $76 per horsepower. It’s also got four seats, independent rear suspension, and can even come as a convertible. One of the chief selling points of the Mustang is its cheap performance, and this new model is no exception.
The first car on this list we can really compare with the MX-5 is the 2013 Corvette Z06. It’s got two seats, two doors and is bred for performance, much like the MX-5. How does it compare with performance? A 2013 Corvette Z06 costs around $40,000 and produces just over 500 horsepower out of a 7.0-liter V8 engine. That equates to about $79 per horsepower.
Against a new MX-5, that’s mental. The MX-5 costs brand new around $25,000 which is considerably cheaper than the 2013 Corvette, however, it only produces 155-horsepower, and that means in the MX-5 each horsepower costs about $160. Price per horsepower, the Corvette is one of the best choices for a RWD car, if you’re looking for out-and-out performance.
Most of the cars on this list are American, but the facts remain that American cars are cheap and powerful. With that, we continue to the Dodge Challenger Hellcat. This beast uses a supercharged 6.2-liter engine that makes more than 700 horsepower. Since it's a new car the price is going to be a little steep, around $62,000.
However, one thing you get with the Challenger that you don't get with the Charger is a manual gearbox. So the Challenger gets our vote. Plus it is cheaper than the Charger per horsepower.
If you’re looking to save a buck overall, the Nissan 370z is a decent RWD option. It’s got an MSRP of around $30,000 which makes it cheaper than the Mustang GT, however, it makes 332 horsepower out of its 3.7-liter V6 engine, which puts its price per horsepower at $90.
It’s more expensive for performance compared to the Mustang, but since the base, MSRP is cheaper by about $3,000 it’s an attractive option. If you were to get a 2015 Nissan 370Z (which makes the same power as the 2017 model) it would only cost around $24,000 according to KBB which puts it at $72 per horsepower. And that’s great value.
We had to go back pretty far to find a German car that was cheap enough to provide a decent amount of horsepower per dollar. Enter the 2007 BMW 335i, a twin-turbocharged 3.0-liter inline-six engine that produces 300 horsepower. According to the blue book, they are worth less than $10,000. We chose $8,000 as a price point to get a mere $41 per horsepower. That is staggering.
One of the reasons these cars are so cheap is because they had a lot of recalls on their high-pressure fuel pump. Fear not though, as BMW has since rectified this error. Otherwise, it's your standard BMW. Be cautious around 100k miles, and until then get religious about oil changes and other general maintenance.
Yes, this is a used car, but we're afraid it just doesn't get any better than the 2003 Dodge Viper. It's worth about $30,000 and makes 500 horsepower out of a monstrous 8.3-liter V8. It burns rubber, is very loud, and is extraordinarily cool. Dodge knew exactly what they were doing when they made this car, or at least we hope they did. Either way, the result of their efforts is something iconic and, best of all, dirt cheap per horsepower.
We decided to focus on performance cars when talking about the best RWD cars because, if you're looking for specifically an RWD chances are you’re interested in spinning your car in a circle. However, even if you’re not someone who’s interested in going fast, performance should be considered with the price of the car. After all, why would you want to pay more money for less performance?
Photo by Dawid Zawiła on Unsplash
Avid Formula 1 fan and motorcyclist, I enjoy chocolate chip cookie dough ice cream and long rides to the beach.