Many car enthusiasts believe that the best drivetrain arrangement for sports vehicles is rear-wheel drive. This setup often provides ample oversteer, allowing for outstanding cornering control. Throughout history, a majority of the most legendary high-performance cars have utilized rear-wheel drive. However, it’s essential to note that there are alternative routes to automotive pleasure.
Since the 1980s, all-wheel-drive prowess has asserted itself as the top-tier configuration for sports vehicles. While it might not provide the oversteer-inclined agility of rear-wheel drive, all-wheel drive can amplify straight-line speed, stability while cornering, and grip on challenging surfaces. Today, All-Wheel-Drive (AWD) sports cars are frequent and widespread. Our compilation of the best AWD sports cars comprises options under 10K, 20K, 30K, 40K, and 50K, allowing you to discover a performance vehicle that aligns with your financial plan.
Best AWD Sports Cars
We kick off our lineup with the market’s most economical sports cars. Of course, these gems are exclusive to the pre-owned vehicle market, but there is no need to worry if you’re searching for spanking-new athletic editions. The 2023 Mazda3 takes the crown on this list as the most affordable new AWD sports car, carrying a price tag of merely $22,250.
Best AWD Sports Cars Under 10K
2010 BMW 328 Xi – 10K
The period from 2006 to 2011 stands as a notably dependable phase for BMW’s 3-series, featuring all-wheel drive capability. The non-turbo inline-six engine remains robust even under harsh usage, and although the other aspects of the vehicle might deteriorate, the engine persists, propelling the drivetrain resolutely.
The 2010 328xi model employed a 3.0-liter inline-six engine to deliver 230 horsepower to all four wheels. It even allowed for a manual transmission and had a maximum weight of 3,770 pounds. Despite the somewhat less comfortable seats in this 3-series generation, the acceleration, grip, and gear shifting offered impeccable performance. Get yourself this BMW under $10,000.
2006 Audi A3 S-Line Quattro – Under 10K
A genuine compilation of all-wheel drive vehicles would be incomplete without a respectful nod to Audi. The 2006 A3 S-line Quattro stands out, powered by a 3.2-liter V6 delivering 250 horsepower through direct injection. Its naturally aspirated engine adds a layer of dependability.
Audi vehicles boast vigorous acceleration, and taming their spirit is akin to guiding a spirited stallion. Once subdued, though, the Audi transforms into a tenacious traction provider, faithfully hugging the road as it was born to. Fundamentally, Audi shares roots with Volkswagen, making it challenging to define its reliability easily.
2010 Audi A5 – 8k to 10k
The well-regarded 2010 Audi A5 presents an opulent interior, providing options between the coupe and convertible with a retractable roof and two distinct engine alternatives. One is a 211 horsepower turbo-four, while the other features a V6 boasting 265 horsepower, reserved for the coupes.
Thankfully, the all-wheel drive and six-speed automatic transmission are accessible across all editions, solidifying its position as a prime contender among the best AWD sports cars under 10K.
The 2010 A5 has also gained recognition for its adept maneuvering, and combined with these excellent engine selections at an average resale price ranging from $8000 to $10000, this vehicle has unquestionably merited its inclusion in our compilation.
Best AWD Sports Cars Under 20k
2007 Subaru Impreza WRX STi – $16,219
Having a 2.5-liter turbo H-4 engine under the hood yielding 293 horsepower, the Subaru bounces through undulating turns with the liveliness and focus of a hare on the run, as if evading pursuit. The RPM gauge’s ascent can go unnoticed amidst cornering, inducing a frantic hunt for gears, an act that iterates seamlessly with each impending curve. The sensation is truly electrifying, and there’s no enigma surrounding why this vehicle’s resale value has remained robust over time.
Mercedes-Benz SLK 55 AMG: $13k-$20k
The initial SLK 55 AMG didn’t meet expectations as a vehicle. In truth, the entire SLK and SLC venture wasn’t successful, leading Mercedes to discontinue it without a follow-up.
Its lack of success can be attributed to a single factor: the emergence of the Porsche Boxster. The appeal of the SLK 55 lies in its robust V8 engine and the captivating sounds it produces. However, once you take a spin in a Boxster, you’d swiftly grasp that the Mercedes paled in comparison, akin to a drooping celery. Uncovering a (respectable) Boxster for under $20k proves to be a futile quest, thus granting the SLK 55 an advantageous edge.
It’s not our intention to completely dismiss it since it possesses considerable allure, and you could acquire it for a sum ranging from $13,000 to $20,000, determined by its overall condition and distance traveled. Recently, we encountered a 2006 variant displaying 78,000 miles on the odometer, priced just $150 under $20,000.
All the familiar comforts of a Mercedes sports car are present in the SLK 55, yet the focal point remains its naturally aspirated 5.5-liter V8, churning out a robust 355 horsepower. Due to its size, the feel is akin to piloting a pair of seats fastened to a big V8 motor — and that’s intriguing.
Infiniti Q50 – $15,000
Acquiring an E46 BMW 328i or opting for the M3 is too big a hassle. Procuring unharmed ones at reasonable prices amidst prevalent misuse is a daunting task. Thankfully, due to devaluation, there is an alternative method to own a swift, small sedan.
Back in 2014, Infiniti unveiled the Q50, but it hardly registered on anyone’s radar. The BMW 3 Series continued to dominate as the preferred choice, causing the scarce Q50 units sold to depreciate swiftly.
You have the option to purchase a 2015 edition priced as low as $15,000, bundled with a range of contemporary comforts. Of greater significance, it will be driven by the identical 3.7-liter V6 seen in the Nissan 370Z, which has various customizable alterations. Allocate an additional $3,000, and you’ll have an offbeat gem.
Furthermore, there are several 2019 models with twin-turbo V6 engines accessible for slightly below $20k. Opting for this path will grant you 300 hp and 295 lb-ft of torque. We guarantee you can enhance the output to 400 hp cost-effectively and straightforwardly.
Best AWD Sports Cars Under 30k
2023 Mazda3 – Starting Price $22,550
The Mazda3 demonstrates you can enjoy a spirited all-wheel drive car without overspending. Its spirited nature makes it a lively option for your everyday drives. While the 191-horsepower base engine gets the job done, opting for the turbocharged powertrains elevates this Mazda’s performance potential. The presence of all-wheel drive further amplifies the car’s natural athleticism.
The reasonably priced compact includes Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, and an 8.8-inch screen. You can also spend extra to get a sunroof, GPS navigation, and a premium 12-speaker Bose sound tech. Both hatchback and sedan models are solid, and hatchbacks provide 20.1 cubic feet of cargo space.
2023 Subaru WRX – Starting Price: $30,605
We consider the WRX a standard for superior all-wheel-drive sports cars. The powertrain includes a zippy turbocharged Boxer engine, a symmetrical AWD system, and a 6-speed manual gearbox. These elements create a winning blend that resonates with enthusiasts, not to mention the added benefit of Subaru’s highly-regarded safety record, all starting at slightly above $30,000.
Best AWD Sports Cars Under 40K
2023 Toyota GR Corolla – Starting Price $35,900
Toyota’s Gazoo Racing division has taken the compact Corolla hatchback in hand, giving it a performance boost to create the 2023 GR Corolla, which has even earned a spot on C&D’s 2023 list of top 10 cars. The GR Corolla is a compact powerhouse, drawing its turbocharged 1.6-liter three-cylinder engine from Toyota’s global market GR Yaris, albeit tuned to a robust 300 horsepower here. Exclusively paired with a six-speed manual and all-wheel drive, this feisty hatchback embodies the brand’s recent trend of injecting exhilaration into its lineup, as seen with the revived Supra, showcasing Toyota’s dedication to more spirited options and stylish designs.
2023 Genesis G70 – Starting Price $39,400
Genesis emerges as a recent entrant in the realm of luxury automobile manufacturers, creating cars that rival those produced by well-established counterparts. Exemplifying this is the G70, the marque’s compact sedan, which stands out as a premier choice in its category. The initial four-cylinder option boasts a commendable 252 horsepower, ensuring rapid acceleration. However, for a heightened sense of enjoyment, you can select the alternative V6, cranking out 365 horsepower and propelling the vehicle from 0 to 60 mph in less than 5 seconds.
The G70 comes with a user-friendly infotainment tech and a luxurious interior with typical conveniences like a 10.25-inch touch display, GPS, and satellite radio. However, it’s vital to note that the cargo space is limited, quantified at only 10.5 cubic feet.
Best AWD Sports Cars Under 50K
2023 Tesla Model 3 – Starting Price $42,990
EVs such as the Tesla Model 3 offer an environmentally friendly angle to car performance. The popular EV delivers a maximum of 455 horsepower. Opting for the Long Range or Performance options gets you all-wheel drive as a standard.
The Long Range version is particularly comforting in terms of range, capable of journeying 358 miles on a complete charge. On the other hand, Performance variants provide a bit less range while remaining the top choice for an exciting driving experience, achieving 0 to 60 mph in just 3.1 seconds.
The Model 3 presents a stylish interior that draws those who prefer a minimalist style, featuring a 15-inch touch screen, GPS, wireless device charging, and a Wi-Fi hotspot. Tesla has ensured practicality through 19.8 cubic feet of space in the back and 3.1 cubic feet in the front.
2023 Volkswagen Golf R – Starting Price $44,740
The Golf R stands as a remarkable hot hatch, embracing corners and zooming down straights with an infectious thrill. Its robust engine delivers 315 horsepower and facilitates a 4.1-second zero-to-60 sprint. The standard all-wheel drive ensures excellent traction across diverse driving scenarios.
This Volkswagen comes loaded with standard elements, encompassing a 10-inch touchscreen, convenient wireless device charging, and seamless wireless functionality for Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. Furthermore, the Golf R offers more cargo space than the usual compact car, granting 19.9 cubic feet for all your cargo needs.