The Best Four-Door Sports Cars Under $50k

Published: June 10, 2022
Last updated: January 9, 2023

We remember when the 2-door coupe enjoyed a monopoly on the best performance available to automakers. Those days are long gone. With the advent of modern technology, the four-door saloon has become an increasingly popular platform for companies to showcase their most advanced technologies in a more family-friendly and practical package.

Quite frankly, today's market demands more versatility from products as consumers look for ways to get the most out of every investment. This is especially true when it comes to automobiles.

In the past few decades, this shift in philosophy has led to the creation of some great performance saloons. In addition, this highly competitive environment has fostered innovation as automakers devote significant resources to the research, production, and marketing of their sporty 4-door automobiles.

Here are our top 10 picks for the best 4 door sports cars under 50k that you can purchase. To keep this list digestible and short, we have filtered it down to cars produced within the last 10 model years. We will save older and vintage models for another list.

2014-2016 BMW M3 ($30K–$50K)

Even though new BMW M3/M4 models are available, they do not diminish the appeal of the previous generation of cars. Certainly, you can find a used BMW F80 M3 (sedan) or M4 (coupé) for well under $50K (don't forget about the special edition models CS with less mileage). However, having a higher budget will allow you to find more well-kept and low-mileage examples (and perhaps the all-new CS models). Regardless of your vehicle choice, you will have access to a mighty 3.0L twin-turbocharged engine that delivers 431 horsepower and 406 lb-ft of torque, making it perfect for long-distance touring and the occasional excursion out to the track.

2012-2014 Cadillac CTS-V ($35K–$50K)

One of the most overlooked cars on this list is likely the second-generation Cadillac CTS-V. 

As long as you know its power comes from a 6.2L supercharged V8 based on the C6 Corvette ZR1 engine, you're in no danger of making that mistake. The CTS-V has a considerable amount of credentials to its credit; as a high-performance sports sedan, it is remarkably balanced.

Among its features are magnetorheological dampers, which, at the time, were usually found only on supercars. Other features include Brembo brakes, as well as optional Recaro seats. You can also choose between automatic or manual transmissions with these models, which will surely appeal to the purists and enthusiast drivers.

Have you been searching for a unicorn? In addition to the sedan body style, the CTS-V can also come in a wagon body style, which in certain instances was paired with a manual transmission.

2017+ Honda Civic Type R ($30K—$45K)

On the race track, it is a fantastic feeling to experience as you both drive and observe the latest Honda Civic Type R, which is an outstanding example of how performance can be a necessity while being affordable. There are plenty of used Civic Type Rs for sale right now, and the market for them is pretty hot at the moment, but you can still find best 4 door sports cars under 50k by doing some research.

Honda's K series engine continues to be the most advanced offering in the CTR range - the turbocharged K20C1 engine, which delivers up to 306 horsepower at 6,500 rpm and 295 pound-feet of torque at 2,500 rpm to the front wheels. Therefore, whether you choose a car from the 2017 model year or anything a bit newer, you will get the same car across the whole range, irrespective of the model you choose.

2017+ Tesla Model 3 Performance ($35K–$50K)

A Tesla Model 3 is essentially a revolutionary vehicle and an electric vehicle. It has an unrivaled combination of performance, utility, range, and cost, making it currently unrivaled in its class. If you are looking for a good Performance model, a brand new one will cost you $58,990 before options. It would make perfect sense to get one on the used market - something that would make sense if you had a $50K budget in mind since you would be getting a nearly brand-new car, which is something that would not fall within the scope of an equivalent Model S that is significantly more expensive.

The Rear-Wheel Drive model (which utilizes a single electric motor) and the Long Range model are also included within this price range. However, the Performance model would be our top choice in the lot, as it accelerates from 0-60 mph in an impressive 3.1 seconds with its 450 horsepower and standard all-wheel drive. This car also offers a more sporty suspension, better brakes, stickier tires, and an option to select the Track Mode from the menu.

2015-2017 Mercedes-AMG C 63 Sedan ($30K–$50K)

When you fire up the Mercedes-AMG C 63 and C 63 S, any thoughts that the car would be compromised in character or quality due to the downsized V8 powered by the identical twin-turbo 4.0L wash away within seconds of the engine turning on. The BMW F80 M3 and M4 models are the closest competitors and are similar in almost every way; however, the trademark V8 howl coming from the AMG car makes it alluring.

We don't disagree that the naturally-aspirated 6.2L V8 engine from Mercedes-AMG's previous-generation C 63 Coupé was an enthusiast's dream. But the two-turbo unit is significantly better in terms of performance; the W205 is in no way a watered-down version of its previous-generation predecessor. With its thrilling performance at any speed and the quality of its interior that separates it from its aging rivals, it is an incredibly rewarding vehicle to drive.

2012-2014 Lexus IS F ($40K–$50K)

It is expected that this car will become one of the most sought-after collector cars in the future. We can see that this car takes full advantage of our criteria on how far back we can go in model year ranges, as the newest Lexus IS F would come from 2014, putting this model in the pre-2014 range. Although we went the extra mile to ensure that we met the criteria for its inclusion in this list, there are plenty of reasons to back it up.

The Lexus IS-F is not only a throwback to a time when Lexus produced an IS-F model but also harkened back to when someone could get into a great luxury sports sedan powered by a natural-aspirated V8 engine that put out 416 horsepower. We expect that this will keep the IS-F relevant for many years to come, and we will be able to remind ourselves what an atmospheric powerplant sounds like if we ever need it, with cars like this one.

2018-2021 Kia Stinger ($25K–$50K)

There's no doubt that the Kia Stinger has not uprooted the market as some of us had hoped, but as the best buy in the luxury small car class, it remains one of the most attractive options. The performance and price are about the same as most non-luxury manufacturers' comparable offerings while looking impressive and performing well. This car garnered a lot of praise from the automotive press, and all categories in which it has been evaluated have received high marks.

As you may expect from luxury cars with luxury prices, you can get into a brand new Kia Stinger for as little as $33,090 US dollars. Keep in mind that this is a brand new car, so this is brand new. There are fewer of these on the used market, so if you're looking for something a bit newer-and, if you're lucky, with a warranty, still intact-the Stinger is a great option. The top-of-the-range GT2 models are priced in the higher portion of this range, as they come with 368 horsepower. In addition to it, you can also update your existing car with Kia Stinger accessories to give it a brand new touch.

2012-2016 Porsche Panamera ($25K–$50K)

The Porsche Panamera (970 and 971 models) is also featured in the list of cars in the $50K - $100K range, so you could pick up a first-generation (970) model or a second-generation (971), depending on which model you prefer. Due to the $50K price cap, the selection for this list is now based exclusively on 970 examples.

In addition, we would like to say that this is not necessarily a bad thing. Opt for a first-generation version of the car. You can cross-shop discontinued trims such as the diesel-powered Porsche Panamera or the naturally-aspirated V8-powered Porsche Panamera GTS model-a huge deal when everything is now turbocharged, which are a big hit with Porsche devotees and loyalists. As someone who has been in the market for a while, it can be hard to remember the least expensive options on this list.

2018-2019 Audi RS 3 ($45K–$50K)

A newly purchased Audi RS 4 might be a bit out of reach for those on a tight budget, but the third-generation RS 3 might be a perfect and versatile option for anyone seeking a 4-door compact sports car. The cars are at the upper end of our price range (because of the newer era of automobiles), but they will also be among one of the newest cars you can get; this is something to be encouraged when it comes to the warranties and the peace of mind that goes with it.

It is certainly worth noting that the RS 3 is a welcome change from the BMW M3 and Mercedes-AMG C 63 that have long held the competitive title. Its strong points are its RS-derived performance credentials and its unique 2.5L turbocharged 5-cylinder engine, giving it a competitive advantage over its rivals without compromising on any important aspects.

2015+ Subaru WRX STi ($20K–$45K)

There has been no major upgrade to the Subaru WRX STi for a while, but that doesn't mean you should not consider the current model. Since the WRX STi starts from as low as $20K, it could easily prove to be an attractive bargain for the shopper of a certain model of car when it comes to their next purchase.

Subaru will not be as refined and luxurious as every other car on this list, meaning buyers need to use their initiative to ensure that any glaring issues, such as Ringland failure, have been addressed properly. Besides that, the car is a sturdy and proven performer for nearly all conditions, backed by its deep-rooted rally heritage and its steadfast disposition in the driver's seat.

Are you interested in learning more about cars and their maintenance? Head to the KeepDriving website and check out our blog post on how to replace the rear window wiper blade.

Founder, Editor-in-Chief Carmelo Pickel is the Founder and Editor-in-Chief of Keep Driving, with almost 20 years of experience working in the industry. Before founding Keep Driving, Carmelo held leadership roles for over a decade on top automotive dealership corporations across North America, handling various leadership roles in Sales, Marketing, and Incentives.
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