Help me choose a used car w/ over 200 HP

Greetings folks,

I’m in a bit of a pickle here as I try to decide what to replace my 95 Honda civic with.

The civics been an excellent vehicle and has over 245k miles. My only motivation for replacing it is that I am bored to tears with it. I am looking for a car that has 200+ horsepower with a manual transmission. My ideal budget is $6200 for a private sale. I can come up with more money (up to a total of $10k) but would require financing which is something I am trying to avoid. I have not ruled out leasing a new vehicle either.

So my question is, what should I get that meets this criteria?

Some cars I have been considering but am having a tough time finding are:

-Subaru Legacy GT w/the 2.5L AND turbo
-Nissan maxima
-Honda civic SI

Any other suggestions? Again, the car MUST have a manual transmission, none of this “part time automatic” crap. Also, my preference is for a 4 door but I am flexible on that.

Also, if you have a car for sale like what I have described and live near Harrisburg, PA let me know. I might take it off your hands!


Acura RSX.

If you’re bored with your Civic, why are you even considering the Si version? Not only would you be bored, still, but you’d be disappointed as well.

Mazdaspeed 3 is an excellent choice, as are the other Speed versions of their vehicles(6, Miata, Protege)

Nissan Z.

Mustang GT.

I appreciate the suggestions BUT, the miata is just too small for me. I need something practical and fun. The mustang might be doable if it weren’t for the fact that I live in central PA where I tends to snow, badly at times. Also the gas mileage of a mustang coupled with the fact that every single used mustang in the world has been beat to death just makes it a no no. The suggestion of a Nissan Z would be fun but where am I going to find one for $10k?

Your 200 HP requirement is a bit short sighted to me. Torque is just (or more) important than HP. HP gives top speed, and torque give acceleration. Also, 200 HP is a waste on a FWD vehicle – I’d stick with RWD.

I’d look for a well-maintained BWM 3 Series sedan. My 1998 328i has been the most reliable vehicle I’ve owned for the past 8 years. 120,000 miles with just maintenance costs. Another option is the Infiniti G35 sedan. Not as refined as the BMW, but cheaper to buy and maintain. Find one with all the service records and get a good independent PPI.

Also the gas mileage of a mustang

The higher the horsepower, the lower your MPGs tend to get. I still suggest the Speed3

You have painted yourself into a corner…200+ hp FWD/AWD cars, stick shifts, in your price range and location will be VERY hard to find…Yeah, many Mustangs have had the snot run out of them, but not ALL of them…The number of days when the roads are snow-packed are few enough so you can work around them…

Maybe the reason for the perception that all Mustangs are pounded into the pavement is because there are so many of them on the road.
Odds are, percentage wise, that Civic Sls, Maximas, and Subaru Legacys take an equal pounding.

Personally, I’ll take torque over horsepower.

What you are looking for is a manual transmission in a car with some “zip” to it. Don’t focus on 200+ HP. A heavier car needs more HP, and a lighter one less. I have an '03 4 door Civic sedan with a Vtec motor and a 5 spd manual trans. It is fun to drive, kind of like a vintage MGB. run up the rpm’s and it is like sports car.

If you are considering the Maxima, why not consider the Altima as well? It can be had with the V6 and manual transmission and is described by many as “grossly overpowered”. There’s one for sale on Craigslist near me, but that would be about a ten hour drive for you. Personally, I like the suggestion of looking at the Infiniti G35 sedan. Always thought that car looked like a lot of fun.

If you like turbo boost and racy looks, the Subaru Impreza WRX may be worth a look. They are easy to find and well within your budget.

I would get another Honda. Spin the crankshaft of the S2000 at 9000 rpm in your neighborhood and that would disspell any notion of driving a boring Honda.

I also prefer the sound of a flat 6 from a Porsche Boxster over any growling V6. BMW straight 6s are smooth as turbines, but some of them don’t make the 200HP mark you’re after.

S2000 is same size as miata. TOO small. And show me a s2000 for $5k? He wants a small sedan. Do an online search filtered by price. You will see many cars to choose from. Low price=high miles.

Wow, thanks for all the responses. I will have to check out the v6 altima. As for high mileage, that doesn’t really scare me as long as the car has been taking care of. I know you can’t be sure about how someone took care of a car but I have had very good luck in the past when buying older vehicles. In fact the cars that gave me the most problems were newer especially my xterra… Never again

I know it’s small, but the Mini Cooper is a good deal of fun to drive. I test drove a base model awhile back; even with only 110hp, it was pretty quick. Can’t imagine how the John Cooper Works(almost double the HP of the base) version would feel

I found a 2002 ford focus svt for a very reasonable price. It handles great and runs good but again, it lacks in power. They are rated at 170HP and 145 lb ft. Any idea on how to push them over 200HP without a complete re-work of the engine?

Why are you fixated on that 200 HP number. Power to weight is more important. For example a You can get a Lotus Se7en kit car (Caterham) with a 170 HP I4 engine that go from 0-60 in 4.5 seconds Of course it’s not a practical car by any measure. Anyway who wants a 200+ HP front wheel drive car? The Mazdaspeed 3 , GTI, and even the new Focus ST, exhibit a lot of torque steer. If you’re a competent driver you can drive a RWD car in the snow. I have a 400+ HP Mustang, I’ve driven it through unplowed roads (on summer tires no less) before and didn’t have an issue. It’s not what you drive, it’s how you drive it.

I don’t see gaining that much horsepower on a Ford Focus without engine work/nitrous/forced induction and if the truth be known a new 2002 Ford Focus probably never put out 170 horsepower no matter what it’s rated at.

I don’t see the point, either. If you want a quick car, it isn’t that hard to find 0-60 times. 200 hp in a big, heavy sedan isn’t that impressive, but 150 hp in a light car can be quick. A car that delivers lots of torque and reaches its maximum power at a lowish rpm number will be more fun than a car that needs to be operating near the red line to give adequate performance. That’s fatiguing. Fun for a few minutes only.

So what would I look for? Sigh. Hard to beat that lowly Mustang for the money. You simply can’t afford German (or the upkeep). There are a handful of Japanese and Korean possibles, but decent examples aren’t going to be had for so little. American cars have the advantage of depreciating faster, but there aren’t many powerful domestic cars to be had with manuals. Mustang excepted. In a few years you can add the Camaro to that list.