Finding a cheap to buy sleeper car is fairly easy, but finding a sleeper car that is cheap to maintain is rather difficult. Most of these cars are equipped with high-performance engines, brakes, and suspension kits which are more expensive to maintain compared to the ones equipped on regular models.
If you pair that with some miles on the odometer and increased fuel costs, ‘’cheap’’ sleeper cars are only relative. This means that sleeper cars like the V10-powered Audi S8 are not the ones to consider. Even though the second-gen S8 is amazing and cheap to buy, it costs a lot of money to keep in good condition.
However, there are a couple of fairly recent options out that do offer a lot of ‘’umph’’ for the money. Cars like the 2017 Volvo S60 Polestar, 2017 Chevy SS, 2018 Honda Accord Sport 2.0T, or a 2011-2020 Dodge Charger R/T are great newer options.
If you want even better value, a used 2006 Mazdaspeed 6 or a used Mk6 Golf GTI are both stellar performance cars. Cars such as these are emotional purchases as well, so make sure you go through a bunch of listings and find the one you like.
2006 Audi S8 – Luxurious, understated, and fast
Finding a perfect performance bargain is hard, but is certainly possible if you find the right car. The second-generation Audi S8 offers lots of luxury features many new cars still don’t offer. If you pair that with a thunderous 5.2L Lamborghini-derived V10 with 450hp, the S8 is certainly a tempting option.
Such S8s can be found for as low as $10k, but you have to do your homework before you buy them because there are lots of things that can go wrong. If you find the right car in decent condition and full-service history, this S8 generation can give you more than any other $10-15k car ever could.
2017 Volvo S60 Polestar – Swedish safety, depreciation, and reliability
If you are interested in buying a performance sedan, Volvo certainly is not the first brand that comes to mind. After all, this Swedish brand has always been associated with safety and practicality, but the S60 manages to combine performance, safety, style, luxury, and reliability for around $30k used.
This makes the S60 Polestar an amazing bargain, especially so when you consider the 4-cylinder turbocharged and supercharged engine with more than 360hp. This is enough to propel the S60 Polestar 0-60mph in just 4.4 seconds.
2018 Honda Accord Sport 2.0T – Semi-fast, semi-desirable, but cheap
The 2018 Honda Accord looks as bland as the regular Honda Accord. After all, it’s fairly difficult to go anywhere without bumping into at least a few of these, and that can be good or bad, depending on your perspective. It’s good because you will not attract any attention, it’s great for parts, and it’s great for affordability.
That being said, the 2018 Honda Accord Sport 2.0T costs as low as $20k right now, and that is quite a bit of value for 250hp, manual or auto. This Accord model is incredibly well equipped and it seems like the best Honda bargain right now.
2011 Dodge Charger R/T – A full-fledged muscle car for peanuts
The most popular performance-oriented Dodge Charger models have always been the SRT or above, but the R/T is the better deal. Buying a 700hp Charger is like setting fire to an oil rig, it’s bound to go wrong in more ways than one. The chassis of the Charger is good for 500ish horsepower anyway.
The 370 HEMI V8 sounds and feels a lot more expensive than $18k. This Charger model is not overly aggressive and in-your-face, especially so if specified in a more subdued color. If you invest a few thousand dollars into the R/T, you are looking at a $20k 600hp sleeper sedan muscle car.
2011 VW Golf GTI – An iconic hatchback for lunch money
The VW Golf GTI is one of the most, if not the most popular hot hatch ever to grace the face of the earth. That being said, the 2011 Mk6 generation is also somewhat of a sleeper, and only the true enthusiasts will be able to tell apart the GTI from a regular basic model.
For as low as $6k, this GTI is the best hatchback sleeper money can buy. With 235hp, sporty suspension, sporty seats, and beefy brakes, the MK6 GTI is a force to be reckoned with, especially at such a measly price point.
What makes a good sleeper car?
It’s hard to make a car that goes fast but does not look fast. Whenever you go over a certain performance threshold, you have to do all the necessary sports car design features such as flared wheel arches or beefy brake discs.
Even though such styling cues are what separates dramatic performance cars from regular models, sleepers have to balance basic looks with high performance. To conclude, a great sleeper car has to be unassuming, but not boring while offering performance levels that are way above anything that looks similar.
How can I recognize a sleeper car?
If you are a car enthusiast, it is fairly easy to tell the difference between a regular Audi A8 and an Audi S8, but it sometimes may be difficult to do so if the S8 is deliberately trying to look like an A8. The easiest way to tell is the look for unmistakable signs of high performance.
Such signs are usually associated with multiple exist sporty-looking exhaust pipes, a high-performance indicating badge here and there, a beefier sounding exhaust, beefy brake discs, low profile tires, or even a cheeky boot lid spoiler.
Who do people love sleeper cars?
Because they drive like supercars while looking ordinary. Not everyone likes the attention they get while driving a brightly colored supercar. People sometimes think you are a douchebag, rich spoiled brat, and it can sometimes even ruin the whole point of driving such a car.
For such instances, it is always best to just buy a sleeper car. Such a car will enable you to experience what a performance car can do while looking unassuming and regular. These cars can beat Ferraris and Lamborghinis while looking basic.