Useful Car Tips

Sporty Cars for College Students

May 31, 2019
Most college students who need a car for commuting require comfort, safety, and practicality, all in an affordable package. Many vehicles are up for the task: the classic Honda Civic, Toyota Camry, even a hybrid Prius. In fact, we’ve covered this car-buying demographic before, so if you’re looking for your next no-fuss college commuter, check out our article here! But what if you’re looking for something a little … different. Perhaps a little more exciting, or sporty? If that sounds like you, rest assured, there are plenty of cars ready to fit the bill and make your college experience just that little bit better. While they won’t necessarily have the practicality of typical commuter cars, they’ll make up for it in fun and driving engagement. Vehicles like the Ford Fiesta ST, Acura TL Type S, and Infiniti G37 are all excellent choices, but let’s start off with an icon of the automotive world (and a surprisingly capable car for students): the Mazda Miata.


The Mazda Miata, or MX-5 if you’re outside North America, is the venerable little roadster Mazda has produced in four distinct generations over three decades. It’s a no-fuss sports car, sticking to the classic formula of rear-wheel drive, light weight, and of course, a manual transmission. You’ll also get a reliable drivetrain with plenty of aftermarket parts for both repairs and upgrades; just make sure to get a pre-purchase inspection or at least perform a checkup before buying an older Miata, as you would do with any used car. The Miata will feel quick without actually being very quick, and especially with its roof down, will be sure to put a smile on your face as you’re banging downshifts and tackling the local twisty roads.


You may have noticed that the Ford Fiesta ST took a spot on our first list as a great choice for college students, and for good reason. This tiny hatchback has enough space to transport five passengers (although the rear passengers won’t be too happy to sit in it for long trips), decent cargo space due to its hatchback design, and a relatively affordable price on the used market. What do you get besides a little practicality? In comparison to a standard Fiesta, the ST comes with a 1.6-liter turbocharged inline-four engine, tweaked suspension universally acclaimed by automotive journalists, and more aggressive bodywork. This turbo I4 gives the ST a respectable 197 horsepower and 214 pound-feet of torque. Combined with agile handling, a manual transmission, and that peppy engine, the Fiesta ST is more than enough fun for any college student to have on a budget.


Most sedans have reputations as unremarkable, yet reliable and practical packages for commuting. While the Acura TL Type S has the understated looks, upon a closer look at its appearance and spec sheet, you’ll see it’s quite the exception to this rule. Under the hood is a 3.5-liter V6 that pushes 286 horsepower to the front wheels, mated to your choice of either a 5-speed auto with paddle shifters, or the more desirable and consequentially much rarer 6-speed manual with limited slip differential. You’ll also get Brembo brakes, firmer suspension, and sporty exterior touches like quad exhaust tips and 10-spoke wheels unique to the Type S. This Acura is the full package for those requiring a balance between comfort, practicality, and an engaging, sporty drive.


A used luxury sedan might not seem like the best choice for a college student on a budget, but it’s another exception to this rule. Similar to the TL Type S, the Infiniti G37 offers ample power, with 330 horsepower and 270 lb-ft of torque generated from a 3.7-liter naturally aspirated V6 at its disposal. It also offers plenty of room to seat five passengers comfortably, a leather interior, and stout reliability and low maintenance costs which may surprise you. It’s offered in rear-wheel drive trims and all-wheel drive trims denoted by the “x” designation. Spring for the “S” coupe and you’ll get a slightly sportier ride, while the IPL is king of the line, with almost 350 horsepower at its disposal (348 to be exact). Like the Acura, the G37 is quick, comfortable, and provides a relatively sporty ride, making it an excellent candidate for the college car enthusiast.


Going to college doesn’t mean you have to give up your passion for cars. All four cars on our list are affordable, comfortable, quick, and most importantly fun to drive. Consider these four and more as you do your research, and try to schedule a test drive before putting money down on this new investment. Evaluate what you need, what each vehicle provides, and if those factors appeal to you personally. No matter which vehicle you choose, make sure it’s not only in your budget, but puts a smile on your face on every drive!
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