No restrictions on speed, you’ll see high-performance models, like the Ariel Atom and the Porsche 911 GT3, on the track, alongside vehicles that are equally impressive in their own right, serving up a healthy dose of fun on the race circuit, yet at a fraction of the cost and with greater practicality. Whether you’re after a hot hatchback that’s also ideal for taking the kids to school, or just want a sports car you can use every day without breaking the bank, our top 5 best track day cars for under £5k allow you to experience the fun of the circuit without the need of an expensive, dedicated track car.

Live More. Search Less. And enjoy the thrills of motorsport yourself, with one of the best track day cars for less than £5k.

What things should you look out for in a track day car?

Track days are not about who has the most expensive car or the fastest, they’re all about having the most fun and celebrating the craftsmanship and performance capabilities of your trusty motor. That said, you’ll want to look out for the following in a track day car:

  • Firstly, a car that you’re comfortable driving
  • Light and responsive handling that’s accurate
  • A good 0-60mph speed for enjoying the thrills of the circuit
  • A well-maintained car that’s in good condition

Also, familiarise yourself with the circuit’s rules and be sure to take some basic tools in case you need to change a spare tyre etc. Furthermore,

  • Give the car a service beforehand, or at the least maintain all fluids levels and tyre pressure
  • Remove loose belongings from the car so they don’t fly about
  • Ensure your insurance covers track days, or get specific track day insurance cover
  • Prepare yourself for a fun day out!

Best track day cars under £5,000

Able to hold their own on the tarmac and sure to offer a fun driving experience, these cars are not only affordable, they also hit some pretty impressive figures too. So, without further ado, here are our top 5 best track day cars for under £5,000.

  1. Mazda MX5
  2. Honda Civic Type R
  3. Ford Fiesta ST
  4. Mini Hatch Cooper S
  5. Subaru Impreza WRX

1. MAZDA MX5 – Year launched: 1990

Launched in the UK way back in 1990 (resulting in lots of fantastic used deals), the Mazda MX5 is a Japanese roadster sports car that’s inspired by the British sports cars of the 1960s and 70s. It’s a lightweight two-seater with a front-mid engine and rear wheel drive layout. And as far as track cars for under £5,000 go, you can’t go wrong with an MX5, especially with second-hand prices from as little as £750. Driving enthusiasts will be drawn to the way it performs, with its lower driving position and lightweight body coupled with a superb manual gearbox, a high-revving engine, and responsive steering. Offering great value for money and playful dynamics for track day, the latest Mazda MX-5, with a 2.0-litre engine, produces 158bhp and achieves 0-62mph in only 6.5 seconds with a top speed of 136mph. And as a convertible, available with both soft and hard tops, you’ll be able to experience every aspect of those thrills.

Best Features

  • Great value for money
  • Excellent performance
  • Lightweight convertible
  • Used price from: £750
  • BPH: 158bhp
  • 0-62mph: 6.5 seconds
  • Max speed: 136mph

2. HONDA CIVIC TYPE R – Year launched: 2001

The Honda Civic Type R is a 6-speed manual, front-wheel drive hot hatchback with a high-revving (naturally-aspirated) 316bhp 2.0-litre petrol engine that can do 0-62mph in a mere 5.7 seconds and reach a top speed of 169mph. That should be more than enough power to be able to set some personal best lap times on track days. Fantastic to drive, powerful, and surprisingly practical as well, it makes a great race car and a handy standard car for daily use. And for added performance on the track, the 2017 and onward models also feature Honda’s Rev Match Control System, which improves the driving experience by automatically optimizing engine revs to match the intended gear, improving stability, acceleration, and deceleration with smoother gear changes. The new 2022 Honda Civic Type R is also rumoured to be available as a dual clutch automatic for those wanting to avoid the 3-pedal shuffle.

Best Features

  • Fantastic to drive
  • Powerful performance
  • Surprisingly practical
  • Used price from: £3,000
  • BPH: 316bhp
  • 0-62mph: 5.7 seconds
  • Max speed: 16mph

3. FORD FIESTA ST – Year launched: 2005

This energetic, front wheel drive hot hatchback offers practicality for the daily driver, paired with race car thrills. It’s an ideal combination, working just as well as a standard car for the morning commute, as it does on track days for a thrilling lap time. It has accurate steering for those tight bends, and provides a strong performance with a speedy 0-62mph in just 6.5 seconds – perfect for ear-grinning extra fun. This small car offers buyers an all-round package that’s brilliant to drive. Unlike many fuel guzzling sports cars, hot hatches typically have that extra selling point of providing good fuel efficiency too. And the Ford Fiesta ST proves excellent in this regard as well, offering around 47mpg when driven sensibly. For added track focus, the Ford Performance Pack adds a launch control system, shift lights, and the Quaife limited-slip differential on the front axle to deliver significant performance benefits when heavy braking.

Best Features

  • Strong performance
  • Accurate steering
  • Great all-rounder
  • Used price from: £2,000
  • BPH: 197bhp
  • 0-62mph: 6.5 seconds
  • Max speed: 144mph

4. MINI HATCH COOPER S – Year launched: 2002

While every modern Mini is capable of raising a smile on its driver’s face, providing an excellent go-kart like driving experience, performance enthusiasts after a track day car for under £5,000 will lean towards the quicker Cooper S model, which is available pre-owned from just £1,500. The combination of responsive steering, minimal body roll, and foursquare stance results in a car that’s a lot of fun on the road and even more fun on track days, letting you really experience its keen handling and sprightly nature in the corners and straights. If you have a little extra cash, we’d also recommend the Mini Hatch John Cooper Works model, which has used prices starting from around £5,500. It offers everything that the Cooper S does, but with a bit more punch and power.

Best Features

  • Go-kart like
  • Responsive steering
  • Minimal body roll
  • Used Price from: £1,500
  • BPH: 187bhp
  • 0-62mph: 6.8 seconds
  • Max speed: 146mph

5. SUBARU IMPREZA WRX– Year launched: 1994

The performance-oriented Subaru Impreza WRX certainly has the walk to back up the talk. You’ll get permanent 4-wheel drive, a punchy Boxer engine, and the rugged indestructibility of a desert-bashing 4×4 all packed into a compact and practical saloon body. With strong roots in rallying and motorsport, it’ll do 0-62mph in 6.5 seconds and has a top speed of 130mph. Whilst the new Impreza was axed from the UK in 2021 with dwindling sales, you can pick up an older model for just £3,000. And, if you have the extra money and want the extra power, the Subaru WRX STi model takes it up an extra notch to offer a top speed of 174mph and a 0-62mph in a mere 5.2 seconds. Either model will provide a lot of fun on the circuit come track day.

Best Features

  • 4-wheel drive as standard
  • Punchy Boxer engine
  • Compact and practical
  • Used price from: £3,000
  • BPH: 227bhp
  • 0-62mph: 6.5 seconds
  • Max speed: 130mph

As these top 5 best track day cars for less than £5k prove, you don’t need to be a millionaire to enjoy the thrill of a circuit. All of these cars will provide ear-to-ear grins and a really fun driving experience, holding their own on and off the track.

Live More. Search Less. And check out our Top 5 Junior Hot Hatchbacks, these cars fit easily into day-to-day lifestyles, and they’re also fun for track days too.