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The affordable fun list: Mustang GT, 370Z Roadster, IS350, Beetle and Veloster

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Pure exhilaration is the feeling that comes over us when pushing the pedal to the metal out on the open road, in a hot whip! Better than hot sex with a familiar partner? Well…that’s debatable. But, priced from $25K to $45K, the whips on this list offer cost effective solutions for taking the blues away on any given day…

2014 Ford Mustang GT Coupe Premium

Based at: $34,750
Tested at: $40,030
Fuel Economy: 15 city / 26 highway = 19 miles per gallon combined
Annual Fuel: $2,800

Of all the cars produced by any legacy American automobile manufacturer, the one we should all aspire to get behind the wheel of at some point in our lives, has got to be the Ford Mustang.

Now in the fifth generation, this 1964 arrival is a classic on the American landscape. But not just any trim level of Mustang will do for the true car enthusiast. For you, it’s GT all the way, baby!

Paying homage to the original Mustang engine, the 2014 GT Premium includes a 5.0 liter V8 engine with 420 ponies under the hood, delivering 390 lb. feet of torque. Now, imagine the roar of such power, with the control of a standard six speed manual transmission for one hell of a launch. Translation: Big fun!

Vented four-wheel disc brakes come standard. Brembo’s front rotors and calipers are optional. The GT Premium includes an eight speaker Shaker audio system with Ford’s Sync for handsfree functions such as phone calls and iPod integration to make it even more convenient to ride along with your favorite theme song.

Ford’s designers have done an excellent job at maintaining Mustang’s retro look. Modern day enhancements such as racy LED daytime running lights beside the headlamps, and the trademark one by one flashing taillights done in energy saving LED lights add style and make sense in 2014. Speaking of style, “Mustang” illuminated sill plates in the doorway further accentuates the brand. Ambient lighting throughout the interior cabin in neon lights, including a colors of your choice for the dash adds to the thrill of power and glory. And it has a back seat that people can actually sit in. But keep it simple and sweet with a solo or plus one only!

2013 Nissan 370Z Roadster Touring

Based at $44,170

Tested at $51,000

Fuel Economy: 17 city / 24 highway – 20 miles per gallon combined
Annual Fuel: $2,900

Back in the day, long before Nissan gave birth to Infiniti and its IPL line of performance vehicles, here in American, the parent company made its mark in the area of performance with the 240Z. In Japan it was the Nissan Fairlady, here in the USA, it was the talk of the town in 1969, known as the Datsun 240Z.

Today, few cars in the two-seater class handle as superfluously as a Nissan 370Z. Rolling on a set of 19-inch rims--a feature of the $2,800 Sport Package (versus the standard set of 18’s), its 3.7 liter V6 engine powered by 332 horses delivers 270 lb. feet of torque—enough to dick pretty much everyone at the traffic light on takeoff…point blank! But the Z does it so gracefully, which is what sets it apart from all other in this compact category. The control, the handling, the force are all so very tactfully and graciously deployed.

For 2013, Nissan added LED daytime running light on the lower end of the front fascia as a further enhancement of the overall angular sleekness of the Z. For the man with a more sophisticated palate, the Z is a timeless classic that’s hard to beat by way of power, performance, prestige and fun.

2013 Lexus IS350 4-Door Sedan

Based at $40,320
Tested at $46,935
Fuel Economy : 19 city / 27 highway = 22 miles per gallon combined
Annual Fuel: $2,650

With an all new, third generation 2014 IS tearing up the streets, the 2013 model marks the end of era for the second generation.

Marked by an ascending beltline and a dazzling set of LED daytime running lights, IS350’s 3.5 liter V6 engine boasts 306 horses at 277 lb feet of torque controlled by a six speed automatic transmission for that smooth Lexus-esque feeling the brand has been widely celebrated and patronized for--short of the more aggressive F-Sport trim level.

Still, on city streets, the 2013 IS350 offers great maneuverability, a beautiful interior, and all of the comforts of a Lexus. And now is the perfect time to negotiate a great deal!

2013 Volkswagen Beetle Convertible

Based at $24,995 / tested at $28,495 with Sound and Navigation packages
Fuel Economy: 21 city / 29 highway = 24 miles per gallon combined
Annual Fuel: $2,400

TDI based at $27,895 / tested at $30,295 with Sound and Navigation
Fuel Economy: 28 city / 48 highway = 31 combined
Annual Fuel: $1,850

Turbo Convertible based at $27,795 / tested at $31,195 with Sound and Navigation
Fuel Economy: 21 city / 27 highway = 23 miles per gallon combined
Annual Fuel: $2,300

Regardless of how much or how little you have in combined assets, if you roll up in a VW Beetle—especially a Beetle Convertible, you’ll find chicks coming out the woodwork, telling you how much they love your whip!

It was 1938 when the German designed and engineered Beetle went into production, looking pretty much the same as it does today. Comparatively speaking, it sounds much quieter and smoother. The styling has been enhanced for a more sleeker look. So much so that the Beetle can sit honorably and confidently alongside a Mini at a red light and then go toe to toe when the light turns green.

With a variety of trim levels to choose from, it’s like this: With a 2.5 liter, 170 horsepower engine, go Convertible if you like to drop it like it’s hot and keep it swinging. Go TDI for the additional fuel economy. It’s engine—a 2.0 liter, 140 horsepower turbo, has great get up and go, despite size---which we know does not always matter. But of them all, nothing does it like the Beetle Turbo!

The Turbo offers racy enhancement both inside and out and a feel that is far more exhilarating than any other trim level. It’s five cylinder 2.5 liter, 200 horsepower engine packs a mighty punch of 207 lb feet of torque and a six speed manual to help you make the most of its power while appreciating the carbon fiber dash on the interior. But if you’ve never driven a VW Beetle and are indeed a fan of German engineered vehicles, start right here!

Test them all. But regardless of which trim level you choose, you’ll soon discover that to go Beetle is to go fun!

2013 Hyundai Veloster Turbo

Base: $22,950
Tested: $27,520
Fuel Economy: 24 city / 31 highway = 28 miles per gallon combined
Annual Fuel: $1,900

By now, it’s no secret that in 2013, Hyundai is surely not the same Hyundai that launched back in the early 80’s. Like every manufacturer, they debuted, got a foothold in the market and took their game up a few notches. At the top you have the Equus--which has undergone some refreshments for 2014 that we will soon tell you about; The Genesis Sedan and Coupe models also sit within the category of luxury, with stunning next generation Azera lifting it up on the premium level. But have you noticed the hot and sexy, three door Veloster?

It sits low to the ground, with one door on the driver’s side, two (a front and rear) on the passenger’s side. Most have no idea of the second door on the passenger side exists, due to the clever and unique incorporation of the door handle into the body of the car.

Best of all, Veloster handles like a champ whisking around city streets, thanks to all 201 horses under the hood and the 195 lb feet of torque it produces. Add to that the combination of curb weight, a bull dog body stance for great stability, a visually appealing set of 18-inch rims and panoramic sunroof and Veloster makes one heck of a weekend whip!

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