Driving on the track for the first time is an exciting venture. You get to satisfy your insatiable lust for speed while learning how to maneuver a vehicle like a pro. If given the option, many first-timers look for the highest amount of horsepower to tackle the course, yet this isn’t always the best option. Because there’s certainly a learning curve (no pun intended), a balanced vehicle that teaches you how to get the most traction and how to use horsepower is the best choice. Here are just a few of the best cars for your first time on the track.
Ford Fiesta ST
Quick and aggressive yet small and nimble, the Ford Fiesta ST is an ideal choice for the track. A 1.6-liter turbocharged engine pumps out a manageable 197 horsepower, and when it’s paired with a six-speed manual transmission, you can learn how to shift quickly and efficiently without killing the engine. Under the sheet metal, the Fiesta ST also boasts a sport-tuned suspension and a brake-based torque vectoring system that provide pinpoint accuracy around curves or extra grip on straightaways.
When you have a chance to see what the Fiesta ST can do, make sure to have some ample room. Going zero to 60 takes just 7 seconds, making it a powerful, sound choice that’s not overwhelming.
Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution
Although the Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution ended its run after the 2015 model, it’s still one of the best cars to have when you’re on the track. Lightweight yet not undersized, the Lancer Evolution sports a 2.0-liter MIVEC four-cylinder that’s good for 291 horsepower in the base model and 303 horsepower in the upper trim. When paired with the standard five-speed stick, you have total control of the Evolution’s power, which is more practical than higher horsepower vehicles. Put the pedal to the metal to release the horses for a zero to 60 of just 4.6 seconds.
While speed is definitely one of the Evolution’s top attributes, don’t forget about Mitsubishi’s top-notch but often overlooked Super All-Wheel Control (S-AWC). When paired with an active center differential and active yaw control, which helps distribute torque between wheels, S-AWC provides superb handling no matter what the condition of the track.
Honda Civic Si
Slotted between the dependable Civic and the professional-quality Civic Type R, the Civic Si has a bit more oomph than the base model — yet not enough power to intimidate or scare you on your first drive around the track. The Civic Si combines an active adaptive damper system, more responsive steering, and an improved chassis. This pairs with a turbocharged 1.5-liter inline four that’s good for 205 horsepower and 192 pound-feet of torque. This enables it to go from zero to 60 in just 6.7 seconds while still kicking around a top speed of 137 mph.
Before you run out and buy a brand new car for the track, you may want to think about the practicality of the model. If you can find a dual-purpose vehicle that’s ideal for everyday use yet also perfect for the track, more power to you.