Mazda MX-5 Miata

Purists, rejoice -- your MX-5 is better than it's been in a very long time. It doesn't have the most horsepower in this set, but it makes up for that with excellent driving dynamics and just enough tech to satiate new-car buyers. It's an old-school ride with new-school sensibilities.

Published:Caption:Photo:Josh Miller/CNET

Jeep Renegade

If you split your time between city and country, the Renegade rides that line, as well. It's a composed crossover in city driving, and with the right option boxes ticked, it'll tackle light off-roading without a second thought.

Published:Caption:Photo:Wayne Cunningham/CNET

Mini Cooper Hardtop

The Mini Hardtop is a BMW without the insane price tag. The infotainment systems are similar, the level of fit and finish are similar, and -- perhaps best of all -- they're both great to drive. It won't win any drag races, but it's a sharp-looking coupe with good dynamic chops.

Published:Caption:Photo:Tim Stevens/CNET

Scion iA

The Scion iA gives you about as much bang for your buck as is possible at this price point. Based on the Mazda2, the iA is a blast to drive, but it's also quite fuel-efficient and packs technology usually found on more expensive cars, like automatic emergency braking.

Published:Caption:Photo:Antuan Goodwin/CNET

Subaru BRZ

If you want to gift a car to somebody who goes out driving for fun, the BRZ is a spectacular choice. It's a small, sprightly coupe that is an absolute blast to drive when the going gets twisty.

Published:Caption:Photo:Antuan Goodwin/CNET
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