The fastest-accelerating cars under $30,000 are the Nissan 350Z and Ford Mustang GT, which offer almost identical acceleration performance but two distinct driving experiences; more on that later. Both have around 300 hp and tip the scales at relatively the same weight, give or take a hundred pounds. The 350Z coupe starts at $27,900 and the Mustang GT coupe starts at $25,695.
OK, on to the acceleration numbers. Car and Driver tested both the 350Z and Mustang GT for a “Quickest Cars of 2007” feature. Car and Driver picked the 2006 Mitsubishi Evolution as its winner in January 2007. However, as of now — being later in the model year and with many 2008 cars available — we were only able to find one new Evolution nationally in the Cars.com listings under $30,000. So we’re going to stick with the Mustang GT and 350Z for this comparison, as you can find many new ones under $30,000 at just about any Ford or Nissan dealership.
According to Car and Driver, in the 0-60 mph race, the Mustang GT beat the 350Z by one tenth of a second — 5.1 vs. 5.2 seconds — and in the quarter-mile the 350Z returned the favor by beating the Mustang GT by one tenth of a second — 13.7 vs. 13.8 seconds. Basically, what we have here is a draw when it comes to acceleration numbers. As for their driving characteristics, here’s what KickingTires editor David Thomas, who has driven both, has to say:
“The 350Z in its latest incarnation is one of the purest sports cars you can get for the money and turns on a dime. The Mustang is more of your boulevard cruiser that has plenty of grunt and thrills off the line, but just doesn’t handle the twisties like the Z. I’d give the edge to the Z because of that, but the Mustang has its own allure.”
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