Kia Soul- starts at $16,995
Kia Soul – starts at $16,995 (Photo: Alexandra Straub)
Toyota Corolla- starts at $15,995
Toyota Corolla – starts at $15,995 (Photo: Alexandra Straub)
2014 Fiat 500L- starts at $19,995
2014 Fiat 500L – starts at $19,995 (Photo: Alexandra Straub)
Ford Fiesta ST- $24,499
Ford Fiesta ST – $24,499 (Photo: Alexandra Straub)
2014 Mazda3 Sport
2014 Mazda3 Sport – starts at $15,995 (Photo: Alexandra Straub)

A few pocket rockets available on the market might not compete for the top power specs, but they can certainly get the party started…

A vehicle doesn’t have to be exorbitantly expensive, have mega horsepower or don a fancy Italian badge on it to be fun to drive. In fact, a lot of people seem to agree with that statement too since there are a few pocket rockets available on the market that might not compete for the top power specs, but can certainly get the party started.

Ford Fiesta ST – $24,499

If its exterior colour, say the one clad in Green Envy, doesn’t catch your eye, perhaps its exhaust note will. When you rev 1.6L, 4-cylinder, turbocharged, EcoBoost engine of the Fiesta ST, you’ll probably turn your head. Yes, it’s a subcompact but it doesn’t feel like it when you’re working through the gears of the 6-speed manual transmission.

Ford’s newest mini powerhouse comes with a whopping 197 horsepower and 202 lb-ft of torque. It’s the same engine paired with the Focus ST, but in a smaller package. Its sport infused suspension, gearbox, phenomenal handling and host of creature comforts sound good to you, it’s even better to drive.

You just might make your friends green with envy because you’re having so much fun behind the wheel.

Mazda3 Sport – starts at $15,995

For the 2014 model year, Mazda completely overhauls their number-one selling sedan and hatchback: the 3.

Expect more mature (but not dated) styling, a driver-focussed cabin and a host of technological gadgetry that makes staying “connected” behind the wheel more user friendly. Of course, without trying to take away focus from the act of driving.

Among its tweaked features, you’ll find brand new interior and exterior styling along with the implementation of their high compression ratio engines, better known as SKYACTIV. Two engines and transmissions are offered. There’s the 2.0L, 4-cylinder SKYACTIV engine with a 6-speed manual transmission or an available 6-speed automatic transmission- available on either the base GX or mid-grade GS models. It produces 155 horsepower and 150 lb-ft of torque.

Then there’s a 2.5L, 4-cylinder SKYACTIV engine for the GT trim, which only comes with a 6-speed automatic. It generates a healthy 184 horsepower and 185 lb-ft of torque. Either is a treat to drive with excellent urban or extra urban characteristics.

2014 Fiat 500L – starts at $19,995

For Fiat fans, if the 500 was too small, here’s your answer: the 500L.

The longer wheelbase cutie is more practical than the pint-sized version and has more room. (And two more doors!)

Powering it is a 1.4L, 4-cylinder, MultiAir turbo engine that pumps out 160 horsepower and 184 lb-ft of torque.

Since it’s a bigger car, it feels bigger to drive. But visibility isn’t compromised and there are a couple of great gearboxes to choose from: a 6-speed manual or a 6-speed Euro Twin Clutch automatic transmission.

Toyota Corolla – starts at $15,995

No, you’re not reading that wrong. I did include the 2014 Toyota Corolla on my list. Yes, it’s like automotive bread and butter… you always know you’re getting and it’s very predictable. But with a complete overhaul for 2014, you could say the Japanese manufacturer has added some jam on top to make it sweeter.

New styling on the inside and out makes it more desirable to the eyes. It’s still not as exciting as most of its competitors but the 1.8L, 4-cyinder does a bang up job of delivering 132 horsepower and 128 lb-ft of torque.

The cabin is quiet and I’ll hand it Toyota for matching it with a CVT transmission that is just fabulous.

Kia Soul – starts at $16,995

Kia’s box-mobile continues to deliver strong sales despite angularly-shaped vehicles becoming a trend of the past. Why? Because it has personality.

Describing it in one word, I’d say it’s funky.

And now, the all-new soul is built on a bigger platform, increasing legroom up front and in the rear. It’s also quieter on the road when revving its 1.6L, 4-cylinder engine. There’s also a 2.0L 4-cylinder available with 164 horsepower and 151 lb-ft of torque.

Email: alexandra [dot] straub [at] drivewaybc [dot] ca

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