15 of the best drift cars

May 11, 2022 by

Drifting is one of the most fun things you can do with a car, so it’s no wonder car enthusiasts love to spend a weekend at a track burning rubber.

If you’re going to go drifting, you’ll need the right car for the job. You’ll need rear-wheel-drive, low weight and plenty of power to get sideways on a skid pan. This guide contains 10 cars which would make ideal candidates for drifting, just make sure you keep to a private track and not the public highway.

Our pick of the best cars for drifting are:

  1. Toyota GR86
  2. Mazda MX-5
  3. BMW M3 Competition
  4. Nissan 350Z
  5. Alpine A110
  6. Vauxhall Monaro VXR
  7. Ford Focus RS
  8. Porsche Cayman
  9. Tesla Model 3 Performance
  10. Audi RS3
  11. Toyota GR86
  12. Ford Mustang GT
  13. Lexus GS300
  14. Caterham 7
  15. Nissan 200SX

1. Toyota GR86

  • Engine: 2.4-litre flat-four
  • Power: 231hp
  • Price: from £29,995

When Toyota launched the GT86 back in 2012, it marked the return of the back-to-basics, rear-wheel-drive sports car. It was an instant hit with petrolheads around the world, and its successor simply followed the same recipe.

The new GR86 gets a 231hp flat-four engine and a limited-slip differential as standard, making it easy to throw the tail out around corners. The low weight of 1,275kg and the slick six-speed manual gearbox make it feel that much more involved on the track.

2. Mazda MX-5

  • Engine: 2.0-litre four-cylinder
  • Power: 184hp
  • Price: from £30,360 (2.0-litre model)

If a bit of top-down drifting sounds like fun, you’ll want to look at the Mazda MX-5. It doesn’t matter which generation you go for, they all offer lightweight, rear-wheel-drive fun; and you can pick up a clean example of an early model for as little as £2,000.

If you want creature comforts for the drive home then you’ll want the latest Mazda MX-5. Go for a 2.0-litre model and you get more power, but more importantly a limited-slip differential as standard.

3. BMW M3 Competition

  • Engine: 3.0-litre straight-six
  • Power: 510hp
  • Price: from £78,175

The BMW M3 Competition really is the car which does it all. During the week, you can use it as a comfortable family saloon for commuting and taking the kids to school. But at the weekend, the M3 is perfectly at home on a track.

The 3.0-litre twin-turbocharged straight-six kicks out 510hp and 650Nm of torque, plenty to get that tail sliding around. It doesn’t matter if you go for the grippy all-wheel-drive version either, because you can switch it into rear-drive only mode giving you the best of both worlds.

4. Nissan 350Z

  • Engine: 3.5-litre V6
  • Power: 280hp
  • Price: from £8,000 (used)

The 3.5-litre V6 engine is the star of the show in the Nissan 350Z. It has around 280hp and over 360Nm of torque. It’s properly rapid and it sounds great too, plus you can pick up a good used example for around £8,000.

It may be quite expensive to run, with a yearly tax bill of over £600 and 20mpg if you’re careful, but very few cars offer such driving thrills for this money. There’s also a huge aftermarket scene for the 350Z, so modifying it to your tastes won’t be a problem.

5. Alpine A110

  • Engine: 1.8-litre four-cylinder
  • Power: 252hp
  • Price: from £49,990

If you think a sports car with a 1.8-litre four-cylinder engine isn’t very exciting, you might want to think again. The Alpine A110 only weighs 1,098kg, meaning it can slingshot to 60mph in just 4.5 seconds.

This low weight figure does wonders for the handling as well. It’s easy to slide this car arounds bends, and it’s comfortable enough for day-to-day use. The interior might not be as plush as you’d expect at this price point, however this car is more about driving pleasure than luxury.

6. Vauxhall Monaro VXR

  • Engine: 6.0-litre V8
  • Power: 400hp
  • Price: around £16,000 (used)

If a 1.8-litre engine seems a bit puny, how about a 6.0-litre V8? With the Vauxhall Monaro VXR, that’s exactly what you get. It’s a fantastic engine to listen to as you exploit its 400hp and convert the rear tyres to smoke.

Monaro’s are getting thin on the ground these days, especially in more powerful VXR guise, but you can find them for around £16,000. It won’t cost the earth to run either. It may be thirsty, but the annual tax bill is £360, and it’s even ULEZ compliant.

7. Ford Focus RS

  • Engine: 2.3-litre four-cylinder
  • Power: 350hp
  • Price: around £30,000 (used)

The Ford Focus RS is a pretty extreme example of a hot hatchback, with 350hp and four-wheel-drive. It sticks to the road very well when you push hard, however there is a specific drift mode for when you want to have fun on a track.

While it’s four-wheel drive, so may not be the first choice for a drift car, the Focus RS can send up to 70% of its power to the rear wheels, making it an easy job to get the car sideways. The firm ride can make it tricky to live with, and they’re pricey on the used market with prices starting at around £25,000, but very few hatchbacks drive this well.

8. Porsche 718 Cayman

  • Engine: 2.0-litre four-cylinder (entry level)
  • Power: from 300hp
  • Price: from £48,475

Porsche knows how to make a car handle properly, and the Porsche 718 Cayman is a perfect example. The mid-engined, rear-wheel-drive layout and low weight make it great for hooning around a race track, and the flat-six engine makes a great noise, too.

It wouldn’t make an ideal daily driver, thanks to a firm ride and lack of storage space; but for a weekend blast it’s hard to beat. You can even go for a six-speed manual gearbox if you’d prefer to be more involved in the experience.

9. Tesla Model 3 Performance

  • Engine: Dual electric motors
  • Power: 490hp
  • Price: £59,990

You might not expect to see an electric saloon car make this list, however the Tesla Model 3 Performance may surprise you. It has 490hp from its dual electric motors, and all that power can be sent to the rear wheels at the push of a button.

Combine this with a stability control program which can also be switched off and you have a can that’s actually pretty easy to get sideways. It’s a great car to live with as well thanks to a raft of tech to make driving easier and more comfortable.

10. Audi RS3

  • Engine: 2.5-litre five-cylinder
  • Power : 400hp
  • Price: from £54,655

Fast Audis are well known for their Quattro all-wheel-drive systems providing excellent grip in all weather conditions, and the RS3 hot hatch is no exception. Unlike other Audi RS models though, this one comes with a drift mode.

If you decide that your tyres have a bit too much tread left on them, you can send up to 50% of the engine’s torque to the rear wheels allowing you to have some fun. Once that’s out of your system, the RS3 turns back into a  practical hatchback, albeit one with 400hp.

11. Mazda RX-8

  • Engine: 1.3-litre rotary
  • Power : 231hp
  • Price: from £2,500

The Mazda RX-7 has traditionally been a top choice among drift tuners, but that car is fairly in demand as a modern classic now, with prices reaching up past £20,000. Its successor, the 2003 RX-8, might not have the same sleek, two-door looks, but with a similar lightweight body and free-revving rotary engine, it provides a far more affordable starting point for a drift car.

Do be aware the RX-8’s engine is not famed for its reliability, being hungry for oil and sensitive to correct lubrication levels, while also having a reputation for rotor tips and engine rebuilds. Get a compression test done on any potential purchase, or think of it as a disposable car if you’re not prepared to spend on an engine teardown. All of these things are likely to be forgotten for a moment as you chuck it around a track, holding both your drift, and the 8,3000 rpm red-line…

12. Ford Mustang GT

  • Engine: 5.0-litre V8
  • Power : 450hp
  • Price: from £50,000

Big, American, powerful and rear-wheel-drive, the Mustang GT (GT indicating the 5.0 V8 engine) might not be the most subtle car, but if you’re after something that provides an evocative soundtrack to tail-happy track action, it could be just the ticket.

Ford recently unveiled a new Mustang, and while it will be a little while until that arrives, there’s no reason not to pick up the outgoing version now.

13. Lexus GS300

  • Engine: 3.0-litre straight-six
  • Power : 225hp
  • Price: from £1,500

One look at the GS300 and you might ask what it’s doing on this list, but the clue to that is to be found under the bonnet, where Toyota’s famous 2JZ engine resides. Famed for its smoothness, dependability and tuneability, this engine should stand up to the stresses and strains drifting is likely to put on it.

Plus while some of the cars in this rundown require deep pockets, this generation of GS, introduced in 1997, should provide an attainable starting point into the world of going sideways on track.

14. Caterham 7

  • Engine: 660cc three-cyl to 2.0-litre four-cyl
  • Power : 84-310hp
  • Price: from £29,000

Despite being small, even 20-year-old Caterham 7s start from around £18,000, but the good news is that they hold their money extraordinarily well, so if you buy one, run it as a drift car for a little while and then want to move it on, you should get a fair chunk of your initial investment back – assuming you look after the car, and coddle it after hard drift driving.

Plus if you’re not sure about whether to take the plunge into both drifting and Caterhams, you can try before you buy thanks to Silverstone’s Caterham drift experience.

15. Nissan 300ZX

  • Engine: 3.0 V6
  • Power : 276hp
  • Price: from £12,000

Another Japanese car from the modern classic era, the Nissan 300ZX’s rear-wheel-drive setup and optional manual gearbox makes it a decent choice for those after a slice of early 1990s nostalgia as well as drifting.

There aren’t too many ZX available on the used market, but hunt around and you could bag one of these handsome twin-turbo V6 coupes.

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