For the price of a Model 3, you can have an economical daily driver and a fun sports car.
Tesla attracted a lot of attention with the promise of an affordable $35,000 model. Over 500,000 people put down a deposit for a Model 3, but Tesla has yet to deliver on its $35,000 car promise. Many people have pulled their deposits, because the cheapest Model 3 on sale right now costs around $45,000. Instead of waiting for the cheaper Model 3, we suggest buying two cars. For less than $45,000, you can afford an economical daily driver, and a fun sport car for weekends.
Our first pair of cars comes from BMW, and combine to serve the same job as the Model 3. A new BMW i3 costs about $45,000, which is around the same as the long range Tesla Model 3. Fortunately, used examples can be purchased for as low as around $14,000, leaving around $31,000 for a fun car. Unfortunately, the original i3 only had an electric range of 73 miles, or 150 miles with the gasoline range extender. The i3 will be fine for people with a short commute to work, and you'll be able to take longer journeys in the next BMW on the list.
The Model 3 is already quite expensive with options, but a more powerful M3-rivaling model is on its way. The Tesla will be incredibly quick with a 3.5-second 0-60 mph time, but it will also cost around $65,000. For around $30,000, you can get the previous generation E90 M3. It may not be as fast or as modern as the Tesla, but the M3 will be much more enjoyable to take on a fun roads thanks to its wonderful 414-hp 4.0-liter V8 engine. The gas mileage may be atrocious, but that's why you'll have the i3 to drive around every day.
This next pair of cars can actually be purchased for less than the cost of the $35,000 base Model 3. The Mitsubishi i-MiEV was a poor seller in the US, likely due to its odd looks and lackluster 62-mile range. Since EV models become out of date quicker than cell phones, used i-MiEV models are now incredibly cheap, as little as around $5,000. It may be no where near as prestigious as the Tesla, but it does allow for plenty of money to spend on a fun car.
Of course, if you buy an i-MiEV for around $5,000, you'll have plenty of cash to spend on any fun sports car you want for the weekends. For the sake of keeping this list organized by automaker, we've chosen the Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution. $25,000 is plenty to buy the last generation of Mitsubishi's sport sedan, the Evo X. The 10th generation Evo produced 296 hp from a 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder, and provided a legendary driving experience.
The first generation Chevy Volt was a revolution for General Motors. It wasn't a fully electric car, but instead relied on a clever gas-electric combination. The wheels were driven by an electric motor with a 35-mile range, but the gas engine could kick in to charge up the batteries. Together, the gas engine and electric motor combined to achieve 95 MPGe in the city and 93 MPGe on the highway. Used first generation Volt models can now be found starting at less than $10,000.
With the rest of the Tesla's $45,000 budget, you can buy a C6 generation Corvette Z06. The C6 Z06 is powered by a 7.0-liter V8 producing 505 hp. Used examples can be found for under $30,000, and offer incredible performance for the money. The gas mileage won't be great with a 7.0-liter V8, but the Volt will make up for it by barely using any gas.
Although these next two cars do not come from the same manufacturer, they are both powered by Toyota engines. It is not often that we recommend the Toyota Prius, but used models can be found for around $6,000. Unlike the Model 3, the Prius does use gas, but it can achieve over 50 mpg. It may be boring to drive, but our next choice will easily make up for it when the Prius starts to suck the life out of you.
The benefit of owning two cars is that one can be a boring commuter like the Prius, while the other one can be a hardcore sports car. For less than $40,000, you can buy a Lotus Evora, which is powered by a Toyota-sourced V6 producing 276 hp. Unfortunately, the more powerful S model isn't available within the budget. If you want to be a bit more extreme, you can opt for the smaller Elise.
The Nissan Leaf was one of the first mass-market EV models in the US. The 84-mile range wasn't that impressive back in 2012, and it is extremely outdated now. That is why used Leaf price start as low as around $6,000. Like the other EVs on this list, the Leaf isn't as pretty, fast, luxurious, or useful as the Model 3.But it is much cheaper, allowing plenty in the budget for a second car.
We could have stuck with something from Nissan, but we decided to include something with a bit more pedigree. With the remaining budget, we'd buy a 997 generation Porsche 911 Carrera S. The Carrera S was powered by a 3.8-liter flat-six producing 355 hp. Of course, the whole point of this list was to show just how many options exist for the same price as the Model 3. Some people may not be able to afford paying insurance and maintenance on two cars, but the money could easily be spent on gas for the fun car. You could spend $55,000 on a well-optioned Tesla, or $35,000 on a fun car with $20,000 to spare for gas.