To test our sub-$30,000 speedsters, we put them through an even more rigorous set of tests than we usually use in our Challenges:
- We spent one day at the Byron, Ill., Dragway to get zero-to-60-mph times and quarter-mile times and speeds; we also captured 60-mph-to-zero braking distances there.
- We spent one day at the Autobahn Country Club in Joliet, Ill., where the experts put the cars through a long day on the road course there.
- We took all eight on a mileage drive of more than 200 miles to judge real-world fuel economy.
- The experts drove all eight over the same course, back-to-back, to judge real-world ride and handling, acceleration and braking.
- And then we brought in a real-life car shopper, Joe Weiss, a 38-year-old quality assurance manager from Chicago who’s in the market for just such a car for himself and his fiancee.