Rally cars are specially built for taking on tough terrain, from dirt stages to snow stages, and just about every surface in between. So, they are not exactly the best cars for daily driving in the city. However, there are some rally cars that function well as daily drivers.
The 10 best daily drive rally cars are:
- Subaru WRX STI
- Subaru Impreza
- Ford Fiesta
- Mitsubishi Lancer Evo
- Hyundai Veloster N
- Audi S1
- Audi Quattro
- Mini Cooper
- Subaru BRZ / Toyota GT86
- BMW E36 – 3 Series
These cars are well known in the world of rallying, but you can still load your groceries into the back. All of these cars can be modified to your liking to make them as rally ready as you feel fit, while still functioning well as a daily driver too.
What Makes A Good Daily Drive Car?
A daily drive car is simply meant to be practical and reliable. You don’t necessarily need speed, power and good looks. It’s just important that a daily car can be counted on to get you from point A to point B. They also need to be reasonably priced and have low maintenance costs, which ties in with the practicality aspect of things.
Practicality in cars can take different forms. For some people, practicality means having enough space for luggage or your groceries. For others practicality means having a car that is easy to drive and does not give you a hard time in traffic.
Daily cars also need to be reliable. The last thing you want is for your car to break down when you need it most. This also counts for maintenance. A car that requires regular and expensive maintenance will be a poor choice for a car you need to use every day.
What Makes A Good Rally Car?
Rally cars are all about performance. They need to be fast and powerful. However, power isn’t everything. Rally cars also need to be agile with fantastic handling and sharp braking. These factors are crucial in rally cars, but it goes further than just speed, power, agility and braking force.
Rally cars take huge hits over the course of a stage. Rally courses naturally involve driving off road at high speeds, and this means that there is always the possibility of the car hitting things like rocks and general debris. Rally cars need to be able to withstand these impacts and still perform perfectly afterwards.
The Criteria For Our List
We need to take these factors into account when considering our list of best daily rally cars. The cars need to be reliable, practical, fast, and durable. In addition, the cars also need to be relatively affordable if they are going to be good daily drivers as well.
On this list we will be looking at the stock option cars. Modifications and car kits are optional extras. Some modifications are purely cosmetic and will make your car look more like a rally car. Others can be performance based and include rally options such as fitting off road tires, raising the ride height and tuning the engine for extra performance.
We have tried to include cars that have a large aftermarket support network. This means that there are a lot of modification options available for the specific model or manufacturer. These can be available from the manufacturer themselves or even from third party businesses.
The cars that we chose for this list had to have some form of racing pedigree. Whether it is the exact model or the manufacturer, they need to have somewhat of a proven track record in the world of motorsport in order to go down as a good rally car, while this usually also means they are well respected in the world of road cars too.
The 10 Best Daily Drive Rally Cars
1. Subaru WRX STI
The Subaru WRX STI models are the modern upgrade of the extremely successful Impreza rally car. Even with their base models, these cars look like mean rally cars. However, there is also a huge aftermarket support network. Tons of modifications are available for these models, both cosmetic and performance based.
Subaru is one of the most well-known rally car brands. With the racing pedigree that they have, even the stock option road cars look like rally cars. These models are also offered in the famous Subaru rally blue, for the ultimate in rally aesthetics. A Subaru WRX STI will set you back around $37,000, which is not necessarily cheap but also not too expensive.
2. Subaru Impreza
The Subaru Impreza is probably one of the most famous rally cars ever. To many WRC fans there is a huge sense of nostalgia attached to seeing the Impreza in Rally Blue. Subaru has released new models of the Impreza, however the 2000’s models are the best for daily drive rally cars.
Not only will you have a piece of iconic rally history with this car, but you will also have practicality and reliability. On top of that, the Subaru Impreza is a head turner, as every model of the Impreza is a good-looking car.
The new Subaru Impreza sells for around $18,000. However, if you want the iconic rally car you can find it for between $4000 and $10,000 depending on the condition and the model of the car. Just like the WRX, there is a massive aftermarket support network for the Impreza too, which makes modifying it much easier.
3. Ford Fiesta
The Ford Fiesta is a lightweight hatchback. These cars are quick and nimble which is perfect for rally stages. The only downside to these is that they do have a low ride height which makes their ground clearance a slight problem for some stages.
The Fiesta does have a history in the WRC, and it has seen some reasonable success in recent years. However, the Fiesta has a much shorter history in the sport than others such as Subaru. Despite this, the Fiesta is still a great rally car.
They have enough space for your passengers and luggage and groceries, meaning it can be a practical car as well. However, the larger Ford Focus could be another option for you if you need even more space. A Ford Fiesta will cost you around $13,000, which makes it one of the cheapest options on our list.
4. Mitsubishi Lancer Evo
The Mitsubishi Evo has been an extremely popular car for many years, and it became famous for its rivalry with the Subaru Impreza. This was a fight that carried on for around 10 years between the two rally giants, so it’s another one steeped in history.
The Evo is built with a clever all-wheel drive system that can send varying amounts of power to each wheel. It has a reputation for being much faster than most people think, often taking on the likes of supercars such as Porches and holding its own.
The downsides to the Evo are that it is slightly less practical, and it has some higher maintenance costs. However, if you are looking for an out-and-out rally car, this will be your best option at around $35,000. It is also quite a large car, making it good for those with families – or just a lot of groceries!
5. Hyundai Veloster N
Hyundai is still fairly new to the rally world. Their short history in the WRC spans back to the year 2000. The team runs the small i20 hatchback in the WRC. As this model is not available in the USA, the Veloster is the next best thing.
The Veloster has been extremely popular. Its speed and agility make it a decent rallying car. It also features a good amount of space to make it practical enough for everyday use. The aftermarket support is not as good as the rest of the cars on this list though, but this won’t matter unless you really want to make a lot of modifications.
The Hyundai Veloster costs around $25,000. The N edition (the top of the range model) won the Road and Track Performance car of the year in 2019. It is still very new to the market, so there are not many affordable second-hand models available just yet. However, it could be one to keep an eye out for in years to come.
6. Audi S1
If you see the Audi S1 on the road you might not think of it as a rally car. However, once you see it take on a rally stage for the first time, you will really understand its potential. Throw on a few modifications and raise the ride height and you have a rallying machine that can take on the best of the best.
On top of that, Audi has a rich rallying history with the Quattro being an extremely successful rally car in the 80’s. However, Audi have moved away from the WRC as most of their new cars are too heavy for fast paced off-roading.
But the arrival of the S1 has changed that, with a compact and lightweight model that is fast and agile. The Audi S1 costs around $35,000 and features decent aftermarket support. You can also find numerous second-hand/first generation models.
7. Audi Quattro
The Audi Quattro might be from the 80’s, but it is still an incredible piece of machinery. Its stint in the WRC solidified it as a legendary car in the sport. If you are looking for an iconic rally car, this will be perfect for you.
Its age does mean that it might lack in the reliability department. However, it certainly does not lack speed and power. An Audi Quattro model in good condition will come with a hefty price tag of over $100,000.
However, you may be able to find some second-hand models that can be rebuilt for a fraction of the price if you look far and wide enough, so don’t be put off by the extra zeros.
8. Mini Cooper
The Mini Cooper might not seem like a rally car, but there are many modification packages out there that can make it an excellent rally car indeed. Again, its appearance in Rallycross is an excellent example of this. The Mini Cooper, even in its base model, is an extremely popular car all over the world.
Driving a Mini is often described as driving a go kart. It is quick, nimble, and easy to control at high speeds. It is also relatively practical as an everyday car. The base model Mini Cooper costs around $24,000. There is even a 4-door model if you need the extra space.
9. Subaru BRZ / Toyota GT86
The Subaru BRZ and Toyota GT86 are very similar cars. Both are equally good and are in a similar price range. These cars have excellent handling, but the downside is that they do lack some power and speed when compared to the earlier cars on this list.
Another downside to these two cars is that there is not that much space available for storage. It is a two-door car with a small trunk, making it a bit less practical than most people would like.
The Subaru BRZ will cost around $28,000 and the Toyota GT86 will cost about $1000 more. The choice here is more personal preference in terms of the brand you prefer. Both cars are pretty equal in looks and performance, so it all comes down to which one you prefer.
10. BMW E36 – 3 Series
The BMW E36 was an extremely popular rally car back in its day. It is a fantastic machine which is really fast and reliable. It also offers space for your passengers and luggage with a spacious backseat and trunk.
BMW has a large aftermarket support network for this model specifically. With the popularity of this car skyrocketing, many aftermarket parts and packages are available. A BMW E36 will cost you around $6500 depending on the condition of the car.
There are lots of brands out there offering models of car that would look good on a rally track while still performing well on your local roads too. Some of the biggest names in motorsport have options that will set good times at any rally stage, while also allowing you to fit your shopping in the back too. Our pick for the best daily drive rally car is the Subaru WRX STI hatchback.