Every gearhead has a list in their head the length of their arm of every dream car they'd love to own with an infinite budget, and if we ticked each one off of the list, we would likely end up with a collection that would rival even Jay Leno's. Reality soon snaps in though, as most of us can only budget the funds or space to own one car – with the luckier ones among us having the opportunity to add a second.

If you are restricted to just one car though, you'd better do what you can to make sure you pick a performance car that offers a memorable drive - after all, you're going to be driving it everywhere for all sorts of purposes, so you may as well enjoy yourself every time you step behind the wheel.

Don't worry if you can't think of the perfect all-rounder, we've compiled a great list of scintillating contenders that will suit both individuals and families; there's something for everyone here, and all are available within a reasonable budget too - which would you take home, given the choice?

FN2 Honda Civic Type R

The Honda Civic Type R seems like a very reasonable starting point if you're after an everyday car with a great driving experience – these naturally aspirated hot-hatchbacks have been impressing everyday folk for decades now, and the FN2 is one of the best bargains available at the minute.

The FN2 shares the same K20 inline-4 that was found in the previous generation EP3, which is a 2.0-liter lump that generates 197 horsepower, so it's no slouch that's for sure. Being naturally aspirated, the Honda delivers its power in a refined and linear fashion, which is a pleasant contrast from the driving experiences you can find in all the turbocharged competition that rivaled the FN2. It may not be the most popular generation of Civic Type R, but we think the FN2 is hugely underrated and they off a superb driving experience, whilst still delivering everything else that a practical everyday car requires.

MK2 Volkswagen Golf GTI

As great as the Honda is, we can't discuss hot-hatchbacks without paying close attention to the Golf GTI. The MK1 is a little bit too classic to truly be considered a great everyday car; however, we feel the MK2 has enough creature comforts and is a bit chunkier, so can be considered a reasonably sensible daily.

A nice example of the MK2 can be had for around $10,000, and that's the 16V version too, which delivers just shy of 130 horsepower, and that's enough to shift this lightweight hatchback from 0 to 60mph in only 9 seconds - pretty impressive for an everyday car of the era. A classic Golf GTI like this handles superbly, especially when in great condition - couple that with a retro interior and everybody smiling at your epic ride, and that's sure to provide some pretty unforgettable moments.

Related: 10 Things We Love About The Volkswagen Golf GTI

Unforgettable Daily - B5 Audi S4 Avant

The previous two suggestions would definitely make for interesting and engaging drives, but it's time to add a little boost to this article – and what better way than by strapping a pair of twin-scroll turbochargers to a V6 motor, and cramming it over the front wheels of this handsome S4 Avant!

That alone should tell you that this handsome wagon will make for an unforgettable everyday car, so let's focus on the other part of the brief now – 'every day'. This Audi has famed reliability, a dependable Quattro all-wheel drive system, space for 5 occupants, and a great big boot for the dog, shopping, and even the kitchen sink. Could this modern classic autobahn-stormer be the perfect everyday car?

Abarth 124 Spider

The Audi then makes perfect sense if you don't mind an older car, and if you've got a family – but what if you're a single guy or gal who wants something a little more up-to-date? If that describes you, then we can happily recommend this – the Abarth 124 spider.

It's not the quickest sports car on the market, nor is it the prettiest or best equipped, but it has more character than most of its modern rivals. The quad-pipe exhausts somehow make this 170-horsepower inline-4 sound like a fire-breathing race car, and looking down across that matte black bonnet will make you feel like you're in one too.

There's nothing else on the market that can deliver such a sense of occasion from an entry-level sports car; so if you're lucky enough to consider a two-seater as an everyday car you should definitely be eyeing up one of these.

Toyota GR86

Gearheads across the globe will be more than familiar with the previous generation Toyota GT86, now that it's been around for over 10 years and has established itself as a truly sorted everyday sports car – delivering just shy of 200 horsepower, a decent specification and a handsome exterior for very reasonable money. Well, it's recently been replaced, and we think we love the GR86 even more than its uber-successful predecessor.

The GR86 is setup from the factory to have tail-happy handling characteristics, which makes it the perfect candidate for some drifting fun – plus the engine size has been increased to a 2.4-liter boxer engine now, with no torque dip (an annoying issue that plagued the GT86). The price for all this fun? Just $28,400 – that's a whole lot of car for the money, and it sounds like it'll be nothing but driving bliss.

Related: Find Out How The Toyota GR86 Holds Up After A Year Of Use And Abuse

Mercedes-Benz SLK 230

Let's swing back to those of you that are after a proper sports car for the everyday commute, and this time, we will consider a modern classic – one that has flown pretty under the radar in car communities. That's right – the SLK 230 has largely been ignored by gearheads since it launched in the mid-late 1990s, and we struggle to understand why there isn't more love for this 197 horsepower 2.3-liter supercharged drop-top.

There's plenty of naturally aspirated opposition, like the 3.2-liter Audi TT 8N or the 986 Boxster 3.2 S; however, we think this supercharged option has a unique charm all of its own. The whine is subtle but enjoyable, and nobody will expect this dinky little convertible to storm away from the lights quite as quickly as these do - all of which leads to quite an enjoyable, and certainly memorable driving experience.

BMW E46 M3

Let's get serious about this now and take a look at one of the most revered performance cars of the 21st century – a car that is widely accepted as one of, if not the best M cars ever produced.

That's right – the E46 M3 has developed a monumental admiration and following in the car community, especially in recent years, which has really helped boost prices somewhat, and it's not hard to see why. The 343 horsepower straight-six motor is silky smooth and sounds incredible at full chat, power is of course sent through the rear wheels and the manual transmission is slick and satisfying to use. So, if all you care about from your everyday car is getting a sensational drive, then look no further, you've found your perfect one-car garage.

BBR-Tuned Mazda Miata

Since we are on the topic of globally-admired sports and performance cars, it feels right to next consider the single most successful two-seater sports car in history; not just any iteration of the Miata though, but a BBR-tuned example.

The stock Miata is fine, but it's not what you'd consider to be unforgettable though. Tuning company BBR can solve that for you though, with its wide range of tuning and turbo kits. The company's stage two kit supposedly adding a whopping 144 horsepower over the standard model, meaning a 300 horsepower plus Miata.

Get ready to shock just about everybody in one of these, and be prepared to wear a grin 24/7 with such a fun car on your driveway!

Related: 10 Best Mazda MX-5 Miata Models You Need To Consider

Volkswagen Passat W8

Just before we finish up, let's have a little dose of sensible, or at least what appears to be a sensible choice. The Volkswagen Passat is neither a dream car nor a performance car – it's just a very bland commuter car with high reliability and impressive practicality. However, someone on the technical team must've gone a little crazy and proposed a W8 version at some point. What's even crazier is that the board approved it, and thus one of the craziest and unsuspected factory sleepers of the 2000s was born.

We're talking about a 275-horsepower, all-wheel drive Volkswagen Passat with a six-speed manual transmission and a luxurious leather interior too. That sounds like a pretty sweet daily to us! Plus you'll still benefit from a comfortable ride and space for your family, and it's totally inconspicuous too. We think it'll make for a very memorable ownership experience indeed.

Toyota GR Yaris

We simply couldn't leave out the GR Yaris from this article – this rally-arched turbocharged hatchback has diminutive proportions, a wild amount of power, and delivers an awesome driving experience; we think it's the closest you can get to a modern-day Lancia Delta Integrale.

Almost every motoring news outlet in the world gave it rave reviews when it first launched, and it was pretty much defined as a future classic the second it was released - sparking huge demand for second-hand examples, as main dealer supply just could not keep up with desired orders from eager wannabe customers.

Sadly, this homologation special wasn't released to the American market, but the GR Corolla is on the way, and we suspect it'll be every bit as memorable to drive as this angry little hatchback.

2023-06-01T19:37:56Z dg43tfdfdgfd