10 of the Cheapest New Cars With a Manual Transmission in 2023

Row your own gears without breaking the bank

Sami Haj-Assaad | 
Jul 5, 2023 | 5 min read

Composition image of 2023 Subaru BRZ and close up of BRZ manual transmission Subaru

The manual transmission is a rarity these days, found primarily in low-cost or enthusiast-focused models. We're focusing on the affordable ones, some of which also fall into the latter camp.

2023 Honda Civic Si driving on country roadHonda

2023 Honda Civic Si: $30,000

This sporty compact Honda Civic Si is available only with a six-speed manual, paired to a 200-hp turbo 1.5-liter four-cylinder. The transmission sends the engine's 192 lb-ft of torque exclusively to the front wheels. Drivers might appreciate the gearbox's rev-matching feature, while those who want to practice making perfect shifts can leave it turned off. It's a fun car to drive, albeit not as efficient as Civics with an automatic transmission: The Si returns 31 mpg, while less powerful models equipped with continuously variable automatic transmissions see up to 36 mpg.

2023 Toyota GR86 in orangeToyota

2023 Toyota GR86 $29,000/Subaru BRZ: $30,000

The Toyota GR86 and Subaru BRZ are a pair of sports cars that feature a front-engine, rear-wheel-drive layout and a standard six-speed stick. Though their exterior styling is different, they are mechanically identical. Motivating these coupes is a 2.4-liter flat-four — an engine configuration prized for its low center of gravity. It puts out 228 ponies and 184 lb-ft of torque, which is enough power and grunt to make these sub-2,900-pound sporty cars feel agile, speedy, and fun.

2023 Mazda MX-5 Miata driving by beach with top downMazda

2023 Mazda MX-5 Miata: $29,000

Affordable, lightweight, and spry, the rear-drive Mazda MX-5 Miata has long been a favorite of enthusiasts and track rats. Every Miata's top comes off, making it a perfect choice for shoppers who want to enjoy the sunshine while they drive. Whether you choose the soft top or the $38,000 retractable hard top, you'll get a 181-hp 2.0-liter four-cylinder and a six-speed manual transmission as standard equipment.

2023 Chevrolet Camaro driving inside warehouseChevrolet

2023 Chevrolet Camaro: $28,000

The Chevrolet Camaro is available in coupe or convertible form with a four-, six-, or eight-cylinder engine — all of which come standard with a stick shift. The most affordable combo is the four-cylinder coupe. It makes 275 horsepower and 295 lb-ft of torque and has a couple sweet features to make manual life easier, including hill-hold assist to keep the car from rolling backward when stopped on an incline and wireless Android Auto and Apple CarPlay compatibility to ensure cables won't get in the way of the shifter.

2024 Mini Cooper two door driving on roadMini

2024 Mini Cooper: $27,000

While the two-door Mini Cooper's base turbocharged 1.5-liter three-cylinder offers just 134 horsepower and 162 lb-ft of torque, the subcompact's low curb weight, short wheelbase, and six-speed stick make it a joy to drive. Buyers can also upgrade to the S or John Cooper Works model, which pairs the manual with a 189-hp or 228-hp turbo 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine, respectively. The former powertrain (and the base setup) are available in the four-door hardtop as well. Keep in mind that the S and JCW models also noticeably increase the starting price.

2023 Kia Forte GT parked on blacktop roadKia

2023 Kia Forte: $26,000

Rather than offer a manual transmission at the base level as other automakers do, Kia reserves the stick for the top trim of the Forte range. The GT Manual uses a 201-hp turbocharged 1.6-liter four-cylinder and doesn't skimp on features. The interior boasts a 10.3-inch infotainment screen, heated front seats, a wireless phone-charging pad, and a Harman Kardon premium sound system.

2023 Subaru Crosstrek driving on snowSubaru

2023 Subaru Crosstrek: $25,000

If you want an affordable vehicle with a manual transmission and off-road capability, look no further than the all-wheel-drive Subaru Crosstrek. Its 8.7 inches of ground clearance ensure you can tackle trails with ease. Shoppers should look at the base or Premium trim levels to get the six-speed, which mates exclusively to a 152-hp 2.0-liter flat-four. They'll sacrifice a few miles per gallon, but they'll enjoy a more engaging driving experience in this subcompact crossover.

two 2023 Volkswagen Jettas parked, one red one blueVolkswagen

2023 Volkswagen Jetta: $22,000

Want a budget-friendly German sedan with a manual gearbox? Volkswagen offers one in the Jetta with a turbo 1.5-liter four-cylinder that puts out 158 horsepower and 184 lb-ft of torque. It's nearly as efficient as the automatic (34 mpg versus 35), and it comes with a few desirable features, like blind-spot monitoring and an 8.0-inch digital instrument cluster.

2023 Subaru Impreza hatchback parked in garageSubaru

2023 Subaru Impreza: $21,000

If you love manual transmission Subies but don't need as much ground clearance as the Crosstrek, consider the Impreza sedan or the slightly more expensive hatchback. Both are cheaper than the crossover, despite using the same 152-hp 2.0-liter flat-four, though their manual transmissions feature five gears instead of six. Thus equipped, these compact cars achieve EPA ratings in the mid-20 mpg.

2023 Nissan Versa in red parked in front of concrete building.Nissan

2023 Nissan Versa: $17,000

The Nissan Versa is the cheapest new car on the market, and it comes standard with a five-speed manual. The 1.6-liter four-cylinder makes just 122 horsepower and 114 lb-ft of torque, and there are few amenities on the base model. For instance, it lacks Android Auto and Apple CarPlay support. That tech is offered with the automatic but not the manual. The manual Versa is at least fuel efficient, seeing 30 mpg, although that's 5 mpg less than what the automatic car is EPA-estimated to get.

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Sami Haj-Assaad

Sami Haj-Assaad is an award-winning automotive journalist who has contributed to several automotive, electric vehicle, luxury lifestyle, and technology publications. His work isn't just limited to the written word, as he's also hosted YouTube videos and podcasts. Having grown up in the '90s, he has a strong sense of attachment to that era's style, though he also loves to geek out about the modern, futuristic tech and powertrains rolling out today.