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Updated by John Huh on Nov 08, 2015
Headline for Top 10 Tuner Sport Compacts
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John Huh John Huh
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Top 10 Tuner Sport Compacts

The sport compact has always been a special segment of the modified automotive world, with smaller displacement engines and an emphasis on power to weight ratio. Love them or hate them, sport compacts and imports have powered the industry of the aftermarket to where it is today. After all, not everyone can afford a supercar and the increasingly rising fuel prices make tuner sport compacts very attractive.

4

Mazda Miata

Mazda Miata

An incredible handling open top roadster, the Mazda Miata has shined as an excellent tuner Sport Compact car since it's first model. Turbo kits are very popular with the DOHC 1.6 and 1.8 liter engines, and are capable of handling upwards of 400 horsepower on stock internals. That's tough.

Many people also check into swapping a 5.7 liter LS1 into a Miata, which is a tad harder than some other swaps. For a guide on swapping the LS1 and other related articles, make sure to check out My Pro Street.

1

Volkswagen GTI

Volkswagen GTI

The popular performance trim for Volkswagen has a large community and the strength and flexibility of the 1.8 liter turbo engine. This engine specification has powered multiple generations of Volkswagen GTI's, whether Golf, Jetta or Rabbit.

Culminating in their newest 1.8 liter, the EA888 engine that's rated at 170 horsepower out of the box, it's asking to be tuned with an iron block.

2

Nissan Sentra SE-R

Nissan Sentra SE-R

Nissan's popular sedan found success in both autocross and road race tracks, and later models received the robust QR25DE engine. The modern engine has a great range and potential for tunable horsepower, making it a great option.

Early models have an excellent chassis and with the right engine swap can be deadly. The later Sentras have evolved, ditching the truck based 2.4 liter KA engine and SR engines in favor of a larger displacement engine with modern coil-on plug technology and electronic drive-by-wire control.

3

Scion TC

Scion TC

Solid chassis design and superb handling characteristics, the Scion tC is an incredible Tuner Sport Compact car. The 2AZ-FE powerplant offers a flat range and wide powerband, and the installation of a aftermarket coilover kit can really take your Scion tC handling to the next level.

5

Honda Civic

Honda Civic

No doubt the icon of tuner sport compacts and import cars, the Honda Civic is responsible for a large part of the tuner movement in the mid 90s. Engine swaps for the earlier Hondas are easy and straightforward when you use our How To Honda Swap guide, which makes the Honda Civic is a Top 10 Tuner Sport Compact.

Swapping a larger engine like the 1.8 liter DOHC engines found in the Acura Integra make earlier model Honda Civics lightweight all motor track machines. Turbocharged engines with the proper tuning and fuel delivery make potent street machines that can fully utilize the power that a turbo can deliver with Honda's VTEC system.

With the announcement of the all new Honda Civic Type R which will feature Honda's new Earth Dreams 2.0 liter turbocharged engine, makes the Honda Civic one of the very best tuner sport compacts on this list.

6

Acura Integra

Acura Integra

One of the most imported vehicles into the United States, the Acura Integra was Honda's flagship tuner car that allowed turbo fans to produce staggering horsepower numbers for a four cylinder engine. Superb chassis and engine technology that was far ahead of it's time, the Acura Integra deserves it's placement on the Top 10 Tuner Sport Compacts.

Sky high redline and advanced variable technology make this import sport compact still a very attractive option. Building a LS VTEC is another affordable way to make your own VTEC GSR Integra.

7

Subaru WRX

Subaru WRX

The WRX and STI are only this low on this chart because of high price tag and size, but there's no way you can have a Top Ten Tuner Sport Compact list without adding the rally inspired sedan. Turbocharged boxer power delivers torque and top end performance to Subaru's AWD system.

The 2.0 liter and 2.5 liter EJ engines are stout and can handle the abuse that many sport compact tuners can dish out. Subaru's roots in rally racing makes sure that your AWD system can deliver in the harshest of conditions.

8

Mitsubishi Evolution

Mitsubishi Evolution

Barely edging out the Subaru, the Evolution offered the world's best AWD system and a remarkably stout engine in the 4G63. With over 500 horsepower on tap with just a few bolt on modifications and tuning, the Mitsubishi Evolution is easily one of the top Tuner Sport Compacts of all time.

Unfortunately the lack of consumer faith in the brand suffered from crankwalk and other incidents led to the Evolution being discontinued. It's an undeserving end for an excellent car rich with heritage and rally race championships.

9

Mitsubishi Eclipse

Mitsubishi Eclipse

The first and second generations of this turbocharged coupe were far ahead of their time. The first generation of AWD 4G63 turbocharged performance could net you sub 12 second quarter mile passes with under 1000 dollars in modification.

Because it's AWD this performance is consistently repeatable and doesn't require special tires to make a clean pass. While some engineering issues plagued the second generation of Eclipse leading to excessive crank runout, there's no doubting the Mitsubishi Eclipse's place on the Top Ten tuner sport compacts list.

10

Honda S2000

Honda S2000

Silky smooth and excellent at everything outside of trunk space, the Honda S2000 is a street legal track machine that's ready to power through the turns and not afraid to push the limits. The VTEC system found in the 2.0 liter and 2.2 liter F20 and F22C give the S2000 a 9000 RPM redline and plenty of grip even in factory form.

Designed from the ground up to be a track terror, the Honda S2000 combines excellent horsepower, flexibility and style to lead in the Top 10 Tuner Sport Compacts. There's rumors of the S2000 returning, and this time possibly turbo? Could it use the Honda Earth Dreams line of turbocharged engines that will be found in the new Honda Civic Type R?

What did you think about our Top 10 countdown of tuner sport compact cars? Looking for the best modifiable car or the best car to mod? Head over to My Pro Street for more articles on everything automotive.