What is the best sports car for the money?
Sports cars are all about the experience. The way they connect you to the road, deliver driving thrills and charm you is what they’re all about.
Some sports cars are tailored for the purist. They have rear-wheel drive, a manual gearbox and a naturally-aspirated engine. For example, the Porsche 911 Carrera manual is a delightful purist’s choice. Other sports cars are tailored for outright performance. They might have all-wheel drive, a dual-clutch automatic gearbox and a supremely powerful twin-turbo engine. For example, the Porsche 911 Turbo S PDK.
Being able to afford a sports car is, of course, a privilege. If you can, then you’re spoilt for choice with plenty of exceptional cars to choose from. Whether you’re looking for something stupendously fast or remarkably capable for weekend B-road blasts, there’s a car out there for you. In this article, we’ll recommend six models which we believe are the best sports cars in their price brackets. Enjoy!
Price: £18k+ new
If you’ve never driven one, you won’t understand why we’ve recommended it. But rest assured, the MX-5 is arguably the best driver’s car on our list.
The combination of a naturally-aspirated engine, manual gearbox and rear-wheel drive is proven to thrill. Add to that a 50:50 weight distribution and a kerb weight of no more than 1,100kg, and you have what some would call motoring perfection.
The Mazda MX-5 offers all these, with 1.5 and 2.0-litre engine options and both roadster (soft-top) and RF (hard-top) versions available. It isn’t the fastest in a straight line but go hit some B-roads, and you’ll be hard-pushed to have more fun in anything else.
Abarth 124 Spider
Price: £30k+ new
The Abarth 124 Spider is a tuned version of the Fiat 124 Spider. With a manual gearbox, RWD, LSD and 170bhp, it ticks all the right boxes as a sports car.
Abarth are well-known for their performance cars. They take Fiat’s models and extensively modify them into enjoyable driving machines. The Abarth 124 Spider is a prime example of when this form of arrangement works perfectly.
The Fiat 124 which this car is based on is in turn based on the Mazda MX-5. It just turns everything up. The 1.4L turbocharged petrol engine kicks out 170bhp. Power is sent to the rear wheels through an uprated manual gearbox and tamed by a limited-slip differential.
Price: £45k+ new
BMW’s baby M-car is perhaps its best. Perfectly balanced handling, a 3.0 straight-six engine and the option of a manual or DCT gearbox make this a top pick.
Muscular styling and bespoke seats separate the M2 from the popular M235i. Far from simply bringing a power upgrade to the table, however, the M2 boasts arguably the finest suspension of any M-car and really delivers on performance.
Available with a manual or DCT transmission, the M2 is powered by a 3.0-litre, twin-turbocharged straight-six engine. It kicks out 365bhp which is sent to the rear wheels. Add to that perfectly weighted steering and a mechanical LSD, and you’ve got motoring heaven.
Jaguar F-Type V6 S
Price: £60k+ new
Is there a more beautiful 2-door sports car on the road? The Jaguar F-Type is a future classic and is powered by an immense V6 turbocharged engine.
The Jaguar F-Type V6 S sits in the middle of F-Type the range, but it’s our pick of the bunch. It’s over £25k cheaper than the V8 and feels just as ferocious in the real world. It kicks out 375bhp from its 3.0 supercharged V6 engine and a whole lot of character to match.
It’s also gorgeous. Absolutely gorgeous. Plus, it’s got a bigger boot than most other 2-door sports cars - including the Porsche 911, making it an excellent tourer. Huge amounts of grip and a finely balanced chassis complete the package.
Porsche 911 Carrera 4S Coupe
Price: £90k+ new
This is our favourite non-turbo 911. It has AWD yet boasts the balance of its RWD cousin. It’s faster and more capable too. What’s not to love?
The Porsche 911 Carrera 4S Coupe is a rare sports car. Very few 911’s sold have this specification. Which is great news because it means you can drive what is, in our opinion, the finest 911 on sale with a decent level of exclusivity.
Powered by a 3.0-litre flat-six engine with 414bhp and 500Nm of torque, the 911 Carrera 4S Coupe is immensely fast. AWD grip guarantees a perfect launch and as with all 911’s, you’re buying into a sports car with perfect handling. It’s a dream to drive.
Price: £155k+ new
It’s got a thumping V10 engine, the option of RWD or AWD and looks to die for. Is there a better sports car, or baby supercar, on the market today?
The Lamborghini Huracan is a Holy Grail sports car for many people. It’s available as a Coupe or Spyder and is built for sheer fun. It delivers best-in-class handling, load transfer, wheel control, steering feel and a whole lot of power to enjoy.
How much power? Its 5.2-litre naturally-aspirated V10 petrol engine produces over 600bhp. There’s also the Huracan Performante available, which produces 631bhp. 0-62mph happens in just 3.2 seconds and the Huracan maxes out at a staggering 202mph.