Almost everyone can appreciate an attractive sports car. What we don’t like is the exorbitant price tag that comes with them. Living life in the fast lane doesn’t need to break your bank, though. There are a number of vehicles in the USA that are stylish, sporty, and affordable such as the Subaru BRZ, Mazda Miata MX-5, and Honda Civic Si Coupe. And while Porsche and BMW owners may look down their noses at you for owning one of these budget speedsters, they can’t deny that you’re probably having just as much fun as them, while working half as hard.
Here are five of the most affordable sports cars on sale right now, in ascending MSRP:
1. Honda Civic Si Coupe
Unfortunately, the cheapest way to get into the motoring scene has been discontinued, but there are plenty of 2020 models still available, and buying them used means an even bigger discount. Based on the popular Civic Sedan, the Si Coupe is a remarkably practical daily car. It has a lot of cargo capacity and usable rear seats, but it also gets a punchy turbocharged four-pot engine and an engaging six-speed manual transmission.
At this mid-$20k mark, when purchased new, the Civic is a real bargain. Sure, it doesn’t have the roaring V6 of a Dodge, but it handles extremely well, and its Honda build quality means it can handle wear and tear without letting you down. And, when it comes time to replace a few parts, you won’t have trouble finding or affording them.
2. Mazda Miata MX-5
An icon in the sports car scene, the MX-5 has unmistakable styling that appeals to motorists of all ages. It’s a simple but sexy roadster with a soft-top roof and seating for up to two passengers. Sure it lacks practicality, since there is no back seat and the trunk is an absolute joke, but it wasn’t designed to make sense. It is all about fun, and it does what it was meant to do extremely well.
Lacking a turbocharger, the four-pot under the hood still delivers a decent 181 horsepower. This doesn’t sound like much, but the MX-5 is not a heavy car, and it makes masterful use of every last ounce of power. And, while an automatic is available, the manual gearbox is the way to go if you have any sense. Combined with expert handling, this delivers one of the most engaging driving experiences available at any price, let alone under the $30k mark.
3. Ford Mustang Coupe
When it comes to power on a budget, American muscle is a great way to go. The Ford Mustang has an excellent lineage, and the latest rendition has all the style and presence to live up to that reputation. In its most affordable guise, it is powered by a turbocharged four-cylinder engine, but don’t let that fool you. It still has 320 hp and 650 lb-ft on tap to make the straight-line 0 to 60 mph sprint in around 4.5 seconds.
While old muscle cars may have been dragsters, the modern Mustang is more of a driver’s car. It can play with corners without losing its footing. Though it lacks the soundtrack of its V8-powered brethren, it arguably handles better, making a true sports car rather than just a roaring beast in a straight line.
4. Subaru BRZ
The BRZ has always been one of the go-to names in the street racing scene. It’s a rear-wheel-drive sports car that oozes urban style and packs a pretty decent punch, too, thanks to its boxer-four engine. The small footprint and sleek profile make it a great car for flinging around corners, but it emphasizes performance over practicality. In other words, the rear seats and trunk are mostly for show.
Still, it can be had with either a manual or automatic transmission, and it still makes for a great commuter when you aren’t out playing. It even has some driver-assist features in place if you want to simply enjoy cruising, but they can be a bit invasive when you want to test the sexy speedster’s limits.
5. Dodge Challenger
This list could never be complete without some form of Dodge. The coupe-styled challenger is the most thoroughbred of the range, and it is available from mild-mannered SXT all the way through to bat out of SRT Hellcat. Unfortunately, to get access to those diabolic output numbers, you’ll have to lay down around 60 grand. The base model, however, is available for under $30k.
This gets you the starter V6 engine with 303 hp and 268 lb-ft. Sadly, you are stuck with the automatic gearbox until you upgrade to the 372-hp V8, which pushes the dodge out of the highly affordable range. Still, the entry-level SXT can sprint from 0 to 60 mph in 6.5 seconds, which isn’t half bad. Dodge has stuck with the classic muscle car formula here, so while the Challenger looks and sounds like a beast, and it can go pretty fast in a straight line, it doesn’t have the grace to handle corners like most its rivals.