TopSpeed's 10 Best Entry-Level Sports Cars

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Now that the sedans have been taken care of, we are moving on to something a bit more fun. Sports cars may not be for everybody because of their limited interior space and minimal cargo room, but they do provide an excellent driving experience that most of the other car segments can’t match.

The sports car segment is littered with different makes and models, the terrible and the good, the fun and the not so fun. Luckily, TopSpeed is here to give you a unique look at the sports cars that we love. Like usual, we don’t care about sales or anything of that nature. We are looking for driving experience, comfort, power, handling, interior space, and something very important in the sports car segment, styling.

We have set a price cap of $30,000, which should be enough for any sports car lover. So, hit the jump to see our top ten sports cars.

10) Scion tC

TopSpeed's 10 Best Entry-Level Sports Cars

ThetC is on its way out and there is a new model coming soon. We should have a review up before long, but for now, we are going to keep using the current model. We love the way the car looks from the back, but not so much from the front. The motor is good and the handling is decent, but nothing really stands out here. One plus is that the car can be customized in any way you want. Prices start at $17,000.

9) Chevrolet Camaro

TopSpeed's 10 Best Entry-Level Sports Cars

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The V8 Camaro is a good car, but sadly, the price is higher than our $30,000 cap by a grand. So, all that we can afford to buy is the V6 version and that one just isn’t good enough. The Chevrolet suffers from compromised visibility, a few ergonomic issues, and poor quality in the interior materials. The looks aren’t for everyone and the handling is a bit crude. On the plus side, this car is unique inside and out, so if you want to stand out, this is the car for you. Prices start at $22,680, which is $2,000 cheaper than the Cobalt SS .

8) Hyundai Genesis Coupe

TopSpeed's 10 Best Entry-Level Sports Cars

The Genesis Coupe is really the tale of two transmissions. The manual is good, albeit a bit unrefined, but the automatic is just awful. When we drove it around a track it was slow to downshift and quite hard. That’s a real shame because the motor is pretty good. The Genesis Coupe has sharp handling, a decent ride, capable engines, and a sporty cabin design. The engine doesn’t make a great noise, so we would have liked a better option in terms of stereo performance. Prices start at $22,000.

7) Honda Civic SI

TopSpeed's 10 Best Entry-Level Sports Cars

The SI is getting a bit old at this point and sales have been low. We recently took a trip to a local Honda dealer and they were completely out of stock because they weren’t getting any in, due to slow sales. The engine is strong and revs very high, but it does require premium gas and it can be tough to keep the rpm’s up. The ride is pretty hard and we don’t really like the dashboard design. The six-speed manual shifter feels far away from us, so quick changes are awkward at first. We are looking forward to the redesigned Civic in the next few years. Prices for the SI start at $22,055.

6) Subaru WRX

TopSpeed's 10 Best Entry-Level Sports Cars

The styling of the WRX is a bit controversial. We find it to be a step backwards from the previous generation’s design. That being said, we do like this car on the road. The four-doors help it to be one of the most practical cars on the list and the all-wheel drive handling means that you can take corners at a high rate of speed without problems. That being said, the fuel economy is poor and some of the high tech features are hard to use. Not to mention the price is a bit step, nearly $2,000 more than the Genesis and the Civic. The price starts at $24,995.

5) Nissan 370Z

TopSpeed's 10 Best Entry-Level Sports Cars

The new Z car is a big step up over the old Z car. Yet, this one does suffer from some big problems. The engine noise is bad and really makes high rpm driving not worth it sometimes. There are massive blind spots and the road noise on the highway is deafening. On the plus side, the engines are good and the handling is great. We do like the new rev-match manual, but to be honest, it’s just not needed. Prices for the Nissan 370Z start at $29,930.

4) MazdaSpeed 3

TopSpeed's 10 Best Entry-Level Sports Cars

With a face like this, you know the car is up to no good. We adore the MazdaSpeed 3 , but we would have liked a sedan variant. The fast 3 has strong turbocharged performance, a sophisticated ride and handling, upscale interior, hatchback utility, and a lengthy features list. It does suffer from wicked torque steer, but that’s what you get when you put that much power under the hood of a front-wheel drive car. Prices for the performance version of the 3 start at $23,340, a heck of a deal for a car this good.

3) Mazda MX5 Miata

TopSpeed's 10 Best Entry-Level Sports Cars

There isn’t a car that is quite like theMX5 . It is the quintessential sports car and it’s one of the most fun cars to drive on the market. The engine is peppy and quick, the handling is the best in class and it’s just so darn cute. If you’re tall you won’t fit, but normal people should have no problem. This is a car for a summer’s day, a fall afternoon, or a road trip drive. Just make sure you don’t pack heavy. It might not be a manly car, but those people who are driving trucks because they’re manly aren’t having nearly as much fun as you are. The starting price for the MX5 is $22,960.

2) Ford Mustang

TopSpeed's 10 Best Entry-Level Sports Cars

GM had brought the Camaro out of retirement to take down the Mustang , but not so fast. While GM was busy building the first version of the Camaro, Ford was making the old version better. The V6 Mustang is ’out of this world’ good. You get 300 horsepower and 30 miles per gallon. The interior is retro, but not as hard to use as the Camaro’s. Even the GT 5.0-liter V8 Mustang is in our budget cap. There really isn’t a whole lot wrong with the new Mustang. We would have liked a little more space in the rear, but that really isn’t a huge complaint. Prices for the V6 Mustang are around $22,145, while the GT is $29,645.

1) Volkswagen GTI

TopSpeed's 10 Best Entry-Level Sports Cars

The GTI provides fun and excitement with a load of practicality. It offers hatchback versatility, unmatched interior sophistication, confident handling, a supple ride, and good fuel economy. Not to mention it has a fun turbocharged engine and darn good looks. You can go to the shops in a big hurry, buy a couch, and take it home even faster. There aren’t many sports cars that you can do that with anymore. TheGTI is the perfect drink. A shot of practicality, a shot of adrenaline, a shot of fun, a shot of German build quality, and a half shot of style. This is one all around good car.

The GTI is a car that we would buy in a heartbeat, as well as the Mustang or the MazdaSpeed 3. In a few years this list might change a bit, as a new Civic SI, an updated Camaro, and a new Hyundai sports car might be on the market. As for now, we’ll take the GTI.

Honorable Mentions
- 2010 Dodge Challenger V6
- 2010 Chevrolet Cobalt SS

Up next we have the TopSpeed’s 10 Best Mid-Level Sports Cars.


18 comments:

Hyundai Genesis is so attractive on its picture. smiley Well, I would admit that these vehicles are really deserved to be here, and I also notice that they are offering an awesome package!

I just noticed that Scion tc is looks so cute and very sweet. smiley Anyway, I’m satisfied with the list. These cars are really deserved to be in this category. That’s why it doesn’t matter at all if who is in the number one.

Well, for me, it doesn’t matter if whose on the number one, but these cars are really deserved to be in these lists, and I must say that I’m so impressed with the angst and aggressiveness that these cars had.

These cars only had a simple platform styling and design but well, I still prepared the decency of the Volkswagen GTI. Overall I’m satisfied with this list, I think they were all suited in it.

I’m glad that Hyundai genesis coupe and Honda Civic SI were on the list of the ’10 Best Entry-level sports cars’! Well, I am really a fan of those two cars! smiley

Definitely Ford Mustang is in the category of sports car but if you notice the Scion tC, it’s an odd looking car at all. Is it really part of the list?

haha. funny. what GTI on the number one list?

@Uncia
A Camaro SS unreliable? Where did you get that? It has one of the most reliable engines and haven driven one several times it is very high quality.

@godo fsavages

Appar ently you know nothing about the Cobalt SS. What performance standards has the GTI set? None? The SS has smoked it tremendously on tracks as well as beating WRX STi, Evo X, and a host of other cars considered much better. And all those cars out accelerate it which means, it won because it handles better!
And that Ecotec engine has won many awards and the car is very reliable.

Both of you: To get the SS badge the cars must be raced around a circuit for 24 hours straight without any problem. How many other cars can do that? The 370Z can’t even do 2 laps without losing brakes.

Well the Camaro, Mustang and 370Z are already on top of my list but I think some cars are considerably good too compared to what I already picked.

@godofsavages you think that the GTI is the best built of any of these? You’ve got to be kidding me. Nearly every car on this list is better built than the GTI; in fact, the Camaro is the only car on this list with a lower reliability rating.

And you also give the GTI extra points over the WRX because the GTI is a hatchback and the Subie is a sedan? NEWS FLASH: The WRX is available as a wagon as well.

I agree with this list. The GTI is the best build car here and it feels like the best product. It’s fast and it handles better than the Mazda. You can put anything you want in the back, unlike the WRX and the other sedans. It’s such a fun car to drive and those of you who keep saying this and that is better have obviously never driven these cars.

And PackofWeasels, I can’t believe you mentioned that pile of crap the Cobalt SS. It’s so ugly and so boring and build to last a year. What a pile of turds that thing was. It might be fast, but what does that matter. Straight line speed isn’t everything.

@aPACKofWEASELS I didn’t include the Camaro SS for the same reason I didn’t include the Mitsubishi EVO and the Audi
A5—reliability. I don’t recommend cars that don’t have a Consumer Reports reliability rating of average or better.

Uncia

List looks good except the Dodge Challenger. Replace that with the Camaro SS.

This is a horrible rating. Golf GTI is #1? That car really . The Mazdaspeed3 smokes it for one. And the Chevy Cobalt SS smokes them both. Where is the Cobalt SS? It beat not just the WRX but the STi and the Evo X. Both cars that will be in the midlevel sportscars.
The rest of it is just in a mixed up order.

At the end it says "Up next we have the TopSpeed’s 10 Best Mid-Level Sports Cars." Assuming that "mid-level" means up to $50K, here should be the Top 10, including reliability, in no particular order:

- Subaru STi

- Nissan Nismo 370Z

- Lexus IS 350 F-Sport

- Infiniti G37 Coupe

- Dodge Challenger R/T (C/R actually rates the reliability as "average", believe it or not)

- Mazda RX-8 R3

- Ford Mustang GT

- Lotus Elise

- Porsche Boxster

- BMW Z4

Let’s see how many of my picks make it onto the list.

The EVO is well over $30,000 that’s why it was not included.

What about the Mitsubishi Evo? shouldn’t the number one enemy of the WRX be here as well? Also, the 370Z is not really entry-level... 30k? no thank you. Entry level are cheaper cars like the GTI precisely. And the TC is just an affordable civic-corolla competitor... NO PERFORMANCE IS INTENDED IN THE MAKING OF THAT CAR

The WRX’s fuel economy may not be as high as some of the other cars here, but it offers excellent fuel economy considering that it provides AWD security and handling and that Motor Trend got the car to 60 mph in 4.8 seconds—just one tenth slower than the STi. The WRX has the fastest 0-60 time and the highest slalom speed of any car here, and the highest reliability rating of any car on this list except the tC, which isn’t really a sports car. Whether it looks good or not, the WRX should be first.

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