2020 was a dumpster fire, but these five sports cars still showed their worth

LISTEN 08:48

In an unprecedented year that saw multiple industries grind to a halt because of the coronavirus pandemic, the auto industry still managed to roll out some tasty dishes for the public. The sports car scene, in particular, balled out in 2020, buoyed in part by these five models that we identified as the best of its kind in 2020.

The task of picking out just five models proved to be harder than we thought, but that’s largely a product of having too many worthy choices. But these five stood out for all the reasons that make sports cars great. They’re fast, powerful, fun to drive, and much more affordable than going the exotic car route. It doesn’t hurt that all these models are lookers, too.

Chevrolet Corvette C8

Best Sports Cars in 2020 Exterior Wallpaper quality
- image 850649

Did you think that we’d leave the Chevrolet Corvette C8 off this list? For historical and legacy purposes, the C8’s status as the first-ever mid-engine Corvette is enough to make it one of the year’s most-talked-about sports cars. But the ‘Vette C8 didn’t make it in this list specifically because of that reason. The C8 is here because it’s more than just a historical Corvette; it’s also a monster on the road.

Sports cars don’t earn their keep on press releases and catalogs; they earn it on the road. So forget about the historical relevance because the Corvette C8 is more than just about that. It’s hellacious to drive on the road.

It’s surprisingly agile for a car of its size and the mid-mounted 6.2-liter LT2 V-8 engine puts power down with the authority you’d expect from a Corvette.

It accelerates like a madman, too, thanks in large part to an eight-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission that shifts a lot smoother than we thought it would.

Best Sports Cars in 2020 Exterior
- image 850648

As a sports car, the Corvette C8 checks all the boxes of a proper sports car. But what takes it to another level is its ability to play Dr. Jekyll as well as it does Mr. Hyde. If you’re not going all-out on the Corvette C8, it can also be smooth and civilized around town. More potent versions like the ZR1 will probably shed the civilian clothing, but base levels and those equipped with the Z51 package thrive in having dual personalities.

Chevrolet Corvette C8 specifications
Engine: 6.2-liter LT2 V-8 engine
Horsepower: 490 horsepower
Torque: 465 pound-feet of torque
Drivetrain: Rear-wheel drive
Transmission: Eight-speed Tremec M1L dual-clutch transmission
0 to 60 MPH: 2.8 seconds
Top speed: 194 mph

Read our full review on the Chevrolet Corvette C8

BMW M2

2016 - 2018 BMW M2 High Resolution Exterior
- image 650536

There once was a time when you needed a BMW 3 Series to fully appreciate the joy of driving a BMW. Bimmer has, of course, expanded its line, creating, among other lines, the 2 Series. Now in its second-generation, the 2 Series has become the go-to subcompact luxury car for those who can’t afford Bimmer’s more premium models. It’s from that tree that we present one of 2020’s best sports cars: the BMW M2.

Pound-for-pound, the BMW M2 is arguably BMW’s best model today.

It features everything that makes BMW what it is as an automaker and wraps it all up in one relatively affordable package. You’ll get no complaints from its manic 405-horsepower, 3.0-liter turbocharged inline-six-cylinder engine. Throw in a smooth eight-speed automatic transmission, a throaty exhaust, and the dynamic suspension of a legitimate M car and it’s not an exaggeration to say that the BMW M2 offers the best of what a BMW M car is all about.

Best Sports Cars in 2020 High Resolution Exterior Wallpaper quality
- image 650555

The M2 isn’t without its flaws — the rear seats don’t offer too much space for adults — but there aren’t that many sports cars today that you can claim to be perfect. For the money that you’re spending — the BMW M2 starts at $58,900 — the M2 is arguably the best M car in the market today.

BMW M2 specifications
Engine: 3.0-liter twin-turbocharged inline-six engine
Horsepower: 405 horsepower
Torque: 406 pound-feet of torque
Drivetrain: Rear-wheel drive
Transmission: Six-speed manual transmission (standard) / seven-speed dual-clutch (optional)
0 to 60 MPH: 4.3 seconds
Top speed: 174 mph

Read our full review on the BMW M2

Porsche 718 Cayman

2017 Porsche 718 Cayman High Resolution Exterior
- image 673770

The Porsche 718 Cayman is a lot like the BMW M2 in this sense. Why spend your hard-earned money on a six-figure supercar when you can get the same driving experience from a sports car with a starting price of just over $70,000. Sure, the numbers are disproportionately different, but if you’re after the pure enjoyment of driving a sports car, the 718 Cayman is one of the best ones in the market today.

You can choose among three different engines offering four different states of power. You can choose from a long menu of packages that address anything from aesthetic, aerodynamic, and performance needs. You can do a host of different things with a 718 Cayman that won’t lead to you filing for bankruptcy.

2017 Porsche 718 Cayman High Resolution Exterior Wallpaper quality
- image 673778
But the best part about the 718 Cayman is the drive.

After all, that’s why you buy sports cars. The 718 Cayman is one of the best rear-wheel-drive sports cars in the market. It’s incredibly agile for a car that sits at the bottom of Porsche’s lineup. It’s responsive on the road, particularly on twisty corners. It accelerates like a dream, too, thanks in part to Porsche’s world-famous PDK automatic transmission. It can also sustain high-end speeds without you feeling uncomfortable about it. You can drive the 718 Cayman in any way you want, and you’re getting the full Porsche experience at a fraction of the cost. If you want to go open-top, substitute the 718 Boxster and you get the same results, albeit with a blown-out-of-proportion hairstyle.

Porsche 718 Cayman specifications
Engine: 2.0-liter turbocharged flat-four engine
Horsepower: 300 horsepower
Torque: 280 pound-feet of torque
Drivetrain: Rear-wheel drive
Transmission: Six-speed manual transmission (standard) / seven-speed dual-clutch (optional)
0 to 60 MPH: 4.9 seconds
Top speed: 170 mph

Read our full review on the Porsche 718 Cayman

Lexus LC

2018 Lexus LC 500 High Resolution Exterior
- image 710825

I understand that at over $90,000, it’s the most expensive car on this list, but we have to give credit where credit is due. When it comes to the most underrated sports cars in the market today, the Lexus LC is one of the first models we’ll think of.

For starters, it boasts a powerful 5.0-liter V-8 engine that produces 471 horsepower and 398 pound-feet of torque. That equates to a lot of fun on the open road. Speaking of which, the open road is where the LC really turns it up. It’s not just fast, but it can switch its driving characteristics from lively to refined (and vice versa) depending on what you want to get out of it. You’re not compromising the overall driving experience because Lexus set the LC up to behave like a proper grand tourer.

2018 Lexus LC 500 High Resolution Exterior
- image 661466

Its interior is also one of its strong suits.

Granted, a lot of cars in the luxury sports car class can boast properly designed interiors, but the LC’s cabin also captures the best of both worlds approach.

It’s sporty and luxurious at the same time without one element overshadowing the other. It really is one of the most well-balanced sports cars in the market and deserving of its place in this list.

Lexus LC specifications
Engine: 5.0-liter turbocharged V-8
Horsepower: 471 horsepower
Torque: 398 pound-feet of torque
Drivetrain: Rear-wheel drive
Transmission: 10-speed direct shift automatic
0 to 60 MPH: 4.4 seconds
Top speed: 168 mph

Read our full review on the Lexus LC

Toyota Supra

Best Sports Cars in 2020
- image 838458

Let’s be real. The Toyota Supra was a bit of a letdown when it first came out in 2019. Fast forward to 2020 and it’s a different story altogether. This year, Toyota not only raised the output of the Supra’s 3.0-liter engine from 335 horsepower to 382 horsepower and from 365 pound-feet of torque to 369 pound-feet of torque. It also added four exhaust headers for the 21MY Supra on top of returning the suspension to include new bump stops that effectively reduces the potential for the Supra to oversteer.

A lot of these changes turned Toyota’s premier sports coupé into a must-have sports car. The acceleration is a lot quicker. Ride quality is better, too. It’s more responsive to drive and that translates to a more enjoyable driving experience.

A bit of a surprise, too, is the Supra’s interior, especially for a car that’s supposed to be a cheaper alternative to the European sports car contingent. The Supra boasts an interior that’s dressed in high-end materials with metal accents and padded upholstery contributing largely to its refined look. There’s still soft plastic scattered in the interior, but we’ve made our peace with that a long time ago.

2020 Toyota Supra
- image 838460

The 2021MY Toyota Supra that arrived this year is a big step up from the model that Toyota introduced in 2019. It still has a long way to go to live up to the legend of the Supra nameplate, but it’s headed in the right direction. Sometimes, that’s all you can ask for.

Toyota Supra specifications
Engine: 3.0-liter turbocharged six-cylinder engine
Horsepower: 382 horsepower
Torque: 369 pound-feet of torque
Drivetrain: Rear-wheel drive
Transmission: Eight-speed automatic
0 to 60 MPH: 3.9 seconds
Top speed: 155 mph

Read our full review on the Toyota Supra

Kirby Garlitos
Automotive Aftermarket Expert - kirby@topspeed.com
Kirby’s first exposure into the world of automobiles happened when he caught Knight Rider on television as a five-year old boy. David Hasselhoff didn’t leave much of an impression on him (that happened later on in Baywatch), but KITT certainly did. To this day, Kirby remains convinced that he will one day own a car with the same ‘spirit’ as the original KITT (not the 2008 monstrosity). He doesn't know when that will be, but until then, he’s committed to expressing his love for KITT, and all cars for that matter, here at TopSpeed.  Read More
About the author
What do you think?
Show Comments
Car Finder: