The Best Affordable Sports Cars

If you’re in the market for an affordable sports car, you don’t want overlook these gems!

The famous artist Gerald Brom once said “Everything comes with a price. Everything. Some things just cost more than others”. I guess Brom never got to drive any of the cars from our list of best cheap sports cars because these four-wheeled dream machines are definitive proof that one doesn’t necessarily need deep pockets to enjoy the thrill of driving. So without further ado, let’s dive right into our top picks.

Honda Civic Type-R - $38,890

The Best Affordable Sports Cars
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If there’s one car that secured itself a place on this list by default, it’s the Civic Type-R. Powered by a 2.0-liter turbocharged Four Pot engine making 306 horsepower and 295 pounds-feet of torque, the engine, though not the best sounding, especially given Honda’s history with their high revving naturally aspirated engines, continues to astound people with its potent power delivery and reliability. This comes exclusively mated to a 6-speed manual that’s destined to go down the history books as one of the best manual transmissions of all time.

Though the new engine has lost some of that high RPM VTEC action of its predecessors, there’s no getting away from the Type-R’s fairly alarming turn of speed. No Front Wheel Drive should be this fast, but the real magic starts when you hit a corner in this thing and it just pulls itself through the sharpest of bends at breakneck speeds like no other front-wheel-drive car in the business. This is possible thanks to the limited-slip differential and sublime chassis tuning that makes it a very fast affordable car and a sensible investment too considering how well they hold their value. With a new generation around the corner, the FK8 Civic Type-R has already restored its place in our list of the best driving cars of the 21st century, and it’s without a doubt one of our top picks for affordable sports cars.

The Best Affordable Sports Cars
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Honda Civic Type R specifications
Engine Type In-Line 4-Cylinder with Turbocharger
Displacement 1996 cc
Horsepower (SAE net)1 306 @ 6500 rpm
Torque (SAE net)2 295 lb-ft @ 2500-4500 rpm
0 to 60 mph 5.7 seconds
Top Speed 169 mph

Read our full review on the Honda Civic Type-R

Hyundai Veloster N - $32,500

The Best Affordable Sports Cars
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The Hyundai Veloster in its regular guise is a sedate front-wheel-drive hatchback that offers practical seating for five, a decent boot, and a frugal engine to make the best of your daily commute. But slap an "N" badge into the equation and things take a drastic turn, turning this seemingly sedate hatchback into one of the most fun things on four wheels money can buy.

Launched back in 2019, the Veloster N with an MSRP of $34,085, is now an established player in the cheap sports car game. The 2.0-liter inline-four turbo engine is a masterpiece that churns out 275 horsepower and 260 pound-feet of torque. It also packs a limited-slip differential as standard that transforms this hot hatch and helps it tackle corners better than some of its lighter, rear-wheel-drive competition.
The exhaust also comes as a surprise, with its throaty sound and soul-satisfying pops and crackles each time you lift off. The car can also be had with a DCT for an extra $1500 that also adds an over-boost function which is capable of raising the max torque rating from 260 to 278 pound-feet for short bursts.

The Best Affordable Sports Cars
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Unlike other established hot hatches that over the generations have lost some of their character (i.e GTIs and Type-Rs) in the quest to win the numbers game, the Veloster N keeps things simple and that’s what makes it a hoot to drive. This also means that there’s a sense of nostalgia driving the Veloster N, which dates back to the golden age of hot hatches known for their featherweight, go-kart-like handling, and delivering bundles of fun, all within the speed limit. This is why the Hyundai Veloster N is at the very top of our list of Affordable Sports Cars.

Hyundai Veloster N specifications
Engine turbocharged and intercooled DOHC 16-valve inline-4,
Displacement 122 cu in, 1998 cc
Power 250 or 275 hp @ 6000 rpm
Torque 260 lb-ft @ 1450 rpm
Transmission 6-speed manual
0 to 60 mph 5.3–5.4 sec (est)
0 to 100 mph 12.3–12.5 sec (est)
Top speed: 155 mph (est)

Read our full review on the Hyundai Veloster N

Volkswagen Golf GTI - $29,454

2022 Volkswagen Golf GTI Exterior
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The Golf GTI is yet another legend that continues to cement its place in the list of cool affordable cars. The latest Mk.8 GTI, to no one’s surprise, is a significant improvement over the last generation vehicle apart from its frustratingly complex interior layout that seems like a step back. Powered by a 2.0-liter, turbocharged, Inline-four, the new GTI makes very similar power to its predecessor at 242 horsepower and 273 pound-feet of torque. The transmission options remain unchanged as well and this is one of those rare instances where the seven-speed DSG is almost as engaging and quicker than the six-speed manual. But dynamics and handling have taken a step up with this generation. It’s a joy to hoon around a mountain pass and its textbook combination of practicality and performance, making it the go-to choice for sensible enthusiasts.

The Golf GTI is also a used car market favorite, with decent high milage examples of Mk.3 GTI’s going for a shade over $5,000. There are some cheaper examples out there but for that price, the chances of landing a lemon at that price point are incrementally higher. But new or old, one just can’t go wrong with a Golf GTI and that’s why it’s one of our top picks for the best affordable sports cars list.

2022 Volkswagen Golf GTI Exterior
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Read our full review on the Volkswagen Golf GTI

Mazda MX-5 Miata - $27,825

2016 Mazda MX-5 High Resolution Exterior
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There are two kinds of people in this world. The first who think that the Miata is a hairdresser’s go-to ride, and second, the people who strongly believe that MX-5 is a legend and one of the best driving cars of all time, which is why it is a top contender for our best affordable sports cars.

The 2.0-liter Inline-four produces 181 horsepower and 151 pound-feet of torque puts it in sensible and economical sedan territory. However, combining that with a lightweight, open-top chassis that sends power to the rear wheels and you have got yourself a recipe for limitless amounts of fun. With a 0-60 time of 5.7 seconds, it’s quick enough to hang in with the big guns especially on a twisty section of road where its inherent balance comes into its own. The ND Miata club takes things up a notch by adding a limited-slip differential, Brembo front brakes, lightweight BBS wheels, and an aero kit which makes this the perfect canyon carver. With an MSRP of just $27,825, the Miata is a truly affordable cheap sportscar but if you want the same experience for your 16th birthday then $3,000 to $5,000 will get you into a decent NA or NB Miata making it one of the cheapest sports cars on planet earth.

The Best Affordable Sports Cars High Resolution Exterior
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Mazda MX-5 Miata specifications
Engine SKYACTIV-G 2.0 liter
Power 181 HP @ 7,000 RPM
Torque 151 LB-FT @ 4,000 RPM
0 to 60 mph 5.7 seconds

Read our full review on the Mazda MX-5 Miata

Ford Mustang - $27,205

2018 Ford Mustang High Resolution Exterior Wallpaper quality
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Ford Mustang GT - $35,095

The Mustang is the perfect sports car with a slight image problem. When the sixth-gen Mustang was introduced back in 2015, it received a series of significant upgrades over its bulky predecessor like the independent suspension at the back and a noticeable reduction in weight amongst others which turned this generation Mustang into a genuine sports car that could handle the twisty bits better than any previous Mustang. However, the entry-level Mustang’s four-cylinder Eco boost was received with a lot of skepticism. But nearly half a decade later, skeptics have realized that combining the Focus RS’s 2.3-liter, 330-horsepower engine with the Mustang’s rear-wheel-drive chassis was a stroke of brilliance. This setup combined with the factory Ecoboost Handling Package transforms this evocative pony car into one of the most enjoyable and affordable sports cars on sale, especially with the six-speed manual.

However, the V8-powered Mustang continues to be an attainable dream car for many. With a starting MSRP of $37,480, it brings the quintessential American Muscle experience to the masses. The 5.0-liter Cayote engine pumps out a healthy 450 horsepower and with the optional exhaust, it is without a doubt the best sounding cheap sports car on this list. And to make things better, the naturally aspirated V-8 is available with both a 10-speed automatic and a six-speed manual. The Tremec sourced manual unit is a piece of art that is a guaranteed formula to quench your thirst for a fast affordable car.

Ford Mustang specifications
Engine 5.0-liter V-8
Transmission 6-speed manual
Power Output 460 @ 7,500 rpm
Torque 420 lb.-ft. @ 4,600 rpm
Fuel Economy 15/24/18 City/Hwy/ Combined mpg
0-60 mph 4.2 seconds
Top Speed 155 mph
2018 Ford Mustang High Resolution Exterior
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Read our full review on the Ford Mustang

FAQs:

What are the types of sports cars?
By definition, Sports can be classified in one of four ways. A performance-oriented car can either be a Sports Car, High-Performance Sports Car, Supercar, or Hypercar. A car can be placed in one of these four categories based on engine performance, drivetrain, rarity, and price.

What are the cheapest sports cars?
The Mazda MX5 Miata, Ford Mustang, and Chevrolet Camaro are three of the cheapest sports cars on sale today.

How to rent sports cars?
People can visit dedicated luxury and sports car rental agencies to rent a sports car for a day or prolonged periods. Most rental agencies will require a valid driver’s license and a minimum age of 25, a major credit card, contracts with verified insurance, and a security deposit.

How much are sports cars?
Sports cars, just like every other category of vehicle, cover a wide price bracket. You can get an entry-level sports car like a Chevy Camaro or a Ford Mustang for just under $30,000 while the most expensive hypercars cars like the Bugatti Chiron and Pagani Huayra can cost upwards of $1,000,000.

What are sports cars?
By definition, a sports car is a car designed with an emphasis on dynamic performance, such as handling, acceleration, top speed, or the thrill of driving.

What are the best cheap sports cars?
Some of the best cheap sportscars to available on sale today are:

  • Mazda Miata
  • Golf GTI
  • Audi TT
  • Subaru BRZ
  • Ford Mustang
  • Chevrolet Camaro

How much do sports cars cost?
Sports cars, just like other car segments cover a wide price gamete, some of the cheapest sports cars such as the Subaru BRZ can be had for as low as $28,000 while the most expensive hypercars like the limited edition Bugatti Divo cost around $5,800,000.

Why are sports cars so expensive?
Sports cars cost more than regular cars despite their smaller size and lesser number of seats because they use more expensive lightweight materials in their construction and have high-performance engines and transmission components which drive up their prices.

Bhavik Sreenath
A keen automotive enthusiast with a love for anything with engines. He loves discovering the world of cars and technology to explore new boundaries in the field of modern-day journalism.  Read full bio
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