Affordable sports cars have an important place in the market, as not all of us can afford a Lamborghini, Ferrari or Bugatti.
So where do you look if you want something sporty and fast but don’t want to break the bank?
The good news is there are plenty of options out there which, although they might not be quite as showy as a top-end Exotic, they still have what it takes under the hood.
Let’s beat no bones about it: the cheapest cars around are not sports cars, so you’re going to have to pay a bit of a premium for something with a bit of power. But that’s not to say affordable sports cars are impossible to find.
You can always go second hand if a new car is out of your budget, but looking at the current range is a good place to start as you can then use it as a benchmark.
Here are 10 affordable sports cars for 2016, all under $28,000 new.
102016 Chevrolet Camaro – $25,700
The 2016 Camaro is a powerhouse of a American muscle – and all for just over $25,000 MSRP. On top of its brutish good looks and powerful engine, the 2016 Camaro has also been extremely highly rated by reviewers – for example getting 5/5 from Autoblog and 4.5/5 from The Car Connection. There are two engine options, a 275hp 2.0-liter engine or a 455hp 6.2liter V8.
92016 Ford Mustang – $24,145
Another stalwart of American muscle, the 2016 Mustang comes in around a grand and a half cheaper than the Camaro for the base model. There are four different engines available, and if you’re on a budget the standard 3.7-liter V6 is not to be sniffed at, with a 2.3liter EcoBoost option just $1,500 more expensive. The V6 delivers 300hp and 280lb/ft of torque.
82016 Volkswagen Golf GTI – $25,595
The Golf GTI is the epitome of German engineering, and although it might not look much like what you thought of as a sports car – this is one of the sportiest cars you can get for this price. The best thing about it is that it also works incredibly well as a normal car. But when the mood takes you and you really floor it, the GTI more than produces the goods. There are all sorts of different set-ups available, with a 210hp turbocharged 2.0liter engine under the hood.
72016 Scion FR-S – $27,200
The 2016 Scion FR-S is the most expensive car on this list — but if you feel $27,000 is still within your budget then this could be the affordable sports car for you. For that you get one of the best-handling vehicles on the road today, in a fun-to-drive package with good looks to boot. On top of that, the FR-S has impressive fuel economy for a car of this type, managing and estimated 25mpg in the city and 34mpg on the highway. Its 2.0liter engine can produce 200hp and 151lb/ft of torque.
62016 Dodge Challenger – $26,995
The 2016 Dodge Challenger is another car that’s received high plaudits from reviewers, with a rating of 9.3/10 from Kelley Blue Book. While this isn’t a car that excels around corners, it more than makes up for it in comfort and general grunt. The standard 3.6liter V6 produces 305hp and 268lb/ft of torque, and if you don’t like the look of it then you probably need to get your brain checked.
52016 Subaru BRZ – $25,395
The BRZ is often overlooked simply because Subaru doesn’t quite have the name as some other manufacturers on this list. But it’s an excellent offering, with good fuel economy alongside impressive performance and notoriously good handling. The only let-down is the slightly damp acceleration, but its’ still more than adequate for most people. Under the hood is a 2.0-liter Inline-4 delivering up to 200hp @ 7000rpm and 151lb/ft of torque at 6,400rpm.
42016 Hyundai Genesis Coupe – $26,950
The Genesis Coupe might not be your go-to name when you’re thinking of an affordable sports car – but it’s definitely up there with many of the others on this list. Unlike the BRZ, its acceleration is one of its strong points and it similarly has great handling. It comes with a 3.6liter V6 as standard delivering 348hp and 295lb/ft of torque, so this is quite a bit more powerful than some of the other cars on this list.
32016 Subaru WRX – $26,595
The Subaru WRX is a great car. Hard-to-beat handling, powerful acceleration and AWD as standard. It’s a bit noisy to drive and it’s the most luxurious car around but if you’re looking for no-frills power — and fancy yourself as a bit of a rally driver — then the WRX is hard to beat. There are two engine choices, a 268hp turbocharged 2.0liter or a turbocharged 2.5liter pumping out 305hp.
22016 Ford Fiesta ST – $20,970
The Ford Fiesta ST comes with a 1.6liter turbo under the hood with 197hp at 6,000rpm and 202lb/ft of torque. It might look like any other hatchback, but this is a car that’s seriously fun to drive. On top of the sporty handling you also get a lot of luxury for the money making this a serious contender. The only thing it doesn’t have going for it is it doesn’t look like a sports car. But whether you can deal with that is up to you.
1Mazda MX-5 Miata – $24,915
Last but certainly not least, the MX-5 is a Japanese classic. If you’re looking for reliability, excellent performance, and a car that looks the business too — then look no further than than the Miata. It’s improved a lot over the years and offers one of the most legitimate options for those looking for a cheap sports car. The MX-5 is pretty small in stature, but if you can get past that there are endless hours of roof-down fun for you ahead. The 2.0liter engine produces 155hp and if you’re looking for pure sport the manual is the one to go for.