Sports cars were once a purchase that only the elite could afford, and even then, many were a trophy to be displayed in a designer garage and brought out for a Sunday drive. This stereotype has gradually changed over the years as sports cars have become more affordable, allowing just about anyone the opportunity to purchase their idolized car. Cheap sports cars are breaking into the automotive market now more than ever before.
Whether you want to buy your dream sports car, a car that is not laden with sippy cup holders, or an "adult-only" ride to have some fun in, then you have come to the right place to find some of the best cheap sports cars. We have compiled a list of affordable sports cars below to help you on your way to finding your next exciting ride in 2021.
2021 Chevrolet Camaro
The 2021 Chevrolet Camaro holds up well against competitors for the best cheap sports car available in 2021. This powerful car has an MSRP of only $25,000, and its turbocharged four-cylinder engine delivers 275 horsepower. A six-speed manual transmission is standard, but there is the option of an eight-speed automatic transmission.
The Camaro's exhilarating acceleration is matched with responsive steering and handling, all of which add to an enjoyable ride. The two-door sports car is available in two body styles, including a coupe and convertible.
The Ford Mustang has always been a rival of the Chevrolet Camaro, and while the Shelby GT500 delivers 110 more horses than the Camaro ZL1, both these sports cars reach 60 mph in the same amount of time.
There is also the Chevrolet Corvette that reaches 60 mph much faster than the Camaro. Still, with a base price of $60,000, it is not a cheap sports car that most can afford, leaving the Camaro as the better option.
2020 Ford Mustang
The 2020 Ford Mustang offers serious value for money, earning it a spot on our list of the best sports cars on the market, with an MSRP of $26,670. A turbocharged 2.3-liter four-cylinder engine offers more than enough muscle with an output of 310 horsepower via a six-speed automatic transmission. If you can handle spending a little more, then you can choose the option of a smooth ten-speed automatic transmission at roughly $1,600.
The entry-level Mustang EcoBoost's turbo-four engine is quieter than the roar of the V8-powered GT. Nonetheless, the EcoBoost model delivers surprising speed for a cheap sports car and has excellent performance packages on offer, too. The 2020 model year introduced a High-Performance Package to the Mustang, which boosted output to 330 horsepower and other hardware from the V8-powered siblings.
It surpasses its famous rivals, the Chevy Camaro and Dodge Challenger, with a better combination of everyday livability and overall athleticism. The Mustang also overtakes its competitors with higher performance, plus it has a larger trunk than the Camaro.
2021 Mazda MX-5 Miata
Do not make the mistake of discounting the two-seat Mazda MX-5 convertible's petite size and modest horsepower; this little car is as fun to drive as anything on this list. It also features superb standard features, a strong record of reliability, and excellent fuel economy.
The 2021 Miata is one of the world's bestselling roadsters. It competes with the mechanically-identical Fiat 124 Spider and the BMW Z4. The Miata comes standard with a foldable soft top, but you can opt for a Retractable Fastback (RF) hardtop.
The beloved Japanese sports car has a four-cylinder engine sending power to a six-speed manual transmission with an output of 181 horsepower. While it may not accelerate as quickly as some high-priced sports cars, you shouldn't forget how lightweight this Mazda is at only 2,400 pounds.
For 2021, the Mazda MX-5 Miata base Sport model enters the market at an MSRP of around $27,700, which is $250 more than the 2020 model year. The road-hugging handling meets the best manual transmission available. However, be prepared for a smaller cabin that is not easy for fitting larger occupants.
2020 Toyota 86
The Toyota 86 delivers exciting rear-wheel-drive performance for a price that most sports car enthusiasts can enjoy. Closely matched to the MSRP of the 2021 Mazda MX-5 Miata, the 2020 Toyota 86 has competitive pricing of $27,090 as of 2021.
This cheap sports car is the mechanical twin of the Subaru BRZ since they were co-engineered alongside each other. The good news is that the Toyota 86 has the same impressive handling as the BRZ and costs about $2000 less.
Peppy straight-line speed and 205 horsepower are provided by the four-cylinder engine that is powered by a six-speed manual transmission. This lightweight coupe may not be a track car for drag racing, but it boasts a balanced chassis with communicative steering and corner handling that would put even the biggest competitors at a disadvantage.
In contrast to its Fiat and Mazda competitors in the same category, the 86 is comfortable to drive with its excellent driving position. It also features rear seats that fold down and allow for generous cargo space.
2020 Dodge Challenger
There may not be a Hemi V8 engine in the entry-level Challenger. Still, the 3.6-liter V6 engine is no lightweight with 305 horsepower and an eight-speed automatic transmission. The SXT and GT powertrains provide rear-wheel-drive, but there is the option of all-wheel-drive too.
The Challenger is arguably one of the most comfortable muscle cars among the cheap sports cars available and enters the market at an affordable MSRP of $28,095 for 2021. The amount of cabin and cargo space in the Dodge Challenger exceeds its rivals, including the Chevrolet Camaro and the Ford Mustang.
The Challenger's performance is breathtaking for a cheap sports car; even the base Challenger coupe is a bargain for the amount of performance on offer and without the V8's prolific thirst for fuel. The 18-inch alloy wheels add a touch of style to the two-door sports car. At the same time, occupants can enjoy the standard features of dual-zone climate control and Apple CarPlay/Android Auto capability.
2020 Nissan 370Z
The 2020 Nissan 370Z is a strong competitor as one of the best cheap sports cars on the market, especially if you value a lot of horsepower in a small package. While it is no Porsche Boxster, the 370Z's 332-horsepower V6 engine still makes it a bona fide performance car. A 6-speed manual transmission is standard, but there is the option of a seven-speed automatic transmission.
The styling and technology may be somewhat outdated, with the last major redesign occurring over a decade ago. But its low price for the value of performance you get leaves this sports car in easy reach of most budgets. It carries an MSRP of $30,990 as of 2021.
The 370Z can only seat two people, so it may only work as an everyday car for drivers without children. This sports car's small cargo space means it is not the first choice for taking on grocery trips or extended vacations.
2021 Volkswagen GTI
This hot hatch may be classified as a compact car. Still, with thrilling handling and solid acceleration, we can't pass it by for consideration as one of our cheap sports cars. The 2021 Volkswagen GTI has a spunky turbocharged 2.0-liter 228-horsepower engine that delivers acceleration as soon as you hit the gas pedal. There is plenty of power on offer, along with a choice of a standard six-speed manual transmission or a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission.
This fiery hatchback competes well with more potent choices like the Subaru WRX and Hyundai Veloster. The GTI surpasses the WRX with more substantial reliability ratings, better fuel economy, and even more cargo space.
This front-wheel-drive Golf may be a small hatchback, but its steering is razor-sharp, and the brakes offer unmatched stopping power. New for 2021 for the VW GTI is the limited-slip, XDS electronic differential lock, which is now standard.
The price tag on this hot hatch starts at $28,695. That is a much better value than another hot hatch of sorts, the Mercedes-Benz AMG.
2018 Subaru WRX
Suppose you are looking for a powerful turbocharged engine within a reasonably low price range. In that case, the Subaru WRX should be on the list for consideration as we explore its rights to being one of the best cheap sports cars.
While it is no supercar like the Audi R8 or Mercedes-Benz AMG models, it packs sporty handling and turbocharged engines for everyday driving fun. The average price tag on an entry-level WRX is around $23,994 in 2021. That price matches excellent safety scores, agile handling, and a spacious interior for the whole family.
The entry-level WRX is not shy on power with a turbocharged boxer engine that provides 268 horsepower. A six-speed manual transmission powers the all-wheel-drive. If you can safely move out of your budget a little, then the WRX STI option offers 305 horsepower.
The Subaru WRX is billed as a rally car for the road. The engine rumble is met with strong acceleration, good handling, and a turbocharged engine that delivers ample power. Stable around turns, the steering is nicely weighted, and the all-wheel-drive hugs the roads well.
2020 Honda Civic Si
Entering the market with a slightly higher price tag is the 2020 Honda Civic Si. Starting at an MSRP of $25,930, it delivers premier performance for slightly higher pricing over the regular Civic.
This sporty compact car comes either as a coupe or a sedan, but a turbocharged four-cylinder engine with 205 horsepower motivates both body types. A six-speed manual transmission powers the front-wheel-drive. You may seek more horsepower from a sports car; however, this Honda Civic is light enough, with the coupe version sprinting to 60 mph in about 6.3 seconds.
The excellent performance is matched with fantastic fuel economy, netting drivers the best of both worlds. The Si coupe returns 36 mpg in real-world highway tests.
With a five-passenger seating capacity, the Civic Si comfortably seats the whole family and allows everyone to go along for the sporty ride. In fact, the ride is so smooth over rough roads that you may even forget you are in a compact sports car. The steering is communicative, and the handling of corners is impressive, too.