• Buying Guides

The Best Sports Cars Under $30,000

By Shawn Furman | August 21, 2023

Many new cars that used to be relatively affordable have risen in price over the past five years to the point where they have outpriced many would-be buyers’ comfortable budget limits. Sports cars especially are the ones that are usually the first to be left behind when more practical options need to be prioritized over speed, styling, and handling.

That is not always the case, though. There are still plenty of relatively affordable sports cars on the market, including some new sports that you can still buy for under $30,000. There are still those who cannot afford a $30,000 vehicle, but that price point is still well below what the average new car costs, and it represents what the $20,000 price point used to be five or ten years ago.

Read on to see our picks for the best new and some of the best-used sports cars that one can buy for $30,000 in 2023.

1. 2015-2017 Ford Mustang
2. 2020-2021 Volkswagen GTI
3. 2023 Mazda MX-5 Miata
4. 2023 Toyota GR86/2023 Subaru BRZ
5. 2019-2020 Nissan 370Z
6. 2015 Chevrolet Camaro
7. 2005-2013 Chevrolet Corvette
8. 2016 Mercedes-Benz SLK-Class
9. 2017-2020 Fiat 124 Spider
10. 2015-2016 Hyundai Genesis Coupe
11. 2016 BMW Z4
12. 2009-2010 Porsche Cayman
13. 2022 Subaru WRX
14. 2017-2018 Honda Civic Type R
15. 2016-2019 Audi TT

1. 2015-2017 Ford Mustang


The Ford Mustang took a huge leap forward from the fifth generation to the sixth generation when it was designed in 2015. It became sleeker, it became more powerful, it finally dumped its live rear axle in favor of independent rear suspension, and it made a huge leap forward in its handling dynamics as a result. Now, there are plenty of models on the used car market from which to choose that fall at or under $30,000.


Naturally, the one that everyone wants is the Mustang GT. 2015 to 2017 models come with a 5.0-liter V8 engine that pumps out 435 horsepower, sending it through a standard six-speed manual transmission. If you want less shout and better fuel economy, you can also go with the less expensive EcoBoost option, equipped with a 2.3-liter turbocharged engine that produces 310 horsepower.

You can even opt for a 300-horsepower V6-powered Mustang, the most underrated of the group. Each model is offered as a two-door coupe or a convertible, each comes with serviceable rear seats, and each comes exclusively with rear-wheel-drive. You can find $30,000 GT models on the used market with between 50,000 and 80,000 miles while four and six-cylinder examples have as few as 10,000 miles or less.

Browse used 2015-2017 Ford Mustang listings here.

2. 2020-2021 Volkswagen GTI


If you think you have to sacrifice performance for practicality, you should look to the Volkswagen GTI for an example of just how wrong you can be. It was instrumental in establishing the hot hatchback’s popularity in the mid-1970s, and it continues to set the bar for both affordability and practicality while having the same enthusiast bent that originally made it special.


2020 and 2021 models are currently available on the market for around $30,000, and all of them come with four doors, usable rear seats, a standard six-speed manual transmission, an optional dual-clutch automatic transmission, front-wheel drive, 228 horsepower, and 258 lb-ft. of torque from its turbocharged four-cylinder engine.

Its standard hatchback body style will also give you 22.8 cubic feet of cargo space, helping provide the ultimate balance between enthusiast machine and daily grocery-getter. Current $30,000 models are all over the used market with less than 30,000 miles. You can find newer ones with more advanced features and updated styling, but they will either be pricier or have more miles.

Browse used 2020-2021 Volkswagen GTI listings here.

3. 2023 Mazda MX-5 Miata


Widely considered to be one of the best pure sports cars ever made, the Mazda MX-5 is also one of the few new sports cars that you can buy for under $30,000. You have to go with the base Sport trim level, but you will still have around $800 extra to work with, even after you add the destination fee. Even most base Miatas will still practically cost more than that, but that is still a bargain!


For around $30,000, the MX-5 Miata provides its buyers with a traditional rear-wheel drive soft top convertible driving experience, 181 horsepower, a six-speed manual transmission, nimble handling, excellent fuel economy, a dose of reliability, and even some nice tech features including blind-spot monitoring, Apple CarPlay, and Android Auto.

If you do opt to spend $30,000 for a brand-new MX-5 Miata, you will have to forgo some of the higher-end features that come on more expensive models like a limited-slip differential, a nine-speaker Bose audio system, and a retractable hardtop, but you can find used examples with these features if you really want them.

Browse used 2023 Mazda MX-5 Miata listings here.

4. 2023 Toyota GR86/2023 Subaru BRZ


Back in 2013, Toyota and Subaru teamed up to create a balanced pure sports car to prove that the MX-5 Miata should not be the only one having all the fun on the market. New Toyota GR86 and Subaru BRZ models, like the Miata, are available for around $30,000 in their base form. They provide much of the same driving experience as their Japanese rival, albeit with a roof and two barely usable back seats.


Both vehicles are nearly identical, utilizing the same 2.4-liter boxer engine, six-speed manual transmission, and rear-wheel drive layout. The engine output comes to 228 horsepower, more than enough for two 2,800-pound vehicles. Except for some minor styling differences, both vehicles look nearly identical as well.
Like the Miata, you can most likely expect to practically pay a little more than $30,000 for a new GR86 or BRZ, but even base models are equipped with an 8-inch touchscreen, Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, push-button start, and dual-zone climate control. You can find 2022 models on the used market, but with only a few upgrades available and only one other trim level from which to choose, you may just want to stick with a new one.

Browse used 2023 Toyota GR86/2023 Subaru BRZ listings here.

5. 2019-2020 Nissan 370Z


The Nissan 370Z has two sides to its story. It enjoyed a long generational run without any major changes, allowing Nissan to essentially work out any kinks in its recipe over that time period. That allowed it to become the best it could be by 2020 before being replaced by the current Z. On the flip side, many saw the car as stale, old-fashioned, and relegated to a dark corner of the room, desperately needing a refresh.


Regardless of what side you are on, the 370Z was built to be an enthusiast’s sports car, and many continue to cherish its analog feel, nimble handling, fastback styling, and sonorous 332-horsepower naturally-aspirated V6 engine. The Roadster variant was discontinued for the 2020 model year, but that is fine since its hatchback coupe body style made it a bit more usable.

Even though the new Nissan Z looks great and features more up-to-date styling and tech than the 370Z, some say that it lacks character. That is up to you to decide, but you will definitely pay less for a nice used 370Z than the current Z car. You can expect to find nice used examples with between 15,000 and 40,000 miles on the odometer.

Browse used 2019-2020 Nissan 370Z listings here.

6. 2015 Chevrolet Camaro


The 2015 Chevy Camaro looks and feels a bit more like a modern American muscle car than its chief rival of the same model year, the Ford Mustang. Going back to the 2015 model year requires sacrificing some of the better features that newer Camaro models possess, but it also means unlocking a greater variety of desirable Camaro SS models equipped with the potent V8 engine.


You can opt for the less powerful and less desirable LS or LT models with the 323 horsepower V6 engine if you want a nicer Camaro with fewer miles, but it might be hard to pass on the 426 horsepower that comes with the V8 engine. There is not much in the way of creature comforts, and 2015 marked the last model year of the fifth generation of production, but that just means they fall squarely within our $30,000 budget.

While Camaros are notorious for having poor outward visibility, 2015 models offer more nimble handling than Dodge Challenger models of the same year, and they offer handsome retro styling that was smoothed out in the 2016 redesign. SS models are available on the used market with between 25,000 and 75,000 miles and are available in both coupe and convertible body styles.

Browse used 2015 Chevrolet Camaro listings here.

7. 2005-2013 Chevrolet Corvette


If the Camaro is not good enough for you, you can look for a Corvette. C5 Corvettes, associated with model years 2005 to 2013, are available on the used market in all types of conditions, body styles, and flavors. Early models feature a 400-horsepower V8 engine and six-speed manual transmission while 430 horsepower was brought on tap starting in 2008.


More of a high-performance car than a true sports car, the C5 Corvette offered better handling and sleeker styling than its predecessor, but it also ditched the pop-up headlights, angering many purists. Despite whatever controversy the Corvette has brought with it over the years, it is one of the most iconic vehicles America has ever produced, and it remains one of the most affordable performance cars available.

Depending on the options equipped and the model year, you can find running and driving C5 Corvettes on the used market with between 20,000 and 150,000 miles on them. Unfortunately, the most desirable and most powerful Z06 models from this generation are near impossible to find without going over budget.

Browse used 2005-2013 Chevrolet Corvette listings here.

8. 2016 Mercedes-Benz SLK-Class


Mercedes-Benz is more known for its grand tourers, luxury family sedans, and powerful coupes than its sports cars, but the 2016 Mercedes-Benz SLK Class dips its toes into both the sports car realm and our $30,000 budget range. It may not be a pure sports car like the Porsche Boxster or Mazda MX-5 Miata, but it certainly gets the job done and adds a touch of class while doing so.


Unfortunately, this is one of the few sports cars on our list to lack a manual transmission option since it was dropped for the 2016 model year. What buyers get instead is a retractable hardtop, a panoramic glass roof panel, great interior space for a two-seater sports car, a nine-speed automatic transmission, and a 241-horsepower four-cylinder turbo under the hood.

Base SLK 300 models are available on the used market with between 20,000 and 60,000 miles on the clock. More powerful 2016 SLK 350 models are harder to find with the same mileage, but you could find older ones if you are willing to go back a few model years.

Browse used 2016 Mercedes-Benz SLK-Class listings here.

9. 2017-2020 Fiat 124 Spider


If you are tired of hearing the words “Mazda MX-5 Miata” on lists like these, you might like to hear us say, “Fiat 124 Spider.” The Fiat 124 Spider was jointly produced and based on the MX-5 Miata but was only offered for four total model years. It still looks and feels like a classic two-seat convertible, though, and offers an alternative to the Japanese mainstay on which it shares its underpinnings.


The most desirable model is the 124 Abarth. It is the most hardened model in the lineup, featuring a limited-slip differential, a snarly 1.4-liter turbocharged engine making 164 horsepower and 184 lb-ft of torque, and the possibility of adding Recaro sport seats to the package list. Unfortunately, all of these things do not make it quicker than the Miata to 60 miles per hour.

Other trim levels in the lineup are a bit cushier and less shouty, but that does not detract from the fact that this roadster is a pleasure to drive, even if the Miata still comes out on top in most head-to-head performance battles.

That being said, depreciation is another area of competition against the Miata in which the 124 Spider either wins or loses, based on your perspective. Even Abarth models are on the used market with as few as 15,000 miles.

Browse used 2017-2020 Fiat 124 Spider listings here.

10. 2015-2016 Hyundai Genesis Coupe


Hyundai has offered several sporty offerings over the years, starting with the Tiburon and ending with the more recently deceased Veloster N. An oft-forgotten sports car in the Hyundai lineup, though, came in the form of the Genesis Coupe, offered from 2010 to 2016. The Genesis Coupe never gained the following or notoriety of the Mustang, Camaro, or 370Z, nor did it feature the razor-sharp handling of the Miata, BRZ, or GR86, but it was no slouch.


2015 and 2016 Genesis Coupe models represent the best of what the car had to offer during its lifespan. It was a rear-wheel drive, two-door coupe that was lauded for its styling and powerful V6 engine. It offered 348 horsepower coupled with either a six-speed manual transmission or an eight-speed automatic transmission.

Available in one of three trim levels, you can find base models with cloth seats, LED daytime running lights, and automatic climate control. Enthusiasts will likely prefer either the R-Spec or Ultimate trim better, with Xenon headlights, sports seats, a limited-slip differential, and tuned suspension, depending on your pick. Expect to be pleasantly surprised if you get one, and expect there to be as few as 10,000 miles on the odometer for the best, most well-kept, priciest models.

Browse used 2015-2016 Hyundai Genesis Coupe listings here.

11. 2016 BMW Z4


If the Mercedes-Benz SLK 300 previously mentioned in this list does not suit your fancy, perhaps the BMW Z4 from the same model year will. It also comes as a hardtop convertible roadster, but you have the option to equip a six-speed manual transmission. Additionally, Z4 models with both the 240-horsepower base engine and a more powerful 300-horsepower engine are available for $30,000 or less.


The smaller 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine features one turbocharger while the larger option has a twin-turbo setup. The most powerful 335-horsepower unit is more elusive at our price point. Regardless, the Z4 will offer sharper handling than its German rival while also offering a relatively spacious cabin for a two-seater.

Even base models come equipped with dual-zone climate control, Bluetooth, and rain-sensing windshield wipers. Fuel economy is quite good with estimates of up to 33 MPG on the highway with manual transmission and base engine combinations. You will likely see used examples between 30,000 miles and 80,000 miles on the odometer, depending on your Z4 model of choice.

Browse used 2016 BMW Z4 listings here.

12. 2009-2010 Porsche Cayman


The Porsche Boxster is almost always cited by lists like ours as both one of the best sports cars ever and as an affordable option on the used market. Both of these things are true, but the Cayman is often overshadowed by the Boxster because it does not provide the open-air thrills that its roadster sibling does.


We actually like the Cayman a little better because it is still based on the Boxster, it features a mid-engine layout that provides near-perfect handling balance, and the fixed roof allows for more overall frame rigidity. 2009 to 2010 model year Caymans in particular fall into our budget range.

You will most likely not be able to find a good Cayman S model, but base models should still provide more than enough thrills at our price point. A 2.9-liter flat-four-cylinder engine paired with a six-speed manual transmission, rear-wheel drive, 265 horsepower, and a sub-3,000 pound curb weight all allow the Cayman to earn its reputation as one of the best pure sports cars of all time.

There are few creature comforts of which to speak beyond leather seats, ABS, and a power-operated driver’s seat, but you can have one in decent condition for around $30,000 with 70,000 to 100,000 miles.

Browse used 2009-2010 Porsche Cayman listings here.

13. 2022 Subaru WRX


The Subaru WRX is a sports car disguised as an everyday family sedan. It was completely redesigned for the 2022 model, and the result is that each model comes with some nice features like Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. Even so, the best tech and safety features are reserved for higher-tier trim levels which will drive up the cost of the car.


Each WRX comes standard with a 271-horsepower turbocharged flat-four engine, a six-speed manual transmission, and of course, Subaru’s Symmetrical All-Wheel Drive system. To many enthusiasts’ chagrin, a CVT transmission is available in place of the manual gearbox. Contrarily, most will not care as much that the interior quality is a bit lower than other regular compact cars like the Honda Civic and Mazda Mazda3.

Brand-new base model Subaru WRX models have an MSRP that barely clears $30,000, so it makes sense that you can find year-old models for just under that. Even Premium and Limited models are available on the market with anywhere from 2,000 to 20,000 miles on the odometer.

Browse used 2022 Subaru WRX listings here.

14. 2017-2018 Honda Civic Type R


Despite only being available with a front-wheel drive layout and four doors, most enthusiasts agree that the Honda Civic Type R was one of the most highly anticipated launches in the American automotive segment in decades when it debuted for the 2017 model year. That enthusiasm still shows today as there are few used examples of which to speak.


There are still a few used ones out there, though. You will have to reach back to some of the earliest Type Rs from 2017 and 2018 to find them for around $30,000 but there will likely be more to come on the used market shortly as a redesigned model is back after a one-year hiatus.

2017 and 2018 Type Rs feature a 306-horsepower turbocharged four-cylinder engine, and just like the less powerful Honda Civic Si, it is offered exclusively with a six-speed manual transmission. It looks sort of like a spaceship with booster rockets and wheels, but beneath its edgy styling lies a four-door hatchback with a surprising amount of practicality. It is the perfect vehicle with which to haul your family and show off at the same time.

Styling aside, it has a comfortable ride to complement its excellent handling characteristics. It also comes with some handy features like navigation, Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, and a 7-inch touchscreen. Your best chance right now of finding one is looking to the private market, but there will likely be more examples in the coming year as the newest model continues selling.

Browse used 2017-2018 Honda Civic Type R listings here.

15. 2016-2019 Audi TT


The Audi TT is only the second car on our list to feature standard AWD. To make it stand out a little more, it is the oddest German sports car here as well as perhaps the oddest sports car on our list. Some would not consider it to be a sports car, but we do not have any doubts. It is a small, two-seat coupe or roadster with the looks, competent handling, and engine to back up its claims.


2016 to 2019 model year TTs hit the pricing sweet spot for us, albeit in their base trim levels. Each comes with a 2.0-liter turbo that sends 220 horsepower to the pavement. A six-speed dual-clutch automatic accompanies the 2016, 2017, and 2018 models, while an additional gear was added for 2019. Regardless of how many speeds your TT’s transmission has, the quick-shifting DCT helps it feel quick off the line.

Surprisingly, the TT lacks a center touchscreen, but rather, it features a large digital gauge cluster with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto making the options list for 2017 and newer models. An otherwise upscale interior will remind you that even though the TT is a bit of an oddball, it still carries its German luxury roots with it wherever it goes.

Used examples typically have between 40,000 and 80,000 miles on the odometer, depending on the model year and equipped options.

Browse used 2016-2019 Audi TT listings here.