There’s plenty of variety in the sports car market – from lightweight roadsters to bruising coupes, almost every performance car fan is catered for. We take a look at 10 of the best.
- Mazda MX-5
- Audi TT
- Toyota GT86
- Fiat 124 Spider
- Porsche 718 Boxster
- BMW M240i
- Jaguar F-Type
- Mercedes SLC
- BMW Z4
- Nissan 370Z
1. Mazda MX-5
A short stint behind the wheel is enough to see why the Mazda MX-5 is the biggest selling two-seat sports car of all time. At a time when so many cars feel slow and bloated, the compact Mazda is sharp, agile and – most importantly – huge fun.
It’s offered with a modest 129hp 1.5-litre petrol engine or a slightly more powerful 158hp 2.0-litre unit. Its lightweight construction means these models can sprint from 0-62mph in just 8.3 and 7.3 seconds respectively. Its gearbox feels fantastic to use, the pedals are comfortably positioned and, with the roof down, the exhaust note sounds suitably sporty.
2. Audi TT
The gorgeous Audi TT Roadster – or Coupe, if you’d prefer to keep your hairdo in check – turns heads like little else for the money. Step inside and you’ll be treated to a beautifully built cabin with upmarket materials and a stylish minimalist design.
The range kicks off with a 2.0-litre diesel model capable of reaching 62mph from rest in 7.1 seconds but drivers looking for a serious performance machine will prefer the 395hp TT RS version. This baby supercar will set you back more than £51,000 but can complete the same 0-62mph sprint in just 3.7 seconds thanks to its quattro four-wheel-drive system.
3. Toyota GT86
The Toyota GT86 isn’t the most stunning car to look at on our list, nor does it feel the plushest inside. It is, however, a focused and affordable sports car that delivers a huge dose of driving thrills for a bargain price tag.
Performance from its 2.0-litre engine is modest – the 197hp unit can deliver a 7.7-second 0-62mph time – but its boxer configuration gives the car low centre of gravity that helps to improve its handling. In addition to its excellent chassis, the steering and gearshift are wonderfully precise, the brakes are reassuringly strong and the driving position is better than anything else on our list.
4. Fiat 124 Spider
The Fiat 124 Spider not only borrows the name of a classic sports car from the Italian brand’s history but a number of styling cues, too – most noticeably the distinctive headlights, angular brake lights and twin bonnet bulges. Behind its retro body, however, lurks a chassis shared with the excellent Mazda MX-5.
The Fiat’s suspension is tuned to be more forgiving than the Mazda to make it more comfortable on longer journeys. The Fiat features a perky 138hp 1.4-litre turbocharged engine in place of Mazda’s non-turbo units that can accelerate the 124 to 62mph from rest in 7.5 seconds.
5. Porsche 718 Boxster
The Porsche 718 Boxster is, arguably, one of the finest handling cars money can buy. The chassis is superbly balanced thanks to its mid-engined layout and both the ride and the feedback offered through its controls are excellent.
The 718 Boxster has ditched the previous car’s six-cylinder engines for a pair of more powerful flat-four turbocharged units. The new 2.0-litre model offers up 300hp and a 5.1-second 0-62mph time while the 718 Boxster S, thanks to its 350hp 2.5-litre engine, knocks another half a second from that figure.
Not sure if this is the car for you? Read our full Porsche 718 Boxster review for more details.
6. BMW M240i
The BMW M240i is an involving and charismatic sports car thanks to its 335hp 3.0-litre turbocharged engine and the German firm’s signature rear-wheel drive chassis. It’s also offered as a slinky soft-top so you can enjoy the raucous wail of its straight-six engine with the wind in your hair.
Whether you pick the coupe or convertible, the M240i is seriously rapid – models equipped with the six-speed manual gearbox can crack the 0-62mph sprint in only 4.9-seconds while eight-speed automatic versions are 0.3 seconds quicker. Best of all, it’s by far the most practical car on our list thanks to its four usable seats and 390-litre boot.
Check out our full BMW M240i review for full details.
7. Jaguar F-Type
The Jaguar F-Type may look like a show-stopping boulevard cruiser but don’t let the pretty face fool you – in reality, it’s a modern day hot rod. Its 3.0-litre supercharged V6 pumps out a growling 375hp – more than enough to launch this two-seater to 62mph from rest in just 5.3 seconds.
Both the Coupe and Convertible versions come with sumptuous cabins and excellent standard equipment – perfect for when the time comes to settle into a long motorway cruise after a back road blast.
8. Mercedes SLC
The Mercedes SLC is an ideal roadster for those who want to use their cabriolets every day. The cabin is solidly built, the ride is comfortable and, thanks to a metal retractable roof, it’s happy to cover long distances in all weather conditions.
There’s a model to suit most budgets and performance ambitions including a 184hp 2.0-litre petrol model that can reach 62mph from rest in seven seconds and a diesel version capable of 70.6mpg. The most potent option, however, comes in the form of the AMG SLC 43 – thanks to a twin-turbo 3.0-litre V6 it’ll accelerate from 0-62mph in just 4.7 seconds.
9. BMW Z4
The distinctive look of the BMW Z4 makes for an instantly recognisable shape on the road – and a great view from the driver’s seat. The cabin is well-built and comfortable but does become a little draughty at speed.
Its chassis is set up more for a relaxed cruise rather than all-out B-road attack but performance in the range-topping 335hp sDrive35is isn’t exactly lacking. The twin-turbocharged 3.0-litre straight-six endows the Z4 with a 0-62 time of 4.8 seconds – a match for almost anything in our top 10.
Read our BMW Z4 review for more details.
10. Nissan 370Z
While several cars on our list rely on pin-sharp precision and light weight for their sports car thrills, the Nissan 370Z does things a little differently. This is a burly coupe with an old-school feel that’s enormous fun to drive.
There’s no turbocharging needed here – its 3.7-litre V6 pumps out 324hp, enough for a 5.3-second 0-62mph time. Still a little too slow? Try out the Nismo 370Z with more aggressive suspension and an extra 16hp. Competitors may have a little more finesse, but many struggle to match the 370Z’s charm.
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