Driving should be a fun experience, and there’s no better way to enjoy a great road than from behind the wheel of a sports car. Don’t think that you’ll have to break the bank to get one either – there are loads of great options out there for less than £30,000.
Here are the best sports cars for less than £30,000:
- Audi TT
- Mazda MX-5
- Fiat 124 Spider
- Toyota GT86
- Subaru BRZ
- BMW 2 Series
- Abarth 124 Spider
- BMW Z4
- Mercedes SLC
- Nissan 370Z
1. Audi TT
Despite being a sports car, the Audi TT is a consummate all-rounder. It’ll thrill you on a twisty road with its powerful engines, grippy optional four-wheel drive and decent turn of speed. Settle back, however, and the TT takes on a more sedate, cruiser-like attitude with firm-yet-cosseting suspension and a beautifully built interior featuring advanced technology such as Audi’s Virtual Cockpit digital dials.
2. Mazda MX-5
The Mazda MX-5 is a sports car in the most traditional sense – it’s powered by a revvy non-turbo petrol engine, has a small, lightweight body, and has darty, accurate steering. It’s not the fastest car on this list but might be the most fun from behind the wheel with steering that seems to sense your movements before you make them. The MX-5 cockpit is spacious enough for its two occupants although some lower plastics feel a bit cheap – and it’s good value for money.
3. Fiat 124 Spider
If you prefer cruising down the boulevard to attacking a racetrack, the Fiat 124 Spider is worth a look. It’s based on the MX-5 so features the same sporty feeling and intuitive controls but uses a 1.4-litre turbo engine. This gives it more torque, making it feel less frantic and requiring fewer gearchanges to accelerate promptly. Elsewhere, the 124 interior is unchanged compared to the Mazda with similarly decent space and build quality.
4. Toyota GT86
The Toyota GT86 lies at the sportier end of the spectrum. It has firm suspension that resists body roll well and a revvy 200hp 2.0-litre petrol engine that encourages you to wring its neck to get the best from it. It has a pair of rear seats but even small children won’t be impressed with the very limited legroom – these are best used as extra storage. The GT86’s interior feels rugged but can’t match the upmarket cabins of more premium cars on this list.
5. Subaru BRZ
Subaru’s BRZ is a rebadged version of Toyota’s GT86 – the only tangible differences are slightly reshaped bumpers and altered headlights and taillights. On the road, the Subaru feels marginally sharper than the Toyota and less prone to drifting when you’re not expecting it, while also having firmer suspension. Inside, little has changed so you still get a well-built cabin but slightly cheap-feeling materials and rear seats best used as storage.
6. BMW 2 Series
If you want the thrills of a sports car in an upmarket package, the BMW 2 Series easily fits that bill. You can get it with a huge range of engines but, for less than £30,000 when combined with your carwow discount, the powerful 2.0-litre turbo 230i just falls in budget. On the road, it has masses of grip and its controls feel perfectly weighted while there’s just enough room in the cabin for four adult passengers for short journeys.
7. Abarth 124 Spider
Ignore the sense of deja vu, the Abarth 124 Spider might look the same as its Fiat sibling further up, but it’s fitted with a more powerful engine. Its 1.4-litre turbo engine now sounds sportier and makes 170hp, cutting its 0-62mph time to 6.8 seconds – nearly a second quicker than the Fiat version. The interior is unchanged so has enough space for two passengers and their bags for a weekend away.
8. BMW Z4
It’s getting on a bit, but the BMW Z4 is still a good sports car. It’s one of the few convertibles to get a folding-metal hardtop roof, meaning it has both the sense of security given by a solid roof, and the wind-in-the-hair thrills of a convertible. Only the entry-level Z4 sDrive18i model comes under budget but this 156hp model has enough power for relaxed overtakes and hushed cruising on the motorway.
9. Mercedes SLC
The Mercedes SLC is a sports car with the premium touches you’d expect from a car with its prestigious badge. Its focus on comfort means it’s not quite as exciting to drive as a BMW 2 Series but it’s easier on longer journeys thanks to its softer suspension and more hushed cabin. No SLCs cost less than £30,000 but huge average carwow discounts – more than £8,000 at the time of writing – put both the SLC 200 and the diesel SLC 250d in reach.
10. Nissan 370Z
Nissan’s 370Z has been around for a while but time hasn’t withered its muscular appeal. Where rivals are light with small engines, the Nissan is hefty and powered by a sizeable 3.7-litre V6 petrol engine. The cabin looks its age but still feels well built and suits the car’s sledgehammer-like unsophisticated image. Entry-level models get small back seats while the 235-litre boot is awkwardly shaped, limiting practicality somewhat.
Save money on your next new car
Keen on any of our top 10? Check out our new cars deal page to find the latest discounts on all the models featured here and our PCP calculator will help you get a better idea how much they could cost. If you can’t quite figure out what your next car will be, our car chooser is here to help.