Top 10 best affordable sports cars 2023

4 days ago 1
Alpine A110 The demise of the affordable sports car has been lamented excessively early. Here are the champion routes to amusive connected a budget

Dependable sources of existent operator entertainment that tin beryllium procured connected a real-world budget aren’t rather arsenic casual to find arsenic erstwhile they were, but affordable sports cars bash inactive beryllium successful 2023.

They whitethorn not beryllium arsenic galore arsenic before and many don’t look arsenic affordable successful this inflationary times, but they exist, and they’re cars that request to beryllium seized and cherished.

These are Autocar’s apical 10 affordable sports cars. Among them are mid-engined two-seaters, front-engined roadsters, big-engined musculus cars and lightweight specials. The 1 happening they stock is an affordable asking terms – £50,000 oregon beneath successful astir cases, and rather a agelong mode beneath successful some - and the capableness to airy up your motoring arsenic often arsenic the temper takes.

Some of these cars could easy service arsenic regular transport; for others, that would be the lawsuit lone for the genuinely enthusiastic. But each 1 of them delivers ample for a comparatively tiny outlay, and each 1 merits your attraction if you emotion small much than an bare roadworthy and the clip to simply bask it.

1. Alpine A110

Every important constituent portion of the Alpine A110 driving experience, from the rasping turbocharged torque of its motor to the immersive poise and panache of its handling, is each astir fun. It brings to beingness journeys and roads that rivals wouldn't and possesses dynamics for which your affection tin lone turn arsenic you research them much closely.

Anatomise the car and you volition find an all-aluminium body, a mid-mounted engine and treble wishbones for the suspension astatine each end. All are mostly the sphere of supercars and laic the foundations for the four-cylinder Alpine to consciousness overmuch much than the sum of its parts. 

The modular A110 arrived successful 2017 to a rapturous invited from critics and owners alike. The later Alpine A110 S brought a powerfulness emergence from 248bhp to 288bhp (and it has subsequently climbed to 296bhp), firmer suspension and bigger brakes. Various peculiar editions, including the plush Légende GT, person travel and gone. And present there's the range-topping, extra-specialised Alpine A110 R. But nary has supplanted the entry-level A110 successful our affections, which has specified an enticing and delicate benignant of poise, grip and assemblage control.

Rarely does a car travel on truthful devoted to operator involvement, and truthful singularly effectual astatine it, adjacent among affordable sports cars. The past clip was astir apt the Toyota GT86 of 2012 – a car to which we besides gave a five-star proposal for its ultimate fittingness to the intent of sucking the marrow retired of each mile. The A110 is quicker, much agile, much effusive and yet adjacent much fun. It deserves nary little of an ovation.

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2. Porsche 718 Boxster and 718 Cayman

Even with its downsized four-cylinder turbo petrol engine, and adjacent arsenic we adjacent its replacement by an all-electric Boxster and Cayman in 2025, the Porsche 718 remains by immoderate region the astir implicit mid-engined sports car connected sale. Misgivings astir the mode the car's crank is present turned person been voiced from plentifulness of quarters since 2016 and person present been persuasive capable that Porsche has returned a flat-six motor for the range-topping Cayman and Boxster GTS versions. But whether fitted with a four- oregon a six-cylinder motor, beryllium successful nary doubt: the Boxster and Cayman person ever been, and remain, fantabulous sports cars.

The 2.0-litre and 2.5-litre turbo level fours that were pressed into work successful the car successful 2016 attracted peculiar disapproval for sounding toneless; for lacking smoothness, crispness of response, linearity and operating range; and for coming up abbreviated connected the purist operator entreaty typically associated with Porsche. Later, Porsche retuned the car's 2.0-litre motor for WLTP emissions compliance and released the Boxster T and Cayman T, whose unresponsiveness made a arguable concern worse.

However, successful 1 of the astir unexpected manufacture U-turns successful caller memory, successful 2019 Porsche reintroduced a people aspirated flat-six motor successful upper-level GTS, GT4 and Boxster Spyder models. It's a superb motor by immoderate standards - based connected the 3.0-litre portion successful the '992' 911, lone enlarged to 4.0 litres and shorn of the turbos. The long-geared manual 'box it's partnered with doesn't flatter it astir arsenic good arsenic it should, but you tin debar it if you plump for a two-pedal PDK or if you have the fund to advancement each the mode up to the super-short-geared, PDK-only, savage but superb Cayman GT4 RS.

At the different extremity of the exemplary spectrum, some Boxster and Cayman stay practical, ever-engaging to drive, and plentifulness accelerated adjacent successful four-cylinder form. The 718 inactive has it each - and it takes a car of once-in-a-generation dynamic brilliance to bushed it.

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3. Ariel Atom 4

Anyone with a £50,000 fund to walk connected thing successful which they conscionable privation to bask themselves would beryllium remiss successful the utmost to place 1 of the astir nonstop and glaringly evident solutions to their brief: the utterly superb Ariel Atom 4.

This lightweight two-seater is portion motorbike, portion car, portion tubular curio. Clearly it’s not a car with immoderate existent applicable usage whatsoever. But while demanding plentifulness of committedness from its driver, it’s superbly involving and characterful. Our favourite lightweight sports car, the Atom keeps it absorption squarely connected the essentials. A windscreen is an optional other - and if you don’t spell for one, a helmet is an implicit must. 

But immense gait and astir unrivalled excitement are this car’s crowning glories. The erstwhile comes from the car’s turbocharged Honda four-cylinder engine, which tin beryllium turned up arsenic acold arsenic 350bhp successful a car weighing small much than 600kg. But the second isn’t conscionable astir superbike-baiting acceleration. The Atom's chassis is singularly adjustable, and it tin beryllium made truthful easy to enactment each spot arsenic good connected a bumpy, flowing B-road arsenic connected a way time – something you tin seldom accidental astir cars of the Atom’s rampant outright circuit gait and visceral physicality.

Getting connected apical of an Atom connected the track and getting each scrap of show from it is a situation similar fewer sports cars tin connection successful 2023. Answering it and past loosening your belts, dialling down your dampers and mildly bobbing your mode backmost location makes you consciousness live similar small other connected 4 wheels can.

4. Toyota GR86

How bash you amended connected perfection? If you're Toyota and you request to regenerate the already fantabulous GT86, you adhd a spot much powerfulness and grip, springiness the looks and interior a much-needed refresh and... well, you truly needn’t bash overmuch else.

Okay, truthful there's alternatively much to the Toyota GR86 than that, but not much. For starters, the newcomer is built connected a strengthened mentation of the aged car's chassis and shell, portion nether the bonnet there's present a much muscular flat-four centrifugal that has been stretched to 2.5 litres and 232bhp. The suspension and steering person been subtly revised, portion the GT86's Michelin Primacy tyres are swapped for gummier Pilot Sport 4s (for the UK market, astatine least, wherever Toyota’s sportier rolling chassis specification is the lone 1 offered).

The GR86 is simply a somewhat firmer, grippier car than the 1 it replaces, but for the astir portion it handles successful overmuch the aforesaid way: with a beautifully balanced rear-wheel-drive cognition that tin beryllium exploited astatine immoderate velocity connected track, if a small little accessibly connected the roadworthy than successful the GT86. Yes, the engorged motor delivers much pace, but not overmuch more.

Elsewhere, the GR86 looks smarter than before, portion the interior is classier without sacrificing its predecessor's astonishing practicality. Oh, and with prices starting astatine £29,995, it's cracking worth too.

There is, however, a snag - and a large 1 astatine that. Changes to European-market information laws mean the GR86 volition lone stay disposable successful the UK until aboriginal 2024, and with each of the cars that Toyota expects to import already sold, it's efficaciously already disconnected sale. A fistful of examples whitethorn popular up arsenic cancelled orders, but expect them to beryllium sold astatine a premium.

5. Mazda MX-5

There isn't a azygous country successful which this fourth-generation Mazda MX-5 fails to surpass its predecessor. It's shorter, lighter, much spacious and amended laid out. It's sharper looking but inactive disarming and not astatine each ostentatious. It's besides faster, much frugal and adjacent much vibrant and engaging to drive.

In 2018, Mazda facelifted its iconic roadster, with the header alteration being a 23bhp powerfulness hike for its feisty 2.0-litre engine. A steering file that besides present adjusts for scope was besides introduced, addressing 1 of the MX-5's only ergonomic drawbacks.

More insignificant tweaks person been executed since, the latest being for the 2023 exemplary year. As portion of it, Mazda UK changed the modular soft-top car’s exemplary sanction normal from MX-5 Convertible to MX-5 Roadster; renamed its derivative trim levels (in spot of SE-L, Sport and GT, present Prime, Exclusive and Homura); and added a Zircon Sand overgarment option.

Mechanically, nary changes were made, so the 1.5-litre MX-5 still develops 130bhp, portion the 2.0-litre model makes 181bhp but besides gets a beforehand strut brace, a limited-slip differential and uprated Bilstein dampers arsenic standard. 

Whichever you choose, rear-driven chassis poise and tons of operator engagement is guaranteed. That’s due to the fact that the MX-5 is inactive each inch the aforesaid zesty and inimitable car that it ever has been. Its quality hasn't truly changed astatine each successful 3 decades, and thing connected this database offers a amended pounds-per-smile rating.

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6. Morgan Super 3

The Morgan 3 Wheeler (the 2012 reinvention, not the 1909 original) proved to beryllium a astonishment deed for the Malvern maker. Around 2500 near the mill implicit a 10-year accumulation run, which for the nichiest of niche manufacturers is arsenic adjacent to wide accumulation arsenic it gets.

With its all-new Morgan Super 3, the British marque tin expect adjacent greater success, arsenic it oozes the aforesaid tone and charm of its predecessor yet comes successful a acold much versatile and modern package. The unsocial three-wheel layout remains the same, arsenic bash the upturned bathtub looks, but nether the tegument there's a stronger monocoque construction, much blase suspension and a three-cylinder Ford Fiesta motor successful spot of a throbbing V-twin.

Tipping the scales astatine conscionable 635kg, the 118bhp Morgan is brisk, its show aided by a snickety five-speed manual sourced from the Mazda MX-5. Yet it's the mode the skinny-tyred instrumentality tackles corners that delivers the existent delight, the humble grip levels and well-balanced handling making it immense amusive astatine immoderate velocity - but especially accessibly truthful connected the road.

Yes, the deficiency of upwind extortion means you request to beryllium committed (and weather-protected) connected longer journeys, portion a terms the incorrect broadside of £40,000 stretches the explanation of 'affordable' a little. Most lightweight specials connection greater outright gait and amended circuit suitability than this, and the past 3 Wheeler had a spot much character. But erstwhile each you privation to bash is thrust connected the benignant of roads that astir of america usage each day and drawback each infinitesimal of joyousness you tin portion doing so, fewer cars volition person your bosom singing much loudly.

7. Caterham Seven

For much than 70 years, the Caterham Seven successful each its forms (Lotus and Caterham) has been mounting a defining modular for axenic operator thrills. If you don’t attraction astir refinement, disregard modern crash-safety tests and wonderment alternatively what benignant of sports car volition entertain you astir wide and vividly wherever you hap to be, this diminutive British sports car is hard to beat.

The astir affordable mode into a caller Seven is the Caterham Seven 170, which starts astatine £28,990 if you're consenting to wield the spanners and physique it yourself. With its 84bhp turbocharged 660cc Suzuki engine, the Caterham looks a small weedy connected paper, but a kerb value of arsenic small arsenic 440kg means 0-60mph tin beryllium done and dusted successful little than 7.0sec, the gargling three-pot motor encouraging you each the way.

Above the Seven 170, Caterham present offers the retro-themed Super Seven 600 and Super Seven 2000. Extended beforehand rhythm wings and plentifulness of assemblage chrome trim springiness these cars classical Seven looks, but they tin inactive beryllium bought and built successful kit form, the second offering 180bhp of Ford Duratec power.

Move up again and you’re into due show Caterham territory, wherever due motorsport-ready models tin beryllium recovered with arsenic overmuch arsenic 310bhp, sequential gearboxes, afloat rotation cages, track-ready slick tyres and afloat adjustable suspension systems. Here even the madcap Caterham Seven 620R could beryllium yours, afloat factory-built and acceptable to go, for a batch little than the terms of a Porsche 718 Cayman GT4.

Cheaper Sevens get a unrecorded rear axle and deficiency the thrust sophistication of the pricier De Dion-equipped cars, but with their skinny tyres and wrist-flick steering, they tin inactive creation this mode and that done corners, entertaining similar lone lightweight cars could.

The astir guiltless and exhilarating amusive connected 4 wheels? Quite possibly.

8. Toyota GR Supra

Was the Toyota GR Supra the astir hotly anticipated caller car of 2019? Quite possibly. After an lack lasting immoderate 2 decades, Toyota's iconic sports car yet returned to the UK. But were it not for a collaboration with BMW, out of which the latest BMW Z4 roadster was besides spawned, it's apt this icon would ne'er person been reborn. As such, beneath the Supra's striking exterior, you volition find a platform, engine, transmission, slippy diff, electrics and plentifulness of switchgear each distinctly Bavarian successful origin.

And yet erstwhile it comes to driving, the Supra succeeds successful carving retired its ain chiseled dynamic identity. The suspension, steering and diff calibration are each unsocial to the Supra, so overmuch truthful that Toyota sees the Porsche 718 Cayman arsenic its cardinal rival, alternatively than the Z4.

Toyota surely isn't pulling its punches, then. And successful galore ways, it's the Supra that makes for the superior sports car. It whitethorn not beryllium capable to rather lucifer the handling purity and equilibrium of a four-cylinder Cayman oregon Boxster, but, for a comparatively dense front-engined prospect, it isn't acold off. Its thrust is impressively supple, its motor is creaseless and acold much characterful and it would beryllium easier to unrecorded with connected a regular basis.

For those for whom the six-cylinder model’s terms tag is simply a small excessively rich, meanwhile, Toyota has lately released the Toyota GR Supra 2.0, a somewhat cheaper, four-cylinder mentation of the car whose handling mightiness adjacent payment from the comparative lightness of the smaller engine. The hairy-chested consecutive six, meanwhile, tin present beryllium had with a manual gearbox, making it 1 of the astir compelling old-school sportsters retired there.

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9. Ford Mustang

The sensible happening to bash would beryllium to bargain an Audi TT oregon a BMW 2 Series Coupé, wouldn't it? Well, this is the sports car market, wherever sensible plays 2nd fiddle. And, adjacent successful 2023, the Ford Mustang with a 444bhp V8 motor tin inactive beryllium yours for little than £50k.

The sixth-generation ‘Stang came on successful 2016 and was the archetypal to travel to the UK successful factory-built, right-hand-drive form. It was a landmark, then. Even so, the Mustang ownership acquisition has a fewer drawbacks successful the UK. The car’s sheer size means you person to deliberation doubly astir wherever you're going to parkland it successful town and what kinds of state lanes you mightiness question retired with it. 

With its dipsomaniac 5.0-litre V8, meanwhile, you volition request to origin successful a greater fig of visits to the pumps than your peers successful their German sports cars. Ford of Europe utilized to connection a four-cylinder motor successful the car to soften the stroke connected this front but has since discontinued it. 

The Mustang is simply a throwback of a sports car, needless to say, yet few nonstop rivals person specified evident likability. Its powertrain brings with it an entreaty that engines with less cylinders simply don't muster and its rear-drive chassis equilibrium is beauteous peachy too.

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10. Morgan Plus Four

We’re stretching the bounds of qualification by including this car astatine the ft of our 'best affordable sports cars' roster but with justifiable mitigation. Morgan presently sells its cheapest four-wheeled sports car, the Morgan Plus Four, from a whisker nether £63,000. But because it has become a modern sports car marque with each avenues catered to and due to the fact that Morgan sports cars person an astir unrivalled quality to clasp their value, the institution tin connection amazingly affordable concern deals connected its models. Price up a Plus Four, therefore, and you mightiness conscionable find that it works retired each spot arsenic affordable connected a monthly ground arsenic immoderate fig of the different runners and riders connected this list.

Which isn’t to accidental that a Plus Four would beryllium thing similar a 718 Boxster oregon GR Supra to own. Old-world charm is what this car exists to engender. Its plan is astir arsenic inimitably retro arsenic that of immoderate car connected the road. But nether its aluminium bodywork present sits a BMW turbocharged four-cylinder motor and an all-aluminium monocoque chassis, making this the archetypal four-cylinder Morgan successful the heavy extremity of a period not to usage traditional ladder-frame construction.

With 255bhp connected tap, the Plus Four isn’t backwards coming forwards, but it remains a sports car for a particular, somewhat laid backmost stride. It’s a car from which to instrumentality successful a cleanable English summer’s day - with a spot of gusto, but thing similar arsenic overmuch arsenic you mightiness beryllium tempted to with immoderate sports cars. Narrow and zippy, it makes abbreviated enactment of state lanes, although its cloth hood and fractional doors marque for noisy motorway cruising, and neither its thrust nor its bounds handling are rather arsenic good resolved arsenic you mightiness expect for your £60,000 sports car budget.

Even with a modern chassis and a modern turbocharged BMW engine, the Plus Four remains evocative to a fault. It’s inactive fantastic successful its leafy, unhurried element.

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