If you have the need for speed but don’t want to break the bank, take a close look at this list. There are cars for practically every budget in this day and age, and in a time when sports cars typically carry hefty price tags and are equipped with some of the most powerful engines we’ve seen, we’ve scoured the market for affordable sports cars that anyone can buy.
This list includes sports cars that are subcompact, luxury, sedans, coupes, convertibles, and everything in between. All the major car companies are vying for a spot in the competitive low-priced sports car market, and the cars are only getting better and better as the years pass.
There are plenty of reasons why someone would want to drive a sports car. They’re designed to maximize performance in every drive. They’re fun. Many of them have great handling and cornering characteristics, so you can take them on the track as well as the highway. At the most base level, however, sports cars go fast. So if you want a car that has a higher top speed than your typical sedan or hatchback or SUV, one of the cars on this list is definitely what you want.
At the same time, sports cars can also maintain good value over the years, if you’re kind to them. Typically, cars depreciate at an alarming rate, as much as 11% to 30% during its first year alone, or 63% in its first five years. For sports cars, the price decrease is less dramatic, and can even increase depending on what car you choose.
Here are 15 great sports cars for a cheap price—cars that anyone can afford, even if you’re on a budget.
2018 FIAT 124 SPIDER CLASSICA – $24,995
The Fiat 124 Spider Classica is a car that Mazda Miata owners would probably love to take for a spin on an afternoon. Compared to the sporting icon from Japan, from which this car is sprung, it may come across as a little noisy and harsh. But the Fiat 124 is far from a failure: it has managed to convince petrolheads that a cloth-topped, two-seater can be as focused and powerful as a $30,000 hatchback. The 124 Spider Classica takes its design cues from the classic 1960s-era Fiat 124. It’s a pure driving experience, with a beautifully finished interior and exterior.
2019 CHEVROLET CAMARO – $25,000
The 2019 Chevrolet Camaro comes in tons of different trims, but the even the base model is sufficient as a great sports car. This iconic automobile starts at just $25,000, and runs on a 2.0-liter, turbocharged, inline-four engine that produces 275 horsepower. You can also get the SS model with a 6.2-liter LT1 V8 engine worth 455 horsepower, and the ZL1 supercharged model with a 650-horsepower LT4 engine based off the Corvette Z06. The Camaro has been a legendary car since its muscle car days starting in 1966, and Chevrolet doesn’t show any signs of slowing down with the model.
2019 BUICK REGAL SPORTBACK – $25,070
The all-new Buick Regal Sportback isn’t at the same level as other sleek four-doors, where Audi, BMW, or Porsche still rule, but it’s still a handsome sport trim package on a car with a turbocharged, 2.0-liter inline-four engine, front-wheel drive, and a nine-speed automatic.
It’s an athletic car, and comes with plenty of gadgets up front in the infotainment section.
While the Buick Regal is an upscale luxury sedan that costs a fraction of the cost of cars from the aforementioned companies, the Regal Sportback also costs a fraction, at $25,070, but produces well, with a 250-horsepower base powerplant.
2018 FORD FOCUS ST – $25,170
The Ford Focus ST has quickly become one of the most popular sports car trims on a little hot hatch out of Detroit. The ST is not the most powerful Ford Focus available, but the range-topping RS trim is out of the price range for this article. The ST comes with a turbocharged, 2.0-liter, four-cylinder engine—like many cars on this list—but this one pushes out 252 horsepower, which is fantastic. That’s more than the similarly priced VW GTI. A six-speed manual is the only available transmission, and with its front-wheel drive layout it gets 22 mpg in the city and 30 on the highway.
2018 MAZDA MIATA SPORT – $25,295
One of the most iconic sports cars in the world is, without a doubt, the Mazda MX-5 Miata. It’s also possibly one of the most fun cars to drive on this list. The sports coupe has great fuel economy numbers, agile handling, a well-built cabin, and it received a new optional package for 2018 with Brembo brakes and Recaro seats. The ND (2016 to present generation) Miata has only one engine option: a 155-horsepower four-cylinder that comes with a six speed manual transmission. But that’s all it needs. Its small engine powers this small car with ease, and what it lacks in horsepower it more than makes up for by being the best handling car in its class.
2018 SUBARU BRZ PREMIUM – $25,595
The Subaru BRZ Premium is the only car the company offers in this country that comes without all-wheel drive, making it a bit of an anomaly. The rear-wheel-drive sports car is number five on Cars.com’s sports car rankings, thanks to its engaging and energetic driving characteristics paired with its peppy engine.
The base BRZ comes with a 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine that has 205 horsepower and is mated to a six-speed manual transmission.
You can upgrade the car to an automatic transmission, though that brings the horsepower figures down to 200. This is a great car for turning tight corners, and it starts at just $25,595.
2019 FORD MUSTANG ECOBOOST – $26,120
The Ford Mustang is another car on this list that is an absolute legend. The pony car from the 1960s was always one of the most popular sports cars of its day, and it still is to date. The 2019 Ford Mustang comes with a simple infotainment system, a comfortable interior, and smooth, agile handling. The base Mustang comes with a 2.3-liter, turbocharged, four-cylinder engine that pushes out 310 horsepower. The turbo gives the Mustang great fuel economy for the class it’s in, and the base engine can beat most competitors head-to-head. The rear-wheel drive Mustang offers sharp handling, and a variety of limited slip rear differentials even fit into the mix.
2018 VOLKSWAGEN GTI S – $26,415
The 2018 Volkswagen GTI is a hatchback from the German automakers that offers quick acceleration, an intuitively advanced infotainment system, and agile handling. The GTI has been popular for years, and it’s still kicking and innovating year-in and year-out.
It runs on a powerful turbocharged, four-cylinder engine that pushes out 220 horsepower, 10 more horses than the 2017 model.
This hot hatch comes standard with a six-speed manual transmission, though a six-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission is also available. Best of all, the sport trim GTI only costs $26,415, which is a low price for the amenities this car offers.
2018 TOYOTA 86 – $26,455
The Toyota 86 is the company’s effort to compete with like-minded sports cars in the low-cost market. This car has audible visible characteristics that will remind you that you’re driving one of the sharpest, keenest, and most enjoyable sports cars available today. It’s a very accessible sports car, and one that won’t break the bank, either. It’s a refreshing alternative to the likes of the Mazda Miata, for those seeking a lightweight, rear-drive car with Toyota badging rather than Subaru logos on the front and rear. With its 2.0-liter, four-cylinder engine that pushes out 205 horsepower, this is a car that you can have fun driving anywhere you take it.
2018 SUBARU WRX – $26,995
The 2018 Subaru WRX is not a typical sports car. It offers precise handling and is one of the only cars in its class that comes standard with all-wheel drive. For 2018, the WRX received updated suspension, steering, and front seats.
The base WRX comes with a powerful 268-horsepower, turbocharged, four-cylinder engine, making it one of the most powerful engines in its compact car class.
It comes paired with a six-speed manual transmission, though a continuously variable automatic transmission (CVT) is optional. The WRX sticks to the road better than almost any other sports car, especially in inclement weather.
2019 DODGE CHALLENGER – $27,595
The Dodge Challenger is what many little sports coupes wish they could be. It offers a robust V6 engine for a small price, an easy infotainment system, and a surprisingly large backseat and trunk. The V6 provides powerful acceleration thanks to its 305 horses, though it isn’t as powerful as some rival cars’ base engines. The rear-wheel drive Challenger is a big car with a lot of character. It has strong brakes and offers tight handling, though it’s not as agile as some of its rivals. There may be body roll when taking tight turns, but the Challenger still exceeds in many respects, especially if bought with any of the massive V8 engine packages.
2019 DODGE CHARGER – $28,995
Right next to the Dodge Challenger is the Charger, another iconic sports car that retails for the affordable starting price of just $28,995, depending on the trim you select. Under the hood of the Charger is a 3.6-liter V6 engine that can deliver as much as 300 horsepower. Aside from that, you have other optional powerplants, including the 6.2-liter supercharged HEMI SRT Hellcat V8 engine (which will run you a lot more), the 392 HEMI engine, and the 5.7-liter HEMI V8 engine. The 2019 Charger comes with several comfortable and convenient features like heated and ventilated seats, dual zone temperature control, and a heated leather-wrapped steering wheel.
2019 CHRYSLER 300 – $28,995
The 2019 Chrysler 300 is another car that sits on the precipice between sports car and luxury sedan. But with its rear-wheel drive and 3.6-liter V6 Pentastar engine base, which produces 300 horsepower, you can call this thing a sports car.
There’s also the optional 6.4-liter 392 HEMI V8 that produces 470 horsepower, which would really make this luxury sedan tear across the roadways.
This is one of the nicest looking cars on this list, and it’s hard to believe it’s available for a base price of only $28,995. This popular car has been available since 2005, and with a second generation available since 2011, we expect a highly detailed makeover in the upcoming years. But does it need it?
2018 NISSAN 370Z – $29,990
Coming in at just under $30,000 is the 2018 Nissan 370Z, a very sporty car with tight handling and a brawny V6 engine. The base engine—a 3.7-liter V6 that pushes out 332 horsepower—feels almost as powerful as a V8. Nissan offers the SynchroRev Match system that adjusts the throttle for smoother downshifts with its six-speed manual transmission. The 370Z handles well and is capable of holding its own on the track and on winding roads. A sport-tuned suspension comes standard, though it might make the car feel stiff for drivers who aren’t used to driving a sports car.
2018 AUDI A3 SEDAN – $31,950
Audi is known for its super luxurious, super high-end cars—all of which have great engines and drivability. The cheapest Audi you can buy in the United States is the A3 sedan, a small subcompact car that has been manufactured since 1996. This sporty sedan is in its third generation, and shares the same great characteristics of other, more expensive Audis. For about $8,000 more you can get yourself the A3 Sportback with hybrid technology under the hood. Though not as agile as some others on this list, the A3 still gets 220 horsepower from its 2.0-liter TFSI four-cylinder engine, and has a top speed of 144 mph.