► Cars to rediscover your love of driving
► Hatchbacks, convertibles, and coupes
► Affordable on the monthlies
You lucky so and so, looking at cheap sports cars. Since you’ve made the effort of finding this article, we’ll let you into a little secret.
The motoring landscape is awash with Jekyll and Hyde comparisons with cars – seemingly showing how they can be a relaxed grocery-getter one minute, and a supercar the next.
But the truth is nothing can touch a bespoke sports car for driving thrills.
The word cheap is doing a lot of heavy lifting in this article – and we admit – sports cars are inherently not cheap. We’ve kept our list to cars with a list price of less than £50,000. While leasing and PCP payments for the list start from around £300 per month and rise to around £500 per month.
Best cheap sports cars
- Toyota GR Yaris
- Mazda MX-5
- Alpine A110
- Porsche Cayman
- Ford Mustang
Toyota GR Yaris
260hp, four-wheel drive, sub £30k and shorter and slippier than a greased up eel.
Its 0-62mph time of 5.5 seconds can be attributed to its weight (1280kg), while its diminutive dimensions ensure it’s one the fastest point-to-point cars on sale.
The driving position isn’t as hunkered down as you’ll find in traditional sports cars (like the Alpine A110 below) but the electric power steering is up to the job – as is the sweet six-speed manual.
The Yaris is such a brilliant hot-hatch it transcends being merely a hatchback, and has transformed itself into a sports car.
View Toyota GR Yaris lease deals
The MX-5 has been the go-to cheap sports car since 1989, only now being pipped to the post by Toyota’s bonkers new Yaris in the value for money race.
It’s available in two flavours: the traditional soft-top MX-5 and the RF, complete with a retractable folding hard-top (hence the ‘RF’). Both offer the classic recipe of zingy non-turbod petrol engine and rear-wheel drive.
There are two engines: a buzzy 1.5-litre and a sweet 2.0-litre. Some purists drone on about the 1.5-litre being a bit more responsive, but it’s also more than 50bhp down on the 2.0-litre (184bhp versus 132bhp). Both come with a superb six-speed manual gearbox, although an auto is available too.
The steering is beautifully weighted and accurate, with feedback through the wheel and seat that rivals much more expensive sports cars.
View Mazda MX-5 lease deals
Not merely happy with marking the rebirth of an iconic sports car brand, the Alpine A110 has earned itself the honour of being one of the purest driving experiences in any new car today.
Interestingly, thanks to double wishbone suspension, the springs can be soft meaning there’s actually a bit of roll in the Alpine compared with other sports cars. But this is its secret power – with roll there’s grip, and the Alpine has tonnes of that to spare, despite the mid-ship engine and rear-wheel drive.
In the middle there’s a 1.8-litre turbo Renault engine in 249bhp tune (or with 288bhp in the S model) connected to a seven-speed Getrag dual clutch auto – that’s right, there’s no manual option.
View Apline A110 lease deals
A sports car list isn’t complete without a Porsche – but seeing as this list is based around affordability, we’ll choose Porsche’s cheapest sports car.
We’ll address the elephant in the room – the six-cylinder 4.0-litre GTS model costs more than the £50k budget – so this list will make do with the 2.5-litre four-cylinder. There’s no escaping the four-banger isn’t as sonorous as the six-cylinder, but the standard 718 Cayman (Cayman S also above £50k) still has 300bhp and a sub 5-second 0-62mph time.
The handling package is nigh-on perfect. It’s willingly agile, and the balance is true and natural thanks to the mid-engine layout. Even the ride (especially with the adjustable dampers) is comfortable.
View Porsche Cayman lease deals
Sports car purists would probably call the Mustang a muscle car rather than a sports car, but frankly this is our list.
A 444bhp 5.0-litre V8 for sub £50k sounds like great value to us, while the Bullit version (458bhp, Dark Highland Green paint, makes you look like Steve McQueen) is also available for sub £50k.
Lazy stereotypes paint American cars as being crude, but the Mustang comes with adaptive dampers, meaning that while it won’t change direction as quickly as a Porsche Cayman, it still steers with precision with a composed ride.
View Ford Mustang lease deals