Sportiest looking cars

Fancy a sporty-looking car that turns heads when driving through town but need it to to be affordable, too? Here are eight great options

James Wilson
Mar 19, 2021

Like the idea of having a sporty looking car parked outside your house? Something the neighbours will talk about and children will gawp at. Typically, the more exciting a car looks the more expensive it is, while sportier cars also tend to be harder to live with. And there is only so many times you can wake the whole street with a loud exhaust before those same neighbours start to hate you.

However, there is a small selection of sporty cars that are perfectly easy to live with and can cost very little to run. Take the BMW 320d M Sport for example. A car which looks rather tasty but is easily capable of more than 50mpg - meaning that your fuel bills should be pretty low - is comfy enough to drive from London to Edinburgh (with a number of passengers) and comes with many of the more desirable in-car gadgets.

In fact, there are all kinds of makes and models and body styles that look sportier than they perhaps are to drive. This does not mean the cars highlighted below are all show and no go, though. Some of them are very enjoyable to drive, even if they lack the acceleration of more focused performance cars. Meanwhile, others offer a pretty substantial punch, making them faster than the vast majority of cars on the road.

Due to the sheer volume of potentials, we've focused on cars that look particularly sporty for that type of car. While some look super-modern with sharp, chiselled lines, others are more sleek and luxurious in style but offering more than a hint of muscle. All the cars below are available used on BuyaCar from less than £10,000 up to £40,000.

Sportiest looking cars

1. Lexus RC

Sportiest looking coupe for cruising

Our pick Lexus RC 300h F-Sport
Used deals from £22,900
Monthly finance from £356*

0-62mph 8.6 secondsTop speed 118mph
Power 223hpTorque 300Nm

 

Lexus has always made slightly leftfield cars - whether that be petrol-electric models before hybrids became popular or super-sharp designs that stand out from other brands' cars. Its RC coupe is no exception. Thanks to its angular styling the RC gives an impression of speed even when it is stationary - especially in F-Sport form.

Inside, the cabin is high quality and there are some excellent finishing touches, such as ambient lighting strips and funky controls for the ventilation. All models come with an automatic gearbox and while the RC is somewhat sporty to drive, it is at its best cruising along long sweeping roads - especially in hybrid form which prioritises economy over speed.

The overwhelming majority of RC models are hybrid models which offer reasonably strong economy and emissions figures. The RC 300h is a conventional hybrid, which offers only a small battery pack and can't be plugged in, unlike plug-in hybrid models that have larger battery packs and offer greater electric range, but need to be charged for the best economy. Instead the RC 300h's battery pack and electronics assist the petrol engine and regain energy when the car brakes.

Sporty hybrid coupes are quite rare, as manufacturers have typically turned to diesel power for lower emissions than conventional petrol cars offer. Things are changing, though, as many drivers move away from diesel, following questions over diesel emissions. That makes the RC a good future-proof sporty looking coupe.

LEXUS RC BUYERS' GUIDE

2. Audi TT

Sportiest looking coupe for four-wheel drive grip

Our pick Audi TTS Quattro
Used deals from £22,999
Monthly finance from £416*

0-62mph 4.9 secondsTop speed 155mph
Power 310hpTorque 380Nm

 

This version of the Audi TT is hands down the best TT to drive yet. There is a large range of trims and engines available but one of the most potent is the TTS. Despite being a relatively small car, the TTS can accelerate from 0 to 62mph in just 4.9 seconds - which is rather impressive. Once more, Audi’s ‘Quattro’ four-wheel drive system (which is standard on all TTS models) ensures that rapid acceleration is possible all year round, thanks to the extra grip offered by sending power to all four wheels.

Audi’s current TT ushered in much more angular styling than its predecessors. S models, in particular, get big alloy wheels, quad exhaust pipes poking out of the rear bumper, a different grille to standard TT models and a handful of racy colours, such as Vegas Yellow seen in the image above.

Equipment levels are a strong point, too, as heated leather seats, Audi’s Virtual Cockpit (which swaps out traditional driver dials for a digital screen) and clever adjustable suspension are all included as standard. Adjustable suspension systems allow the driver to tailor how soft or firm the car’s suspension is, to cater for the type of road they're driving on or whether they want to make the car feel more sporty or comfortable.

AUDI TT BUYERS' GUIDE

3. Toyota Corolla

Sportiest looking (and relatively affordable) hybrid

Our pick Toyota Corolla 2.0 GR Sport Hybrid
Used deals from £22,098
Monthly finance from £296*

0-62mph 7.9 secondsTop speed 112mph
Power 184hpTorque 190Nm

 

Is it fast? Not especially. Does it look like it should be fast? Absolutely. The latest Toyota Corolla features striking styling, decent handling and the promise of low emissions and high fuel economy. GR Sport models take sporty styling one step further thanks to features like large alloy wheels.

Interestingly, the Toyota Corolla GR Sport is only available as a hybrid, though you still have a choice of models. There are two hybrid versions to choose from; one produces 122hp and prioritises economy and lower costs, while the other packs a more fitting 184hp for greater performance. The latter suits the sporty looks best.

Being a conventional hybrid, the Corolla does not require plugging in; the electronics are more there to assist the petrol engine and slightly reduce fuel economy, just like with the Lexus mentioned previously, rather than power the car themselves on shorter journeys - something that is possible with a plug-in hybrid.

Truth be told, the engine, electronics and automatic gearbox aren’t at their best when being driven fast but even if the driver does get a little carried away, economy and emissions are still impressive. Equipment levels are good, too - with heated front seats and adaptive cruise control standard. For those who need extra load space, there is also an estate version - badged as the Touring Sports, though despite its name, it looks less sporty than the hatchback.

TOYOTA COROLLA BUYERS' GUIDE

4. Volvo S60

Sportiest plug-in hybrid saloon

Our pick Volvo S60 T8 R Design Plus
Used deals from £33,490
Monthly finance from £455*

0-62mph 4.6 secondsTop speed 155mph
Power 390hpTorque 400Nm

 

Volvo has some of the most distinctive looking cars in its lineup currently and one of them is the S60 saloon - especially in T8 plug-in hybrid form. Though plug-in hybrid tech is predominantly for boosting fuel economy, this svelte Swede has serious performance to back up its good looks. T8 models are able to accelerate to 62mph from a standstill in under five seconds.

That is fast enough to beat a number of sports cars - and an impressive feat even before you consider that the S60 is fundamentally a practical family-sized saloon. All T8 models are automatic and come with four-wheel drive, making them rapid and easy to drive.

Volvo offers the S60 T8 plug-in hybrid in three trims - R Design, R Design Plus and Polestar Engineered. While all of these look sporty, Polestar Engineered versions come with the most aggressive styling and a touch more power than the others, though there is of course an increase in price. As a result, our choice would be one of the R-Design versions.

VOLVO S60 BUYERS' GUIDE

5. Renault Megane R.S.

Sportiest looking affordable hot hatchback

Our pick Renault Megane R.S.
Used deals from £23,999
Monthly finance from £328*

0-62mph 5.8 secondsTop speed 158mph
Power 280hpTorque 390Nm

 

Find a Renault Megane R.S. in one of its more vibrant colours, such as Volcanic Orange or Liquid Yellow, and there are few hatchbacks out there which look quite so sporty. It has a smooth, streamlined shape, but with enough sporty details to make it look every bit as sporty as it is.

There is some sustenance behind the purposeful styling, though. Underneath the bodywork is a fiery turbocharged 1.8-litre petrol engine and a clever rear wheel setup that is claimed to help boost cornering ability and high-speed stability. Consequently, not only does the Megane R.S offer plenty of punch, it's capable of taking corners very quickly, too.

The entry-level Megane R.S. is a great option for those hunting for a sporty looking car which is easy to live with. Most of this is thanks to it having five-doors, good space in the back and the ability to adjust how comfortable the ride is with adaptive suspension.

RENAULT MEGANE BUYERS' GUIDE

6. Mazda 3

Sportiest everyday family hatchback

Our pick Mazda 3 2.0-litre Skyactiv-X MHEV GT Sport Tech
Used deals from £18,400
Monthly finance from £267*

0-62mph 8.2 secondsTop speed 134mph
Power 180hpTorque 224Nm

 

The Mazda 3 may outwardly be a sensible ‘family hatchback’ - and due to this being a very important type of sector for sales car manufacturers often play things safe - but Mazda clearly did not get the memo, as the new 3 is bold to say the least. For starters, it looks exciting - both the front and rear have real purpose.

Secondly, there is some rather high-tech wizardry going on under the bonnet - which helps to boost power and offer impressive fuel economy for the size and power of the engine. So, while this may not be a particularly sporty car, it's still pretty quick for a sensible hatchback, while remaining inexpensive to fuel.

Standard equipment is decent, too, with air-conditioning, Android Auto and Apple CarPlay compatibility and cruise control all standard. Things remain impressive when behind the wheel, as Mazda has done a great job in ensuring the 3 is a car people can look forward to driving. Mazda offers both automatic and manual gearboxes with the 3 and even all-wheel drive versions if you want maximum grip.

MAZDA 3 BUYERS' GUIDE

7. Cupra Ateca

Sportiest mid-size SUV

Our pick Cupra Ateca
Used deals from £28,740
Monthly finance from £403*

0-62mph 4.9 secondsTop speed 153mph
Power 300hpTorque 400Nm

 

Cupra is a sporty offshoot from Seat (which explains why their cars look similar) and the Ateca was its first model. A large part of the Cupra treatment is more aggressive styling which translates to flashy alloy wheels and a sporty bodykit, which really makes it look aggressive.

To make sure there is performance to back up the purposeful aesthetics Cupra only offers one engine and transmission option - a powerful turbocharged 2.0-litre petrol engine paired with an automatic gearbox and four-wheel drive. Such a setup is very effective at helping the Ateca accelerate quickly, with the four-wheel drive helping to limit wheelspin and maximise acceleration.

Equipment levels are strong; climate control, wireless phone charging (for compatible smartphones) and keyless start are all standard. There is also an eight-inch media system which is Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatible. In addition to the sporty looks, sporty driving experience and good equipment levels, the Cupra Ateca is relatively practical with seating for five and a boot which can hold 485 litres of stuff.

CUPRA ATECA BUYERS' GUIDE

8. BMW 3 Series

Sportiest looking everyday car which is actually great to drive

Our pick BMW 320d M Sport Shadow Edition
Used deals from £19,400
Monthly finance from £307*

0-62mph 7.5 secondsTop speed 140mph
Power 190hpTorque 400Nm

 

In the world of upmarket saloon cars, the BMW 3 Series is the one to beat. It is well made, economical and rather good to drive. Styling, though, can vary depending on the specification you choose - some versions look like boring company cars that spend their lives driving up and down the motorway, while others look like they would be at home on a race track. M Sport Shadow Edition models are very much the latter, thanks to their aggressive bodywork and large alloy wheels.

Despite diesels falling in popularity, the 320d diesel is still a great option, offering plenty of punch and impressive fuel economy. Handling is excellent, although this is true of the entire 3 Series range, and so too is build quality and equipment levels.

Some people might find the interior a little dull, but there are models out there with brighter coloured leather, which can lift things no end. BMW offers both automatic and manual gearboxes (with the slick automatic gearboxes really taking the edge of stop-start everyday driving) and you can opt for four-wheel drive models, too if you're happy to pay extra for a little extra grip.

BMW 3 SERIES BUYERS' GUIDE

*Representative PCP finance - Ford Fiesta:

48 monthly payments of £192
Deposit: £0
Mileage limit: 8,000 per year
Optional final payment to buy car: £2,923
Total amount payable to buy car: £11,926
Total cost of credit: £2,426
Amount borrowed: £9,500
APR: 9.9%

BuyaCar is a credit broker, not a lender. Our rates start from 6.9% APR. The rate you are offered will depend on your individual circumstances.

 

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