Best sports cars under £30,000

From Abarth to 370Z, here are eight fab sports cars for less than £30,000 - from lightweight two-seaters to big-engined bruisers

Gavin Braithwaite-Smith
Apr 21, 2022

Life’s too short to drive boring cars, so why not spice up your life with something sporty? Whether you’re after something fun for the weekend or something quick and a bit more practical to use for the daily commute, you’ll be amazed how many sports cars are available for under £30,000.

What exactly is a sports car? To many people, it’s the kind of car your parents drove long before you arrived on the scene. Two seats, an opening roof and an engine sending power to the rear wheels. Cars like the MGB and Triumph Spitfire.

Today’s sports cars are a little different. They’re still fun to drive, but you might find a couple of seats in the back. Some might have a fixed roof, while others might feature four-wheel drive for all-weather reassurance. All will have one thing in common, though: driving fun.

All of the sports cars listed here are a maximum of five years old and are available for under £30,000. Thanks to modern safety technology and driver assistance systems, they’re a lot safer than the sports cars favoured in years gone by. We also suspect your parents’ sports car couldn't be ordered online and delivered to their door.

Best sports cars under £30,000

1. Abarth 124 Spider

Best sports car under £30,000 for a fantastic soundtrack

Abarth 124 Spider front three quarters view

Used deals Limited stock

The Abarth 124 Spider is the high-performance version of this engaging Italian Fiat sports car with an extra espresso. Indeed, some claim that the Abarth 124 Spider is as good, if not better, than the Mazda MX-5, upon which it is based. High praise for this Italian-Japanese pocket rocket.

Upgrades include suspension tweaked for a more exhilarating drive, a mechanical limited-slip differential - which helps to boost traction when accelerating - a noisier Record Monza exhaust system and more power, which combine to make this feel more hardcore than the standard car.

The soundtrack is fantastic, with the exhaust ‘pop-popping’ when you lift off the accelerator or change gear. Some people may have criticised the car for being too expensive when new, but there are no such complaints with used versions now that prices have dropped below £20,000.

ABARTH 124 SPIDER BUYERS' GUIDE

2. Toyota GT86

Best sports car under £30,000 for low-speed thrills

Used deals Limited stock

When it comes to old-school thrills, the GT86 has a way of making even low-speed roads exciting. In decades gone by, sporty coupes tended to have a relatively powerful engine at the front, space for two adults in the front seats and potentially two children or smaller adults in the back, with power sent to the rear wheels. Car enthusiasts will tell you that this is a good recipe for driving fun.

The Toyota GT86 reboots this recipe for a new generation, with a non-turbocharged 2.0-litre engine at the front sending 197hp to the rear wheels. This is not a big power figure in the context of modern hot hatchbacks, but it’s a genuine hoot to drive. It even has skinny tyres from the Toyota Prius to enhance the driving experience, enabling the car to reach its limits at relatively low speeds - making it a far more exciting car at lower speeds than those with extremely wide tyres that just go where you point them, regardless of your speed.

It’s surprisingly practical, thanks to a pair of seats in the back and a relatively big boot. You can’t lower the roof, but this means you’re more likely to use the GT86 in all weathers. Early examples are available for less than the price of a new Ford Fiesta, so what are you waiting for?

TOYOTA GT86 BUYERS' GUIDE

3. Fiat 124 Spider

Best sports car under £30,000 for Italian flair

Used deals Limited stock

What could be more romantic than an Italian sports car? It’s a vision of head scarfs, sun-drenched roads on the Amalfi Coast and Matt Munro on the radio. If you like the sound of, ahem, days like these, you need to look at the Fiat 124 Spider - the less sporty version of the Abarth 124 Spider above.

It’s based on the Mazda MX-5, which means it shares plenty in common with the best affordable sports car on the planet. Instead of the Mazda’s engines which provide more and more power the harder you work them, you get a powerful 1.4-litre turbocharged engine under the bonnet - which provides plenty of punch from low engine speeds - along with a choice of six-speed manual or automatic gearboxes.

Even the entry-level Classica model offers a substantial level of equipment, but many buyers chose to upgrade to the Lusso model. You might be grateful for the sat-nav system, heated seats, keyless entry and seven-inch touchscreen media system if you intend to use your sports car throughout the year.

FIAT 124 SPIDER BUYERS' GUIDE

4. Mazda MX-5

Best sports car under £30,000 for driving fun

Used deals from £11,640
Monthly finance from £0*

We couldn’t recommend the Fiat 124 Spider without mentioning the Mazda MX-5. Launched in 2015, the fourth-generation MX-5 has lost none of the spirit of the original version and remains the best affordable sports car in the world. It’s ideal for Britain’s tight and congested roads.

It’s the best-selling two-seater convertible of all time, so you’ll have little trouble finding one on BuyaCar. Even better news is the fact that the entry-level 1.5-litre version is just as much fun to drive as the more powerful 2.0-litre model, yet is cheaper to buy and will deliver better fuel economy.

Unless you need the convenience of an automatic transmission, we’d opt for the six-speed manual gearbox, which adds another layer of enjoyment to what is a sublime driving experience. Oh, and did we mention Mazda’s strong reputation for reliability? This is a sports car you can buy with your head and your heart.

MAZDA MX-5 BUYERS' GUIDE

5. Audi TT

Best sports car under £30,000 for class and sophistication

Audi TT Coupe deals from £13,700
Monthly finance from £0*
Audi TT Roadster deals from £16,495
Monthly finance from £0*

The Audi TT isn’t a hardcore sports car in the style of the Porsche 718 Cayman or Alpine A110, but that’s part of its appeal. It’s a stylish and comfortable coupe you can use for commuting during the week and for posing at the weekend.

There’s a wide range of engines to choose from, and while the same can be said of the trim levels, there’s no need to look beyond one of the entry-level models. An update in 2019 tweaked the exterior styling, simplified the engine range and improved the tech, so you may want to look for a more recent version.

Some versions come with Audi’s 'quattro' four-wheel-drive system for superior all-weather grip, but the interior is one of the highlights of the TT. From the circular air vents that feature the climate control temperature displayed within them, to the fantastic Audi Virtual Cockpit digital instrument panel, everything about the interior screams quality.

AUDI TT COUPE BUYERS' GUIDE
AUDI TT ROADSTER BUYERS' GUIDE

6. Ford Mustang

Best sports car under £30,000 for a slice of Americana

Used deals from £29,991
Monthly finance from £0*

We’re stretching the definition of a sports car by including the Ford Mustang on our list, but hear us out. This car turns as many heads as a six-figure supercar and will raise as many smiles as a Porsche costing twice the price. It's great fun to drive and while it's large and heavy compared with most pure sports cars, it's a real feel-good machine.

Naturally, the 5.0-litre V8 will be the engine of choice for most people, as the sound it creates would fit straight into a 1960s muscle car, but don’t rule out the 2.3-litre 'EcoBoost' engine. A 0-62mph time of 5.8 seconds means that it’s far from slow, while the lower running costs might be handy when you’re planning your household budget.

Coupe and convertible versions are available, although it's worth opting for the V8 engine if you choose the latter. Listening to the sound of a V8 engine burbling away with the roof down is one of life’s little pleasures and something keen drivers might want to add to their bucket lists.

FORD MUSTANG BUYERS' GUIDE

7. BMW M240i

Best sports car under £30,000 for keeping up with a Porsche

Used deals from £21,250
Monthly finance from £0*

It might be based on the BMW 1 Series hatchback, but the BMW M240i is a genuine rival to the Porsche 718 Cayman, as it's rapid and has a powerful and musical-sounding engine under the bonnet. It’s also an affordable alternative to the brilliant but expensive BMW M2.

Power is sourced from a 3.0-litre turbocharged six-cylinder engine producing 340hp - which is a huge amount for a car of this size - while the suspension is tweaked for sharper handling around corners. There’s also a unique set of colours, so you’ll stand out from the crowd.

Make no mistake, this is a fabulous driver’s car. If you’re after a sports car with a couple of rear seats and enough luggage space for a holiday in the sun, the BMW M240i is arguably the best car on our list of sports cars for under £30,000.

BMW 2 SERIES COUPE BUYERS' GUIDE

8. Nissan 370Z

Best sports car under £30,000 for an old-fashioned feel

Used deals from £20,990
Monthly finance from £0*

One of the reasons why rear-wheel-drive cars are more enjoyable to drive for many keen drivers is that the front wheels are only used for steering. This leaves the rear wheels to deliver the power to the road; no multitasking is required. And the steering wheel never tugs in your hand as you accelerate hard - which can be the case with those that send power to the front wheels.

The Nissan 370Z is a classic of the breed. Up front there’s a powerful 3.7-litre V6 engine producing 326hp in standard form or a mighty 339hp in the upgraded Nismo version. The top speed is 155mph, regardless of the engine, but while the standard 370Z can sprint to 62mph in a quick 5.5 seconds, the Nismo will do it in 5.0 seconds flat.

If those figures seem meaningless to you, let’s just say you’ll be able to keep up with most Porsches in this. In an era of small turbocharged engines, the 370Z sounds delightful, with its big, burly engine and simply encourages you to pick up the pace at any given opportunity.

NISSAN 370Z 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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