Cheap sports cars

Don't be fooled into thinking that sports cars are only for the well heeled. Here are 9 of the best

Simon Ostler
Nov 26, 2019

What is a sports car? Does it need to have sporty looks? Does it need to be fast? Does it need to be really loud? Well.. it's hard to say for sure, because the term 'sports car' tends to encompass cars that fit into any one of these brackets, and others as well.

In general terms, a sports car will be recognised as either a coupe or a convertible that's fun to drive. Car anoraks would argue that a sports car should have rear-wheel drive and be powered by a petrol engine with a manual gearbox, but this isn't necessarily the case.

We hold the belief that any car that offers a good mix of speed, fun and noise has the right to be considered a sports car, and we've picked eight cars on this list that absolutely meet those criteria. 

You might think that sports cars are pretty expensive to buy, and that can be true, especially if you're heading towards the new car market. But there are plenty of much more affordable options available on the used car market, and BuyaCar has thousands of offers on used cars that provide all the driving thrills you're after at a fraction of the cost.

 

Read on for our pick of the best cheap sports cars.

Best cheap sports cars

1. Mazda MX-5

Our pick Mazda MX-5 2.0 Sport Nav
Used deals from £12,600
Monthly finance from £201

No sports car list would be complete without the Mazda MX-5. This little bundle of joy has been proving that you don’t need huge engines, or huge amounts of money, to have a huge amount of fun since 1989.

The latest generation model was introduced in 2015, and we're looking at the particularly enticing Sport trim. While you get plenty of up-to-date equipment including a seven-inch touchscreen, cruise control, sat-nav and rear parking sensors, you can also get the 2.0-litre, 160hp petrol engine capable of sprinting form 0-62mph in 7.3 seconds.

It's certainly not crazy fast but, for the money, it's difficult to find anything else that would offer the same thrills. And that's really what the Mazda MX-5 is all about - you're sat low to the ground, the roof comes down and the road becomes your playground.

This particular model received some updates in 2019, bringing new trim levels to the table and giving more power to the engine, but you'll be paying upwards of £19,900 for a used Sport Nav+ model on BuyaCar.

2. Toyota GT86

Our pick Toyota GT 86 2.0 D-4S
Used deals from £11,495
Monthly finance from £194

The Toyota GT86 is the best car to drive on this list, and it will more than likely go down as one of the finest small sports cars to ever exist.

As soon as you sit in the low racing inspired seat, you know that the GT86 means business. It’s often referred to as old-school by car enthusiasts. What they’re referring to is the simple set up of a small sports car with its engine up front, sending power to the rear wheels.

It’s a riot to hoon down a B-road because the set-up is so engaging and positive. The 2.0-litre engine makes 200hp, which is fast enough for day to day driving and a bit of fun, but never so fast that it feels scary.

3. Peugeot RCZ

Our pick Peugeot RCZ R
Used deals Limited stock

It’s stunning isn’t it? When the Peugeot RCZ came onto the scene in 2010 its sharp looks were enough to frighten the likes of Audi and Mercedes.

Available in petrol and diesel guises, the RCZ was mechanically based on the Peugeot 308. But it wasn’t all bark with no bite.

For true sports car thrills, go for the most powerful engined RCZ-R model. At the time, it was the most powerful engine Peugeot had put into a road car, and with 266hp it could climb to 155mph. Unlike some cars in this list, the Peugeot is front-wheel drive, meaning that the front wheels are used for both steering and propulsion and can cause problems if you're looking for uncompromising grip round corners.

There aren't many of these around nowadays, so you'll have to get lucky to pick one up at a good price, but it'll be worth the search if you can find one.

4. Renault Megane Renaultsport

Our pick Renault Megane Renaultsport 265
Used deals Limited stock

Some may say that this bonkers Renault Megane is a hot-hatch rather than an out and out sports car. Maybe they're right, but we question why it can't be both.

A hot-hatch refers to a car that’s both hot (fast, powerful) and has a hatchback design. Renault classes the catchily titled Renault Megane Renaultsport as a coupe, which drags it right into sports car territory.

The badge doesn’t have the appeal (to some) of BMW or Mercedes-Benz, but the Renault does have power on its side. With 265hp under your right foot, it can sprint to 62mph in six seconds. Being a hatchback, it’s also pretty practical, and has seating in the rear that can be used regularly, rather than just for short journeys.

If you do have a bit of cash to burn, the new Renault Megane R.S. was launched in 2018 with 280hp and better handling. It's an absolute blast to drive, but prices start from £22,890, so you couldn't really call it cheap.

5. Audi TT

Our pick Audi TT 1.8 TFSi S-Line
Used deals from £12,100
Monthly finance from £173

The Audi TT is mechanically very similar to the Volkswagen Scirocco further down this list. The biggest differences are the styling and the interior. On the outside, the Audi is much more aggressive, befitting of its sporting nature. And on the inside, the materials are much better than the ones you’ll find in the Scirocco.

In terms of performance, the TT with a 1.8-litre petrol engine will produce 180hp and get from 0-62mph in 6.9 seconds. We've gone for the 1.8-litre because it is the cheapest option, although 2.0-litre variants are available from £18,000 on BuyaCar, which could well be worth it for an extra 50hp. 

We would recommend seeking out higher-specification S-Line models. These would have cost its original owner significantly more than the entry-level Sport when new, but the difference in value several years is negligible. If you're after a more sporty experience then the petrol engine is your only real option.

6. Mini JCW

Our pick Mini Hatchback 2.0 John Cooper Works
Used deals from £14,700
Monthly finance from £209

The Mini Hatchback has always been fun to drive, but when it was re-imagined in 2015 as the John Cooper Works model it became an entirely different beast. A few styling changes on the outside gave the JCW a distinct appearance, building on the sporty nature of the Cooper S but adding a more aggressive front end, a rear spoiler and JCW badging. 

More substantial changes were made under the bonnet however. Power was bumped up to 231hp meaning 0-62mph can happen in a sharp 6.3 seconds. A very angry sports exhaust was added to so you get a gnarly soundtrack to go with the alarming performance.

Being a sports-oriented model, the Mini John Cooper Works comes with a firm ride thanks to stiff and unforgiving suspension, this is not so great when you're trying to get home from work on a busy and badly maintained motorway, but rather excellent if you're ready for play time along your favourite B-roads.

7. VW Scirocco

Our pick VW Scirocco 2.0 TSI GT
Used deals from £13,750
Monthly finance from £209

Those old enough to remember the Seventies may remember the original Volkswagen Scirocco. It was a svelte coupe with Volkswagen Golf underpinnings than went on until 1992.

Fast forward 16 years and Volkswagen resurrected the name for this car. It went off sale in 2018, which makes it a savvy used buy today. We'd recommend a powerful 2.0-litre petrol model in GT trim. Offering 180hp, this can get from 0-62 mph in 7.4 seconds, which is mildly quick without venturing into the high insurance rates and buying price of the Scirocco R model.

If you're after a good quality option with sporty vibes and alternative looks, the Volkswagen Scirocco is a good place to start.

8. Mercedes SLK

Our pick Mercedes SLK 350
Used deals from £10,945
Monthly finance from £202

The SLK joined the scene in 1996, and was renamed the SLC in 2016. For around £12,000, you can buy into the last generation of SLK ever made.

Generally, this last iteration is the best. The design is muscular and it looks great from all angles, and it has a folding metal roof too. This is good for sound insulation, as it’s quieter for the driver in comparison to a traditional canvas roof.

The diesel option to go for is the 250CDI. It’s very frugal and should achieve close to 55mpg. This comes with an automatic gearbox that is equally as quiet and refined. However, if you’re after a more sporting version we’d recommend the 350 petrol engine. It’s faster, sounds better, and is better suited to a sports car. Although it is more expensive to buy and run.

 

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