Cheap sports cars

Don't be fooled into thinking that owning a sports car is an expensive and unattainable dream. Here are eight relatively affordable options

BuyaCar team
Feb 1, 2022

What is a sports car? Does it need to have sporty looks? Does it need to be fast? Does it need to have a really loud engine? Have a folding roof? Well... it's hard to say for sure, since every driver will have different ideas of what makes a great sports car. I think we can all agree, though, that a sports car should be exciting to drive.

Most people use the term 'sports car' to refer to sleek, low riding cars that are fun to drive. So that's what we're focusing on here. The trouble is that the most famous sports cars that everyone talks about (Porsches or Ferraris, etc.) are normally quite expensive. However, there are plenty of other sports cars that fit the same mould available for a fraction of the price.

Not all of these cheap sports cars are super-fast like a Ferrari, but they need to offer a good mix of speed, fun and noise that makes you want to pick up the keys and go for a drive. We've picked eight cars that absolutely meet those criteria, and they're all available at surprisingly low prices, especially with low-rate finance deals.

It's worth noting that even the cheaper sports cars such as these are pretty expensive to buy when they're brand new, so the used car market is by far the most affordable way to get hold of one. BuyaCar has thousands of offers that provide all the driving thrills you're after at a fraction of the original price.

Cheap sports cars UK

1. Mazda MX-5

Our pick Mazda MX-5 2.0 Sport Nav
Used deals from £14,289
Monthly finance from £0*

No list of sports cars would be complete without the Mazda MX-5, regardless of your budget. This little bundle of joy proves that you don’t need a huge engine, or huge amounts of money, to have a huge amount of fun. The latest-generation MX-5 was introduced in 2015, and we're looking at the particularly enticing Sport Nav trim.

There's plenty of up-to-date equipment including a seven-inch touchscreen media system, cruise control, sat-nav and rear parking sensors, along with the 160hp 2.0-litre petrol engine which manages from 0-62mph in 7.3 seconds. It's not crazy fast, but it's difficult to find anything else that would offer the same thrills for this kind of cost. 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 boosting the power of the 2.0-litre engine to 182hp, but you can expect to pay upwards of  for a used Sport Nav+ model, so stick with older models for maximum fun-per-pound.

MAZDA MX-5 BUYERS' GUIDE

2. Toyota GT86

Our pick Toyota GT86 2.0 D-4S
Used deals Limited stock

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 cheap sports cars to ever exist. Aside from its affordability, the GT86 is small, lightweight and engaging to drive - much like the MX-5, except this is only available with the fixed roof.

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

It’s a riot in which to zoom down a B-road because the setup is so engaging - the steering is precise and satisfyingly heavy in your hands, the throttle responds quickly to your inputs and it darts around corners with real agility. The 2.0-litre engine produces 200hp - which isn't much in the 2020s - but the key thing is that like the MX-5 you can use most of this power, most of the time, making it an exciting car to drive, without ever feeling scary.

TOYOTA GT86 BUYERS' GUIDE

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 - a vehicle that is very much not a sports car. But it wasn’t all bark with no bite.

For true sports car thrills, go for the most powerful RCZ-R model. At the time, it was the most powerful engine Peugeot had put into a road car, and with 266hp it could keep going 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 transmitting power to the road, so if you accelerate too hard around corners, the front of the car can slide wide. The RXZ-R is so well-engineered, though, this is rarely a problem with this car.

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 hatchback 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 fast and usable every day with a practical hatchback boot. Renault classes the catchily titled Renault Megane Renaultsport as a 'coupe' - which is more marketing than fact - but get behind the wheel and you'll be convinced that it can be classed as a sports car.

The badge doesn’t have the cachet of BMW or Mercedes, but this 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 seats 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 newer Renault Megane R.S. was launched in 2018 with 280hp and offers better handling. It's an absolute blast to drive, but prices start from £0, so you couldn't really call it cheap just yet.

RENAULT MEGANE BUYERS' GUIDE

5. Audi TT

Audi TTS Coupe front three quarters view

Our pick Audi TT 1.8 TFSI S line
Used deals from £16,000
Monthly finance from £0*

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 interior feels oh-so-stylish - it really is just as impressive inside as out.

In terms of performance, the 1.8-litre petrol version of the TT produces 180hp and can get from 0-62mph in 6.9 seconds - more than fast enough on everyday roads. We've gone for the 1.8-litre because it is the cheapest option and although 2.0-litre variants offer an extra 50hp, this is sometimes too much for the front tyres to cope with - unless you track down a more expensive Quattro four-wheel-drive version. 

We would recommend seeking out higher-specification S-line models. These would have cost the original owner significantly more than the entry-level Sport when new, but the difference in value after several years is negligible.

AUDI TT BUYERS' GUIDE

6. Mini JCW

Our pick Mini Hatchback 2.0 John Cooper Works
Used deals from £0
Monthly finance from £0*

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 rapid 6.3 seconds. A very angry-sounding sports exhaust was added so you get a gnarly soundtrack to go with the alarming performance. Yes, this is a hatchback, like the Renault above, but in the same vein, it feels far more sporty than that from behind the wheel.

Being a sports-oriented model, the Mini John Cooper Works comes with a firm ride thanks to stiff and unforgiving suspension, which is not so great when you're trying to get home from work on a busy motorway, but rather excellent if you're ready for playtime along your favourite B-roads. That makes it a sports car in our books.

MINI JOHN COOPER WORKS BUYERS' GUIDE

7. Volkswagen Scirocco

Our pick VW Scirocco 2.0 TSI GT
Used deals from £20,150
Monthly finance from £0*

Those old enough to remember the Seventies may remember the original Volkswagen Scirocco. It was a sleek coupe based on the Volkswagen Golf that remained on sale in one form or another until 1992.

Fast forward a decade or two and Volkswagen resurrected the Scirocco name when it launched this car in 2008. It was available as a new car until 2018, which means your only option today is to go for a used version. 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 costs and steep 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.

VOLKSWAGEN SCIROCCO BUYERS' GUIDE

8. Mercedes SLK

Our pick Mercedes SLK 350
Used deals from £21,250
Monthly finance from £0*

The SLK joined the scene in 1996, and was renamed the SLC in 2016, though it didn't change that much apart from that. The design is muscular and it looks great from most angles, and the SLK/SLC 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. It also means you can drop the roof, to enjoy driving on the rare occasion the sun makes an appearance.

The SLK 350 offers a large petrol engine that provides plenty of power and sounds good, but if you want your cheap sports car to have cheap fuel bills, then check out the diesel option - the SLK 250 CDI. It’s economical and capable of getting close to 55mpg.

MERCEDES SLC 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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