6 Best Sports Cars Under $30,000
Sports cars have evolved over the years. These days, some of the best sports cars are both efficient and affordable.
The best sports cars under $30,000 prove you don't have to spend luxe bucks to get a car that's fun to drive. Sports cars can mean different things to different people. It's a good bet that most will exclude lumbering trucks and SUVs from the list.
For our purposes, we define a sports car by a few key characteristics. It must have exceptional handling, especially at high speeds. You may only ever drive on the highway at the posted speed limit, but sports cars are also intended to be at home on a track at much higher speeds.
In addition, a sports car must have strong performance. That doesn't mean it needs a stratospheric horsepower figure. Instead, this means strong acceleration and more than enough power to pass other vehicles at highway speeds.
The sports cars on our list met the following criteria as baselines for driver engagement and enjoyment:
- Horsepower: The vehicle must have a minimum of 175 hp.
- Fun factor: This criterion cannot be quantified, but it's obvious. With this assortment of automobiles, it's clear athletic handling and muscular design led the design briefs, while cargo space and fuel efficiency took a backseat. That said, half of the cars on this list are remarkably practical, and all of them are reasonably fuel-thrifty, too.
In no particular order, here are some of the best sports cars under $30,000.
Mazda MX-5 Miata
It's nearly impossible to create a list of the best sports cars and not include the
It has a near-perfect 50/50 weight distribution that adds to its crisp, engaging handling, and it gets great fuel economy with up to an EPA-estimated 30 mpg combined. The MX-5 Miata is rear-wheel drive only and gets standard high-performance tires along with heavily bolstered seats to hold you in place in the corners.
Toyota GR86 & Subaru BRZ
After a one-year hiatus, the Toyota GR86 and the nearly identical
They're quick sports cars; Toyota estimates a 0-60 mph time of 6.6 seconds with the automatic transmission or 6.1 seconds with the manual. There are Normal, Sport, and Snow drive modes with a Track mode on models equipped with the manual. No matter which transmission you choose, the GR86 and BRZ are fun and sporty choices.
Mini Cooper S
The Mini Cooper S upholds the brand's long history of building rally-inspired cars that are a joy to drive. Power for the base trim comes from a 2.0L turbocharged, four-cylinder engine with 189 hp and 206 lb.-ft of torque paired to either a six-speed manual or seven-speed automatic transmission. This is a highly customizable sports car with a wide range of appearance options for the hood, roof, and side mirrors that let you personalize it to your taste.
The two-door seats up to four people with front seats that are roomy and supportive, but rear-seat space is snug. That said, the high roofline makes the Mini Cooper S more suited to adults than most other sports cars. There's also a four-door variant that seats five with more room in the rear seats so adults can get comfortable.
Volkswagen Golf GTI
That engine is paired to either a six-speed manual or a seven-speed, dual-clutch automatic that offers quick shifts. This is a punchy little car with brisk acceleration and great handling. It tackles corners with ease thanks to responsive steering and confident braking. It also has a smooth ride for passengers.
Since 1964, the
For a starting price around $28,000, the Mustang is a lot of car for the money. The base model packs a powerful 2.0L turbocharged four-cylinder churning out 310 hp and 350 lb.-ft. of torque. Though it's one of the heavier cars here at around 3,500 lbs., this 'Stang doesn't feel saddled with dead weight. Rather, it's a rocket when you slam your foot into the firewall, and it handles just about as well as any of this list's lightweights.
It's eminently possible the
Both the Mustang and Camaro are esteemed elements of the "best sports cars under $30k" club, but when it comes to pricing, the Camaro is the clear winner. With a roughly $26,000 starting price, the Camaro is about $2,000 less expensive than the Mustang, though Chevy's pony is a little down on power compared with the Ford. The Camaro's standard 2.0L turbocharged four-cylinder makes 275 hp and 295 lb.-ft. of torque, though here's something fun to consider—that's the same horsepower figure that V8-powered Camaros were boasting back in the mid-1990s.
The best sports cars under $30,000 deliver plenty of fun without six-figure prices. Whether you want a convertible, a four-door hardtop, or a hot hatchback, these cars may fit the bill. For something just outside this range, check out this review of the