Best affordable sports cars 2021

Nick Francis

27 Oct 2021

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Buying a sports car doesn’t have to mean re-mortgaging the house and booking an appointment at the Ferrari dealership, there are plenty affordable options out there.

1. Porsche 718 Cayman/Boxster


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You can own a brand-new Porsche for less than £45,000, which is a wonderful thing in itself, but the fact it’s mid-engined and one of the best-balanced cars money can buy makes it even sweeter. At the entry end of the 718 range you will have to make do with the 2.0-litre turbo four cylinder engine, but it produces 296bhp and sends all that power to the back wheels.


2. Alpine A110


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We’re in danger of contradicting ourselves immediately here, because the Alpine A110 for some is as good, if not better, than the 718 Cayman and Boxster. There’s very little in it, but the Porsche has a better interior and comes with a slightly lower price. Either way, the Alpine A110 is a supremely good sports car, with delicious handling and a phenomenal power-to-weight ratio.


3. Toyota GR Supra 2.0


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The new Supra shares a lot with the BMW Z4, but it has its own character and driving dynamics which makes it a purer sports car than its German cousin. For the cheaper Supra 2.0 version, the Supra’s 3.0 3.0-litre turbo straight six has been swapped out for a 2.0-litre four-cylinder engine which produces 255bhp and which is sent to the back wheels. It’s less powerful but it’s also lighter and still does 0-62mph in 5.2-seconds.


4. Jaguar F-Type 


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For a similar price as the Cayman S and Supra, the entry level Jaguar F-Type is a tasty proposition. It also sends power to the back wheels, producing 296bhp which is the same as the cheaper entry 718 Cayman and Boxster. So arguably the Jag offers less value for money. With a 0-62mph time of 5.7 seconds, the 2-litre turbo four cylinder F-Type is no slouch, and it’s a joy to drive both on road and track.


5. Mazda MX-5


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It’s almost become a cliché to say the MX-5 is a ‘true driver’s car’ but clichés only become so because they are true, and in terms of a value-for-money sports car, Mazda’s two-seater is about as good as it gets. For well under £25K you get a rev-happy 130bhp 1.5-litre engine, or you can go for the more powerful 2-litre, which is good for 181bhp and redlines at 7,500rpm.


6. Caterham Seven 270


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Driving fun doesn’t get any more visceral than with a Caterham. Powered by a 1.6-litre Ford Sigma engine which produces 135bhp, the entry Caterham weighs just 540kg which means it can sprint from 0-62mph in five seconds. When choosing you Caterham, you’ll be asked to opt for either the S pack (road) or the R pack (track), with the main difference between them being the suspension stiffness.


7. Ford Mustang GT


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A 5.0-litre V8 for less than £45,000? What’s not to like? There’s a reason Ford’s muscle car was recently revealed to be the best selling sports car in the world, and that’s because it offers outstanding value for money, plus it’s a genuine icon after 56 years of being around. A meaty 449bhp accompanied by a throaty V8 bark makes it addictively fun to drive.


8. Toyota GT86


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You can only buy these used now while the new version of the GT86 – which will be called the GR86 – makes its way to production later this year. What the GT86 lacks in power it makes up for in driving dynamics. Just like its sister car, the Subaru BRZ, the 2.0-litre engine produces 197bhp, good for a modest 0-62mph time of 7.6 seconds. But the fun comes from the GT86’s eagerness to change direction.


9. Nissan 370Z


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Another car which can only be bought used - a replacement 400Z is on its way but won’t be coming to the UK - Nissan’s 370Z is a very fine sports car and can be picked up for very cheap. Using brute, naturally aspirated force rather than turbo power, the 370Z packs a 3.7-litre V6 engine, producing a very respectable 323bhp, putting it on a par with the Porsche 718 Cayman S in terms of power, but costing a lot less.


Lotus Elise Sport 220


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The Lotus Elise has been on the market since 1996, but that doesn’t mean it’s outmoded, thanks to Lotus’ regular and timely updates to its legendary two-seater. The key to its success is simplicity and lightness. Using an aluminium chassis, the Elise comes well under a tonne on the scales, which means its 214bhp 1.8-litre engine can blitz the 0-60mph sprint in just 4.2-seconds.


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Nick Francis

27 Oct 2021