- The best sports cars for 2019
- Looking for a cheap sports car?
- We suggest the best depending on your budget
Buying a sports car isn't like buying an everyday car for commuting to and from work. It's not a practical decision based on the size of its boot or whether the baby seat fits nicely in the back. The decision to buy a sports car is taken by the heart, not the head; buying a sports car is about passion, excitement, and the thrill of driving.
Take a few moments to soak up the excitement of our list of the best sports cars. Whatever your budget, we have chosen the best sports cars on the market, that will make your heart swell as they swing around those twisty B-road bends that your everyday commuter car just doesn't care for.
The best cheap sports cars
If you're on a tight budget, these sports cars are the best way to get into a fast car without breaking the bank.
Any conversation regarding the best sports cars simply must include the MX-5. It has become the ultimate affordable thrill-mobile, building on the same tried and tested formula that has characterised it since it first appeared around 30 years ago. As a result, the MX-5 has become a honed machine that offers a hugely enjoyable ride at every moment. The 1.5-litre engine option loves nothing more than chasing the red line, while clever engineering ensures the lightweight chassis remains glued to the road. Although being such a small thing does make it a little challenging for taller drivers to get comfortable and while you do get all the tech you would expect from a modern car, the folding roof is still operated manually.
New price: £18,995 - £25,795
Lease this car from new: From £217 per month
Used price: £9,780 - £20,590
Typical used monthly cost: £241 - £508
Fuel economy: 40 - 47 mpg
Road tax cost: £140 - £195
Insurance group: 25 - 32
The GT86 isn’t the fastest, the most comfortable or the best equipped within its price range, but there is little out there to compete with the enjoyment that comes with driving one of these. It oozes driving quality, inside and out, with styling that is sure to turn heads. Considering its position as a performance-focused sports car, it’s surprisingly practical, with a decent amount of tech packed inside. It’s even got four seats, but there is no escaping its coupe shape, which renders the back seats essentially useless for all but the smallest of passengers. The driving is what the GT86 is really about though, and with the option of a straight-forward manual shifter, there is very little left to be desired.
New price: £27,285 - £32,545
Lease this car from new: From £305 per month
Used price: £8,825 - £26,105
Typical used monthly cost: £218 - £644
Fuel economy: 32 - 39 mpg
Road tax cost: £140 - £290
Insurance group: 30 - 35
The best sports cars for a mid-range budget
If you've got a bit more to spend on your new sports car, consider one of these beauties - you might be able to afford more than you expect.
The French marque’s return has been nothing short of a huge success. The A110 is perhaps the best example of a lightweight, performance-focused car on the market in 2019. It’s rear-engined and features a badge straight out of the left field which is bound to attract interest if nothing else. It offers a pure connection between the driver and the road with its instant throttle response and peerless agility, making it one of the great cars to drive on twisty country roads. It’s also impressively comfortable inside, considering Alpine’s determination to keep it as light as possible. The A110 remains entirely usable, and comfortable for day-to-day driving. There is really very little to fault here, disregard at your peril.
New price: £46,905 - £51,805
Used price: £42,400 - £50,170
Fuel economy: 44 - 46 mpg
Road tax cost: £450
Insurance group: 44
Porsche 718 Cayman
It’s hard to argue against the Cayman, because it is just so good. Even in its position as the entry point within the Porsche range the Cayman holds its own against more expensive alternatives. This is possibly the best handling car on the market, disregarding price entirely. But this is more than just an out-and-out sports car, it offers a thrill or two when you want it but will just as easily settle into a calming tour along the motorway. The practicality and comfort levels are astonishing for a car of this size, and the quality of the interior makes the Cayman feel special. Unfortunately, even Porsche is not immune to environmental pressures, and the wail of the old flat-six engine is sadly gone from the post-2016 model. So, if you want that classic Porsche soundtrack, you’ll need to scour the used markets.
New price: £44,644 - £64,155
Used price: £32,095 - £64,490
Fuel economy: 30 - 35 mpg
Road tax cost: £195 - £450
Insurance group: 42 - 48
Expensive sports cars
If you're looking for the best sports car money can buy - and if money is no object - then consider this pricey option:
At more than twice the price of a Cayman or an A110, the 'entry point' to McLaren’s Sports Series represents the next level of sports car ownership. The 540C makes the most of a carbon fibre body paired with more than enough power to produce exhilarating performance, not to mention all the ultra-high-tech systems that work together to keep you stuck to the road at seemingly un-reasonable speeds. It feels, and looks, more like a supercar. The best part though? Although the cost is hefty, the 540C represents a substantial reduction in price compared to its older siblings without giving up too much in the way of speed and quality.
From £137,125 new
Photo: CAR Magazine
Wildcard sports car
You might not expect this on a list of sports cars from Parkers, but we can't ignore this sports car based simply on how much fun you'll have in it.
The Caterham Seven has become something of a cult symbol of pure, uncompromising driving pleasure. This car is certainly not for everyone, and only the keenest of enthusiasts will see its charm. But what the Seven does offer is unmitigated driver involvement. There are no computers or cutting-edge assistance systems. The steering is heavy and the brakes are unforgiving, there aren’t even any doors unless you specify you want them. It’s just you, the car and the road, and Caterham has built something which offers a truly jaw-dropping experience. The Seven’s acceleration is aggressive and instant due to its stripped-back lightness. But don’t expect to be able to use it day to day, things like boot space have not been considered here.
New price: £18,744 - £43,055
Watch: Mazda MX-5 vs Caterham 420R Twin Test
On the lookout for a two-seat roadster? Watch as we compare two extreme ends of the scale with the Mazda MX-5 and Caterham 420R.
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*Prices correct at the time of publishing and are all subject to change