The term “sports car” has been a subject of a lot of contention in automotive circles lately. A couple of decades ago, it was easy to distinguish sports cars from ordinary cars, but modern performance trims and sub-segments have changed all that.
Traditionally, a sports car was never a car you’d take on school or shopping runs, or even cruise around the city. It was a symbol of both wealth and freedom, offering substantially more performance and thrills than everyday commuters. A daily driver sports car is therefore very much a modern invention. In this list, we’ll be looking at just that – true dedicated sports cars that can also double as comfortable, economical, and practical daily drivers for owners who won’t settle for a commuter. But before we do, it’s important to set some parameters and describe what we mean by “true sports car.”
Modern enthusiasts tend to call every fast car with two doors a sports car, some even using the term to describe hot hatches and sports sedans. This is where the confusion begins. By definition, a sports car is a 2-seater roadster, traditionally rear-wheel drive (but AWD sports cars are increasing in popularity), designed solely with performance and thrills in mind. Some purists even go as far as only considering soft-top convertibles like the Mazda Miata or the original Corvette to be sports cars, and not their drastically evolved modern hardtop counterparts.
Finally, since the term sports car today encompasses everything from luxurious grand tourers and large coupes to muscle cars and convertibles, we’ll focus only on sports cars specifically designed on their own, dedicated chassis, separate from all other everyday models in their brands’ lineups. Let’s go.
10/10 Subaru BRZ (Toyota 86)
Yes, the Subaru BRZ is a true, pure-blooded sports car built on a dedicated chassis that’s shared with no other model in Subaru’s lineup. It’s designed strictly for optimal weight distribution and handling.
Despite being designed as a track toy, the BRZ offers a surprisingly spacious cabin and even sort-of usable rear seats for emergency situations. The icing on the cake is its trunk. It measures in at 6.9 cubic feet (slightly less for the 2022 model). Drop the rear seats down, and it becomes truly impressive at 44 cubic feet (1,270 liters), able to house four extra wheels and equipment for track days. Combine this with its cheap price tag and spacious front seat area, and you have yourself the perfect usable daily driver sports car.
9/10 Porsche 911
Revered among sports car enthusiasts for good reason, the 911 does it all. It serves up the perfect combination of performance, luxury, technology, and everyday usability.
Every 911 generation brings something unique to the table, but they all make equally great daily drivers, so it’s hard to go wrong. For performance and industry-leading tech, go for the newer models. To enjoy the 911 experience and use the car with little to no worry every day, we suggest picking affordable used examples to get the best bang for your buck.
8/10 Lexus LC500
Easily one of the most underrated sports cars on the market today, the LC500 is a luxurious Japanese grand tourer that can go toe-to-toe with the best European manufacturers have to offer. It’s stylish, practical, and powerful, and features one of the most premium interiors in the segment.
Under the hood, you get a 5.0-liter naturally-aspirated V8 that screams all the way to a 7300-RPM redline and makes 470 hp along the way.
7/10 BMW M4 Competition
Between the M2, M3, and the M4, the latter is the clear choice for anyone looking to get the truest sports car experience in a powerful BMW trim. The new design might be divisive, but it’s well worth the compromise over the older models, offering 473 horsepower on tap.
It also offers more boot space than most of its sports car counterparts, at 15.5 cubic feet or 440 liters. More than enough for any shopping run you’ll ever do or several large suitcases for a long trip.
6/10 2021 Toyota Supra
The new Supra may be a BMW under the sheet metal, but it’s also one of the best sports cars you can buy for the price – both used or new. Its gorgeous looks will draw in eyeballs wherever you go, but not at the compromise of comfort or practicality. It’s also incredibly reliable, giving drivers a peace of mind as they enjoy these on the daily basis.
Under the hood, you get a BMW-sourced 3.0-liter turbocharged inline-six unit producing 380 horsepower and 368 lb-ft of torque. And the benefit of being a BMW power unit is that these figures are easily understated. In reality, the car makes closer to 400 hp to the wheels.
5/10 Porsche Cayman/Boxster
No everyday sports car list can be complete without the venerable Cayman/Boxster siblings making the cut. You can never go wrong, whether you go for the tech-savvy new versions or the very affordable used ones. The Cayman and Boxster have always sat at the pinnacle of their segment and price point, and likely always will.
What you get is a powerful rear-mounted boxer engine, decent storage space up front (albeit not the best), a premium cabin feel, and most importantly, one of the most fun and worry-free driving experiences ever.
4/10 2022 Chevrolet Camaro SS
The Chevrolet Camaro has always been a valid alternative to the Mustang, but we believe Chevy really stepped up its game with the 2022 iteration of the model. In the SS trim especially, the Camaro is a poised, scary powerful, and practical package no true gearhead will easily dismiss.
Apart from a surprisingly powerful (and practical) drivetrain, what you get is also a large and comfortable interior with fairly usable rear seats, and decent boot space (9.1 cubic feet). This is a 455-horsepower muscle car you don’t have to worry about costing you a fortune to daily drive.
3/10 2022 Ford Mustang GT
Like the Camaro, the new Mustang GT is an excellent everyday sports car designed with both performance and practicality in mind. Ford knows how popular the Mustang nameplate is and how many people will drive these cars often, so the company made sure to provide the most reliable and usable car they could make.
The new GT keeps all the features and specs that made its predecessor great, including a 460-horsepower naturally-aspirated 5.0-liter V8 good for a 0-60 time of just 4.2 seconds.
2/10 2022 Jaguar F-Type
With Jaguar’s recent reputation, the F-Type might be a suspicious entry on this list. However, we’re hard-pressed to find a more stylish and luxurious sports coupe built on its own standalone chassis. This is a car designed for someone who wants to give off an aura of refinement, taste, and luxury without spending a fortune on a Bentley or an Aston Martin.
That said, the F-Type also more than delivers in performance, offering a range of powertrains from a 300-hp 2.0-liter all the way up to a 575-horsepower supercharged V8. It also offers surprising quality trim and cabin materials and a decent boot area for shopping runs.
1/10 Mazda MX-5 Miata
The quintessential affordable sports car, a Mazda MX-5 Miata needs no introduction. The level of fun and excitement it offers per dollar spend is also unrivaled, especially if you’re looking to buy new. The list of benefits doesn’t stop there, however. It’s also one of the most easy-to-live-with and reliable sports cars ever made, and the aftermarket support for these is bonkers.
You can choose to leave it stock and enjoy it as a summer roadster or you can turn it into a complete monster that can obliterate track times. It’s all up to you.