Since the first muscle cars appeared in the 1950s and 1960s, they started a love affair with American gearheads that have persisted till today. The idea of putting powerful V8 engines in affordable barebones rear-wheel-drive American cars has proven to be a winning formula on the drag strip. There is plenty to love about their aggressive looks, throaty roar, badass straight-line kick, and acceleration.
However, thanks to poor handling, they are out of their element on curvy roads and racetracks, while their lack of comfort also makes them poor daily drivers. Sports cars, on the other hand, defined by their sleek design, impressive top speed, and agile handling, often come with a high price tag. Luckily, for less than $30,000, you can buy these sports cars that will put muscle cars to shame both on the track and a back road.
10 2022 Subaru BRZ ($27,995)
The 2022 Subaru BRZ is fully redesigned and boasts more torsional rigidity, a bigger engine, and more active safety features. Displacing 2.4 liters, the new smooth-revving naturally aspirated flat-4 engine feeds the rear wheels 228 hp and 184 lb-ft of torque.
Responding quickly to throttle, it launches the BRZ from zero to 60 mph in 6 seconds on the way to a top speed of about 145 mph. Available driving aids include adaptive cruise control, forward collision warning, blind-spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alert, lane keep assist, and much more.
9 2022 Volkswagen GTI ($29,880)
To start the GTI’s eighth generation, Volkswagen gave it a complete makeover, including cosmetic upgrades, a retuned suspension, a bump in power, and upgraded tech features. A 2-liter turbo-4 engine sends power to the front wheels through either a 6-speed manual transmission or an optional 7-speed automatic transmission.
With 241 hp and 273 lb-ft of torque to play with, the new GTI can hit 60 mph in 5.1 seconds and a top speed of 155 mph. Handling is great, stopping power is top-notch, and the long list of standard/available driving aids enhances drivers’ confidence.
8 2022 Subaru WRX ($29,105)
Although the redesigned 2022 Subaru WRX returns a sub-par fuel efficiency rating, it is perfect for everyday commute and the occasional weekend joyrides. It boasts sporty handling, carves corners with ease, and thanks to the standard AWD system; the new WRX has no shortage of road grip.
Hooked to either of 2 transmission choices, the turbocharged 2.4-liter 4-cylinder engine churns out an output of 271 horsepower and 258 pound-feet of torque. Enhanced for performance, the 2022 WRX cam sprint to 60 mph in just 5.2 seconds, clears the quarter-mile in 13.7 seconds and tops out at 144 mph.
7 2022 Mazda M-X5 Miata ($27,650)
The best-selling 2-seater roadster enters 2022 with a new trick, the Kinematic Posture Control (KPC), which uses braking to reduce body roll and improve handling. Under the hood is a free-revving 2.0-liter 4-cylinder engine that delivers 181 hp, 151 lb-ft of torque, and excellent fuel economy.
Although the output doesn’t sound like much, it takes the small roadster to 60 mph in about 5.7 seconds and a top speed of 140 mph. With its lightweight and well-balanced body, the 2022 Miata is fun to throw into corners and remains an affordable way to enjoy the thrills of a convertible.
6 2019 Nissan 370Z ($28,000)
From its debut in 2009 and throughout the 11 years production run, the Nissan 370Z has been a favorite of enthusiasts looking for affordable RWD fun. Being in the twilight of its lifespan, the 2019 370Z may look dated, but it still has plenty of tricks left, thanks to its 332 hp V6 engine.
It can hit 60 mph in 5 seconds, the quarter-mile in 13.6 seconds at 106 mph, and a top speed of 155 mph. For $28,000, you can find a nice used 2019 Nissan 370Z that you can take for a weekend of canyon carving.
5 2015 Audi TT ($24,975)
The Audi TT is a fun-to-drive luxury sports car that offers a comfortable ride in a spacious and stylish interior with user-friendly features. While the new Audi TT starts at $49,800, you can buy a used 2015 model for $24,975, which will put a smile on your face.
With it, you get standard heated/power front seats, leather upholstery, a 12-speaker Bose premium audio system, and Quattro all-wheel-drive system for excellent traction. A 2-liter turbo-4 engine cranks out 211 hp to push the Audi TT to 60 mph in 5.3 seconds and a top speed of 136 mph.
4 2013 Porsche Boxster ($29,900)
The Porsche Boxster, introduced in 1996, is a mid-engine roadster that has been putting smiles on the faces of fans for four generations. Although it is not a 911, it boasts a great reliability rating, sporty handling, responsive steering, and performance upgrades that enhance driving fun.
Compared to the 2022 models, which start at $62,600, a good used 2013 model is a bargain at $29,900. For that amount, you get a base model that is motivated by a 265 hp 2.7-liter flat-6 engine to 60 mph in 5.2 seconds and a top speed of 164 mph.
3 2012 Chevrolet Corvette ($26,593)
Being the last model before a full redesign for the C7 generation, the 2013 Corvette is plagued by an outdated interior design. It, however, impresses with agile handling, comfortable ride, and features like satellite radio, navigation, Bose stereo system, and a head-up display.
The base engine, a 6.2-liter V8, churns out 430-436 hp to push the 2013 Corvette to 60 mph in about 4 seconds and a top speed of 190 mph. With the 2022 model wearing a $60,900 price tag, you can spring $28,885 for a 2012 model.
2 2008 Honda S2000 ($26,000)
The Honda S2000 is a sophisticated front-engine RWD 2-seater sports car that wears an attractive exterior design but sports a cramped interior. Created with Honda fun-to-drive DNA, the 2008 S2000 is powered by a high-revving 2.2-liter VTEC 4-cylinder engine mated to a close-ratio 6-speed manual transmission.
Boasting a near-perfect weight distribution, it handles superbly while the potent engine takes it to 60 mph in less than 6 seconds and to a top speed of 141 mph. Although it is long gone, you can still find them in used car lots for a price of $26,000.
1 1994 Mitsubishi 3000 GT VR-4 ($27,995)
Marketed in the Japanese Domestic Market (JDM) as the GTO, the Mitsubishi 3000GT is an insanely attractive sports car. Boasting all-wheel drive, 4-wheel steering, adaptive suspension, active aerodynamics, and a luxurious interior, the 1994 3000GT VR-4 is comfortable, stable, nimble, and goes for $27,995.
Under the hood lies a twin-turbo 3-liter V6 engine that pairs with a 6-speed manual transmission to lay down 320 hp and 315 lb-ft of torque. With this setup, it flies to 60 mph in 4.8 seconds, touches the quarter-mile in 13.6 seconds at 100.5 mph, and tops out at 165 mph.
Minor Price Increase Vs A Load More Fun: The 2023 Subaru BRZ
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