Top 10 Best Sports Cars
To some, driving is a chore, something they dislike but have to do in this modern world, for others driving is a passion, and there’s nothing better than a twisty B-road and a sports car.
There’s a certain connectedness you can feel with a well-balanced machine on a favourite winding stretch of tarmac.
From the humble Mazda MX-5 to the Porsche Cayman, sports cars can come in a variety of flavours to suit all budgets. You don’t have to be wealthy to enjoy the thrill of the open road on a beautiful dry day.
To help you out we’ve combined some of our favourites, a few are getting a little long in the tooth but can still hold their own, others are wallet-friendly and give enough bang for their buck to be a fun steer.
Our top 10 best sports cars of 2020 are:
- Porsche Cayman
- Mazda MX-5 RF
- Morgan Roadster
- Steeda Q500 Ford Mustang
- McLaren 540C
- Alpine A110
- BMW M2 Competition
- Subaru BRZ
- Mercedes AMG C63 Coupe
- Nissan GT-R
1. Porsche Cayman
If you’ve never driven a Cayman, you need to. Simply put, they’re the most perfectly balanced sports car on the road; power, weight and grip all work in harmony to produce something that a surgeon or a Swiss watchmaker would be proud of.
Precision is the name of the game.
Now it’s certainly not the most forgiving when it comes to price, starting at £45,000 for the entry-level Cayman, £52,000 for the more driver-focussed ‘T’ model, £54,000 for the ‘S’, £61,000 for the ‘GTS’ and a whopping £75k for the fire breathing ‘GT4’ version.
But don’t worry, to feel that balance and be in awe of what a beautifully precise automobile the Cayman is, the entry-level model will suit you just fine. 296 BHP gives you a 5.3 second 0-62 time, quick enough for most people, but you could still be given a run for your money by a hot hatch.
Now this generation Cayman comes fitted with the 2.0 litre, four-cylinder turbocharged petrol engine, it sounds a bit flat and gutless compared to the older flat-six, but offers more torque and gives higher MPG, not that you should be worried about things like fuel efficiency in a sports car.
The Cayman is at the top of the list because nothing quite beats it for purity and poise.
Price: Starts from £45,000
- Incredible balance
- Gorgeous looks
- Doesn’t sound great
- A lot of money for not much power
2. Mazda MX-5 RF
Swinging straight to the other end of the spectrum regarding budget is the Mazda MX-5 RF. RF stands for ‘retractable fastback’, so you still get that topless MX-5 experience but your far less exposed and can have a hardtop roof when needed.
There are only three different specs available, starting at SE-L Nav+ costing £23,000, Sport Nav+ is £25,000, and the range-topping GT Sport Nav+ is £28,000.
You can pick between a 1.5 litre engine with 130 BHP or a newly updated 2.0 litre with 181 BHP. If you aren’t worried about outright speed then the 1.5 litre is the cheaper option, but really the MX-5 has always been just a tad underpowered, something Mazda has now remedied with updated 2.0 litre engine.
It’s personal preference between the soft-top MX-5 and the RF, but there’s a look about the latter which harks back to machines like the AC Cobra, it’s got similar lines just in a modern form.
You need to bear in mind though that the fancy mechanical folding roof adds a lot of weight, 40kg roughly which equates to 6.3 stone. The price is another significant factor, the regular MX-5 starts at just £19,500, meaning a £3,500 premium for the RF.
Either option will leave you with a rear-wheel drive, nimble roadster that can just about claim the sports car title. They’re certainly fun to chuck down your nearest country lane, roof up or down.
Price: From £23,000
- Hardtop keeps wind noise low
- Better looking than the soft top
- Pricey compared to the ‘normal’ MX-5
- Limited trim options and power
3. Morgan Roadster
Here we have a traditional English built sports car, now it’s creaky wooden ways may only appeal to the few but to go ‘Morganning’ is to buy into the iconic brand.
You have to love their quirks, intricacies and faults, it’s all part of the ownership experience.
As is the one-off nature in the way they’re built, each Morgan Roadster can be customised to your taste and style, they’re literally made by hand at the foot of the Malvern Hills.
Naturally, you pay for that sort of exclusivity, and once you’ve got past the waiting list, be prepared to shell out £55,000 before you start adding options. But the style, lifestyle and experience are what you’re paying for here.
A naturally aspirated V6 gives you 280 horsepower to the rear wheels, which is a potent combination when matched with a weight of just 943 KG and gives a 0-62 time of only 4.9 seconds
Steering is nice and sharp, the rear wheels like to spin whenever things get a little damp, but whereas the Porsche is a precision instrument the Morgan is an unfettered raw machine that transports you back in time whenever you’re behind the wheel.
If you’ve never had the pleasure it’s something you should aspire to savour.
Price: Starts at £55,000
- Unique, nothing like it on the roads
- Completely customisable
- Visit the factory to see it being built
- No driver assistance
- Handling a little on the wobbly side
4. Steeda Q500 Ford Mustang
Now we could have just thrown in an ordinary 5.0 litre V8 Mustang into this list, but this is a ‘best sports car’ summary, and quite frankly the ordinary ‘stang doesn’t deserve that name.
Purchase a Steeda Q500 though, and it’s a totally different ball game.
You can buy a Steeda direct, pre-tuned if you will, but you can actually turn any 5.0 litre V8 into a Steeda Q500 for around the £10,000 mark.
That price includes the all-important Steeda Coilover upgrade; this turns the jelly-like cornering ability of the Mustang into a flat, bend loving beast. No longer is there body roll, nor do the tyres want to lose grip mid-corner and spin you into a hedge.
Haynes Ford in Essex is the only dealership in the UK to provide Steeda upgrades, but they don’t invalidate your warranty and if you’re a serious driver looking for a muscle car that can actually corner the Q500 is the way to go.
It’s no Alpine A110, but it’s a night and day difference between how the Mustang leaves the factory.
Prices: Around £55,000 depending on options
- A Mustang that can corner
- Muscle car looks with decent handling
- Lots of customisation to make yours unique
- Insurance company needs to be made aware of upgrades
5. McLaren 540C
McLaren is another manufacturer that caters for a range of buyers, from their multi-million-pound Ultimate Series to the Super Series and their entry-level Sports Series.
To the untrained eye the cars look incredibly similar, but it’s the detail underneath that sets them apart.
While the 570S gets all the rave reviews, the 570C is the often overlooked, cheaper option.
Starting at £126,000 it’s a whole £24,000 cheaper than the ‘S’, and what do you lose out on? 30 horses, some incredibly subtle styling differences, and stiffer suspension.
The last point means it will be far more usable and comfier over everyday driving, the other two are neither here nor there. If you’re in the market for a McLaren on what could debatably be called a budget – look no further.
In terms of dynamic ability, the 540C is said to lack a little mid-range shove, its handling is still sharp but softer than the 570S and yet not as soft as the 570GT.
It can go head to head with the likes of the Porsche 911 Turbo but offers that exclusivity that only saying you drive a McLaren can bring.
Price: Starting at £126,000
- Cheap as chips (for a McLaren)
- Same chassis as the rest of the series
- Barely any difference between the 570S
- 30 BHP less
- Not a massive saving if you have the money anyway
6. Alpine A110
An all-aluminium chassis sports car with the engine from a Renault hot hatch, the first bit sounds appealing, the last bit not so much.
Low volume, driver-focussed sports cars are something of the past, they don’t make money and sell in too few quantities to make it worthwhile, yet this is what Renault has decided to do with the A110 and it’s paid off.
£47,000 seems a lot, especially when a Cayman can be had for less, German engineering vs French, make of that what you will.
There are two other flavours of A110, the ‘Legende’ and a new A110 ‘S’ which adds an extra 39 BHP, a higher 161 MPH top speed, tweaked suspension, stability control lower and stiffer springs, custom dampers, firmer anti-roll bars and a set of super-sticky Michelin Pilot Sport 4 tyres.
0-62 is achievable in 4.5 seconds in the ‘normal’ models and 4.4 in the new ‘S’ version, but as with the Cayman it’s not about the power, but the way the Alpine is balanced.
It’s a perfect blend of handling, grip and horsepower and that’s why they’re currently selling so many with a long waiting list.
Prices: From £47,000
- It’s doubtful you’ll see another on the road
- Very expensive
- Basic looking interior
7. BMW M2 Competition
The M2 is the baby step into the world of M cars, it effectively replaces the three-door M3 but has grown compared to the M1 that came before it, and still BMW’s M division have worked their magic.
Prices start at £51,000 for the current ‘Competition’ model, the plain ‘M’ variant was killed off a little while back, this new version has the same twin-turbo six-cylinder from the bigger M3 and M4.
You can opt for a manual or a DCT semi-auto seven-speed gearbox, there are no adaptive dampers here and when picked with the manual box – it’s a true driver’s car.
410 BHP will catapult you to 62 in 4.2 seconds in the automatic, or 4.4 in the manual.
It’s not all about power in the M2, the chassis has been tweaked, and the suspension further honed to make it as engaging as can be.
The ride isn’t overly firm, and the damping is subtle and progressive meaning a sedate time can be had when needed.
It’s a lot of money for a small car, but you can’t argue with the reviews, it’s lauded all round as one of the best sports cars on the market today.
Prices: Starting at £51,000
- Six-cylinder engine
- Extensive use of M3/M4 parts
- Blistering performance
- Not as nimble as some hot hatches
- Understated looks
8. Subaru BRZ
Some might think this is a blast from the past, you may even question if they still make the BRZ?
Well, they do, and the reason why the BRZ is in here instead of the Toyota GT86 is that it’s a Subaru. It sounds infinitely cooler than saying you drive a Toyota.
A rear-wheel-drive, stripped back driver’s car for less than £30k?
That ticks a lot of boxes, and with prices starting at £27,000 you can see how there are so many of these Toyobarus on the roads, and that’s before we mention the 5-year, 100,000-mile warranty.
If you don’t want to go new, they can be found with very few miles on for around £10k less at just three years old.
Power is on the low side at 198 BHP, in fact, it can only muster a warm hatch 0-62 time of 7.6 seconds in manual form, 8.4 if you want the auto.
What the BRZ lacks in power though it makes up for in its playfulness, thin rear tyres mean you can push the car to a drift relatively easily, what you’ll learn about car control from owning a BRZ or GT86 most won’t ever experience.
They may be cheap and cheerful inside, looking like a Toyota parts bin from the ’90s, but the driving thrill for the money can’t be matched.
Prices: From £27,000
- Great handling
- Cheap for what’s on offer
- Dated design
- Interior is awful
9. Mercedes-AMG C63 Coupe
AMG are known for shoehorning large engines into familiar looking Mercedes metalwork, the latest incarnation of the C63 coupe is no different.
Powered by a 4.0 litre twin-turbo V8 the C63 makes 476 BHP while the pricier ‘S’ version bumps that figure to 510 BHP.
How much does all that power cost? £69,000 for the standard model, or £78,000 for the ‘S’, all that extra power only drops the 0-62 time by 0.1 second to 3.9 seconds, the top speed is lifted from 150 to 180 MPH.
One thing the C63 has up its sleeve is configurability, it takes a lot of cues from the AMG GT, like it’s nine-stage traction control, three different suspension stiffnesses, two different exhaust notes and whether you want full manual control or auto for the gearbox.
AMG have sorted the gearbox too, this used to be the weak link for the C63, but the new 9-speed affair can keep up with the likes of the BMW M4 with ease.
Yet this AMG still conforms to the ‘shove a huge engine in it’ mindset that AMG’s are known for, BMW still has it when it comes to the complete package of handling.
Prices: Start from £69,000
- Mean looks
- Great soundtrack
- Expensive to start with
- Far more well-balanced offerings on the market
10. Nissan GT-R
Now the Nissan GT-R may be pushing on 12 years old, prices have increased astronomically since it first hit the streets, but still it’s on sale and can hold its own against the competition.
It doesn’t abide by the standard rules of physics, that lighter is better. Weighing in at nearly 2 tons it uses all that weight to pummel its tyres into the ground and gain as much grip as possible.
Currently, the model line-up is vast, starting with the £82k ‘Pure’ version. £85,000 gets you the ‘Recaro’ model with black and red sports leather seats and interior, £86,000 adds black, red, ivory or tan touring leather seats.
A ‘Track Edition engineered by NISMO’ see’s bonding used throughout the bodywork to increase rigidity, exclusive Bilstein dampers with three modes, and lightweight forged 20” RAYS alloy wheels. This will set you back £95,000.
Then there’s the ultimate incarnation of the GT-R, the ‘NISMO’. At £152,000 power is upped to 592 BHP, carbon fibre bucket seats, carbon fibre bumpers, side skirts, rear wing and boot lid with a black Alcantara interior throughout.
12 years on and the model is still going strong, enabling the GT-R to take the fight to the likes of McLaren if your pockets are deep enough.
As standard, you get 562 BHP, and a 0-60 time of 3.5 seconds from a launch, this drops to 2.6 if you pay double the price of the entry-level ‘Pure’ model.
Handling has been revised over the years, and unless you really get things wrong the GT-R hides its flab well both on-road and track. You’ll get the tyres squealing when pushing hard, but the four-wheel-drive keeps this tank on the right course.
Price: From £82,000
- Proven performance record
- Tweaked time after time, the latest is the greatest
- Bang for your buck
- Incredibly long in the tooth
- Design has barely changed
Don’t have the budget for these dream machines, or maybe you need something more practical?
Not everyone can make do with a two-seater sports car, they’re often small, cramped and offer no boot space.
A hot hatch, on the other hand, can give you practicality with real-world, everyday usable performance, check out our best hot hatch guide to see for yourself.
Here are some other guides that could help you out on your journey to own the sports car of your dreams: