When most people hear the word sports car, rarely do they associate affordability. However, during these times when manufacturers are squeezing more and more manageable power out of their vehicles, the term affordable is becoming a common adjective for sports cars.
In no particular order, the top five affordable, new sports cars were chosen following this criteria: must be brand new, weigh less than 4,000 pounds, present the option of a manual gearbox, cost $35K or less with necessary options (not including destination fees, etc.), and bring about an ear-to-ear grin upon the faces of those who drive them. So without further ado, let’s get to the list.
Ford Mustang GT
During the course of just over five decades, the Ford Mustang has been as American as apple pie. Throughout these patriotic years, The Stang has proven itself to be a fantastic muscle car, but has always lacked the curve carving abilities needed to call itself a sports car. Ford has recently changed that.
The sixth-generation Mustang has a sleek, low stance, and an all new independent rear suspension that syncs up perfectly with the front of the car while pulling 0.95Gs around a skid pad. Under the hood is the tried and true 5.0 liter V8, now putting out 435 horsepower and 400 lb-ft of torque. The new generation Mustang GT is finally getting some attention from those who aren’t just interested in going straight-line fast. When you do get to a straightaway, the pony car is able to achieve 60 mph from a standstill in just 4.6 seconds. Push it further and you get a ¼ mile time of 12.9.
For just under $34K you can properly, and quickly, carve the canyons in a true American Sports Car.
Subaru WRX STi
Subaru’s WRX STi is known worldwide for its rally car achievements, and it is clear to see that this giant from Japan isn’t letting up any time soon. For 2016 the STi has the same 305 horsepower Boxer power plant, but the WRX guys have decided to add some goodies such as tuned dampers, inverted front struts, and a sway bar that results in a 16 percent stiffer machine.
The turbo-charged flat four propels the Suby to 60 in 4.8 seconds. The ¼ mile is completed in 13.3, and lateral g-force is a respectable 0.93 Gs. For just under the monetary threshold you get an all-wheel drive rally racer that can blast you down winding, back country roads where pavement is optional.
Hyundai Genesis Coupe 3.8R-Spec
With a price tag of just under $30K, this Hyundai is the least expensive ride on the list, but do not let the low price fool you. Hyundai has been ruffling feathers in the high-performance sector for some time now, and the 3.8 R-spec is just another reason why.
The Genesis Coupe has a lot to offer for such a frugal price. Its 3.8-liter, direct injection V6 puts out 348 horsepower and 295 lb-ft of torque. This allows the sports car from the Land of the Morning Calm to reach 60 mph in 5.2 seconds, and blast through the ¼ mile at 13.8 seconds. The Hyundai Coupe isn’t hard on the eyes either, with its slopes and curves in all the right places. Speaking of curves, the Genesis Coupe 3.8R can jockey around them with 0.90 Gs of force.
is evident that the R-Spec is slightly slower and less agile than some of its competition on this list, but at a bargain price, you would have money left over for some performance add-ons.
Chevrolet Camaro LGX V6
Much like its nemesis, the Ford Mustang, the Camaro has always been an American icon, and a fantastic muscle car. In 2010 the folks at Chevy decided to go after the sports car badge as well with their 5th generation Camaro. GM’s 5th-gen pony car has proven to be a runaway success for the company, and the 2016, 6th generation is shaping up to be the same.
For 2016 the Chevy Camaro V6 Coupe houses a 3.6-liter naturally aspirated engine rumored to pack more than 335 horsepower, and GM themselves have revealed a 5.2 second 0-60 time for the manual gearbox. We will have to wait for the final numbers, including the sticker price, but with a base LT model starting under $27K, chances are very good that this potent six-cylinder edition will be comfortably less than the SS trim which starts at $37,295.
We all know Nissan’s NISMO group is almost synonymous with sports car, however, the NISMO stamp puts the 370Z well out of the $35K budget. With that said, the Nissan 370Z with the sport package packs quite a punch of its own, and best of all, falls under $35,000 bucks.
The Z’s 3.7-liter 6 cylinder is fairly high tech. It has a Continuous Variable Valve Timing control system and Variable Valve Event and Lift feature that allow for a broader torque curve, as well as, a quick throttle response. This equates to 332 horses and 270 lb-ft of torque. The sport package has 14 inch 4-piston front brakes and 13.8-inch 2-pistons in the rear. Nissan’s limited slip differential makes it possible for the little Z to achieve 0.90 Gs of lateral force, while the 3.7-liter V6 gets you through the ¼ mile in 13.7 seconds after reaching the 60 mph mark in 5.1 seconds.
With all these goodies mated to a 6-speed manual for right around $33,570, you get a pretty capable sports car.
Sorry, but none of the competition across the pond didn’t make the cut. This is definitely not due to lack of performance, but rather finding it difficult to locate a 2016 euro-model with a true manual gearbox, let alone, under $35K.
So there you have it. Without breaking the bank, or having to get that second job, 2016 presents some pretty impressive, affordable sports cars. Some worthy competitors were left off the list. So, throw us your suggestions in the comments below and tell us why you think it qualifies.