The "best" affordable sports car of the last 20 years?

The "best" affordable sports car of the last 20 years?

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white_goodman

Original Poster:

3,530 posts

149 months

Tuesday 24th March
quotequote all
We live in very life-affirming times. It's easy and natural for us to want to constantly better our lives but in times like these it makes you realise what's really important: family, health, a home, access to enough food and medicine, a steady income (whether you enjoy your job or not), so stay safe everyone and I hope that we all ride out this crisis together. That being said, it has also made me think that life is fragile and perhaps one shouldn't put off to "tomorrow" what could be done today, so to that end, if I survive this crisis physically and financially, maybe I should finally go out and buy that sports car that I've been promising myself for years?

I've been thinking about this for a while to the point that my old car (R56 MINI Cooper) broke and I had to get a new one (Golf Estate) back in the autumn. At the time, we were also considering downsizing the main family car (Grand Voyager) to an estate/crossover, so although we still have the Grand Voyager, my wife likes the Golf and it would be a perfectly good replacement and then I could get my sports car!

The "sensible" choice would be a GT86/BRZ. I've liked the look/idea of these since they came out. They're down to my budget now on the used market (sub 15k), relatively new, so should be fairly cheap to run and reliable and having driven one, it's fairly practical and has rear seats that my young children could just about fit into. It's a low rent interior for sure but I quite like the "old-school" feel, the chassis is sublime and the driving position etc is spot on. Performance seemed perfectly acceptable to me and I think that I'd like to keep it NA but would probably be looking into a remap to maximise what I have and eliminate that torque dip. For a similar budget, the other options that I keep coming back to are the mk7 Fiesta ST or an early M135i. Both quicker and more practical and the M135i is also RWD but supposedly not the best chassis and although more premium inside than the Toybaru, it's a hatchback (and I've had a lot of those) and not a sports car, so I don't think it'll feel quite as "special".

GT86/BRZ seems like a pretty good option then but is it my "dream" sports car and the most "special" car available for my budget? Probably not. Depreciation will also be heavier than something older. Although I'm a huge fan of the genre, I'm sad to say that my sports car driving experience is limited to a mk2 MX5 that I owned for 9 months and short drives in my dad's mk3 MX5, the GT86, MGFs/TFs and mk1 SLKs.

I know that there's lots of collective sports car driving/owning experience on here, so I was wondering what the PH consensus was on the "best" affordable sports car of the last 20 years to:

1) own and live with as a daily driver;

2) enjoy sparingly (mainly on the road) just for pure driving pleasure (I could get something a bit more focussed that would be a pain to live with as a daily and buy another decent but cheap (2k?) car to handle the everyday grind).

The definition of a sports car often gets a bit blurred on here but I would define it as definitely RWD, probably manual, probably 2 seats (although there are exceptions, I consider the GT86 to be a sports car for example), coupe or cabriolet and more focussed on sportiness than luxury. Weight often gets brought in too but a lot of modern cars are quite heavy, so I would say compactness is more important, as you want to be able to exploit it on a narrow B-road, which is difficult to do in a lot of larger, high performance cars. Although my personal budget would be not more than 15k, I would also welcome people's perspective on some of the newer, highly-hyped "sports cars" like the Alpine A110 and Alfa 4C. On the one hand, I love the exotic looks and lightweight ethos of these two but I wonder whether the rather ordinary 4-pot turbo motors and flappy paddle gearboxes on these two detract from the "sports car experience", even though the performance and handling capability is clearly there.

So I guess it comes down to cars like the MX5 (multiple generations), MR2 roadster and MGF/TF, which are cheap, plentiful and cheap to run but probably not "special" enough.

Caterhams/Westfields, great fun but possibly a bit too focussed for me. Elise would be better and has appeal but maybe still better as a weekend car than a daily driver?

I've lusted after all of these at some point: Honda S2000, Nissan 350Z, Mazda RX8 R3, BMW Z4 Coupe/Z3M Roadster, Boxsters/Caymans, SLK55 AMG, all more "special" than the GT86/BRZ and less depreciation but undoubtedly more expensive to run.

I think a decent Porsche 911 (997) would be over my budget (20k+?) but it is a "gold standard" amongst sports cars and I would be interested to see how others think it compares to the other cars mentioned above.

So, what in your opinion is the "best" affordable sports car of the last 20 years:

A) as a daily proposition and
B) in terms of a purely joyful driving experience?

Edited by white_goodman on Tuesday 24th March 19:36

SidewaysSi

7,882 posts

192 months

Tuesday 24th March
quotequote all
Elise. The end.

Get a 111S or 111R if you want something sensible and useable.

Plate spinner

14,523 posts

158 months

Tuesday 24th March
quotequote all
I’ve got a 20 year old £5k Boxster S and love it. Still fast / interactive enough for me. Great for summer commuting, Sunday morning drives, euro trips and (seeing as I’m not precious about it) the odd track day.

Depreciation is nonexistent so long as I don’t bend it - well who knows I’m a post-Covid 19 world... And there’s enough access to forum knowledge / parts to DIY a lot of work on it.
Plus I’m happy for it to go to my local under the arches garage, he says he quite enjoys working on it as it’s not overly complex or reliant on tech talking to every part of the car.

Downsides are that it’s got a crap stereo and the steering wheel is too big. Both easy enough to sort.

Edited by Plate spinner on Tuesday 24th March 17:37

white_goodman

Original Poster:

3,530 posts

149 months

Tuesday 24th March
quotequote all
SidewaysSi said:
Elise. The end.

Get a 111S or 111R if you want something sensible and useable.
That's an S2 presumably? 111S is K-Series and 111R Toyota engine? Can you get decent ones for sub 15k?

16v stretch

833 posts

115 months

Tuesday 24th March
quotequote all
Considered a Z4M?

A little older, but a £15k budget gets you a nice convertible or lower end of the market coupe. Values are pretty damn solid too.

BrettMRC

1,775 posts

118 months

Tuesday 24th March
quotequote all
MX5.

Zoobeef

5,360 posts

116 months

Tuesday 24th March
quotequote all
white_goodman said:
SidewaysSi said:
Elise. The end.

Get a 111S or 111R if you want something sensible and useable.
That's an S2 presumably? 111S is K-Series and 111R Toyota engine? Can you get decent ones for sub 15k?
Or a vx220 for even better value for money.

16v stretch

833 posts

115 months

Tuesday 24th March
quotequote all
Plate spinner said:
I’ve got a 30 year old £5k Boxster S and love it. Still fast / interactive enough for me. Great for summer commuting, Sunday morning drives, euro trips and (seeing as I’m not precious about it) the odd track day.

Depreciation is nonexistent so long as I don’t bend it - well who knows I’m a post-Covid 19 world... And there’s enough access to forum knowledge / parts to DIY a lot of work on it.
Plus I’m happy for it to go to my local under the arches garage, he says he quite enjoys working on it as it’s not overly complex or reliant on tech talking to every part of the car.

Downsides are that it’s got a crap stereo and the steering wheel is too big. Both easy enough to sort.
Going to presume you mean 20 year old, the oldest Boxsters are only 24! And wasn't the Boxster S some time in the early 00's?

BBenzzz

148 posts

47 months

Tuesday 24th March
quotequote all
Am I missing the reasonable (and biased) choice of an S2000? Lacking in torque, yes.. but a hoot to wring out and enjoy without being at serious trouble speeds.

blade7

9,678 posts

174 months

Tuesday 24th March
quotequote all
Plate spinner said:
I’ve got a 30 year old £5k Boxster S
Really?

Plate spinner

14,523 posts

158 months

Tuesday 24th March
quotequote all
16v stretch said:
Plate spinner said:
I’ve got a 30 year old £5k Boxster S and love it. Still fast / interactive enough for me. Great for summer commuting, Sunday morning drives, euro trips and (seeing as I’m not precious about it) the odd track day.

Depreciation is nonexistent so long as I don’t bend it - well who knows I’m a post-Covid 19 world... And there’s enough access to forum knowledge / parts to DIY a lot of work on it.
Plus I’m happy for it to go to my local under the arches garage, he says he quite enjoys working on it as it’s not overly complex or reliant on tech talking to every part of the car.

Downsides are that it’s got a crap stereo and the steering wheel is too big. Both easy enough to sort.
Going to presume you mean 20 year old, the oldest Boxsters are only 24! And wasn't the Boxster S some time in the early 00's?
Sorry!! Fat thumb phone typing... it's a MY2000, so 20 years old!

Plate spinner

14,523 posts

158 months

Tuesday 24th March
quotequote all
blade7 said:
Really?
Sorry!! Fat thumb phone typing... it's a MY2000, so 20 years old!

Byker28i

28,461 posts

175 months

Tuesday 24th March
quotequote all
BBenzzz said:
Am I missing the reasonable (and biased) choice of an S2000? Lacking in torque, yes.. but a hoot to wring out and enjoy without being at serious trouble speeds.
Would be my suggestion after an MX-5 (with BBR upgrades)

100

410 posts

34 months

Tuesday 24th March
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nissan gtr

CABC

3,648 posts

59 months

Tuesday 24th March
quotequote all
i like the drive of the 86 a lot.
new one looks even better, hope the engine has a smooth turbo installation that revs out.
https://jalopnik.com/details-of-six-new-toyota-mod...

SidewaysSi

7,882 posts

192 months

Tuesday 24th March
quotequote all
white_goodman said:
SidewaysSi said:
Elise. The end.

Get a 111S or 111R if you want something sensible and useable.
That's an S2 presumably? 111S is K-Series and 111R Toyota engine? Can you get decent ones for sub 15k?
After 1 minute searching, here:

https://www.pistonheads.com/classifieds/used-cars/...

spikeyhead

11,903 posts

155 months

Tuesday 24th March
quotequote all
If you include depreciation costs, an Atom is stupidly cheap to run.


Nyloc20

195 posts

21 months

Tuesday 24th March
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I loved my S2 2008 Elise S. 0nly the basic 1.8 but plenty fast enough and fantastic handling and steering. Many people love the S1 but a bit hardcore for me.

66mpg

505 posts

65 months

Tuesday 24th March
quotequote all
I’ve had my 2002 MR2 Roadster for a year now and I love it. A Boxster would have been nice but my budget wouldn’t stretch to that.

Jasandjules

65,034 posts

187 months

Tuesday 24th March
quotequote all
A 5.0 TVR Chimaera perhaps?