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

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

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Discussion

cerb4.5lee

16,447 posts

138 months

Tuesday 24th March
quotequote all
Whilst not the "best" I'd give a shout out to the 350Z/370Z. I've had my 370Z Roadster almost a year now(slightly modded to improve the noise it makes) and I still absolutely love it.

Even new the 350Z was recognised as being an excellent affordable sports car against its rivals. I've also had a Z4M Roadster and while I did like its on paper ingredients...I felt that the suspension/ride and gearbox spoilt it somewhat.

The GT86 is also a car I'd love to have one day for sure. A Lotus Elise is another car that I'd love one day too, and I only have to stand next to one and I want to just jump in and drive it.

white_goodman

Original Poster:

3,530 posts

149 months

Tuesday 24th March
quotequote all
Appreciate all the replies, will block reply rather than reply to each of you individually.

986 Boxster S, love them...it was the "one" for me for a long time and was even looking at them with a view to a purchase about 10 years ago but then we fell pregnant, so the Boxster S became a WRX Wagon! A friend in the "know" says I should get a 987 instead, which for some reason I never liked as much because 986s are a bit "crap" but very cheap now, so scope for a decent "slush" fund for the Boxster and a decent hot hatch for the day-to-day stuff within the budget. Still a very useable car for daily duties in nice weather though (the Boxster).

Z4M is gorgeous and one of the last good-looking BMWs IMHO but reviews seem very polarising. Who wouldn't want something with that engine but I expect running costs are a bit of a step up from the 3.0?

Was actually thinking about VX220s earlier but forgot to include them in the list. Would have to be the Turbo though, as this was the VX's USP over the Elise and I think the Turbos are a bit more money? Still a nice looking car but the Elise is prettier and if I was choosing between a 2.2 VX220 and an S2 Elise, for this reason, I would probably go Elise. Nice Elise in the ad. 18 years old! Still looks really fresh though to be fair. Why would you put the Elise above all others?

Nissan GTR is a bit of a "dream" car to be fair. For that level of performance, I guess they are fairly affordable but is it really a sports car?

ETA: someone mentioned the S2000. I'm a bit of a Japanese performance car fanboy to be honest and lapped up the recent S2000 thread but some said that it's a bit of a pain to live with on a daily basis. Lots of engine/wind noise on the motorway etc. To be honest, it's the S2000, 350Z and RX8 R3 that are really tempting me away from the "safe" choice (GT86). The RX8 has its own set of problems...

Edited by white_goodman on Tuesday 24th March 19:30

white_goodman

Original Poster:

3,530 posts

149 months

Tuesday 24th March
quotequote all
cerb4.5lee said:
Whilst not the "best" I'd give a shout out to the 350Z/370Z. I've had my 370Z Roadster almost a year now(slightly modded to improve the noise it makes) and I still absolutely love it.

Even new the 350Z was recognised as being an excellent affordable sports car against its rivals. I've also had a Z4M Roadster and while I did like its on paper ingredients...I felt that the suspension/ride and gearbox spoilt it somewhat.

The GT86 is also a car I'd love to have one day for sure. A Lotus Elise is another car that I'd love one day too, and I only have to stand next to one and I want to just jump in and drive it.
Always had a bit of a thing for the 350Z to be honest. It and the RX8 had just come out when I got my MX5 but both sadly out of budget. Love that burnt orangy colour on the early 350Zs and the "deep-dish" wheels. Never liked the styling of the 370Z as much for some reason, although I'm sure it's a better car in every respect. I think it was maybe because I think it looked a bit dated even when it was brand new. Of course the 350Z looks dated now too but "of its time". That being said, the 370Z Roadster really looks rather nice, whereas the 350Z Roadster always looked a little awkward. If we're talking coupe though, it's still the 350Z for me. smile

Zoobeef

5,354 posts

116 months

Tuesday 24th March
quotequote all
white_goodman said:
Appreciate all the replies, will block reply rather than reply to each of you individually.

986 Boxster S, love them...it was the "one" for me for a long time and was even looking at them with a view to a purchase about 10 years ago but then we fell pregnant, so the Boxster S became a WRX Wagon! A friend in the "know" says I should get a 987 instead, which for some reason I never liked as much because 986s are a bit "crap" but very cheap now, so scope for a decent "slush" fund for the Boxster and a decent hot hatch for the day-to-day stuff within the budget. Still a very useable car for daily duties in nice weather though (the Boxster).

Z4M is gorgeous and one of the last good-looking BMWs IMHO but reviews seem very polarising. Who wouldn't want something with that engine but I expect running costs are a bit of a step up from the 3.0?

Was actually thinking about VX220s earlier but forgot to include them in the list. Would have to be the Turbo though, as this was the VX's USP over the Elise and I think the Turbos are a bit more money? Still a nice looking car but the Elise is prettier and if I was choosing between a 2.2 VX220 and an S2 Elise, for this reason, I would probably go Elise. Nice Elise in the ad. 18 years old! Still looks really fresh though to be fair. Why would you put the Elise above all others?

Nissan GTR is a bit of a "dream" car to be fair. For that level of performance, I guess they are fairly affordable but is it really a sports car?
Dont disregard a Supercharged 2.2 vx220. I've had a turbo, 2 NA ones and I've supercharged the racecar. All great in their own rights.
Even not buying a supercharged one, adding one yourself is very DIYable and easily puts it to 260bhp.

cerb4.5lee

16,447 posts

138 months

Tuesday 24th March
quotequote all
white_goodman said:
Always had a bit of a thing for the 350Z to be honest. It and the RX8 had just come out when I got my MX5 but both sadly out of budget. Love that burnt orangy colour on the early 350Zs and the "deep-dish" wheels. Never liked the styling of the 370Z as much for some reason, although I'm sure it's a better car in every respect. I think it was maybe because I think it looked a bit dated even when it was brand new. Of course the 350Z looks dated now too but "of its time". That being said, the 370Z Roadster really looks rather nice, whereas the 350Z Roadster always looked a little awkward. If we're talking coupe though, it's still the 350Z for me. smile
Agree and I've also always had a soft spot for the 350Z big time as well. Styling wise I sometimes think that the 370Z looks great and then sometimes I think that it is a little too fat arsed and the front/rear lights just don't look quite right.

Also agree regards the 350Z Roadster and I don't think that Nissan planned for it to be a soft top...whereas they did for the 370Z Roadster and it looks a bit better resolved.

Deep down I'm a Coupe man too cool...but my advancing years have took me to the darkside of the Roadster! biggrin

SidewaysSi

7,877 posts

192 months

Tuesday 24th March
quotequote all
white_goodman said:
Appreciate all the replies, will block reply rather than reply to each of you individually.

986 Boxster S, love them...it was the "one" for me for a long time and was even looking at them with a view to a purchase about 10 years ago but then we fell pregnant, so the Boxster S became a WRX Wagon! A friend in the "know" says I should get a 987 instead, which for some reason I never liked as much because 986s are a bit "crap" but very cheap now, so scope for a decent "slush" fund for the Boxster and a decent hot hatch for the day-to-day stuff within the budget. Still a very useable car for daily duties in nice weather though (the Boxster).

Z4M is gorgeous and one of the last good-looking BMWs IMHO but reviews seem very polarising. Who wouldn't want something with that engine but I expect running costs are a bit of a step up from the 3.0?

Was actually thinking about VX220s earlier but forgot to include them in the list. Would have to be the Turbo though, as this was the VX's USP over the Elise and I think the Turbos are a bit more money? Still a nice looking car but the Elise is prettier and if I was choosing between a 2.2 VX220 and an S2 Elise, for this reason, I would probably go Elise. Nice Elise in the ad. 18 years old! Still looks really fresh though to be fair. Why would you put the Elise above all others?

Nissan GTR is a bit of a "dream" car to be fair. For that level of performance, I guess they are fairly affordable but is it really a sports car?
I have driven pretty much all the cars being discussed and for me it's the Elise because it handles, steers and communicates like no other.

The one linked also has the major jobs done - important you drive a fit one, though that goes without saying for any car of this age. You can't look at how old these cars are as it has little bearing on condition.

Buy a good one and you will keep it forever. And wonder why you didn't do it years ago...

I have an S1 which is completely transformed from its standard spec and it is an utter joy. Sharp, intense, wild. It's never leaving my ownership as long as I am here and I don't care what happens to the value of it - I bought it because for me it's the epitome of the useable lightweight sports car and I will drive it till I can no longer.

Pericoloso

43,770 posts

121 months

Tuesday 24th March
quotequote all
FIAT Barchetta ,much better than the haters think.

But just ignore me.

white_goodman

Original Poster:

3,530 posts

149 months

Tuesday 24th March
quotequote all
SidewaysSi said:
I have driven pretty much all the cars being discussed and for me it's the Elise because it handles, steers and communicates like no other.

The one linked also has the major jobs done - important you drive a fit one, though that goes without saying for any car of this age. You can't look at how old these cars are as it has little bearing on condition.

Buy a good one and you will keep it forever. And wonder why you didn't do it years ago...

I have an S1 which is completely transformed from its standard spec and it is an utter joy. Sharp, intense, wild. It's never leaving my ownership as long as I am here and I don't care what happens to the value of it - I bought it because for me it's the epitome of the useable lightweight sports car and I will drive it till I can no longer.
I respect that. Thanks for the explanation. smile

white_goodman

Original Poster:

3,530 posts

149 months

Tuesday 24th March
quotequote all
Pericoloso said:
FIAT Barchetta ,much better than the haters think.

But just ignore me.
Lovely looking thing. Appeals more to me than an MX5/MR2/MG to be honest despite FWD. smile

gforceg

3,345 posts

137 months

Tuesday 24th March
quotequote all
white_goodman said:
Pericoloso said:
FIAT Barchetta ,much better than the haters think.

But just ignore me.
Lovely looking thing. Appeals more to me than an MX5/MR2/MG to be honest despite FWD. smile
Agreed. A flat orange Barchetta is a fine thing.

dvshannow

1,015 posts

94 months

Tuesday 24th March
quotequote all
Byker28i said:
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)
I also would suggest this a gem of an engine that only gets more special in the turbo and electric era
It’s also just the essence of a small basic sports car to me like the mx5 but more exotic and a great gearbox too

Only thing is the handling is twitchy it’s true

unsprung

4,932 posts

82 months

Tuesday 24th March
quotequote all


I'm grateful for the existence of V8 performance cars like Corvette, Camaro, Challenger, and Mustang which, in their domestic market if not also in Blighty, are the very definition of affordable and everyday. With servicing that costs buttons.


braddo

7,194 posts

146 months

Tuesday 24th March
quotequote all
My first port of call would absolutely be an Elise. Then you have the benchmark "Best sports car of the last 20 years" to compare against.

If you don't get along with the Elise at least you tried one and it will help you understand your priorities better (size, weight, performance, tactility, practicality, noise etc).

mikey P 500

1,165 posts

145 months

Tuesday 24th March
quotequote all
I have owned most the sports cars on your list OP.

MK1 mx5, MK2 mr2 (turbo and na) MK3 mr2, honda s2000, lotus elise, Porsche boxster, 996 gen 911 (also a 924 and 944 too old for your list) Mazda rx8, MK4 supra toyota gt86. Generally all used as a daily driver each for approx 18mths.

Ones I would buy again gt86 really good fun like a better faster mx5.
Mx5 great fun but not a MK1 now too expensive/hard to find a non rusty one Porsche boxster, excellent maybe even the best on list, great to drive and own.

Ones I would not s2000 (over rated more expensive to run than boxster and VTEC not suited to road driving). Porsche 996 great cars but not worth massive premium over boxster that's basically just as good if don't need rear seats.
Mr2 handling trates are a comprise compared to others on list.
Lotus Elise really great but now cost too much and are far older and more tired for early ones now.
Rx8 good but not worth 17mpg.


GT6 Jonsey

689 posts

80 months

Tuesday 24th March
quotequote all
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.

996?

majorjoy

62 posts

27 months

Tuesday 24th March
quotequote all
A well looked after Cayman S is on my radar with a similar budget...

blade7

9,667 posts

174 months

Tuesday 24th March
quotequote all
Mapped TT-RS, with tweaked suspension.

CABC

3,645 posts

59 months

Tuesday 24th March
quotequote all
on balance i'd say MX5, especially with good coilovers, cams and breathing. i've owned several but not atm, so i'm proposing a car i don't currently own!

i'll never sell my Elise (only 8 yrs so far) for all the reasons given in some posts above. it really is the most direct and feelsome car available. it is the most capable driver's tool, but maybe a "sports car" should just a bit more innocent and playful?

I love the 86 as a good fun proper sports car with a heavy dose of practicality. but good though it is, that practicality comes at a cost of 200kg+ over a tonne. so it fits in the middle: not so light to be really tactile, and no high performance bragging rights. good sports car though.

Porsche make lovely cars, but they've moved on from sports car to sports GT. if the 86 is a bit heavy at 1240kg, then the Cayster will struggle for tactile fun compared to lightweights. but move from back roads to more open roads and they really come into their own. the Ring and Alpine passes are great territory for Porsche.

I love that the 350/370 exists, but they simply cannot compete for best sports car title. their charm is the engine and 'traditional' layout and feel.

MR2, love them but less experience to be honest. Obviously if the Elise is in the category it won't beat that. great value though and and still a really great car. mk3 would be my choice.

Caterham obs great but i think the Elise gives so much more practicality and yet doesn't give away so much in tactility. So it loses to Elise for me, but a Caterham (any Caterham) is always a proper sports car!

A110. sadly haven't driven it. love the concept.

Morgan. wild one here, but it's a lot of fun and totally immersive, isn't that one definition of "sports car"? they really are a driver's car because they need 'driving'. even though i love i wouldn't propose it as best, by a long way.

I still propose the MX5. fits the old school definition of sports car. it's also affordable to upgrade to make it faster, tighter and more agile. that upgradability makes it a winner.

Pericoloso

43,770 posts

121 months

Tuesday 24th March
quotequote all
gforceg said:
white_goodman said:
Pericoloso said:
FIAT Barchetta ,much better than the haters think.

But just ignore me.
Lovely looking thing. Appeals more to me than an MX5/MR2/MG to be honest despite FWD. smile
Agreed. A flat orange Barchetta is a fine thing.
An orange or yellow Barchetta would have been my ideal choice but there was only 1 car for sale at the specialist when I wanted to buy

and it was silver grey.

gareth h

2,372 posts

188 months

Tuesday 24th March
quotequote all
braddo said:
My first port of call would absolutely be an Elise. Then you have the benchmark "Best sports car of the last 20 years" to compare against.

If you don't get along with the Elise at least you tried one and it will help you understand your priorities better (size, weight, performance, tactility, practicality, noise etc).
This, it’s sort of soft core compared to a Caterham, but if it’s purity of purpose your after there’s nothing quite like it