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

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

Author
Discussion

Rosewood Red

433 posts

105 months

Tuesday 24th March
quotequote all
IMG_20200322_170330 by ash_ashy_mo, on Flickr

Regularly used on a 100 mile round commute. Can comfortably accommodate a passenger and 2 x cabin bags; and their skydiving equipment - parachute rigs, jumpsuits, helmets, and so on...

Also brilliant to use for "just a drive".

Can be had silly cheap. Factor in between £6 - 7k for a sorted one, or for a cheap one (that isn't a dog) and repairs. Can also easily cost ££££ to get to scratch if you buy the wrong one, or if you are unlucky. Caveat emptor.

Honeywell

329 posts

50 months

Wednesday 25th March
quotequote all
GT86 and tune it like they intended.

Awesome.

Mr Tidy

10,639 posts

79 months

Wednesday 25th March
quotequote all
I think it depends on your definition of "sports car" to be fair.

Ultimate road car/track day weapon probably an Elise or VX220.

Vaguely practical then a 350Z/370Z or BMW Z4 Coupe works pretty well. I had two 3.0Si BMW Z4 Coupes for 5+ years and loved them! But in December I bought a Z4M Coupe and it's just fantastic - so time for a gratuitous photo I suppose. rolleyes

Although I'd never claim it was the best affordable sports car of the last 20 years, just the one I like best!




More practical would be a GT86, but I drove a couple of them before buying a Z4 Coupe and while they handled really well for me they just lacked a bit of grunt.

Stinkfist

33 posts

135 months

Wednesday 25th March
quotequote all
Yes strange times indeed

Since passing my test some 36 ago I too recently went through the same dilemma. TBH I really didn’t set out to buy a sports car! Unlike many posters already I haven’t driven that many different vehicles and although I am passionate about driving I’m not overly obsessive about cars in general. That probably makes me pretty unqualified to give you an opinion but as I now own one of the vehicles you mentioned this is just my take on answering your question

In an ideal world we would have a vehicle for every occasion and although some are fortunate to make that a reality most of us have to make compromises. For me that meant always requiring interior space and AWD and to a large extent most of the vehicles I’ve owned have been estate cars/wagons. But since I was in my mid 20’s I promised myself one day I would get myself a small RWD sport car.

Well that day came early in 2018. I guess good experiences with certain brands can be persuasive in determining your next purchase and so it was with mine. My Legacy Spec B H6 engined wagon had been with me for almost 10 years and as it had been one of those vehicles that never played up and did so many things supremely well, I was planning on keeping it. However within a very short space of time circumstances took a weird curve and we upped and relocated. In new surroundings (rural) my wife suddenly agreed to drive a larger vehicle which she had been reluctant to do until then so the legacy was sadly sold on and all of a sudden I was in the position you find yourself in now. My budget was also £20k

With a few exceptions I had also considered many of the vehicles you mention. What I personally had to take into consideration was ground clearance due to access and I didn’t want anything to old as I no longer had a garage to work in.

Having a racetrack a mile up the road also came in very handy. I spent a great deal of time talking to owners about their choices and drew up a shortlist. Although I could have been tempted by a FWD talking to these enthusiasts convinced me it must be RWD

After a few test drives I concluded I was just too tall for an MX5 so that was out, I had a ridiculously short test drive in an unloved 2014 BRZ but it was an auto as it was the only one they had. The Z4 did not feel nimble enough and I just never got to drive a decent enough 350Z. I missed out on a Z3 roadster drive by a few hours and even considered upping my budget on a 718!

What really clinched it was an extended test drive on my own. It was getting to the point where I had toyed with spending just a fraction of my budget on an older track prepped car. A passenger ride round the track convinced me this option wasn’t going to be a realistic proposition for the road or my back! Then out of the blue I had a capricious moment whilst passing a Toyota dealer who had a 5 year old Porsche Cayenne sat on the forecourt. Jesus, what am I doing, I though as I sat sipping coffee with the rep. This wasn’t in the plan! We have a mini monster truck at home already. I’m a dead man if I come home with another! Whilst pondering this obvious dilemma I noticed a GT86 brochure on his desk. It was for the revised and mildly updated 2017 MY facelift. As I mentioned I had already tested an auto BRZ. What I wasn’t aware of was that many of the mild revisions looked at least on paper to be big improvements. Better damping, much better ICE and at least in this dealership a manual. Unfortunately the car had just been sold but I had at least had a good look over it. The only thing that looked worse cosmetically was the front end. More stock was due in so after departing I did a quick tinterweb search and a 2017 facelift BRZ has just come in at a Subaru dealership. It was a fair trek but a phone call later determined I could take it for a test drive for a few hours.

In that time I made my mind up. IMO the BRZ facelift version was much the better looking now. It had a few issues I didn’t like at first but after half an hour blasting around rural A roads they really didn’t matter. The interior is extremely dated, the rear seats are really only good for throwing a jacket or coat on, the switchgear looked compatible with my old Forester XT and that torque dip can be bloody annoying. The engine really does have to be worked hard but that’s what makes it feel so engaging. The steering is sublime, even more so when you realise it’s electric. The gear change and clutch action at speed is perfect, the seats are comfy whilst also being adequately supportive. The seating, pedal and wheel positions are by far the best of any of the vehicles I test drove. Visibility is fantastic and the little bulges over the front wings really do aid positioning the car in the corners. The damping is much improved over the original model but I suspect the one I drove was also a little tired in that department. After original research the twins also have the benefit of a huge selection of aftermarket goodies so much can be improved on if so wished. Lastly it really is a good looking little car. It’s proportions are just right

Anyways I digress. I can’t sleep so apologies I’ve waffled on enough

So regards to your questions, does it work as a daily driver? Probably not. You need to be pretty supple to get in and out of it. At town speeds both the throttle response and clutch can spoil things a little and if motorway commuting is necessary it won’t impress. It’s noisy and even though the head unit is new the sound quality is appalling!
As for pure driving pleasure it’s simply a delight

I left mine completely stock for 12 months so I got to learn what it was capable of and so I could decide if it was worth throwing money at it. With a set of Pilot Sport 4’s and an updated set of discs and pads it performed well on the track for short sessions

Since then I have treated it to a set of aftermarket wheels, a set of Ohlins R &T coilovers, adjustable top mounts along with all the other necessary suspension alignment additions. This has had a massive improvement over the stock set up whilst still giving you the option to maintain the ride height. Manifold, exhaust and Racerom ECU tune were on the cards as is a BBK but that will have all have to wait for now????

So yes, i think you have guessed, I would thoroughly recommend one


Edited by Stinkfist on Wednesday 25th March 06:35


Edited by Stinkfist on Wednesday 25th March 06:36


Edited by Stinkfist on Wednesday 25th March 06:42


Edited by Stinkfist on Wednesday 25th March 06:43


Edited by Stinkfist on Wednesday 25th March 06:44


Edited by Stinkfist on Wednesday 25th March 06:55


Edited by Stinkfist on Wednesday 25th March 06:57


Edited by Stinkfist on Wednesday 25th March 06:58

BALDER5

6 posts

48 months

Wednesday 25th March
quotequote all
For me if you can't afford a 997 911 it has to be the 350/370Z.

I'm also a sucker for a 997 911 and would be my dream sports car, though I agree with earlier comments that porsche are veering towards sports GT these days. The 997 may be the last of the 911 sports cars.

But the n/a on thay Nissan even with stock exhaust would bring a smile to your fave every day. My mate commuted from York to Leeds every day for 5 months and whilst the fuel bill was horrible (he got mid 30s so not terrible) he said it was a great motorway cruiser. You have to man handle then on rural roads but very rewarding

braddo

6,713 posts

140 months

Wednesday 25th March
quotequote all
Sadly, to have a 996 or 997 911 you need to be prepared for the risk of a massively expensive engine failure due to bore scoring. It may well not happen, but the risk will always be there unless the car has had a proper rebuild from Hartech.

987 Caymans with the 3.4 also seem to be quite prone.

They are wonderful cars but the sword of Damocles hangs over them which means the budget has to have a lot more headroom than the OP is considering.

A non-S Boxster 2.5, 2.7 or especially 2.9 - would give a fantastic Porsche experience with much less risk.

Boxster, MX5, GT86 and RX8 (for the most useable rear seats) would be my shortlist after the Elise. Mk3 MR2 as well if keeping to a smaller budget.


so called

7,348 posts

161 months

Wednesday 25th March
quotequote all
Simples,


white_goodman

Original Poster:

3,407 posts

143 months

Wednesday 25th March
quotequote all
Mr Tidy said:
I think it depends on your definition of "sports car" to be fair.

Ultimate road car/track day weapon probably an Elise or VX220.

Vaguely practical then a 350Z/370Z or BMW Z4 Coupe works pretty well. I had two 3.0Si BMW Z4 Coupes for 5+ years and loved them! But in December I bought a Z4M Coupe and it's just fantastic - so time for a gratuitous photo I suppose. rolleyes

Although I'd never claim it was the best affordable sports car of the last 20 years, just the one I like best!




More practical would be a GT86, but I drove a couple of them before buying a Z4 Coupe and while they handled really well for me they just lacked a bit of grunt.
Lovely looking car. I'd go as far to say one of the best-looking cars of the last 20 years. I like the wheels. Are they OEM? They look a bit E46 M3 CSL-like...

white_goodman

Original Poster:

3,407 posts

143 months

Wednesday 25th March
quotequote all
Stinkfist said:
Yes strange times indeed

Since passing my test some 36 ago I too recently went through the same dilemma. TBH I really didn’t set out to buy a sports car! Unlike many posters already I haven’t driven that many different vehicles and although I am passionate about driving I’m not overly obsessive about cars in general. That probably makes me pretty unqualified to give you an opinion but as I now own one of the vehicles you mentioned this is just my take on answering your question

In an ideal world we would have a vehicle for every occasion and although some are fortunate to make that a reality most of us have to make compromises. For me that meant always requiring interior space and AWD and to a large extent most of the vehicles I’ve owned have been estate cars/wagons. But since I was in my mid 20’s I promised myself one day I would get myself a small RWD sport car.

Well that day came early in 2018. I guess good experiences with certain brands can be persuasive in determining your next purchase and so it was with mine. My Legacy Spec B H6 engined wagon had been with me for almost 10 years and as it had been one of those vehicles that never played up and did so many things supremely well, I was planning on keeping it. However within a very short space of time circumstances took a weird curve and we upped and relocated. In new surroundings (rural) my wife suddenly agreed to drive a larger vehicle which she had been reluctant to do until then so the legacy was sadly sold on and all of a sudden I was in the position you find yourself in now. My budget was also £20k

With a few exceptions I had also considered many of the vehicles you mention. What I personally had to take into consideration was ground clearance due to access and I didn’t want anything to old as I no longer had a garage to work in.

Having a racetrack a mile up the road also came in very handy. I spent a great deal of time talking to owners about their choices and drew up a shortlist. Although I could have been tempted by a FWD talking to these enthusiasts convinced me it must be RWD

After a few test drives I concluded I was just too tall for an MX5 so that was out, I had a ridiculously short test drive in an unloved 2014 BRZ but it was an auto as it was the only one they had. The Z4 did not feel nimble enough and I just never got to drive a decent enough 350Z. I missed out on a Z3 roadster drive by a few hours and even considered upping my budget on a 718!

What really clinched it was an extended test drive on my own. It was getting to the point where I had toyed with spending just a fraction of my budget on an older track prepped car. A passenger ride round the track convinced me this option wasn’t going to be a realistic proposition for the road or my back! Then out of the blue I had a capricious moment whilst passing a Toyota dealer who had a 5 year old Porsche Cayenne sat on the forecourt. Jesus, what am I doing, I though as I sat sipping coffee with the rep. This wasn’t in the plan! We have a mini monster truck at home already. I’m a dead man if I come home with another! Whilst pondering this obvious dilemma I noticed a GT86 brochure on his desk. It was for the revised and mildly updated 2017 MY facelift. As I mentioned I had already tested an auto BRZ. What I wasn’t aware of was that many of the mild revisions looked at least on paper to be big improvements. Better damping, much better ICE and at least in this dealership a manual. Unfortunately the car had just been sold but I had at least had a good look over it. The only thing that looked worse cosmetically was the front end. More stock was due in so after departing I did a quick tinterweb search and a 2017 facelift BRZ has just come in at a Subaru dealership. It was a fair trek but a phone call later determined I could take it for a test drive for a few hours.

In that time I made my mind up. IMO the BRZ facelift version was much the better looking now. It had a few issues I didn’t like at first but after half an hour blasting around rural A roads they really didn’t matter. The interior is extremely dated, the rear seats are really only good for throwing a jacket or coat on, the switchgear looked compatible with my old Forester XT and that torque dip can be bloody annoying. The engine really does have to be worked hard but that’s what makes it feel so engaging. The steering is sublime, even more so when you realise it’s electric. The gear change and clutch action at speed is perfect, the seats are comfy whilst also being adequately supportive. The seating, pedal and wheel positions are by far the best of any of the vehicles I test drove. Visibility is fantastic and the little bulges over the front wings really do aid positioning the car in the corners. The damping is much improved over the original model but I suspect the one I drove was also a little tired in that department. After original research the twins also have the benefit of a huge selection of aftermarket goodies so much can be improved on if so wished. Lastly it really is a good looking little car. It’s proportions are just right

Anyways I digress. I can’t sleep so apologies I’ve waffled on enough

So regards to your questions, does it work as a daily driver? Probably not. You need to be pretty supple to get in and out of it. At town speeds both the throttle response and clutch can spoil things a little and if motorway commuting is necessary it won’t impress. It’s noisy and even though the head unit is new the sound quality is appalling!
As for pure driving pleasure it’s simply a delight

I left mine completely stock for 12 months so I got to learn what it was capable of and so I could decide if it was worth throwing money at it. With a set of Pilot Sport 4’s and an updated set of discs and pads it performed well on the track for short sessions

Since then I have treated it to a set of aftermarket wheels, a set of Ohlins R &T coilovers, adjustable top mounts along with all the other necessary suspension alignment additions. This has had a massive improvement over the stock set up whilst still giving you the option to maintain the ride height. Manifold, exhaust and Racerom ECU tune were on the cards as is a BBK but that will have all have to wait for now????

So yes, i think you have guessed, I would thoroughly recommend one


Edited by Stinkfist on Wednesday 25th March 06:35


Edited by Stinkfist on Wednesday 25th March 06:36


Edited by Stinkfist on Wednesday 25th March 06:42


Edited by Stinkfist on Wednesday 25th March 06:43


Edited by Stinkfist on Wednesday 25th March 06:44


Edited by Stinkfist on Wednesday 25th March 06:55


Edited by Stinkfist on Wednesday 25th March 06:57


Edited by Stinkfist on Wednesday 25th March 06:58
Thanks for sharing. Similar experience. My last 10 years of motoring have been mostly mundane family-friendly stuff but there was a WRX Wagon thrown in there too. I've certainly driven much faster cars than the GT86/BRZ and it's certainly not perfect but it's the first car that I've driven in ages that has taken me back to the pure joy of driving in the early days that I got from cars like my 205 GTi and even my mum's Fiat Cinquecento Sporting 20+ years ago! Probably not as comfortable a daily as my current Golf but a lot more involving and I think that it rode a lot better than my previous MINI Cooper. The car seems a lot more in keeping with Toyota's heritage and a bit oddball for a Subaru (no AWD and no turbo) but it does look great in the blue and I do have more of an affinity for the Subaru brand. I loved my WRX and would have happily replaced it with a Forester XT or Legacy Spec B Estate but I needed something newer and Subaru seemed to stop making interesting cars. Even the new WRXs don't seem to have the same appeal as the classic/"Blobeye"/"Hawkeyes".




white_goodman

Original Poster:

3,407 posts

143 months

Wednesday 25th March
quotequote all
so called said:
Simples,

What TVR is that? I would have said Tuscan but I thought the Tuscan was a coupe. I loved TVRs as a boy but running costs/reliability? Are the V8 cars, so probably a Chimaera at this kind of budget the best bet? The only thing is I'm not sure how useable one would be as a daily driver and a decent one would probably be right at the top of my budget? Would be an absolute blast just for fun driving though.

cerb4.5lee

14,081 posts

132 months

Wednesday 25th March
quotequote all
white_goodman said:
What TVR is that? I would have said Tuscan but I thought the Tuscan was a coupe.
It is a Tuscan 2(later facelift Tuscan) and I believe that they did both the Targa and Convertible model with it.

I personally prefer the cleaner front and rear of the Tuscan 2 to the original as well.

white_goodman

Original Poster:

3,407 posts

143 months

Wednesday 25th March
quotequote all
cerb4.5lee said:
It is a Tuscan 2(later facelift Tuscan) and I believe that they did both the Targa and Convertible model with it.

I personally prefer the cleaner front and rear of the Tuscan 2 to the original as well.
You used to have a Cerbera right? Expensive car to run if I remember rightly?

cerb4.5lee

14,081 posts

132 months

Wednesday 25th March
quotequote all
white_goodman said:
You used to have a Cerbera right? Expensive car to run if I remember rightly?
Yes and I did and I had it for 6 years. The Cerbera 4.5 I had is widely regarded as the most expensive TVR to run. I loved it too bits, but with hindsight I reckon that financially I would have been better off going for the Chimaera instead as my first TVR.

G_Morto

44 posts

10 months

Wednesday 25th March
quotequote all
Funny I've been going through the same thought process.

Love the look of the GT86/BRZ as well as the Z4 and 350Z/370Z.

Never driven any of them mind. I've actually been looking more at the Mk 4 Mx5 (again, never driven) and there seems to he low mileage examples for around £13k. Not sure if an Mx5 would be good for long term ownership as a sole car?

Obviously need to wait until the current situation blows over and see if there is any reduction in prices.

My other thought is to keep my cheap hatchback and start motor biking instead although that poses it's own problems like requiring a shed!

sawman

4,159 posts

182 months

Wednesday 25th March
quotequote all
Went through this process last year.

First choice was whether to go modern or older
Newer being gt86, mx5, z4 coupe
Older being boxster, or some form of tvr

Had a drive of gt86, also mk3 &4 mx5 and z4coupe (E86). After driving these the bmw was top choice, but whilst it is very good and the engine is lovely, i felt it wasn't enough of an event, so popped over to my local tvr specialist, they has a few cars in to look at, including boxster, bit i ultimately went for a chimaera 400.
I have run it as an almost daily for 6 months, and loving it. Every drive is an event, the noise, the torque, lovely smooth mechanical feeling gearbox. Well recommended


Edited by sawman on Wednesday 25th March 22:16

Enut

64 posts

25 months

Wednesday 25th March
quotequote all
I have owned a 2017 GT86 for nearly 3 years now. It is a truly exceptional car and IMO the best 'affordable' sports car. Although I'll admit I haven't driven any of the others on your list! I have done about 19,000 miles in the GT86 so although not high mileage, it is my daily.

It is ideal for UK roads as you can have great fun driving it at 70%, above that you can still have fun without killing yourself or losing your licence. Mine came with Yokohama tyres and drives much better than than those on Primacies going by the feedback I've seen.

There are a few things that aren't absolutely ideal 'out of the box' but these can be rectified.

The torque dip, quite noticable between 3 - 5,500 rpm but can be sorted with a new manifold, filter and tune. I had mine done by Tuning Developments and it transforms the car, no more torque dip, an extra 20 or so bhp and improves fuel efficiency by about 15% in my experience. I get about 35 mpg but can be as good as mid 40's on long motorway runs.

The 'lack of power', you might see this mentioned but it really isn't a problem, the GT86 is much more about the fun of going round corners and 0-60 times. Anyway the TD package sorts it anyway to a certain extent. If you really want more power then you can supercharge or Turbocharge it.

The sound system, not Toyota's forte, it's pretty horrid but can be massively improved by replacing the speakers with a 'plug and play' set of Focal speakers for about £120.

Gear change when cold, Many, mine included can be awkward to get into 2nd when cold. Can sometimes be helped by changing the gearbox oil but I haven't bothered, I simply use it to tell me that it isn't warmed up yet, once warm the gear change is brilliant, although I did have the MTec spring shifter fitted when I had the engine tuned, which has made it even more precise.

Road noise, if your daily use includes a lot of motorway driving then this could be an issue, it is quite a noisy cabin. Can be improved by a bit of sound deadening but it's never going to be a quiet cruiser.

Reliability, it's a Toyota with a 5 year waranty, nothing to worry about here!

Hope that helps.



so called

7,348 posts

161 months

Thursday 26th March
quotequote all
white_goodman said:
so called said:
Simples,

What TVR is that? I would have said Tuscan but I thought the Tuscan was a coupe. I loved TVRs as a boy but running costs/reliability? Are the V8 cars, so probably a Chimaera at this kind of budget the best bet? The only thing is I'm not sure how useable one would be as a daily driver and a decent one would probably be right at the top of my budget? Would be an absolute blast just for fun driving though.
Hi, yes, as Cderb4.5lee says, Tuscan 2 or Tuscan Convertible.They made around 83 convertibles in 2005/2006 before they closed.

I would say the Chimaera would be the best choice.
My first Chimaera was my daily drive year round in Germany for several year and had had very few issues.
Great fun to drive and great sound from the RV8.
I've used several different TVR's as daily's over the years with very few issues.

You should be able to get a good Chimaera for 20k.
Haven't checked prices recently but they always seem to be a bit lower in the winter months.

Enjoy your car search its a bit of a first world problem. smile

white_goodman

Original Poster:

3,407 posts

143 months

Thursday 26th March
quotequote all
cerb4.5lee said:
Yes and I did and I had it for 6 years. The Cerbera 4.5 I had is widely regarded as the most expensive TVR to run. I loved it too bits, but with hindsight I reckon that financially I would have been better off going for the Chimaera instead as my first TVR.
Why is that? Was the Cerbera their first "crack" at their own engine? Cool car though. That and the Tuscan were my favourite TVRs. I still remember the Cerbera trouncing the establishment costing double the money in that old Clarkson vid (although many said they cheated). Was this the only ever 2+2 TVR?

white_goodman

Original Poster:

3,407 posts

143 months

Thursday 26th March
quotequote all
Enut said:
I have owned a 2017 GT86 for nearly 3 years now. It is a truly exceptional car and IMO the best 'affordable' sports car. Although I'll admit I haven't driven any of the others on your list! I have done about 19,000 miles in the GT86 so although not high mileage, it is my daily.

It is ideal for UK roads as you can have great fun driving it at 70%, above that you can still have fun without killing yourself or losing your licence. Mine came with Yokohama tyres and drives much better than than those on Primacies going by the feedback I've seen.

There are a few things that aren't absolutely ideal 'out of the box' but these can be rectified.

The torque dip, quite noticable between 3 - 5,500 rpm but can be sorted with a new manifold, filter and tune. I had mine done by Tuning Developments and it transforms the car, no more torque dip, an extra 20 or so bhp and improves fuel efficiency by about 15% in my experience. I get about 35 mpg but can be as good as mid 40's on long motorway runs.

The 'lack of power', you might see this mentioned but it really isn't a problem, the GT86 is much more about the fun of going round corners and 0-60 times. Anyway the TD package sorts it anyway to a certain extent. If you really want more power then you can supercharge or Turbocharge it.

The sound system, not Toyota's forte, it's pretty horrid but can be massively improved by replacing the speakers with a 'plug and play' set of Focal speakers for about £120.

Gear change when cold, Many, mine included can be awkward to get into 2nd when cold. Can sometimes be helped by changing the gearbox oil but I haven't bothered, I simply use it to tell me that it isn't warmed up yet, once warm the gear change is brilliant, although I did have the MTec spring shifter fitted when I had the engine tuned, which has made it even more precise.

Road noise, if your daily use includes a lot of motorway driving then this could be an issue, it is quite a noisy cabin. Can be improved by a bit of sound deadening but it's never going to be a quiet cruiser.

Reliability, it's a Toyota with a 5 year waranty, nothing to worry about here!

Hope that helps.
This is certainly sounding like the "head" and the "heart" choice. As I already said, not many new cars come out that I "want" these days but this is certainly one of them. I remember reading somewhere that you could get the torque dip mapped out but couldn't remember who did it, so thanks for the reminder. Where are they based?

CABC

3,022 posts

53 months

Thursday 26th March
quotequote all
one big problem was that the water pump was part of the engine block. and the pump tended to break shortly after delivery. 12 weeks was the standard time to repair. remember them well, in those days it was like the starship enterprise driving down the road, especially in whatever colour it was (as it was never blue/grey/silver).