RE: The best sports cars to buy in 2020

RE: The best sports cars to buy in 2020

Friday 16th October

The best sports cars to buy in 2020

From bargain basement to barnstorming, we countdown the best sports cars for any budget...

Recent lists like this one - fast estates and hot hatches so far - have been pretty simple concepts; we all know what a fast estate is, we all know what a hot hatch is. They're distinct categories, of which it's fairly easy to classify something as in or out. When we get to sports cars, however, the job becomes slightly tricky...

So, in this list of best sports cars to buy in 2020 you'll see, for example, no Mazda MX-5 and no Lotus Elise. A travesty, surely? Well, no, they simply belong elsewhere in the cornucopia of best buys, and don't quite fit the criteria for this one: namely that a sports car has two seats and a fixed roof. You might argue that something like a BMW M2 or McLaren 600LT fits that brief - but, again, we'll be getting to those. A place for everything and everything in its place.

Otherwise, the list welcomes all comers: we have front-engined, mid-engined and rear-engined sports cars, with four-, six- and eight- and 12-cylinder cylinder engines. Variety is guaranteed, then, along with a few sports car trademarks: great looks, plentiful performance, and joy to be had behind the wheel. Here's the top ten in 2020 for any money...

Up to Β£2,500...

By dint of, y'know, being quite expensive to start with, sports cars are tricky to come across in truly bargain basement territory. Handily, however, a few original Audi TTs are available in more than presentable condition. And while they'll never be remembered as the most enthralling of sports cars to drive, values are on their way up for good reason: the TT remains a brilliant looking car inside and out - a testament to the rightness of that concept shown 25 years ago - and 150mph potential is on hand even with the more powerful 1.8-litre models. The original TT boasts the novelty of a standard manual gearbox, too...

At this money you're realistically looking at a TT 225 with around 100,000 miles, or perhaps a 3.2 V6 if you're fortunate - and feel like taking on one of the first production dual-clutch gearboxes. Having been out of production since 2006, a first-gen TT is going to be pretty well used in 2020, and aren't averse to problems: rust can be an issue, as well as oil leaks and dodgy dash displays. However, with the TT's future as a two-door coupe very much up in the air, an original example - and good ones are still out there - looks more appealing than ever.

Up to Β£5,000...

Let's get the 'Aldi TT' jokes out of the way first: yes, the RCZ was also a stylish, turbocharged, reasonably affordable coupe derived from hatchback architecture. But it was also a radical departure for Peugeot, which hadn't done anything as bold as a two-door sports car before, and a success in its own right.

Launched back in 2010, the RCZ was predominantly powered by the 1.6-litre four-cylinder turbo that also saw service in the 308 and 208 GTIs. For Β£5,000 buyers can currently pick from both the 156hp and 200hp derivatives from early in the production run, though of course you'll be looking at a more used example of the latter for the budget. For a car only just approaching its 10th birthday, the RCZ appears great value in 2020: it still looks superb, drives smartly, and has proven pretty durable as well - but we'll refer you to the Buying Guide for the full lowdown on that...

Up to Β£10,000...

You knew this was coming soon enough, right? The car(s) that was going to redefine affordable sports car motoring in 2012 - if you read certain parts of the internet - is a genuine sub-Β£10k buy just a few years later. If both BRZ and GT86 were a little pricey new, the prospect of either at supermini money surely helps their cause in 2020.

Because there's still a lot to like. Both Subaru and Toyota are small, light, nimble and a hoot drive, reminding us all why manual sports cars with an engine out front and drive to the rear are worth preserving. As cars gradually move away from driver interaction, the BRZ/GT86 puts you at the centre of everything: they need driving hard to give their best, but revel in the kind of (mis)treatment that leaves a hot hatch sweating.

For less than Β£10,000, you'll be looking at a car with around 100,000 miles, but such is the durability of either variant that no significant problems have yet been reported. The biggest concerns thus far are notchy gear synchromesh and misty light lenses. As a sports car for driving to your heart's content, safe in the knowledge that you've acquired a tough car for precious little outlay, it's hard to argue with the mighty Toyobaru.

Up to Β£15,000...

Remember when BMW made good looking coupes? The used market certainly does, as values of the first (and so far only) Z4 Coupe have been steadily on the rise over recent years. It's easy to see why, too: muscular styling, smooth straight-six power and handling that is, if not perfect, then unashamedly rear-driven in its nature all leave their mark on the model's relative desirability. As values of the Z4M wild child have climbed, so the lesser models have followed suit.

'Lesser' is a relative term, though. Many regard the 3.0si - the very best examples of which are within the Β£15k budget - as a proper sweet spot for the Z4 Coupe range, more manageable than the lairy M yet not lacking pace thanks to a 265hp output. Crucially, too, the coupe represents a more traditional BMW past that its enthusiasts typically yearn for, and there are enough of those people around to push prices up.

Atmospheric straight-six power sits up front, a manual goes in the middle and power is divvied up between the rear wheels. The Z4 Coupe is perhaps the best example of realising what you've wanted when it's already gone, a fairly modest production run now much sought after. They're even proving pretty tough and trouble-free secondhand, so don't say we didn't warn you if prices rise again...

Up to Β£25,000

A Porsche had to be on a best sports car list somewhere; it is arguably the firm's overriding triumph in the past 20 years. Certainly you can't go far wrong in 2020 with a Cayman as Β£25k purchase. Because we know about the lovely flat-sixes, the glorious handling and the sweet manual gearboxes; perhaps fewer know, however, about just how much Cayman is on offer for a middling hatchback budget.

Those concerned about engine issues with early cars will be pleased to know that Direct Fuel Injection, Gen 2 Caymans are available for under Β£25k - see this 2009 S with the PDK 'box and 36,000 miles. With more miles, this manual version is little more than Β£20,000. And those with a bit less to spend will find low mileage originals around Β£15k - some even with rebuilt engines...

With Caymans now resigned to a four-cylinder fate at anything less than Β£65,000, it isn't difficult to see why a car on offer at a third of that - but offering so much of the experience - might appeal. True enough, a secondhand Porsche Cayman is never going to be the most affordable of used sports cars to run, but there is a reason why so many are out there. Because they're absolutely brilliant to drive.

Up to Β£35,000...

At this sort of money, all manner of extremely tempting sports car options present themselves. From GT-R to GTS and Maserati to Mazda; Β£35,000 is a very healthy sports car budget. Given the quality out there, you really can't lose. Our money, however, would go into a Jaguar F-Type Coupe. Firstly, because it's about the most handsome sports car to ever be produced in this country; and secondly, like a lot of great Jags, it's depreciated almost to the point of appearing scandalous value for money.

Certainly, that downward curve will continue for a little while yet, as even the oldest F-Type Coupes are only six years old. That said there are dealer approved V6 S Coupes with negligible mileages which are under budget, as well as the four-cylinder cars that - whisper it - actually drive in a nicer fashion thanks to the reduced weight over the nose. Furthermore, for those unsatisfied by the prospect of an F-Type that can't muster up 400hp, the V8 models are tantalisingly close to the Β£35,000 threshold. Whether two- or four-wheel drive, you're guaranteed a riotously good time. And that's what a sports car is all about.

Up to Β£50,000...

Although the Evora could have featured at a lower price point in this list, the mid-engined marvel arguably makes sense at a Β£50k budget. For that money one of the '400' cars introduced in 2015 is within reach, a car that combined most of the delicacy and poise of the early Evoras with near-supercar performance - a 186mph top speed was claimed by its maker.

Half a decade later and a 400 from a Lotus-approved dealer just sneaks in under budget with only 16,000 miles on the clock. Why seek it out? Well, put simply, an Evora will reaffirm your faith in sports cars. It isn't complex or confusing, but rather beautifully engineered and endlessly rewarding. You'll not find a sports car at any money that steers better (unless it's another Lotus), none deals with a British B-road quite so convincingly and there isn't a six-cylinder out there which possesses quite such a rousing soundtrack. An Evora remains a sensational sports car, even after all this time, and with early quality issues resolved by the time of the 400 facelift, there's really little excuse not to indulge.

Up to Β£75,000...

Another examples of British sports cars offering incredible value for money. If the 2005 Vantage was perhaps the defining Aston Martin of the 21st century, then the V12 Vantage S was the best of a very good breed. It was the perfect blend: as good looking as the V8, with finesse that tamed the slightly wayward V12 Vantage's behaviour and an engine just 30hp shy of the GT12 flagship that would eventually cost tens of thousands more.

In fact, you can now make that hundreds of thousands of pounds more. This V12 Vantage S hasn't even ticked over 11,000 miles yet and is Β£75,000; this GT12, admittedly yet to tick over 1,000 miles, is Β£350,000 - for a car with fundamentally the same engine and gearbox. The GT12 will be a better sports car than a V12 Vantage S, for sure, but five times better? Not on your nelly.

That's why the baby Aston with the great big V12 has won so many plaudits since its 2013 launch. There are cars that do certain things better, but for bringing out the very best in the Vantage package - which was pretty damn good to start with - the V12 S has all the makings of a classic. Buy now before people realise just what a significant sports car it is...

Up to Β£100,000...

From the very best in traditional British sports car offerings, to the very best in modern times. The Sports Series was a key moment for McLaren; it's a lot easier, after all, to announce a brand and deliver a Ferrari rival with a huge budget than to follow it up with a second model lineup - one intended to be more affordable and less technologically advanced.

The Sports Series absolutely achieved its aims, though, still delivering that famed McLaren ride-handling balance with a regular suspension set up and still stupendously fast despite its lesser billing. It remained blighted by some of the Super Series' issues, too - namely an industrial-sounding engine and a sub-par interior - but the drive arguably made up for those flaws, even in the 540C, the short-lived car pitched as McLaren's entry-level model.

Now prices start at just Β£75,000; spend a little more and cars like this are available, just three years and 10,000 miles old but available for the price of a new 911 Carrera. For a sports car that combines the delicacy of a Lotus with the performance to rival a supercar, that's a formidable offering.

Sky's the limit...

Call us unimaginative, but there seemed no better fit for a six-figure sports car spend than the GT3 Touring. Like so many of the cars on this list, it features a glorious naturally-aspirated engine, rear-wheel drive and a manual gearbox; unlike those vehicles, they are about the finest six-cylinder engine, six-speed gearbox and RWD set up ever found in a road car. With some Porsche Motorsport genius sprinkled on top. And moody, understated good looks we didn't think would happen for a 911 again. The GT3 Touring arguably brings together the best bits of traditional sports car experience with the best of the contemporary, and that's why it's here.

And that's also why you'll pay for the privilege of owning one, too. Where many cars in this list have been celebrated for where depreciation has left them, it's hard to imagine a safer place for your Β£100,000 or so than a Touring. Those able to get on the list in 2017 will have paid less than you'll need to now, cars like this Crayon GT3 for sale at Β£185k after 5,000 miles of use. Which is a lot, no doubt, but very far from unreasonable given the experience on offer. It's a heck of a lot less than a 911 R, too.



Original Poster:

92 posts

124 months

Thursday 15th October
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Would we use countdown instead of count down when it’s a verb...?


13,759 posts

35 months

Thursday 15th October
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This won't end well. laugh


4,128 posts

123 months

Thursday 15th October
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"namely that a sports car has two seats and a fixed roof"

What an idiotic thing to write.

The best sports cars have soft tops.


10 posts

Thursday 15th October
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I'd swap the Peugeot for a Nissan 350z for under 5k.

Halo in reverse

98 posts

65 months

Thursday 15th October
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Alternative under 5K option or the 15K option and save yourself 10k (same 265 BHP on offer)


1,296 posts

184 months

Thursday 15th October
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Its not too late, only 5 comments in.

Admit you have dropped a bk and just remove the peugeot wink


16,435 posts

138 months

Thursday 15th October
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Skyrocket21 said:
I'd swap the Peugeot for a Nissan 350z for under 5k.
I'm also surprised that the 350Z isn't in that list to be fair. I do like the RCZ, but I'd put the 350Z in front of it all day everyday. The RCZ was a complete flop for Peugeot.


3,208 posts

60 months

Thursday 15th October
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I think a 986 Boxster would fit much better in the sub £10k and a Z4 roadster in the sub £5k.


800 posts

109 months

Thursday 15th October
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Another very poor article by PH of recent weeks! Since when does a sports car have to have a fixed roof? This is a coupe selection not a sports car collection. Many of these cars are too heavy and too touring orientated to be classed as sports cars. If you had just called it 'sporting coupes' I don't think there would be an issue but you went and discounted convertibles from sports cars so expect a lot of backlash.

From Wikipedia:-
In the United Kingdom, an early recorded usage of the "sports car" was in The Times newspaper in 1919. The first known use of the term in the United States was in 1928. Sports cars started to become popular during the 1920s. The term was originally used for two-seat roadsters (cars without a fixed roof), however since the 1970s the term has also been used for cars with a fixed roof (which were previously considered grand tourers)

Wikipedia goes on to state that the best selling 'sports car' of all time is the Mazda MX5....

Edited by Bispal on Thursday 15th October 08:12


16,435 posts

138 months

Thursday 15th October
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suffolk009 said:
"namely that a sports car has two seats and a fixed roof"
Then you also see cars with 4 seats in the list as well! hehe


25,567 posts

216 months

Thursday 15th October
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cerb4.5lee said:
Skyrocket21 said:
I'd swap the Peugeot for a Nissan 350z for under 5k.

Why? Reliable, stylish, they like to be beaten to death and walk away laughing wink

I forgot one...


962 posts

118 months

Thursday 15th October
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I'm sorry but the RCZ just isn't a sports car.


4 posts

88 months

Thursday 15th October
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Not sure I agree with the hard-top definition of a sports car... And would totally change the first 4 (for me, anyway).

<£2.5k - MX5
<£5k - Porsche Boxster
<£10k - S2000/350Z
<£15k - Lotus Elise

The last 6 seem like pretty good ideas though (although there are obviously lots of other wonderful options at these price points).

Horses for courses - it is fantastic that there is such a wide range of choice available for all tastes!


246 posts

36 months

Thursday 15th October
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Quality clickbait


287 posts

37 months

Thursday 15th October
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A best sports car without a MX5? A peugeot? I think not


65,008 posts

187 months

Thursday 15th October
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Um MR2, TVR?


31,568 posts

170 months

Thursday 15th October
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GT86 sub £10,000? Not many...


544 posts

58 months

Thursday 15th October
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Vee12V said:
I'm sorry but the RCZ just isn't a sports car.
Quite. And neither is the Audi. Both excluded on 3 counts:
  • Based on something that is very clearly not a sports car (Golf & 308)
  • Front wheel drive (only Lotus is allowed to get away with that. I might've allowed an Integra, but it also falls foul of the previous count)
  • You can buy one with a diesel engine
Any of those on their own would be enough to exclude them as a sports car. Yet the article uses "not a convertible" as a line in the sand? What?


706 posts

219 months

Thursday 15th October
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Change the article's title to sporting coupes quick...


9,665 posts

174 months

Thursday 15th October
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Sky,s the limit? Porsche GT3 Touring, lol the fanboys will love this.