It's hard to ignore the appeal of owning a sports car, especially with so many desirable and highly capable options on the market at the moment. Here are our top 10 best sports cars, currently available in Australia.
Ever since it was introduced in 2012, the rear-wheel drive Toyota 86 has been a sales sensation. Priced cleverly at a shade under $30,000, it's a sporty-looking coupe that is reachable for all corners of the market. Power is provided by a Subaru 2.0-litre boxer engine developing 151kW, which, most experts agree, is the perfect amount of power for pure, unbridled balance. Subaru offers a virtually identical car called the BRZ, however, it kicks off at around $2200 more than the Toyota counterpart. Both are lots of fun to drive, bringing huge driver confidence to the sports car market.
The WRX is an iconic rally legend that arguably started it all in terms of rally-bred road cars back in 1992. The latest edition is significantly more fuel efficient (9.2L/100km for the manual) so it appeals to a wider audience, and it's available with either an engaging six-speed manual or a CVT continuously variable automatic. All models are all-wheel drive, like the original, showcasing Subaru's thoroughly engineered symmetrical drivetrain system. Power is now up to 197kW, which makes it the most powerful model yet. If there was ever a sports car hall of fame, the WRX would be one of the first to be enlisted.
The Nissan GT-R is the country's quickest production car. Yep, it has four comfortable seats, a boot, and a conventional exterior, yet it can dash from 0-100km/h in a claimed 2.7 seconds. This is mind-blowing performance, even compared with a million-dollar supercar. Nissan has been introducing updates for the R35 shape for over five years now, with each version cutting that sprint time down further and further. Each update is like a computer software update, only the revisions are made to the entire car. You do have to pay for such performance though, with pricing kicking off at a rather north $189,000 (excluding on-road costs).
The 911 is one of the most recognisable cars of all time. It was originally derived from the 1938 Volkswagen Beetle – designed by Ferdinand Porsche – in 1963. Since then, the company has stubbornly and successfully kept the rear-engine layout, and honed it to utter perfection. The 911 is the only mainstream car on the Australian market with a petrol engine mounted behind the rear axle. The current generation, called the 991, is available in a range of formats, from coupe, convertible, and targa, and rear- and all-wheel drive, turbo and non-turbo. It also comes with a seven-speed manual or a seven-speed dual-clutch PDK auto.
Now in its fifth generation, it's impossible to talk about sports cars without mentioning the M3 and its rich motorsport heritage. The beauty of the M3 – called M4 in two-door form – is the fact it is based on the top-line 3 Series, yet, underneath, it showcases serious high-performance components that have been trialled and testing by engineers and racing drivers, on circuits such as the Nurburgring. The latest twin-turbo model is quite fuel efficient too, with an average of just 8.3L/100km, while 0-100km/h is possible in just 4.1 seconds.
Hyundai Veloster SR Turbo
Hyundai stepped into the sports car segment in 2011 with an interesting new model called the Veloster. It features a funky design with two doors on one side and a single door on the driver's side. A year later the company introduced the SR Turbo version, taking power from 103kW to 150kW. It's sporty and practical, and it comes with a five-year/unlimited kilometre warranty. Best yet, prices start at just $30,650 for the manual.
One of Audi's most instantly recognisable models. The TT, a name derived from the legendary Isle of Man Tourist Trophy race in Great Britain, was the first right-hand drive production car to use a dual-clutch auto transmission. It's marketed as an advanced, efficient yet very sporty driver's car. The local arm recently launched the all-new model, which is sharper, more dynamic, more efficient, and more powerful than the outgoing version. It's also more practical, with increased cabin space. A number of different variants are available, from the efficient 2.0 TFSI, to the savagely quick TT RS with its 2.5 five-cylinder producing 294kW, capable of 0-100km/h in just 3.7 seconds.
Styled to be a modern interpretation of the classic Jaguar E-Type, the F-Type has one of the sexiest (metal) behinds you'll ever see. It's so elegant from every angle, it just oozes emotion and beauty. Fortunately, this glamour is not only about visual attraction. At its heart is a gobsmacking 5.0-litre supercharged V8 belting out 405kW and 680Nm. You can hear this thing coming before you see it. And when both senses are stimulated like this, it cements it in as one of the most exciting sports cars on the market. Jaguar also offers a visceral supercharged V6 and even a turbo four-cylinder.
It's no mistake, Porsche has strategically placed the Cayman – now called 718 Cayman – in between the Boxster and the 911, offering performance, economy, and skills that are smack-bang in the middle of the more established other two. You can criticise it, like many have, but it doesn't stop the Cayman from being one of the purest, most engaging and most competent natural talents currently on offer. It's like putty in your hands. It drives exactly how you want it to, whether you're an advanced driver or a beginner going for a Sunday tour. Seen as though it offers about 95 per cent of the performance and capability of the 911, with a price tag starting at around $111,600, it is quite a bargain.
Ford’s decision to introduce the mighty Mustang to Australian shores may well have been its smartest choice since announcing the Territory right at the beginning of the SUV boom. The Mustang is currently the best-selling sports car in the country, out-selling its nearest competitor more than four-fold (July 2017 VFACTS). It’s currently the only proper muscle car available for under $60,000, and it’s available with either a 5.0 V8 or a turbo four. It looks good, goes good, and best yet, it’s a Mustang.