Top Ten Affordable Sports Cars
If you are a true car enthusiast who loves driving at every opportunity, these ten brand new cars will stimulate your senses in different ways. Whether you want the best convertible, best hot hatch or a precision rear-wheel drive coupe, here are ten philosophically different new cars that will make sure you stand out from the pack and bring true excitement into your daily commute.
Despite a recent price rise, the Fiesta ST remains an absolute bargain, offering 134kW (147 on overboost) of front-wheel drive excitement. This is pure, unadulterated hot hatch with possibly the best chassis in its class. It has drawn unanimous praise from all corners for its grip and handling. Available in manual only – as a hot hatch should be – upgrades are now available from the dealership courtesy of Mountune tuning packages, while a more powerful ST 200 version was announced at this year’s Geneva Motor Show. Its big brother the Focus ST is also worthy of consideration, with its RRP scraping just under $40k but is it as fun as the Fiesta? Watch out late 2017 for an all-new three-cylinder version.
Citroen's new premium DS brand focuses on bringing uniquely-French style to the market. The DS 3 competes with the MINI Cooper and Audi A1, with plenty of customisation options and a gutsy 121kW turbo engine that incorporates stop-start technology for extra efficiency. With its 'floating roof' design, and inimitable blend of style, fun-to-drive dynamics and luxurious interior, the DS 3 stands out in a league of its own.
Hyundai’s sporty, asymmetrical three-door certainly is one unique stand-out car. From some angles it’s quite polarising, but you can’t deny its performance credentials and value. With 150kW and squeezing in at just under $30k for the manual, it has definite appeal. A seven-speed dual-clutch gearbox is also available. It is fun to drive and feels special thanks to matte paint options and the unique design, sporty interior treatment and local chassis tuning.
Renault has upped the ante on its perennial sport hatch, with up to 162kW and 280Nm. Although Renault’s newfound fascination with turbos and dual-clutch gearboxes (no manual) means it might have a different feel from the old-school cars, the new one looks and feels focused and special, with performance numbers that can only be achieved with a dual-clutch gearbox. Expect 0-100km/h times of around 6.6 seconds.
The WRX enjoyed some major popularity in the 1990s on the back of rally glory and being a devastatingly quick point-to-point missile.
The latest generation has reclaimed that lost glory, with a thunderous 197kW boxer four. Now a more mature and liveable proposition, it offers eye-melting grip, excellent steering, and superbly bolstered seats with a more premium interior. Choose from six-speed manual or CVT automatic with three driving modes and paddle shifts.
Toyota boss Akio Toyoda’s revival of the affordable 1980s drifting legend has drawn universal praise the world over. While not particularly powerful, the Subaru-derived flat-four engine and sheer mechanical balance means its cornering and drifting ability shames cars several times its price. Up there with the Fiesta ST and Renault Clio R.S. for fun factor, albeit in a different way, with rear-wheel drive. Starting just over $30k with 152kW, the 86, and its twin, the Subaru BRZ, benefited recently from powertrain, styling and infotainment upgrades.
Most people think of a ‘sports car’ as an open-top roadster. With rear-wheel drive and a weight of just over a tonne, the latest ND MX-5 has the formula exactly right, whether in 1.5-litre or 2.0-litre guise. Starting at just over $30,000, each version offers superlative steering, response and an intimate sense of connection between the driveline and chassis. Add the open-top fun factor and for some, that might be enough to put it at the top. However, while eminently liveable and comfortable for a long trip, being a two-seater makes this an impractical proposition for some. If you can live with that, it’s well worth it. Its Italian twin, the Fiat 124 Spider Abarth is a fraction over $40k, with different styling and its own 1.4-litre turbo engine.
The Polo GTI recently upgraded to a 1.8-litre turbo engine, of 141kW and 320Nm tune, resulting in performance that puts it at the pointy end of the segment. 0-100km/h in 6.2 seconds. Maybe it cedes some steering and chassis finesse to the Fiesta ST but is still exceptional, and counters that by having five doors and a far more refined interior, with evocative tartan seats. Well worthy of consideration before you sign that dotted line.
Now available in fun open-top guise, the latest MINI Cooper continues the fun and cutesy factor of the revived British icon. The engine is a very charming 1.5-litre triple that develops 100kW and 220Nm, with 5.3L/100km economy and a BMW-derived chassis, with style and flair the others here can’t equal. The bug-eyed little guy offers plenty of character inside and out too, but with plenty of options which can drive the price skyward. Definitely a way to stand out and have lots of fun doing so.
The only hot hatch with rear-wheel drive is a big deal and possibly not one that will be around for much longer. The 118i is available with a slick and direct six-speed manual or high tech eight-speed automatic. With 100kW and 220Nm, it has enough power to exploit that rear-wheel drive package with exceptional balance and clean, unadulterated steering that can only come from a rear-driven car. What's more, Eco Pro mode can muster economy, with an official average of just 5.2L/100km.
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Important Information: Information in this article is current as at 23/03/2017 and is subject to change. Pricing displayed is exclusive of any on-road costs, fees and charges, and taxes. The information is general in nature, does not take into account the particular objectives or financial situation of any potential reader and is for information purposes only. CarLoans.com.au does not represent or guarantee that the information is accurate or free from errors or omissions.