The realm of sports cars, though undergoing a shift, continues to hold its own amidst a landscape dominated by hot hatchbacks and speedy SUVs. These exhilarating models carve a niche where driving enjoyment and engagement take precedence, offering a diverse range of sizes, layouts, and power outputs.
Catering to various budgets, the sports car market provides enticing options. Priced just above £26,000, the Mazda MX-5 embodies the essence of a traditional sports car, boasting a low-powered, rear-wheel-drive configuration. For those with a bit more financial flexibility, the Ford Mustang introduces an American muscle alternative, injecting a distinct character into the segment.
In the sweet spot of the sports car spectrum, machines like the Porsche 718 Cayman and Alpine A110 blend power and thrilling handling, rivaling the enjoyment found in more expensive supercars. Venturing into the higher end of this spectrum reveals cars that seamlessly marry devastating speed with day-to-day usability, exemplified by the Porsche 911, a stellar representation of this harmonious balance. As the traditional sports car market undergoes transformations, these dynamic vehicles persist, promising driving enthusiasts an exhilarating experience that transcends mere transportation.
We’ve thoroughly tested all the sports cars currently on sale in the UK to identify the very best. Read on below to find our top 10 sports cars in the world.
1. Porsche 911
The 992-generation 911 stands as the epitome of completeness and refinement, marking the pinnacle of the model’s evolution. Its speed, sophistication, and everyday usability, underscored by a high-quality cabin, redefine the driving experience. Surpassing its predecessor, the current Carrera S and 4S models match the pace of the previous-generation Carrera GTS, showcasing the relentless evolution of the 911.
Within the 992 generation, one can explore various iterations, including Coupe, Cabriolet, and Targa versions. At the zenith sits the formidable Turbo S variant, boasting 641bhp, catapulting from 0-62mph in a mere 2.7 seconds, and achieving a top speed of 205mph. However, all versions of the 992 911 deliver robust performance, demonstrating the model’s versatility.
What truly sets the 911 apart is its broad spectrum of abilities. Whether functioning as an engaging sports car, a long-distance tourer, or a comfortable companion, it excels across diverse road conditions with surprising ease. Moreover, the 911 offers ample luggage and cubby space, adding a practical dimension to its multifaceted appeal.
2. Toyota GR Supra
The revival of the Toyota Supra sparked debates, returning 17 years after bidding farewell to the beloved Mk4 Supra. Despite initial controversies regarding BMW’s involvement in development, the new Supra has undeniably established itself as an exceptional driver’s car.
Under the hood lies a BMW-sourced 3.0-liter turbocharged six-cylinder engine, churning out a robust 335bhp and 500Nm of torque. Although falling short of the BMW M2 Competition’s 404bhp, the Supra competes admirably in handling, holding its ground against the Alpine A110 and Porsche 718 Cayman. Its 0-62mph acceleration is a swift 4.3 seconds. While the interior prominently features BMW components, this collaboration enhances quality and infotainment technology, surpassing Toyota’s recent endeavors. Clearly emphasizing the driving experience, the Supra emerges as a triumphant choice for those seeking sheer driving thrills.
3. BMW M3/M4
The present iteration of the BMW M3 saloon and M4 coupe may boast a design that sparks debate, but BMW persists in its legacy of perfecting driver appeal on both the road and track. Simultaneously, they’ve crafted a package that seamlessly transitions into an everyday car if you opt for that versatility.
These latest models have undergone a substantial revamp, incorporating four-wheel drive and the cutting-edge six-cylinder twin-turbocharged ‘S58’ engine, marking significant upgrades from the previous generation.
The Competition variants experience a power boost, escalating from 473bhp to an impressive 503bhp, coupled with an eight-speed automatic gearbox finely tuned to maximize the potential of the xDrive system. However, don’t let these enhancements mislead you; these cars stay true to the esteemed M lineage, unequivocally earning their spot on this prestigious list.
4. Ford Mustang
When it comes to value, the Ford outshines many of its competitors. The Mustang GT matches the output of the Porsche 911 Carrera S at 444bhp but comes with a price tag that’s approximately £50,000 less.
Not only do you enjoy substantial savings, but you also receive a robust 5.0-litre V8 engine, propelling the Mustang GT from 0 to 62mph in just 4.3 seconds, with a capped top speed of 155mph. While the Mustang may lack the refinement, polish, and composed demeanor of its pricier counterparts, its abundance of character, especially the captivating noise emanating from its quad tailpipes, more than compensates.
While muscle cars aren’t typically associated with nimble handling on twisty roads, the latest Mustang proves quite capable. Its recently updated chassis demonstrates enhanced control, particularly when equipped with adaptive dampers. The steering, though hefty, is precise, and the six-speed manual gearbox surpasses the slightly sluggish 10-speed automatic alternative.
5. Porsche 718 Cayman
The Porsche 718 Cayman, although positioned as the German manufacturer’s entry-level coupe, seamlessly blends performance and handling, securing its place among our favorite sports cars. Even after seven years since its initial introduction, the 718 Cayman continues to earn accolades, receiving commendation at our 2023 New Car Awards in the Coupe of the Year category.
In contrast to its counterpart, the 911, most 718 versions rely on a four-cylinder engine. Standard and T models deliver 296bhp, while S models receive a performance boost to 345bhp, and the GTS elevates this further to 400bhp from its six-cylinder engine. While the four-cylinder unit may lack an emotionally charged soundtrack, its effectiveness is undeniable.
Whether equipped with the six-speed manual or the seven-speed PDK dual-clutch gearboxes, both provide an enjoyable experience, making the absence of a captivating engine noise an afterthought when navigating corners. The 718 stands out with its beautiful steering, substantial grip, and expertly damped ride, positioning it as one of the finest sports cars from a driver’s perspective. While it may carry a higher price tag than some competitors, the added value derived from Porsche’s expertise justifies the extra investment.
6. BMW M2
The BMW M2 is an absolute triumph. Fully assuming the original M3’s brief by offering supercar-beating cross-country performance and pin-sharp handling in a compact package that feels well suited to our roads. There’s no wonder the M2 took the prize for Performance Car of the Year at our 2023 New Car Awards.
The zingy six-cylinder ‘S58’ 3.0-litre twin-turbocharged motor produces 453bhp and 550Nm of torque, roughly 50bhp more than the previous M2 Competition’s benchmark, taking the current car from 0-62mph in 4.3 seconds for the six-speed manual or 4.1 seconds with the eight-speed automatic.
The M2 sounds good, too. It provides an exhilarating a soundtrack when you push the pedal all the way down, but remains polite enough when you’re on part throttle. It’s the sharpness and balance of the chassis where the BMW excels and priced around £60,000, the M2 is great value for a sports car of such talent.
7. Toyota GR86
In 2012, Toyota marked the end of its sports car hiatus with the introduction of the GT86. While this affordable, lightweight, and rear-wheel-drive model delivered a fun driving experience, drivers often desired more power from the 2.0-litre flat-four ‘Boxer’ engine.
Now, the GR86 has seamlessly taken over from the GT86, bringing a myriad of improvements to the original car’s platform, solidifying its position as one of the most captivating cars bearing the Toyota badge.
Responding to drivers’ calls for more power, Toyota expanded the engine to 2.4 liters, resulting in an increased output of 231bhp. Although this figure might seem modest, the entire car weighs just 1,276kg, coupled with an eager-to-rev engine, ensuring it delivers the exhilaration drivers seek.
This straight-line performance harmoniously blends with a exquisitely balanced chassis, highly responsive steering, and upgraded tires, collectively transforming the GR86 into a genuinely thrilling car, suitable for both road and track adventures. Offered in a single specification, the GR86 doesn’t compromise on creature comforts, allowing drivers to focus on its sublime chassis balance, sharp steering, and comfortable ride. Such remarkable qualities led the GR86 to be crowned as the Coupe of the Year at our 2023 New Car Awards.
8. Mazda MX-5
The Mazda MX-5 stands out as one of the premier enthusiast cars on the market, offering exceptional value despite its affordable price tag. In a market where small, enjoyable, rear-wheel-drive sports cars are a rarity, the MX-5 faces competition primarily from front-wheel-drive hot hatchbacks.
While it may not boast the everyday practicality of some rivals, the MX-5’s driving experience elevates it to a league of its own. Its power options include lively 1.5 or 2.0-litre petrol engines, prioritizing sharp handling and driving pleasure over outright performance.
Equipped with one of the finest manual gearboxes, the MX-5 provides an immersive driving experience, complemented by light and precise steering that offers ample feedback. Although the supportive seats may lack intense bolstering, the snug cabin could pose challenges for taller drivers.
Despite the absence of electric assistance, operating the fabric roof can be effortlessly managed from the driver’s seat, allowing for spontaneous enjoyment of Britain’s intermittent sunshine. The MX-5 distinguishes itself by delivering an engaging and spirited driving experience, making it a standout choice in its segment.
9. Alpine A110
Alpine boasts a storied history of producing focused rear-engined sports and racing cars, and the A110 is a contemporary interpretation that channels the essence of the brand’s iconic sixties model. Despite its retro-styled exterior, this modern iteration features a mid-mounted turbocharged four-cylinder engine, a dual-clutch gearbox, and a meticulously balanced chassis.
Powered by a 1.8-liter Renault engine, the standard A110 generates 249bhp. While this figure might seem modest, it proves more than sufficient in a car weighing just over 1,000kg. The A110 is notably over 300kg lighter than an Audi TTS, and this reduced weight profoundly influences the driving experience.
Diverging from its German counterparts, the A110 provides a stripped-back, purer driving experience. Its lightweight construction allows it to glide down the road with a finesse unique to such agile cars. The well-balanced dynamics, responsive steering, and subtle suspension roll instill confidence in the driver. Compact and with an excellent forward view, the Alpine A110 is remarkably easy to maneuver, devoid of any intimidating aspects associated with its operation.
10. McLaren 720S
The 720S stands as a full-fledged supercar, making its presence known as an exhilarating exemplar of the genre. Drawing on McLaren’s wealth of technological prowess and extensive motorsport heritage, the 720S emerges as a formidable machine.
Abundant power emanates from its mid-mounted twin-turbocharged 4.0-liter V8, churning out a formidable 710bhp, corresponding to the 720PS moniker. This powerhouse catapults the car from 0-62mph in a breathtakingly brief 2.9 seconds, propelling it to an equally astonishing top speed of 212mph.
The driving experience ascends to greater heights on winding roads. The electro-hydraulic power steering delivers gratifying feedback, complemented by a range of drive modes that enable effortless optimization for various terrains. For those seeking an extra thrill, the Variable Drift Control system adds a playful dimension, allowing drivers to enjoy controlled drifts while the Electronic Stability Control diligently prevents any untoward incidents.
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