Looking for a cool, fast car but don’t know where to start? The best car for you will vary depending on your lifestyle and your goals for your car.
People who want to hone their skills as a driver may pick a different car than those who want to commute to the office in maximum comfort. Here are some of the different sports cars you can buy today.
What Is a Sports Car?
A sports car is a car built with performance in mind. Typically, sports cars exhibit excellent handling, acceleration, or top speed. Plenty of sports cars excel in all of these areas.
Many high end sports cars are upscale and built for the most affluent customers in the car market. However, there are plenty of inexpensive sports cars that sacrifice none of the driving experience.
Sports Car Classifications
1) Sports Car
“Sports car” is a general term for any car that is relatively low to the ground and intended to be fun to drive. The traditional idea of a sports car is a rear wheel drive coupe, convertible, or targa top with two doors, two seats, and a powerful engine. However, there are cars that many consider “sports cars” which do not match this description.
There is some debate about which cars count as “sports cars”. For instance, many folks do not consider sport sedans to be sports cars because they have four doors. If you look at the raw performance of a vehicle like the BMW M5, Audi RS6 Avant, or Porsche Taycan, it’s easy to see why many consider them to be sports cars.
2) High-Performance Sports Car
A high-performance sports car is typically a vehicle that is designed with the race track in mind. This could be a regular road car that has been modified from the factory with bigger brakes, stiffer suspension, more clever differentials, and even a roll cage. Some of these trims also remove rear seats to save weight or make room for a racing harness.
High-performance sports cars are some of the fastest cars you will see at a track day. They offer an excellent balance of power, mechanical grip, and even some aerodynamic effects. Adding downforce to a car that is already fast gives the driver incredible cornering speeds through high speed corners.
A great example of a high-performance sports car is the Porsche 911 GT3 RS. Porsche’s GT line is purpose-built for the track. The 911 GT3 RS removes the rear seats typically seen in the base model 911, adds power, and can be ordered with a factory roll cage. A Corvette Z06 is another great example of a regular sports car that has been upgraded for the track.
A supercar is a term for any sports car that offers cutting edge performance for its time. Supercars include many exotics such as Ferraris, Lamborghinis, McLarens, and high-end Mercedes AMGs. Supercars are typically mid-engine with rear wheel drive, but not always.
The title of “supercar” isn’t revoked as the car ages. Although there are many modern cars that will beat a Lamborghini Diablo around a track, it is (and always will be) considered a supercar.
The debate about which cars are considered to be supercars is ongoing. For instance, some people consider the Chevrolet Corvette and the Dodge Viper to be supercars. While it is true that the upper trim levels of the Corvette are indeed fast enough to beat many exotics, supercars tend to carry a bit of exclusivity with them as well.
Most people will agree that the mid-engine C8 Corvette is a supercar. This is especially true of the Z06 with its flat plane crank and high-pitched engine note that is reminiscent of the engine in the Ferrari 458.
A hypercar is a supercar turned up to 11. The term “hypercar” was invented to express that a given car was the supercar of supercars. Typically, hypercars are extremely rare and expensive exotics.
Most of these cars are spoken for before they are even built. It is extremely difficult to get an allocation for a hypercar, even if you have the money to buy one. Hypercars are the pinnacle of automotive engineering and rival Formula 1 cars in many ways.
Examples of hypercars include the Porsche 918, McLaren P1, Pagani Huayra, Bugatti Chiron, Koenigsegg Jesko, and the Ferrari LaFerrari. Hypercars are some of the fastest cars ever built and offer a level of performance most people can’t comprehend.
Other Types of Sports Cars
There are many sub-categories of sports car. Each of these categories have significant overlap. They are not well defined, and you will see some variance to which cars are considered part of any particular classification. Here are some other types of sports cars you may have heard of.
5) Luxury Sports Car
A luxury sports car is designed with comfort and style in mind. They tend to be higher end and more expensive vehicles. Most luxury sports cars have an MSRP upwards of $100,000.
Another name for a luxury sports car is a Grand Touring or “GT” car. These cars prioritize comfort without sacrificing handling too much.
Examples of Luxury Sports cars are the Porsche 911, Bentley Continental GT, Aston Martin Vantage, and Ferrari 812.
6) Exotic Sports Car
An exotic sports car is an exclusive sports car that is built with limited production numbers. Many exotics are hand-built in Europe. Most exotics are also supercars or hypercars, but some are luxury sports cars.
Exotic car manufacturers include Lamborghini, Ferrari, Koenigsegg, McLaren, and Bugatti. Any car built by these manufacturers is considered to be exotic.
7) Compact Sports Car
A compact sports car is a small sports car designed for nimble handling. These cars are perfect for canyon carving, autocross, or blasting down a twisty back road.
Although this is not an official term for any particular type of car, “compact sports cars” are typically smaller, less expensive sports cars that are mass produced and easy to drive, without sacrificing any of the fun behind the wheel.
Many compact sports cars offer lower horsepower figures. This is to save cost and to make the cars more accessible to a wider audience. You can typically buy one of these vehicles new for $25,000 to $50,000.
Examples of compact sports cars are the Mazda MX-5 Miata, Subaru BRZ/Toyota 86, the Toyota Supra, and the Toyota MR2.
8) Sport Compact
The term “sport compact” refers to a car that might not typically fall within the definition of a sports car, but still offers nimble handling and tons of fun. These cars are mass-produced and typically very accessible, holding an MSRP between $20,000 and $50,000.
Sport compacts are typically powered by a turbocharged four cylinder engine. This term was popular in the early 2000s with the tuner scene. A modified sport compact can punch well above its weight, with some able to outperform higher end sports cars.
Examples of sport compacts are the Subaru WRX STI, Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution, Mitsubishi Eclipse/Eagle Talon, Nissan 240SX, and the Honda Civic Type R.
9) Hot Hatch
A hot hatch is a hatchback (also called a 5-door) that has sporty suspension and a high performance engine. Hot hatches hit the sweet spot of price, practicality, and performance.
If you can only space for one vehicle, a hot hatch should be near the top of your list. Most hot hatches can be had for less than $35,000 and offer the best bang for your buck.
Examples of hot hatches include the Volkswagen Golf GTI, Mini Cooper S, Ford Focus RS, Toyota GR Corolla, and the Ford Fiesta ST. Some Subaru WRXs also came in wagon or hatchback form.
10) Retro Sports Car
A retro sports car is an older sports car. These cars typically have achieved a cult following, but are no longer performant when compared to a modern sports car. What is considered “retro” will vary depending on who you ask, but these cars typically come from the 70s, 80s, and 90s at the time of writing.
Examples of retro sports cars are the Mazda RX-7, Honda NSX, Lancia Stratos, Renault 5 Turbo, and the Nissan Skyline GT-R.
11) Electric Sports Car
A new class of sports cars has emerged within the last decade. Electric sports cars use a large battery and an electric powertrain to give you instant acceleration. Few cars are faster in a straight line.
Many electric cars offer dual motor designs to give you all wheel drive.
Examples of electric sports cars are the Tesla Model S, Tesla Model 3 Performance, Porsche Taycan, Audi e-tron GT, and the Lucid Air.
There’s a sports car out there for everybody, no matter the lifestyle or the budget. If you’re looking for a cool sports car, start by figuring out what you’d like to do with it. Write down your goals for your car and each of their priorities.
Each car has its own car community. If you like to stop by Cars and Coffee on Saturday mornings, some of the rarer cars on this list are much more likely to break necks as you drive by.
Anyone who chases the euphoric feeling of a great car on the perfect back road should give the Mazda MX-5 Miata a shot. If money is no object, the Porsche 911 is considered to be one of the best all around sports cars of all time, at any price point.
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