Four of the best sports cars under $60k
Time to scratch the sports car itch? Try these joy rides for size.
A sports car represents the pinnacle of automotive excellence. From the design and silhouette to the engine and performance, few vehicle types evoke the passion of a sports car, and the enduring success of brands like Ferrari and Porsche are proof of that.
Over the years sports cars have changed dramatically. There is a greater focus now on fuel efficiency and reducing emissions, so increasingly performance models are powered by an electrified powertrain.
Today’s sports models don’t look anything like they did 30 years ago either. Who would have thought one of the biggest growth segments would be performance-focused SUVs?
Given sports cars are usually a luxury item, they can be expensive. But there are some spicy offerings out there that needn’t break your bank. We’ve highlighted some of the more affordable models on the market – all under $60,000.
Toyota took a minimalist approach to the 86.
Mazda MX-5 ($36,090 to $51,120 plus on-road costs)
The word icon gets thrown around a lot these days. Is Dua Lipa really an icon? Or is she just a very good pop star? Back in the automotive world, there are a few cars that deserve this description and the Mazda MX-5 is one of them.
Arriving on the scene in 1989, the lightweight, rear-wheel-drive MX-5 with soft-top roof, beautifully balanced chassis, and affordability made it an instant classic.
After the third-generation NC MX-5 was criticised for being too heavy, Mazda pared it all back for the fourth-gen ND MX-5 that landed in 2015. Retaining the nimble nature of the first model, the MX-5 was praised by purists and motoring press alike.
Offered with a choice of a 1.5 or 2.0-litre naturally aspirated petrol engine, and a soft-top or retractable hard-top roof, the MX-5 is a two-seater and can feel a little cramped for taller or larger folk.
A six-speed automatic is available, but the manual is the pick. It might not be the most practical car on the road, but the MX-5 is still one of the most thoroughly enjoyable drives on the market today. And if you’re the social type, the state-based MX-5 clubs are huge and well organised.
Thumbs up: Revvy petrol engines, top-down motoring at its best.
Thumbs down: Cramped cabin for taller folk, flimsy cupholders.
Toyota 86 ($32,180 to $39,680 plus on-road costs)
Toyota shattered its drab reputation for reliable but beige motoring in 2012 when it launched the 86 coupe. Suddenly, the Japanese car-maker had one of the most thrilling cars on the market. You could call it the anti-Camry.
About a decade ago, Toyota’s global boss Akio Toyoda issued a directive to his engineers that all new models must be fun to drive, and the 86 was the first evidence of that.
A rear-wheel-drive, lightweight, pared-back driver’s car, the 86 was also shockingly affordable when it arrived, starting at $29,990. These days it’s only $1500 more than that for the base GT manual. Like the MX-5, an auto is available but the manual is more engaging.
To keep costs down, Toyota teamed up with Subaru to develop the 86 and its twin-under-the-skin, the BRZ.
In another cost-saving measure, Toyota took a minimalist approach to the 86. There was no fancy audio or infotainment system, or indeed any high-tech safety features. Not that potential buyers cared. Toyota has since added more safety kit.
Toyota has confirmed it is working on a replacement to the brilliant 86, but the next-generation version won’t have the free-revving 2.0-litre four-cylinder engine. Instead it will gain a turbocharged unit.
The rear-wheel-drive Toyota 86 coupe might be getting on in years, but it remains one of the most engaging sports cars on the market today. A modern classic.
Thumbs up: Playful dynamics, point-and-shoot steering.
Thumbs down: Lo-fi cabin tech and low-rent cabin materials.