Best Sports Cars Under $50,000 for 2024

By | April 4, 2024

New sports cars generally aren’t cheap, but that doesn’t mean you can’t buy a really good one for a solid price. The best sports cars under $50,000 are what we bring you here, and the list is full of spectacular choices, although you won’t see any luxury sports cars here – those will have to wait for another list.

How do we define a sports car in this list? Well, by traditional means. There are countless sporty or performance cars that aren’t included, but we’ll stick with two-doors that were designed exclusively from the start to fill the role of a stereotypical sports car. So yes, while enthusiast darlings like the Honda Civic Type R or Toyota GR Corolla may make us happy like these others, they are technically hot hatches based on more pedestrian vehicles, not sports cars.

The cars in this list prioritize sultry shapes, send their power to the rear wheels and don’t concern themselves with trivial matters like luggage space or (for some) even the presence of a back seat. They are designed with fun in mind, and that makes them some of the best sports cars under $50,000.

Best sports cars 2024

Subaru BRZ

Pros: More comfortable than GR86; super fun to drive everywhere; affordable sports car
Cons: Interior is simple; infotainment lacks features and speed

Read our Subaru BRZ review

Things don’t really get much better at the BRZ’s starting price of just over $31,000. You get a high-revving boxer-four, a six-speed manual gearbox and a downright cheerful chassis. Amenities and tech features are predictably on the low side, but that’s not what you pay for in this low-slung 2+2 sports car. The debate between the BRZ and its sister car (next on this list), the GR86, will rage on, but we tend to prefer the BRZ for its improved ride quality over the Toyota. Whichever you choose, the BRZ and GR86 will bring a lot of smiles for not a lot of money.

Toyota GR86

Pros: Extreme driving pleasure in every situation; smooth and powerful engine; very affordable
Cons: Rough ride on bad roads; the interior is simple and cheap looking

Read our Toyota GR86 review

Most of what we said above about the BRZ also applies to the GR86. Choose your badge preference, or just pick your favorite color, and go! The GR86 is just as fun as the BRZ, and the stiffer rear end might be right for you, depending on your car setup preferences. Some of Toyota’s special editions might be just enough to turn the favor in its direction, but don’t forget the extra-racy BRZ tS. If you want a (semi-useless) back seat and a respectable amount of cargo space, this car might win you over compared to the next one on this list that doesn’t even care about practical leanings.

Mazda MX-5 Miata

Pros: Pure fun on every corner; super lightweight; great manual transmission; nice design
Cons: Interior feels its age; automatic is on the boring side of things

Read our Mazda MX-5 Miata review

It is now the oldest sports car meme in the books: the answer is always Miata. And honestly, there’s a lot of truth in that. If you don’t need the coupe body style and rear seat of the Toyobaru twins, the Miata will likely provide a better, pure sports car experience. The engine is surprisingly punchy and its lightness makes it drive like a toy that you can do almost anything with. You get an engaging and cheerful manual gearbox, and while the technology takes a bit of a backseat, it’s hard to care too much about it. There’s all of the above, and you can take the top down to bring nature even further into the equation. And don’t forget the RF, which may be the best option if bad weather is a problem where you live.

Ford Mustang

Pros: Amazing engine options; above-average handling; classic and attractive design
Cons: Interior is on the cheap side; automatic can be a lot better; technology will not be for everyone

Read our Ford Mustang review

The Mustang started to become a sports car in its previous generation, where it moved from a solid rear axle to an independent rear suspension design. This took handling to an elite level for American muscle cars, and with variants like the Shelby GT350, GT500 and others, you could rightly call the Mustang a sports car. That includes the latest generation, and while the ultimate performance Mustangs exceed our $50,000 limit, even a regular GT or a nicely optioned EcoBoost model would be a spectacular driver. To get the maximum bang for your buck under $50,000, we recommend opting for a standard GT and then adding the $4,995 Performance Package to the car that includes all the luxury goodies you can get.

Nissan Z

Pros: Extremely powerful engine; one of the best designs money can buy right now; great technology
Cons: Not as fun as a Supra; many old/transferred parts from 370Z; The sports model is underequipped

Read our Nissan Z review

You’ll have to stick with the base Sport model to stay under the $50,000 limit for the Z, but at just over $43,000 you get a lot of car. The 3.0-liter twin-turbo V6 is a seriously powerful engine for this amount of money, and you get a beautiful blank canvas that can be easily customized after purchase. Stepping up to the Performance for $53,450 gets you a much more complete package, though, so if you can stretch it out, we’d definitely recommend splurging on this model. And if you’re curious how it compares to the Supra, we’ve already done the dirty work for you.

Toyota GR Supra 2.0

Pros: Lightweight and playful chassis; engine has sufficient power; spectacular looks
Cons: The sound and character of the engine are missing; poor infotainment interface without Android Auto

Read our Toyota GR Supra 2.0 review

Unfortunately, the GR Supra 2.0 is the only version of the Supra that comes in under the $50,000 cap, but it’s still good enough to earn a spot on this list. You only get it with an automatic transmission (the inline-six can be equipped with a manual), but the eight-speed gearbox and the 2.0-liter turbo make for a wonderful combination. It’s lighter than the 3.0, and also much cheaper with a starting price of just $47,535. Granted, the Z looks pretty good when you cross-shop it against the four-cylinder Supra, but the Toyota’s handling might be enough to sway you over the Z. But honestly, we’d be more tempted to step down the price range considerably and get into the GR86 if you’re looking for pure sports car driving on a budget.

Honorable – just discontinued – mention: Chevrolet Camaro

Unfortunately, Chevy just killed the Camaro, and the last one has since rolled off the production line. That said, we’re still seeing some new examples for sale online, and any list of affordable sports cars should include the Camaro if there’s any way to keep an eye on it. GM’s Alpha platform has spawned greats like this Camaro and many Cadillac sports sedans that simply outshine the numerous competitors from Germany and elsewhere. An SS loaded with performance-enhancing goodies isn’t exactly a sleeper, but we can guarantee it will surprise others (and maybe yourself) at a track day with how ridiculously good it really is. We’re sad to see it go, but for anyone who ends up picking one up, know that you have a good performance weapon.

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