Believe it or not, high-performance cars don’t have to break the bank. Buying a sports car is often more affordable than you might think, especially if you look to older, second-hand models. One thing you can expect to experience when it comes to buying your first sports car is pure, unadulterated joy.

Things to Consider Buying Your First Sports Car

For first-time buyers, it’s important to know your high-performance cars before you go shopping for one. If you step into a showroom without doing your research, there’s a chance you’ll be a little overwhelmed. Remember:

  • Make sure you can afford the car, including the day to day running costs
  • It’s not all about brake horsepower, but overall balance and performance
  • There’s a great selection of coupes, hot hatches and convertibles, as well as supercars
  • It’s important to brush-up on your numbers and to get to know your torque from your brake horsepower (bhp) and your revolutions per minute (rpm)
  • You’ll want to feel connected to the car, so make sure the controls are right for you
  • The lower the ride height, the sportier it’ll feel
  • If looking at a convertible, consider whether the roof can fold whilst driving or not
  • Certain engines and trims are more favourable than others

Things to Consider Before Driving Your First Sports Car

Before buying your first high-performance car, you might want to take a moment to put your driving skills to the test. Most sports car manufacturers, like Mercedes-Benz and Porsche, offer extra driving courses for you to get a better handle of this type of car. It’s also a great way to decide whether a sports car is actually for you. It’s worth bear in mind:

  • Rear-wheel drive sports cars can be trickier to handle in corners with greater oversteer, yet once mastered prove incredibly satisfying
  • Front-wheel drive sports cars are usually souped-up hatchbacks, but don’t let that put you off – if the vehicle balances the overall performance, it’ll still be a great car.

Remember, the high-performance vehicles on this top 10 list are the best sports cars for first-time buyers. The cars reflect that angle, so whilst we’ve gone for models that also look the part, we wouldn’t recommend a Bugatti Chiron or Nissan GT-R to a newbie. Read on for our top picks.

1. Toyota GT86

The Toyota GT86 tops this list for first-time sports car buyers. Why? Well firstly, you can pick one up for less than £30K brand new and you can find a used one with good trim levels and specs at almost half the price. The GT86 is a fun car that approaches corners with wonderful playfulness. It’s a six-speed manual as standard with a positive gear shift, as well as being rear-wheel drive powered by a front engine. It’s got enough bite without being too fast – reaching 0-60mph in 7.4 seconds, it’s ideal for first-timer buyers. Whilst it’s not the fastest, the overall performance of the GT86 certainly makes up for it.

Best features:

  • Excellent overall performance
  • Superb balance and playful
  • Relatively cheap and driver focused

2. Subaru BRZ

Closely related to the Toyota GT86 (the two being jointly developed), the Subaru BRZ follows in the same vein. New BRZs start from under £30K, with decent spec used models available at half the price. The car hits the tarmac with a fantastic overall performance, particularly when it comes to handling. Like the GT86, it’s not super-fast – hitting 0-60mph in 7.6 seconds, developing 200bhp and only 151lb ft of torque. Regardless, this sort of number crunching doesn’t do the car justice. The Sabaru BRZ is incredibly light which helps overall performance, and the lower speed is ideal for first-time buyers. The Subaru BRZ is a little more serious in its drive and that’s about the only reason why it loses out to the Toyota GT86’s playfulness. It’s still a treat to drive, mind.

Best features:

  • Excellent overall performance
  • Agile, balanced and fun
  • Relatively cheap and driver focused

3. Mazda MX-5

A low-cost, 2-seater, rear-wheel drive roadster – need we say more? Probably not, but we will. There are few driving experiences as fun and pure for the starting price tag (around £20K). The current range-topping 2.0-litre petrol engine fires from 0-62mph in 6.5 seconds with 181bhp, yet even the 1.5-litre engine offers plenty of bite and performance. The six-speed manual gearbox is a pleasure to use and the handling is a dream. Driving the Mazda MX-5 with the roof down will make you feel like you’ve bought one of the best sports cars on the planet – after all, it’s not the world’s best-selling roadster for nothing.

Best features:

  • Excellent value
  • Very stylish roadster
  • Incredibly fun to drive

4. Audi TT Coupe

Also available as a roadster, the Audi TT is an iconic sports car recognisable to most people. With a starting price around £30K for new models and a good number of second-hand cars available at a fraction of the price, the TT is a great car for new buyers. It’s somewhat of a more sensible choice on this list, offering two rear seats, an easy-going driving experience, a practical boot and a decent amount of standard tech. You can choose different specs that either come with front-wheel drive, all-wheel drive or Audi’s Quattro AWD. For your first ever sports car, the Audi TT is a safe choice, which works for or against it depending on your preference! Either way, there’s no denying it’s still one incredible car.

Best features:

  • Iconic and stylish
  • Easy going to drive
  • Great all-rounder

5. Porsche 718 Cayman

If ever there was a sports car worth owning purely for its looks, the Porsche 718 Cayman would be it. Underneath its elegant bonnet, the Cayman drives and handles beautifully. You’ll find current models offer a decent selection of turbocharged engines that perform well, with the entry-level car reaching 0-62mph in 5.1 seconds. You can also find older versions with the six cylinder engine that sound (and some would argue perform) better. Whilst more expensive than our top pick sports cars, the Porsche Cayman is still surprisingly well-priced, especially for such an iconic brand. It’s the type of sports car that’s guaranteed to ignite the excitement every buyer wants from their first purchase.

Best features:

  • Iconic and stylish
  • Agile handling and superb brakes
  • Excellent all-round performance

6. Lotus Elise

Yet another iconic, stylish car that defies its price tag, coming in slightly cheaper than the Porsche Cayman. At its heart, the Lotus Elise captures the ideal spirit of a sports car. It looks beautiful, the chassis is superb, it offers an incredible driving experience with a low ride height and it boasts some of the best handling you can find. You’ll find there’s a good range of powerful engines too. Even the entry-level engine, which is great for first-time buyers, produces 134bhp and a time of 0-62mph in 6.5 seconds. It’s also available as a coupe or a convertible – so you can feel the wind in your hair for that extra rush. However, the Elise sits in fifth place as it’s not the most practical car. In fact, it’s even a little difficult to get into!

Best features:

  • Iconic and stylish
  • Incredible fun to drive
  • Good range of powerful engines

7. BMW 2 Series Coupe

Also available as a convertible, the BMW 2 Series Coupe competes with the likes of the Audi TT. Like its competition, the 2 Series is a more practical sports car. It also offers rear seats and is more spacious than the TT. The steering and handling is fantastic and the cabin is of a high quality too. If you want a more performance-based model, be sure to check out the M240i and the M2 – they certainly add extra bite and spice to the 2 Series proceedings. It’s worth noting that first-time buyers are likely to be happy enough without the added oomph, though.

Best features:

  • Fantastic steering and handling
  • High-quality cabin with a 390-litre boot
  • Excellent brand appeal

8. Porsche 911

One of the most recognisable sports cars in the world, the Porsche 911 gives an incredible performance. Whilst new models are at a much higher price than others on this list, you can pick an older one up relatively cheaply. The car is practical too, with rear seats and a large boot. It’s also a reliable car, with new and older models alike proving fun to drive. In addition, the Porsche 911 offers a brilliant range of models with great customisation.

Best features:

  • One of the best sports cars on the market
  • Iconic and stylish
  • Tremendous overall performance, whilst still being practical

9. Abarth 124 Spider

The Abarth 124 Spider is an excellent little roadster that makes a good alternative to the Mazda MX-5. The car has a great feel good factor to it, providing an engaging, fun drive. Its gearstick quality is excellent and the brakes are nice and responsive. Compared to the MX-5, the Spider even offers extra accelerating power. However, it does cost slightly more and fans of the two vehicles would likely argue that the Mazda offers a more spirited drive for the price. Ultimately, new buyers should weigh the extra cost with their desire to drive something truly unique. One thing’s certain – the 124 Spider will certainly turn people’s heads.

Best features:

  • Brilliant body control
  • Punchier than the Mazda MX-5
  • Quick steering

10. Ford Mustang

The famed ‘Pony Car’ that’s tempted American buyers for years might not be the most practical vehicle, but when it looks and sounds as good as it does, practicality can go out the window. Its sleek design and iconic badge hide a choice of two engines: a 2.3-litre EcoBoost and the renowned 5.0-litre V8 engine with its seriously gratifying growl. You can enjoy a six-speed manual gearbox or a performance-improving 10-speed automatic transmission. It’s also available as a convertible for added charm. Whilst the Mustang feels like a big, bulky American car on British roads, it’s a truly unique sports car.

Best features:

  • Iconic and stylish
  • Unique and lots of fun
  • Exciting V8 engine
Back to articles December 12, 2018

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