Sports cars may be notorious for costing a huge amount to buy and chewing through large amounts of fuel. However, not all performance models will melt your credit card when it comes to running costs. And winter is the best time to buy a sports car, as most people are looking for sensible all-weather vehicles such as off-roaders.
We’ve rounded up some of the most appealing affordable sports cars that return fuel economy of more than 45mpg but can also fire to 62mph in less than seven seconds – giving you the benefits of an engaging driving experience and small bills, to prove that you can have your cake and eat it. All of these weigh in at under £30,000, though for barely half of that figure you can secure a fun and practical machine.
Ford Fiesta ST – Affordable hot hatchback: £16,995
The Ford Fiesta still sits at the top of the UK car sales charts and the Fiesta ST is the fastest model of all. With a punchy turbocharged engine, lightweight body and sharp handling around corners, keen drivers are sure to have a huge smile on their face when driving along a twisty road in this car.
The Fiesta ST scampers to 62mph in a speedy 6.9 seconds, but still returns fuel economy of 47.9mpg, and car tax of just £130 under current rules, so you shouldn’t have to spend much keeping this car on the road.
Audi TT 2.0 T FSI – Chic and economical coupe: £29,770
The Audi TT is one of the most stylish coupes on the road – even more so in its latest incarnation – which hasn’t even touched down in showrooms yet. Despite its stylish lines and upmarket interior, however, this is still an economical machine – whether you opt for a petrol or diesel model.
The 2.0 T FSI can match the Fiesta with economy of 47.9mpg and £130 in annual car tax costs, but is even more potent on the road, launching to 62mph in a rapid 6.0 seconds. This may not be the most practical car on the road, but you’ll struggle to get a sleeker – or faster – machine for under £30,000.
BMW 125d M Sport – Frugal but rapid diesel hatchback: £27,765
If you have no objection to driving a diesel car, the BMW 125d offers a very strong combination of economy and performance. This model rockets to 62mph in just 6.5 seconds but still returns 57.6mpg, meaning that trips to the fuel station should be few and far between. Emissions are also low, meaning that car tax stands at just £110.
If you’d rather a petrol model, BMW also sells the 125i petrol. This model costs £27,670 in automatic form, which returns 44.8mpg, but is capable of completing the nought to 62mph in just 6.2 seconds. Car tax bills aren’t too pricey either, at £145.
VW Golf GTi – Speedy but practical hatchback: £27,325
The Golf GTi has traditionally offered a compromise-free blend of fast acceleration, sharp handling around corners and useful everyday practicality and comfort – and the current model is no different. With retro tartan sports seats, an eager engine and classic styling, the Golf GTi has a real feel good factor, but should be just as easy to live with as one of the 1.2-litre petrol models.
Fuel economy stands at 47.1mpg, though the GTi rockets to 62mph in just 6.4 seconds with the optional performance pack. Those who are happy to trade in a little practicality for added style may want to consider the Volkswagen Scirocco 2.0 TSI, which shares the same engine but has sharper, coupe-esque styling.
Caterham Seven 160 – Raw, back to basics sports car: £17,995
If sheer driving exhilaration is top of your wish list the Caterham Seven 160 offers this in bucket loads. This car is so focused on providing the ultimate driving experience for the lowest price, that a windscreen, roof and doors are all optional. The side effect of this Spartan attitude towards sports cars is that the Seven 160 is light – extremely light. Car tax is equally light at just £30 per year.
Weighing in at just 490kg – around a third of a diesel Ford Focus hatchback – the Seven 160 is not only rapid but extremely frugal too. Its tiny 0.7-litre turbocharged engine can punt the Seven 57.6 miles for every gallon of fuel – even though it zips from a standstill to 62mph in just 6.9 seconds.
The Seven may be one of the most basic machines on the market, but with even sensible machines like the Golf GTi providing an exciting driving experience and offering strong fuel economy, running a performance car no longer has to mean making big compromises.