Best sports car under £35,000
At cinch, we’d call £35k a ruddy good budget, even when you're after something sporty. Yes, new sports cars can go for double and triple that. But when it comes to our all-digital showroom, the sub-£35k bracket has plenty to offer when it comes to fun and exciting cars. On that subject...
What makes the best sports cars?
Choosing the best sports car is not just about picking the fastest. Far from it. Sports cars need to be fun to drive, so responsiveness, agile handling and even an inspiring cockpit, complete with and low driving position, are likely to rank highly. Oh, and they have to look the part, obviously.
When it comes to our list of top candidates, we've also considered usability and practicality, as well as running costs. We're nice like that.
What to look for when buying a sports car
It’s the same as any car – the main things that affect the value of a used sports car are the mileage (lower is better than higher, naturally), the service history (‘full’ is good, ‘full main/franchise dealer service history is best) and condition. Plenty of the below cars conform to all of the above and more, so without further ado...
The top used sports cars under £35,000:
1. Mazda MX-5
Sorry to be predictable - the cute Mazda 2-seater is the world’s most popular sports car for a reason. It’s really, really good. The MX-5 is nippy rather than superfast, and handles as well as almost anything on the road. That makes it great fun without posing a danger to you and other road-users or your driving license.
There are plenty of generations to choose from in your budget - all with their fans. It has always been a 2-seater and has a smallish boot but it’s extremely reliable, easy to own and cheap to run. Recent models can come with a folding metal hard-top but most feature a simple fabric convertible roof. Older models may come with a removable fibreglass hard top that’s handy for the coldest, wettest months.
2. Audi TT
Whether you opt for the 2-seat convertible or the 4-seat coupe, the TT is a great choice as an everyday sports car. It combines premium branding with a cool design. The interior is classy, even if the coupe’s back seats are awkward and cramped. The convertible doesn’t even any rear seats. The coupe does offer a usefully big boot area under the tailgate though. It’s fast, fun and lots of versions come with Quattro 4-wheel drive for added grip. For just £25k, you could even push for a 2018 car with fairly low mileage.
3. Toyota GT86
The purposeful looking Toyota sports coupe is not as familiar on our roads as the MX-5 or TT. It’s almost identical sibling, the Subaru BRZ, is even rarer. Both are exciting old-school performance coupes with sharp handling. Like the TT and MX-5 they’ve been around for a while – so used buyers can find well-priced examples.
We have to push over the £30k mark to access this is premium two-seat sports car. But that'll come as no surprise, as it looks classy, is thrilling to drive and has a range of powerful engines that sound fantastic. The F-Type comes as a convertible or coupe, neither have much luggage space – but that’s the last thing most owners are thinking about.
The Boxster has been around long enough for early cars to become very affordable. It’s still an up-market convertible with a luxurious interior and an impressive badge. The baby Porsche feels special to drive with strong performance and poised handling – and it’s famously good at retaining its value.
6. Nissan 370Z
The chunky muscular body of the Nissan sports car betrays its classic fast car character. Whether as a coupe or convertible, acceleration is sizzling and the car drives like a serious hairy-chested sports machine. It’s no longer made new but older models have proved reliable and used prices can be very reasonable.
7. BMW Z4
The smooth power of the 6-cylinder engine under the Z4’s long bonnet makes it a great long-distance cruiser. The traditionally styled sports car is fast, especially in a straight line. It comes as a coupe or roadster and has been around long enough for older models to be sporty bargains.
Okay, we’ve taken a step outside the normal definition of a sports car here – but we just wanted to alert you to a whole world of used fast hatchbacks that provide many of the same thrills as a traditional sports car for a surprisingly accessible price. You can bag a fresh one for under £20k. The sportiest Fiesta is a great example. It goes round corners superbly and has a gorgeously willing highly tuned engine. The ST is cheap and easy to run – and when you need to calm down and do the shopping or school run it is probably the best on this list.
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