Even though the sports car class tends to be one of the most expensive ones, performance doesn’t have to break the bank. Thanks to the increased use of turbocharging and lighter design materials, sports cars do not need large and expensive V-8 engines to deliver peak performance. In addition, the use of smaller engines in some sports cars has brought the price down in many cases. In no particular order, here are some of the most affordable sports cars available for prices under $50,000 and performance of at least 250 horsepower.
1. Kia Stinger
The Stinger may be a four-door, but it sports both performance and luxury. It offers standard heated front seats, leather upholstery, and connectivity with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. The base four-cylinder engine puts out 255 horsepower paired with an automatic transmission. The Stinger has an available V-6 that generates 365 horsepower, but the base engine has plenty of power and value when you look at the $32,990 MSRP for the 2019 model.
2. Nissan 370Z
Nissan’s 370Z sports coupe presents plenty of value to performance with an MSRP of $30,090 for the 2020 model. It features a base trim 3.7-liter V-6 engine that makes 332 horsepower. It has a rear-wheel drive layout and is available with a six-speed manual or a seven-speed automatic transmission. Other standard features on the base trim include a six-speaker audio system, automatic climate control, and Bluetooth connectivity, among others.
3. Dodge Challenger
The Challenger has several different models, and some have fairly high price points. However, the Challenger also has a very affordable base model that comes in at $28,095 MSRP for the 2019 model year. It includes a standard V-6 engine that puts out 305 horsepower and that features an unusually roomy cabin for a sports car. If you enjoy the retro muscle car look, the Challenger is one of the best examples of this style.
If you want even more power and can pay higher prices, then the R/T Scat Pack 1320 Drag Pack model is just over $40,000 and gets you a Hemi V-8 that makes 495 horsepower.
4. Subaru WRX
The WRX is definitely a performance model with a turbocharged boxer engine that makes 268 horsepower in the base model. It offers an affordable price point at $27,495 MSRP for the 2020 model year. You can get a bit more horsepower with the WRX STI at 310, but the price point is quite a bit higher. The WRX also comes with AWD, a sport-tuned suspension, and a six-speed manual transmission.
5. Ford Mustang
Like the Challenger, the Mustang is a recognizable name in the sports car class. You can certainly spend a lot of money on a Mustang, but the 2020 base model has an MSRP of $26,670. This gets you a 2.3-liter EcoBoost four-cylinder that makes 310 horsepower. With a smaller engine, this Mustang has a lighter nose and is thus particularly agile and quick. A six-speed manual transmission, a leather-wrapped steering wheel, and keyless entry are standard features for the base model.
6. Chevrolet Camaro
You can buy the 2019 base Camaro model for $25,000 MSRP, which offers a lot of value for one of the more iconic American sports cars. The base model will give you a turbo four-cylinder engine that makes 275 horsepower as paired with a six-speed manual transmission. The base Camaro includes a lot of standard equipment like Apple and Android connectivity, a seven-inch touch screen, and USB ports.
Similar to the Mustang, you can get the higher-end SS Coupe version of the Camaro and stay below $50,000. This more powerful model features a 6.2-liter V-8 that puts out 455 horsepower. In terms of pure speed, the 10-speed automatic yields a faster zero-to-60 mph time than the manual transmission.
7. Audi S3
The S3 is a practical sports car with a four-door layout and an elegant appearance. For a price tag around $45,000, you get a turbocharged four-cylinder engine that makes 288 horsepower. The S3 has the feel of a luxury model as well and offers Apple and Android connectivity in addition to reasonable fuel economy figures at 29 mpg highway and 25 mpg combined.
8. Hyundai Genesis G70
This Hyundai luxury sedan starts at less than $45,000, but it offers plenty of power and performance with a twin-turbo 3.3-liter V-6 engine. Both horsepower and torque are firmly in sports car territory at 365 and 376, respectively. The G70 handles nimbly like a European sports sedan, and it’s meant to compete with Mercedes-Benz and BMW models, but the price tag is far more affordable.
9. Hyundai Veloster
The Veloster N hot hatch features a 2.0-liter turbo four-cylinder that generates 275 horsepower as paired with a six-speed manual transmission. This combination comes with the available Performance Package. Starting prices for the Veloster N are typically below $30,000. You can pay less than $24,000 for a Veloster N if you don’t mind sacrificing some horsepower; the Veloster N without the performance package nets 250 horsepower instead of 275. With either option, you’re getting a quick car that’s fun to drive.
10. Dodge Charger
Like the Challenger, the Charger has an affordable and fast Scat Pack model. It features the same engine as the one that is in the Challenger, which is a 6.4-liter Hemi V-8. The larger family-sedan design of the Charger reduces its zero-to-60 numbers, but it still delivers a muscular 485 horsepower. The price for this sporty and fast four-door sedan starts around $42,000 MSRP.
11. BMW M240i
Although this is one of the higher-priced vehicles in the guide, there’s no doubt that the BMW M240i xDrive Coupe is a speedy yet luxurious sports car. It comes with a 3.0-liter twin-turbo six-cylinder engine that makes 335 horsepower. The xDrive has a rear-wheel-drive design, but it can be paired with AWD for added traction. The base price for this German luxury coupe is just over $45,000.
You can also get a slightly less powerful version in the 230i coupe that generates 248 horsepower with a turbo-charged four-cylinder engine. The price tag is lower, too, in the $35,000 range.
12. Chevrolet Impala
The Impala may be on its way out for 2020, but it has an attractive base price of around $31,000 MSRP, and it comes with a 3.6-liter V-6 that delivers 305 horsepower. Despite its power, the Impala doesn’t really look much like a sports car anymore. Instead, it delivers a smooth ride and a luxuriously spacious cabin. If you’re looking for a comfortable family sedan with a sports car heart, then the Impala might be the one for you.
Not everyone sees sports cars the same way. For some, it’s about performance and handling, and for others, it’s about the design. Fortunately, sports cars come in a wide range of styles, prices, and performance chops. Use this guide to pick out the most affordable sports car that fits your preferences.