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10 Things to Look for in a Sports Car

A sports car brings automotive performance and style to everyday driving. Sports cars come in many levels of performance, price, and size. From the affordable Mazda MX-5 Miata to the expensive Mercedes-AMG GT and everything in-between, there’s a sports car for all price ranges and drivers who wants to enjoy the ride.

What is a Sports Car?

A sports car can be broadly defined as any car prioritizing performance as its primary purpose. A traditional definition of a sports car would be a small 2-door coupe or convertible, usually with rear-wheel drive and a manual transmission. Examples of traditional sports cars include the Chevrolet Camaro or the Porsche 911.

However, many modern sports cars have all-wheel drive, automatic transmissions, and some even have four doors like the Audi S5 Sportback.

Benefits of a Sports Car

A sports car has two main benefits; style and performance. Drivers love sports cars because they look good on the road and are fun to drive. Even if they’re not super powerful, a good sports car with quick acceleration and agile handling is fun to drive at any speed.

If you want to drive a car that turns heads and doesn’t blend in with traffic, a stylish sports car can be an excellent way to stand out while enjoying the drive.

RELATED STORIES: Sports Cars Buying Guide

Downsides of a Sports Car

Most sports cars aren’t very practical. If you’re looking for something family-friendly with roomy back seats and a big trunk, a sports car might not be for you. That being said, there are more options than ever for practical sedans, hatchbacks, and even SUVs that are fun to drive, like the Subaru WRXVolkswagen GTI, and Ford Explorer ST. Those might not be conventional sports cars, but they’re a nice compromise.

Another downside of sports cars is they aren’t usually very fuel-efficient. A small sports car without a huge engine (like the Toyota GR86) can be pretty good on gas, but they generally aren’t as efficient as economy cars and hybrids.

Price can be a downside of a sports car, but that depends. If you want a sporty version of a car like the Mercedes-AMG C 63 rather than the regular C 300, it adds quite a bit to the price tag. However, some genuinely affordable sports cars are out there, like the Mazda MX-5 Miata.

How to Choose a Sports Car

Before going to the dealership, there are many things to keep in mind when choosing a sporty vehicle. Use our tips on what to consider when picking out your sports car.

1. Price

Like any car shopping experience, the price needs to be one of the top considerations. Use our Car Affordability Calculator to see what you can afford and consider whether a sports car is a reasonable expense for your lifestyle and income.

2. Speed and Horsepower

Performance is probably one of the main reasons you’re buying a sports car. Look at those all-important performance specs like horsepower and torque, and don’t forget to consider the power-to-weight ratio.

3. Fuel Economy

Can you afford the gas in the sports car you have your eye on? Does it require premium gas? Check out fueleconomy.gov to get an idea of what you can expect for fuel costs in the cars you’re considering.

4. Trunk Space

Sports cars usually have pretty small trunks, but others are bigger than you might expect. If you need decent cargo space, make sure to compare sports cars by the cubic feet of their trunks.

5. Look

Do you want a flashy, eye-catching sports car or something a little more restrained? A sports car can be an excellent way to show your personal style to the world.

6. Maintenance Costs

Some sports cars have good reputations for low ownership costs, like the Chevrolet Corvette. Others, not so much. Do a little research on what to expect and consider how much you’re willing to pay to keep the car running.

7. Type

Coupe or convertible? What about the “4-door coupe?” Maybe a sport sedan or a hot hatch would be a good, practical choice. Think about how you’ll be using your sports car to figure out which type is right for you.

8. Transmission

Many purists insist on the analog driving experience of a manual transmission, but modern automatic transmissions can shift faster, and they’re often more fuel-efficient.

9. Seating

Do you really need those back seats? If so, how much room do you want your passengers to have?

10. Handling

Maybe you’ll mostly use your sports car for straight-line, highway cruising. But, if you’re expecting to wind through some curvy canyon roads, you’ll want something with agile handling.

RELATED STORIES: 10 Best Used Sports Cars Under $30,000

What to Do Before Buying a Sports Car

After you’ve done your due diligence on the sports car of your dreams, it’s now time for the fun part — buying the car. Below are a few tips on what to do before buying a sports car to ensure that you’ve checked all of your boxes and are ready to drive away in your new vehicle.

Evaluate Your Needs

Think about how you’re going to use your sports car. Suppose you’re getting a sports car in addition to your daily driver for weekend driving or the occasional track day. In that case, you can probably get away with a 2-seat coupe or roadster like a Porsche 718 Boxster or Mazda MX-5 Miata.

If you need a sports car you can drive every day with useable back seats, you may want something a little more practical but still sporty, like a Dodge Challenger or BMW M5. If you’re driving your sports car on a long commute, you should consider a fuel-efficient option like a Ford Mustang with the 4-cylinder EcoBoost engine.

Go for a Test Drive

Since the driving experience is the most significant selling point of a sports car, you should give it a test drive before you buy. You might have your eye on a sports car and end up disappointed with how it drives. If a sports car offers multiple engine options like the Ford Mustang, drive them all to experience the difference for yourself and make the right decision.

A test drive ensures that the sports car you end up buying is the one you really want.

Set a Budget

Sports cars can get super expensive, going well into 6-digit pricing territory like the Audi R8. However, they can also be pretty affordable with starting prices under $30,000 and even less if you shop on the used market. Regardless of what price range you can afford, it’s essential to set a budget and look at your options within that budget. You might not be buying a sports car for practical reasons, but you still want to get a good value.

Related Stories:


  • Is a sports car expensive?

    Sports cars can be costly, but many new sports cars have starting prices under $30,000. There are also many affordable options on the used market.


  • Should I buy a used sports car?

    A used sports car can be a great value but beware of excessive modifications or signs that it was driven hard by a previous owner. Consider a certified pre-owned model that’s had a thorough inspection and comes with a warranty.

  • What are the types of sports cars?

    Most sports cars are coupes and convertibles, but there are also performance-oriented sport sedans, hot hatchbacks, and even sporty SUVs.

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