New sports cars generally are not cheap, but that doesn’t mean you can’t scoop up a really good one for a solid price. The best sports cars under $50,000 are what we’re bringing to you here, and the list is full of spectacular choices, though you won’t see any luxury sports cars here – those will need to wait for another list.

How are we defining a sports car in this list? Well, by traditional means. There are tons of sporty or performance cars that aren’t included, but we’re sticking with two-doors that were exclusively designed from the outset to fill the role of a stereotypical sports car. So yes, while enthusiast darlings like the Honda Civic Type R or Toyota GR Corolla might make us happy like these others do, they’re technically hot hatches based on more pedestrian vehicles, not sports cars.

The cars in this list prioritize sultry shapes, send their power to the rear wheels and don’t concern themselves with such trivial things as cargo room or (for some) even the presence of backseat. They were designed with fun in mind, and that’s what makes them the best sports cars under $50,000.

Best sports cars 2024

Subaru BRZ

Pros: More comfortable than GR86; super-fun to drive everywhere; affordable sports car
Cons: Interior is basic; infotainment is lacking in features and speed

Read our Subaru BRZ Review

It doesn’t really get much better at the BRZ’s starting price point of just over $31,000. You get a high-revving boxer-four, notchy six-speed manual transmission and a simply joyous chassis. Amenities and tech features are predictably on the low side of things, but that’s not what you’re paying for in this low-slung 2+2 sports car. The debate between the BRZ and its sister car (next on this list) the GR86 will rage on, but we tend to prefer the BRZ for its improved ride quality versus the Toyota. Regardless of which you choose, though, the BRZ and GR86 are going to bring a lot of smiles for not a lot of money.

Toyota GR86

Pros: Extremely fun to drive in any situation; smooth and powerful engine; very affordable
Cons: Rough ride on poor roads; interior is basic and cheap-looking

Read our Toyota GR86 Review

Most of what we said about the BRZ above applies to the GR86, too. Pick your badge preference, or maybe just pick your favorite color, and go! The GR86 is every bit as fun as the BRZ, and its stiffer rear end may just be to your liking depending on your car setup preferences. Some of the Toyota’s special editions may just be enough to swing favor in its direction, but don’t forget about the extra-spicy BRZ tS either. If you want a (semi-useless) rear seat and a respectable amount of luggage space, this car may win you over compared to the next one on this list that doesn’t even bother with utility leanings.

Mazda MX-5 Miata

Pros: Pure fun at every corner; super-lightweight; great manual transmission; pretty design
Cons: Interior is feeling its age; automatic is on the boring side of things

Read our Mazda MX-5 Miata Review

It’s the oldest sports car meme in the books by now: The answer is always Miata. And honestly, there’s a lot of truth to that. If you don’t need the coupe bodystyle and rear seats of the Toyobaru twins, the Miata is probably going to make for a better, pure sports car experience. Its engine is surprisingly spunky, and its lightness makes it drive like a toy that you can practically do anything with. You get an engaging and happy manual transmission, and while the tech takes a bit of a backseat, it’s hard to care too much. There’s all of the above, plus you can put the top down to bring nature even further into the equation. And don’t forget about the RF, which might be the best option should inclement weather be an issue where you live.

Ford Mustang

Pros: Stupendous engine options; above average handling; classic and appealing design
Cons: Interior is on the cheap side; automatic could be a lot better; tech won’t be for everyone

Read our Ford Mustang Review

The Mustang started to become a sports car in its previous generation where it transitioned from a solid rear axle to an independent rear suspension design. This brought the handling up to an elite level for American “muscle” cars, and with variants like the Shelby GT350, GT500 and others, you could well and truly call the Mustang a sports car. That’s true in its latest generation, too, and while the ultimate performance Mustangs are beyond our $50,000 limit, even a regular GT or nicely-optioned EcoBoost model would make for a spectacular driver. To get the maximum bang for your buck under $50,000, we’d recommend opting for a standard GT, then adding the $4,995 Performance Package to the car that tacks on all the high-po goodies you can get.

Nissan Z

Pros: Hugely powerful engine; one of the best designs on-sale now; great tech
Cons: Not as fun as a Supra; a lot of old/carried over parts from 370Z; Sport model is under-equipped

Read our Nissan Z Review

You’ll need to stick with the base Sport model to stay under the $50,000 limit on the Z, but at a little over $43,000, you’re getting a whole hell of a lot of car. The 3.0-liter twin-turbo V6 is a seriously potent engine for this amount of money, and you’re getting a lovely blank canvas that can be easily modified post-purchase. Stepping up to the Performance at $53,450 would get you a far more complete package, though, so if you can stretch it, we’d definitely recommend splurging on this model. And in case you were curious how it compares to the Supra, we’ve already done the dirty work for you.

Toyota GR Supra 2.0

Pros: Lightweight and playful chassis; engine has plenty of power; spectacular looks
Cons: Sound and character of engine is lacking; poor infotainment interface that lacks Android Auto

Read our Toyota GR Supra 2.0 Review

Sadly, the GR Supra 2.0 is the only version of the Supra that slots in under the $50,000 maximum, but it’s still good enough to deserve a spot on this list. You’re only getting it with an automatic transmission (the inline-six can be spec’d with a manual), but the eight-speed and 2.0-liter turbo make for a splendid pairing. It’s lighter than the 3.0, and it’s far cheaper too at a starting price of just $47,535. Admittedly, the Z looks pretty dang good when you cross-shop it compared to the four-cylinder Supra, but the handling of the Toyota might be enough to sway you over the Z. Truthfully though, we’d be more tempted to step down the price bracket by a lot and step into the GR86 if a pure sports car drive is what you’re after on a budget.

Honorable – just discontinued – mention: Chevrolet Camaro 

Sadly, Chevy just killed the Camaro, and the last one has rolled off the line by now. That said, we still see some new ones for sale online, and any affordable sports cars list needs to include the Camaro if there’s a way to shoehorn it in. GM’s Alpha platform has spawned handling greats like this Camaro and many Cadillac sport sedans that simply outdo the numerous competitors from Germany and elsewhere. An SS loaded up with performance-enhancing goodies isn’t exactly a sleeper, but we can guarantee you it’ll surprise others (and perhaps yourself) at a track day with how ridiculously good it truly is. We’re sad to see it disappear, but for anyone who picks one up here in the end, know you have a proper performance weapon.

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