Top 5 Affordable Sports Cars (Under $30K)
Just because a car isn’t new doesn’t mean it isn’t good. In fact, some of the greatest deals you will find are on used cars. The top five affordable sports cars all come in under $30K and are all a blast to drive.
Top 5 sports cars under 30K
- 2015 BMW M235i
- 2013 Chevrolet Corvette
- 2007 Porsche Cayman S
- 2017 Ford Mustang GT
- 2014 Audi S5
Each of these cars falls into the sports car category with a small caveat – they are all two-door coupes. This list isn’t inclusive as there are some great honorable mentions like the Subaru BRZ and the Mazda MX-5.
These five made the list for a few reasons. First, they are all under $30,000 and examples of each can be found online at AutoTrader.com or Cargurus.com with around 50,000 miles or less.
Second, they are cars you might not think of as being under $30,000 and therefore you might exclude them from your car search. This is the most important reason.
It’s my civic duty to provide you with examples to awesome cars you might overlook because you think they are out of your ballpark simply because of their names.
#5: 2014 Audi S5
What we like:
- Beautiful exterior
- 0-Liter Supercharged V6
- Luxury and sport blended
The 2014 Audi S5 is one of the best-looking coupes on the roads today. It’s beautifully sculpted and is regarded as one of the most appealing Audi’s ever designed. It’s got those classic sports car proportions – wider than it is tall and has sweet LED daytime running lights.
In 2013 the Audi S5 switched from an awesome 4.0-liter V8 to a 3.0-liter supercharged V6 in a move the shook Audi fanboys to their very core. But it’s far from bad. Examples of the V8 version can be found well below $30K if you’re interested, but they can be costly to maintain and repair.
Don’t be fooled by its numbers the 333-hp supercharged 3.0-liter is lighter than its V8 predecessor which made the front end of the 2013+ S5 more responsive and reduced understeer. The car is a joy to drive on the street and on the track.
Oh, and did I mention the supercharged 3.0-liter V6 will sprint from 0-60 mph in ~4.7-seconds? Well, it does and in case you didn’t know – that’s pretty damn fast. That’s thanks in part to the incredible Quattro all-wheel-drive system.
If you are looking for a healthy blend of luxury and performance than the 2014 Audi S5 is the car for you. You can check out a review its four-door counterpart in our 2013 Audi S4 review. The flat-bottom steering wheel and amazing sport bucket seats are accented brilliantly with Alcantara and blend sport and luxury seamlessly.
#4: 2017 Ford Mustang GT
What we like:
- 0-Liter V8
- Independent rear suspension
- Aggressive exterior styling
- Optional Brembo 6-piston front brakes
- Optional Recaro sport bucket seats
The Ford Mustang GT is the original pony car. It’s America’s sweetheart. Yes, there are other pony cars, and yes, I know the Hellcat makes “so much power bro OMG”, but at the end of the day, the Mustang GT is an extremely friendly car to own and drive.
Easily the most affordable sports car to maintain and drive daily on this list the Ford Mustang formula has remained unchanged since its debut in 1964 – fast, fun, and affordable. It’s definitely fun to drive, responds great to driver input and the new independent rear suspension makes it much more of a road car than model years prior to 2015.
The new styling is aggressive and looks mean and when you hit the gas it moves. It’s a great all-around sports car that you can take to the track and work. Just as cool is the endless list of affordable mods available for the Ford Mustang ranging from race suspension to cosmetic stuff.
It ticks all of the boxes and is surprisingly easy to live with. I’ve had three mustangs, all GT’s, and I have heavily modified all of them including full racing camshafts and one with a Roush supercharger and they proved to be great daily drivers.
A 2017 example can easily be found with some good packages and that amazing 435-hp American V8 and a manual gearbox for under $30,000.
#3: 2007 Porsche Cayman S
What we like:
- Mid-engine RWD layout
- 4-liter flat-six engine
- Unreal handling and impressive grip
- Serious brakes
Revealed in 2006 the Cayman S was intended to sit squarely between the Boxter S and the 911. But, over time it’s shifted to fall in line with Porsche’s pricing strategy and has become the “entry-level” Porsche. This is a great thing for us because finally at $70K these things are “entry-level”…for a billionaire.
But the Cayman is a brilliant car and the fact that you can find examples of this car at, or below, $30,000 is just unbelievable. If you are looking for a track toy, then this is it hands down. It is arguably the most track ready car of all the cars on this list.
The Cayman is essentially a hardtop Boxster and they are both built on the same chassis, with the same suspension and interior, but in 2007 the Cayman S came with a 3.4-liter flat-six. Its significance is that it was more similar to a 911 flat-six than a Boxster.
Even today the engine sings a tune that will bring tears to your eyes. It’s the Stuttgart lullaby and it’s just beautiful.
Because the car is mid-engine and rear-wheel-drive it handles like a dream. It’s balanced and turns with surgical precision. It feels incredible to throw around the track and the flat six will wrap all the way out to 7,000 RPM and because it sits right behind your head, you hear every bit of it.
Equally as impressive is the amount of grip under cornering. The rear end rarely steps out and when it does it corrects itself faster than you can screw it up. Pepper in the amazing brakes and you have a real sports car that’s built for the track but capable of every day driving.
A true track toy for less than $30,000 and a coveted Porsche crest on the hood is hard to come by, but if it’s a pure sport you are after the 2007 Cayman S might be the affordable sports car of your dreams, even if it lacks some modern luxury.
#2: 2013 Chevrolet Corvette
What we like:
- 0-60 in ~4.0 seconds
- 2-Liter V8
- Great looking exterior
- Close to a supercar
- Daily drivability
I remember when I was a kid and the Corvette’s design changed and they went from “pop-up” headlights to dedicated headlights and everyone flipped shit. People were outraged And I don’t really know why because it looked good then and it looks good now.
Regardless of how you feel about its headlights, the Corvette is a performance car icon in America and all over the world. It has arguably the most race pedigree out of any U.S. automaker and contends worldwide as one of the best sports cars of all time. It’s a real deal car.
2013 Marked the final year of the “C6” Corvette and the 60th anniversary of the Corvette and examples of the 1LT, 2LT and even 3LT trims can be found online for $30K or less. That’s an amazing deal considering it’s not just an icon, but also a maniac to drive.
430-hp and a 0-60 mph time of 4-seconds flat put the base version of the Vette right at the edge of supercar performance. And it’s amazing 6.2-Liter V8 screams freedom every time you punch the gas. It doesn’t just sound good, it looks good too. It’s got big, wide rear wheels, and an awesome style that screams “racecar”.
But the best part of the Corvette isn’t how closely it’s related to a supercar, it’s how easy it is to live with every day. You can easily treat this car as a touring vehicle and its magnetic ride select allows for it.
The 2013 Corvette is arguably the best value on this list and at $30,000 you too can own one of the greatest sports cars ever made.
#1: 2015 BMW M235i
What we like:
- Beautiful exterior
- Feels like an E46 M3
- Better than a 3-series
- Fantastic handling
- Amazing daily driver
Nostalgia has a way of making us look back with more fondness than reality sometimes. But, when it comes to the classic M3 of the day that’s not the case.
See, there’s tangible, real, empirical data gathered over countless track sessions with the BMW M3 that proves it’s one of the greatest of all time. But, lately, we’ve been looking back to the good old days and wondering what happened? Did its balls fall off?
That’s because the M3 isn’t what it used to be in a sports coupe. Despite making our list of best sports sedans, the BMW M3 isn’t the two-door king it once was.
Just when we thought all was lost, in comes the 2-series to save the day. The 2015 M235i is almost identical in dimensions to the classic 2003 M3, it has roughly identical horsepower to the 2003 M3 and it even comes with staggered tires.
Don’t be fooled by the inline 6-cylinder engine, it’s BMW’s bread-and-butter, and it puts out a rather nice 320-hp which is good for a sprint from 0-60 of 4.3-seconds.
I’m not even a fan of BMW, but you have to give credit where credit is due. The M235i handling is sharp and precise, it’s agile and light and it’s what the 3-series used to be. Fast, sleek, and engaging to drive both on and off the track. The M235i pays homage to the glory days of BMW when we were all smitten.
For $30,000 or less there really isn’t a better sports car out there. Do yourself a favor and give it a try before you knock it.
Affordable Sports Cars – Considerations
- Insurance costs
- Maintenance costs
- Repair costs
- Fuel costs
As always be sure to consider your true budget when shopping for an affordable sports car. Even though these come in at or below $30,000 the cost to own and operate might push you into the red.
Be cognoscente of what your whole budget looks like and always be sure to consider additional and unforeseen costs of owning a used sports car. The list above has a few examples of items commonly overlooked.
To ensure you fall within your budget I recommend taking the max you can afford for a car and then back out the cost of insurance and a small monthly allowance for repairs and/or maintenance. This will help you to be sure you make a good financial purchase.
Check our 2018 Fuel Economy Table to get an idea of what the fuel cost might be for the car you choose and be sure review our Ultimate Guide to CPO Warranties to see if paying for a CPO is worth the extra money.