This article was a difficult one. There are not many sports cars out there that are simply bad. It’s difficult to find a sports car that just doesn’t do the job right, but we managed to find some sports cars that are either a pain to own or simply don’t provide as much as rivals. And of course, we also found sports cars that are worth every penny—this doesn’t mean that the list is full of high-end supercars, though.
One of the very basic reasons for why you might consider a sports car is speed. Sports cars and speed go hand in hand. Some of these beasts are equipped with really, really powerful engines which, when accompanied by a free-flowing exhaust system, make the loudest roar on this planet. Speed might be your means of getting your daily adrenaline rush, which might keep you intrigued by these beauties. And with a loud exhaust and powerful engine, not only do you get to enjoy a sports car, but let others on the road know too.
And then there’s the design, which inevitably gets a lot of people pumped. Either it’s the sleekest thing you have ever seen or the most iconic thing, but either way, you’d be chasing after a car that’s not average.
With that in mind, let’s look at some sports cars we’d like and some that we wouldn’t.
All cars are 2018 model year, unless otherwise stated.
20 WOULDN’T buy: MASERATI GRANTURISMO
Look, these cars look sleek, no doubt about it. The hood has that nice curvature, much like that of the MB GTS, and the grille looks like it was made just for this car. And that evergreen Maserati Trident looks as cool as it should. The sides and the rear are designed accordingly, too. It’s the interior where the car fails, though. It’s the powertrain where it keeps messing it up.
Part of all that has to do with the fact that the car hasn’t gotten any major changes since launching in 2007. The engine and aerodynamic aspects are just dated; it’s not the fastest and not the best, yet dares to demand a hefty $130K-plus.
Here’s what one Redditor had to say: “I sat in all of their current lineup at an auto show recently. It felt like a step below the German cars. Pretty similar to newer Infinitis or Acuras honestly. It looked better, I guess. But the quality was just not there. I don't think they will ever get back on the level of Ferrari or Lamborghini. It's all about the profits for FCA.”
The interior of this car is just terrible, with some switches being similar to the Grand Caravan’s.
19 WOULDN’T buy: ACURA NSX
This car was a bit tricky. Several factors had to be considered before deciding on where it should go. Let’s talk about the looks. The car looks astonishing—just check it out from various angles. The front face doesn’t exactly have an astonishing grille, but the little headlamp and design of the hood work together to give it a good appearance. The side profile is just drop-dead gorgeous. The interior of this car is well-appointed and filled with fine details.
However, the problem comes with what’s hiding under the hood. First, despite costing $150K-plus, Acura equips it with only a 3.5L V6 in tandem with a nine-speed transmission. There are three electric motors that increase the power output to a total of 573 horses. But these things make the steering wheel just numb, or as C/D says it, “electric assist smooths the drama out of 573 horsepower.” On top, the car lacks real technology, as it literally has the same infotainment system as that of the Civic (Edmunds).
“And yet, as sophisticated as it is, the NSX lacks a sense of occasion. Its V6 doesn't have a particularly exotic sound to it, its cabin borrows elements from Hondas in the $20,000 range,” Edmunds.
18 WOULDN’T buy: NISSAN 370Z
I don’t even know what’s going on with this car. It’s long due for a restoration, much like you see on TV, where someone takes an ax and breaks a house apart, and then everything is re-built from scratch. The car you find in the market today is essentially the same thing that you’d have found back in 2009 when it hit the market, but besides a wee change in 2012, this car has been the same.
Jalopnik did an article stating that the “Z” in the name of the car might as well stand for “zombie,” as the car is not dying, but neither is Nissan planning on a makeover. The best Nissan will do is the minimal to continue meeting the legal standards.
Here’s what cheatsheet.com had to say about this car: “It may be surprising to learn that the Nissan 370Z is still available new. This car has been on the road since 2002 and, following its peak of 37,000 sales in 2003, has steadily declined toward irrelevance (i.e., 2016, when it moved 5,913 units). In its days of brisker sales, it was known as one of the deadliest cars in America. These days, it might have a hard time finding someone to crash it.”
17 WOULDN’T buy: 2016 BMW Z4
The exterior styling of the car is sparkly. The hood has nice shapes, and while the grille is nothing too enthralling, it’s the traditional BMW grille, so it doesn’t look bad at all. The sides look decent, although some more curves wouldn’t have killed the manufacturer; it’s bland as is. The rear design is fine, but the problem in the rear originates not so much from the styling as much as from the cargo space. The trunk is just for the name; the reality is dark and very small. The interior of this lineup was starting to become stale and, with so many other options available, this car didn’t stand a chance. While it looks like a small car that’s capable of giving you a handling like that of the Miata, Motor Trend actually, beat it up for a harsh ride.
Here’s C/D: “Speaking on the state of sports-car sales in the U.S. and Europe, BMW sales chief Ian Robertson said earlier this year that the ‘market is roughly half of what it used to be,’ adding, ‘Post 2008, it just collapsed. I’m not so sure it’ll ever fully recover.’ OK, so that’s depressing. Wherever the sports-car market is headed, we’re glad that 1938 diehards shunned his words and purchased Z4s of their own.”
16 WOULDN’T buy: 2016 SCION FR-S
There wasn’t one big red flag with this car. The car, instead, was subpar because of accumulation of tiny little things. Let’s look at some good things first. The “FR-S” part of the name refers to the car’s front-engine, rear-wheel drive. The “S” refers to “Sport.” The looks of this car are good. They are not mind-boggling, for sure, but when you consider the price tag of $26K, the car becomes acceptable. During the initial years of its offering, it had no other trims available. And when more options became available down the road, it wasn’t exactly a thing to boast about, as the car still had a buzzy engine.
The car lacks any grip, complains C/D, adding that it’s slower than a Miata and that it has only basic refinement and comfort. Ooh, now the price seems a little too much.
Here’s C/D giving some insights: “The Scion FR-S and Subaru BRZ twins still exist in the lower end of the spectrum price-wise. Both earned 10Best nods upon their debut for 2013, but the pair’s sales quickly fell off once the initial rush of enthusiasts got their keys.”
Because of the dwindling sales of the FR-S and other Scion cars, Toyota culled that division in 2016.
15 WOULDN’T buy: BMW i8
This car has some things that it gets right from the get-go. Look at that dashing exterior; it looks nothing short of a supercar. It’s almost as if a concept from a sci-fi book was actualized. The rear designs pull off the most futuristic concepts ever. Plus, it’s a plug-in hybrid, so the fuel economy is excellent. But the negatives of this car come rolling like the flu—one episode after another. For one, right after you’re inspired by the exterior, you’re bound to be disappointed by the interior. It’s lackluster and bland—looking like that of an average car—which doesn’t exactly carry over the supercar image. And when it comes to performance—oh wait a minute—this car doesn’t exactly perform. The infirm I3, despite being turbocharged, makes a lowly 369 horses, which by the way, accounts for the horses produced by the motors. All that comes with a lovely price tag of $165K.
Here’s C/D in its own words: “If there’s more room than the i8’s supercar appearance promises; the inverse applies to performance. The 2019 i8s continue to be fitted with a turbocharged 1.5-liter inline-three and an electric motor amidships, plus an electric motor. Engine output is unchanged, while the stronger battery allows electric output to rise by 12 horsepower, lifting total system power from 357 horses to 369.”
14 WOULDN’T buy: 2015 JAGUAR XK
The 2015 model year was the last one before successor Jaguar F-Type came with its own charisma and swag. I don’t know why people buy the last model-years. You’re essentially buying a brand-new car that likely has no new technology, no new design, and no new anything. It’s old, dated and about to go. And while you might buy it because, perhaps, it serves as a souvenir, you’d still be getting a dated car. The exterior of this car looks pretty decent, although nothing jaw-dropping, which counterpart Aston Martin made during this time.
The interior, however, is a deal-breaker. The quality is inferior, and some cabin materials are flat out cheap-looking (cars.usnews.com). While fuel economy is not a concern at this level, it had disappointing numbers relatively speaking.
“Neither the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration nor the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety published crash test results for the 2015 Jaguar XK. Jaguar equips all models with a rearview camera, parking sensors, and adaptive headlights that pivot to increase visibility around corners. Many class competitors offer more advanced safety features, such as forward collision warning” writes cars.usnews.com. However, J.D. Power and Associates gave it a 3.5 out of 5 for safety.
13 WOULDN’T buy: FIAT 124 SPIDER
This car hasn’t been in production for long, well at least not the new Fiat 124. The car is supposed to be Italian, but the exterior looks a bit “meh.” There’s nothing in the exterior that tantalize the senses, because the car is new, and the design is unfamiliar. So we’ll just say it has a mediocre design. (On a side note, the design of the Fiat badge is just so dated that it ruins what little the exterior styling has to offer.) On top, the car doesn’t sound Italian enough upon driving it, as C/D complains. And while the car is Miata-based, the car is not exactly as quick as the Miata; the turbo lag doesn’t help it likely. The only salvage might be the hot Abarth.
Here’s what Edmunds has to say about this: “Like the Miata, the 124's diminutive figure is both part of its appeal and the cause of many of its shortcomings. Similarly, the small, turbocharged engine is likewise a distinctive trait with its own appeals and pitfalls: It's punchy and eager high in the rev range, but it's distinctly underpowered at low to medium rpm. … Other convertibles on the market come with fewer compromises.”
12 WORTH IT: 2017 MAZDA MIATA
Recently I have been seeing a lot of these on the roads, which is of course due to the arrival of summer in my area. The car is already so tiny on the road, and if a full-size pickup truck passes next to it, it looks tiny. But that’s not what matters with the Miata. It’s the driving itself that matters. That’s where it wins through and through, giving the most joyful ride on any road that you go. Plus, the car looks mischievous, just look at the front face of it once. And overall, the styling of the rest of exterior doesn’t disappoint at all.
Many automotive reviewers couldn’t control their excitement when describing this car.
Here’s C/D: “For pure driving bliss, the Miata is tops in our book—it’s so good, we named it a 10Best Cars winner for 2017 and 2018. This legendary two-seater has a 155-hp 2.0-liter four with a six-speed manual; a six-speed automatic is optional. Its use of aluminum helps keep weight down, so the Miata remains eminently flingable in the twists and turns that you’ll surely seek when you hit the road. The RF model offers a power-folding targa top, but it’s much more expensive than the cloth-topped Miata.”
11 WORTH IT: AUDI TT
The first-gen TT was horrific. The car looked like a Beetle and acted worse than a Beetle, all in the livery of Audi. Audi changed. Now we have a car that has a snazzy appearance, and some might even try to say it looks like a baby Audi R8, which is a good thing. The interior of this car is neat, as there’s nothing where the center screen generally is; no, that has been shifted to the driver display, where the speedometer and tachometer occupy a place. The switch between the infotainment and driver information is done easily with a button on the steering wheel. The system is highly responsive. The thrust available in these cars is just massive, and a thrilling grip is present to enhance that as well.
Here’s C/D: “With snazzy styling and peppy performance, the TT and TTS appeal to both the practical and the passionate. The TT has a 220-hp turbo four; the TTS makes 292 hp. Quattro all-wheel drive and a six-speed dual-clutch automatic are standard on both models; a manual, unfortunately, is not offered. The TT is available as both coupe and soft-top; the TTS only as a coupe. With well-tuned suspensions, the TT and TTS are effortlessly fast. They blend style with refinement in ways the competition doesn't.”
10 WORTH IT: FORD MUSTANG
The car has a certain charisma of its own. The hood gives the car a very fine, posh-like aroma. The curves are, still, simple though by all means. The grille is nothing outrageous—and I’m not even sure how you’d get a bigger grille on these without fundamentally altering the structure of it—and neither does it get penalized for that. It looks good. The rear also looks good, and it should be noted that model year 2018 got a mid-cycle makeover.
Hopping inside the car, you’ll find yourself pleased, considering the dedicated effort that has been put into making this car as aesthetically pleasing as possible within the boundaries of its price range. And as far as practicality is concerned, it’s definitely better than the Camaro.
Here’s Edmunds on it: “If you've been away from the pony car segment for a while, prepare yourself for a shock: The modern Mustang is refined, rapid and rewarding. This generation's road manners took a big leap forward when the entire 2015 Mustang lineup received — for the first time in 50 years — an independent rear suspension. This change facilitated the Mustang's transformation into a more sophisticated and comfortable car while its performance capabilities reached new heights.”
9 WORTH IT: BMW M4
The exterior of this car is just one good-looking piece of art. The front face looks beautiful and tamed. The openings beneath the grille look graciously curved and powerful. The interior of this car is no less. It matches the beauty of the exterior inch by inch. The seats are cozy, cushioned and thick. The steering wheel itself has stitching, much like the rest of the leather inside the cabin. The rest of the interior is pretty cool too. The beauty of this car lies in its versatility. With the powerful engine, you can take it on the racetrack; with the luxuries inside, you can take it to work every day. And considering its handling, you can take it on trips (although the trunk is kind of small). The car picks up the pace quickly, steers sharply and stops promptly.
Here’s what Edmunds has to say about this car: “Essentially, the M4 is the hot-rodded version of the 4 Series coupe and convertible. It gets the typical BMW M division treatment, including a significantly more powerful twin-turbo inline six-cylinder engine, stickier tires, bigger brakes and subtly more aggressive styling. The conversion to M status doesn't diminish the 4 Series' luxury quotient either.”
8 WORTH IT: PORSCHE 911
One of the oldest sports cars in the world continues to brighten the lives of drivers to this day. The look is quite good—particularly of the front face and those headlamps—which has become iconic by now. If you have been in the car world for a long time, you can tell what this beauty is even in the dark. The curves, the size—anything about this car, really—will cause your neurons to connect what you see with a Porsche 911. Much like the beloved Miata, this car has an excellent handling: It was bred to perform. The ride is comfortable and the interior likable, both of which are a no-brainer for a Porsche. The expensive price tag should be a no-brainer too, though. And if you seek options, you run the risk of going broke.
Here’s C/D on it: Its flat-six engine sings a siren’s song while quickly launching the 911 to illegal speeds. For sun seekers, both convertible and Targa body styles are offered in addition to the coupe, and all-wheel drive is available for those wishing to drive their Porsche year-round in wintry climes. When it comes to sports cars, the industry has been targeting the Porsche 911 for good reason: it’s one of the best.”
7 WORTH IT: DODGE CHALLENGER
The car looks pretty good, and while the side profile kind of reminds you of the Camaro, with its similar shape, the front face is sterner and tube-like rather than curvaceous and jolly like the Camaro. Of course, the retro-style is something—a good thing that is—which means it’s liked by the public. Unlike the Camaro, this car has capacious rear seats and even cargo space. However, it’s a little less agile than some rivals, which is expected from the heavy body. Much like some of the other sports cars here, this one has an ample amount of power, and some variants actually have an insane, not-sure-what-to-do amount of power.
The power range is reflected in the prices, so you can buy this car for as little as $27K or as much as $84K. Whatever floats your boat.
Here’s cars.usnews.com answering why should you buy the Challenger: “If raw, unadulterated power is your primary concern, the Challenger is a great option. However, it doesn't have the pure corner-carving athleticism of some other vehicles in the sports car class. Some rivals are also better in ways not related to performance, so you'd be wise to shop around the Challenger's competition before making a decision.”
6 WORTH IT: MERCEDES-AMG GTS
This is a seriously underrated car, and this lineup has been around for the past few years. The exterior looks stunning. Just superb. The long, elongated hood has curves that with the help of sharp design of the headlamp make the grille look even more beautiful. And as pretty as the front end is, the low front-end is also aggressive. The side panel is pretty neat too, but it’s the rear design that was done artisanally. It’s just one shiny, sloping roofline that leaves one mesmerized by its beauty. The interior is exceptionally well-done. The center console in particular is shiny and highly intuitive; the design definitely carries the MB name. And no, just because it’s an MB car, it doesn’t mean it’s all just luxury, athleticism is oozing from all fronts, including the driving experience itself.
Here’s Motor Trend: “All 2018 AMG GT models come equipped with a 4.0-liter twin-turbo V-8 in different power outputs depending on the model. The base GT coupe and GT Roadster produce 469 hp and 465 lb-ft of torque and the GT S coupe delivers 515 hp and 494 lb-ft of torque, the GT C Roadster and coupe both churn out 550 hp and 502 lb-ft of torque, and lastly, the GT R coupe produces an impressive 577 hp and 516 lb-ft of torque.”
5 WORTH IT: CHEVY CAMARO ZL1
This car is a bargain. It can match the speed (plus or minus a few mph) of the Lamborghini Huracan. The 0-60 time is the same as that of a Porsche Carrera GT. The horses are equivalent to that of a Ferrari Enzo. That’s right baby. With a top speed of near-200 mph, 0-60 time of 3.5 seconds and power output of 650 horses, it can do all those things. And guess what? It costs nowhere close to what they cost, costing only $62K. Isn’t that pretty neat? That just goes to show how far we have come in terms of technology. You don’t have to pay the ridiculous $200K or more to get the performance. It’s available to commoners (relatively speaking).
Of course, much like all the other cars, this one has its own peculiar troubles, namely the huge blind spots, but other than that, it’s a bargain.
Here’s C/D bragging about the car: “All these settings allow owners to fine-tune their cars to their home tracks. At Area 27, a 3.0-mile circuit in British Columbia designed by Jacques Villeneuve, we ran 40-plus laps in the 1LE. ... Even so, few cars feel as stable while braking in corners as the 1LE. Throw a downshift in there, and the car never gets unsettled.”
4 WORTH IT: ASTON MARTIN DB11
This car is just a piece of art. While it may be tempting to say that all cars that are this exorbitantly priced are bound to be something, that’s not always the case, as you’ll see on the other side of this list. But this beast right here is just a pure beauty with strong underpinnings. Just one glance at the exterior, and you can tell it was done properly. There’s no angle that exists through which you can find a fault in the styling. It has been done exceptionally well. And if you check out the interior, it’s also posh, through and through. Moving on to the handling and driving, the car does well, as boasted by Motor Trend. The engine bay can be equipped either with a V8 or V12, with the latter producing a few more horses.
“The DB11’s various driving modes (GT, Sport, and Sport+; selected via a toggle on the right steering-wheel spoke) vary the intensity of the noise as well as the aggressiveness of the throttle and transmission programming. GT mode is best for leaving the house without angering the neighbors, and Sport+ is ideal for when you’re turning hot laps at the track. But Sport is the perfect mix of everyday civility and entertainment that the AMR should default to upon startup,” C/D.
3 WORTH IT: 2017 DODGE VIPER
The styling of this car is insane. If you just look at the car from a distance, you’ll instantly be able to recognize the dramatic styling as Viper. And of course, when you get closer to the car, you’ll see a hood that’s just not listening to anything or anyone, doing its own activities and looking however it chooses. It doesn’t care whether there are several vents or one, it doesn’t care about whether the front grille makes it loud, and it doesn’t care whether stripes make it even more blatant, for all it cares about is giving a neck-straining acceleration, confident handling, and exceptional performance. And it succeeds at that.
Alas, we won’t be seeing any more of these being produced.
Here’s Motor Trend discussing the car: “We have a history with the Viper. Back in 2013 we outran that year’s Viper with a ZR1 and set the lap record at Mazda Laguna Seca Raceway in Northern California—which in turn lead to the creation of the 2017 Dodge Viper 1:28. Fast forward to 2016 when we pitted a Corvette Z06 against a Viper ACR and a Porsche 911 GT3 RS, and things got, well…heated. Needless to say, the 2017 Dodge Viper is still a Viper.”
2 WORTH IT: AUDI R8
Here’s another beast dressed up stunningly. The car shares its bones with the Lamborghini Huracan, and as good as the Huracan may be, the Audi R8 has its own personality. The grille of this thing is mesmerizing, which makes the car look fabulous from the front. And then there are the classic side-blades, which likely increases the car’s popularity. While the car shares the bones with the Huracan, you can’t enjoy the Huracan as an everyday supercar. The ground clearance is low, and you’d have to stop for gas very frequently. The R8, on the other hand, doesn’t have those problems. Plus, the interior of these things is filled with technology that’s as modern as you can get, which means the virtual dashboard is just mind-blowing.
Here’s Top Gear reviewing the car: “The Quattro chassis feels sharper compared to the old Audi R8. The center diff is electronically controlled, ensuring it’s a rear-drive car for agility unless it needs a dose of front-drive for security. An optional active steering system varies the ratio according to zillions of parameters. Configure all these systems into their sportiest modes and the R8 gets super-reactive. It’s not a car you slide extravagantly, but you feel the small tire-slip angles in vivid detail. Who says Audis are dull to drive?”
1 WORTH IT: HONDA CIVIC COUPE
These cars are on fire. While you always hear that sales of sedans are dropping, and pickup trucks are selling like candies, the Civic is different. Its sales have been climbing since the tenth gen in 2015. One source (thedrive.com) says it’s the best-selling car. One of the best things about this car is the availability as a sedan, coupe or hot hatch. On top, you have the performance versions, Si and Type R.
The coupe is a pretty neat thing. It has a roomy cabin that allows you to not get the cramped vibe that you get from the American sports-car manufacturers, yet it doesn’t disappoint on the driving end either. It has a driving that is appreciated by a lot and a handling that is nimble. And the exterior is pretty sleek nowadays.
Jalopnik states: “It’s inexpensive but remarkably well equipped, sporty without sacrificing daily utility, frugal without being cheap, and eye-catching without being too showy. Here, I’ll go into some specifics before I elaborate: The car is $26,960, with a 1.5-liter, 174 HP turbo 16-valve four. The EPA guesses it’ll do about 35 MPG combined. The front wheels are driven by a CVT, there are discs all around, and there are enough toys and electronic crap to make you make that huh, not bad nod/face combo.”
Sources: caranddriver.com, edmunds.com