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Best cars

Best sports cars for 2019

By Daljinder Nagra

Article 12 of 16

The best sports cars are agile performance models that are a joy to drive and won't let you down. They might not be that practical, but they’ll put a smile on your face

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Sports cars focus less on practicality and instead concentrate on desirability and driving performance, with sleek styling, impressive acceleration and unrivalled cornering prowess.

The class includes everything from affordable sports cars, such as the Audi TT and Toyota GT86, to high-end models including the BMW M4 and Porsche 911. 

But to be classified by us as one of the best sports cars, a car needs more than just looks or outright speed. 

Comfort, safety, driving experience and emissions will all impact a car's Which? test score. We've found sports car that produce far too many emissions in our tough tests, as well as models that are too unsafe to ever recommend.

You'll find our top recommendations for the best new and used sports cars in the tables below, as revealed by our uniquely rigorous lab and road tests. Plus we reveal some models that aren't worth your money.

Alternatively, you can jump straight to our in-depth sports car buying tips:

The best sports cars 

Sports cars certainly have the looks, but the differences in quality can be gigantic when you actually go out and drive them. Our expert tests ensure you buy a model you can count on and avoid making an expensive mistake.

Only Which? members can log in to see the sports cars we recommend in the tables below. If you're not already a member, join Which? to unlock our Best Buys and Don't Buys.

Best new sports cars

79%
£57,204
Reviewed

With more than 400bhp and massive pulling power, this model has much stronger acceleration than the version replaces, while boasting improved efficiency. It's very useable for day-to-day driving, too.

77%
£35,434
Reviewed

This new convertible is a fine balance of thrilling sports car and effortless daily driver. It’s as high-quality and loaded to the gunnels with tech as you’d expect of a premium sports car and has classy, cutting edge styling.

76%
£30,142
Reviewed

This upmarket sports car is fun, well-made and has some excellent tech touches. It’s no more difficult to live with or use than a small hatchback, either. The rear seats are for kids only, though.

75%
£30,611
Reviewed

This compact two-seater roadster has upmarket styling and the additional convenience of a folding metal roof. It’s well made, too, but it’s starting to show its age in places, most noticeably with its tiny infotainment display.

75%
£18,346
Reviewed

Proof that driving thrills needn't cost the earth. This two-seater serves up driver entertainment (if not outright performance) to rival cars three times its price. It's easy to drive and feels built to last.

The best used sports cars

Buying used can be the route to getting your dream car. There's plenty of excellent models to choose from – plus many duds to avoid. Make sure your sports car delivers what you're hoping for by selecting one of the models below.

Best used sports cars

73%
£2,984
Reviewed

Sometimes you don’t need complicated sports cars with huge power to have a good time. This model is a case in point. It’s as simple as sports cars get, with a small engine and folding fabric roof. It’s also some of the best fun you can have on four wheels.

72%
£4,777
Reviewed

This convertible sports car offers a desirable combination of wind in the hair motoring, a high-quality interior and plenty of badge prestige. There's a wide range of engines and unlike many sporty two-seaters, it's perfectly suited to everyday driving.

72%
£35,086
Reviewed

This mid-engine sports car impressed not only with its deft handling and stunning performance. It also has a supremely high quality interior and is easy to drive every day – provided you can live with its poor rear visibility and limited practicality.

71%
£169,021
Reviewed

This is essentially a European muscle car. A thumping V8 engine provides strong performance and an excellent soundtrack, and it’s a joy to drive. It’s superbly well made, too, but then you’d expect that of a car with a six-figure price tag.

69%
£5,014
Reviewed

Surefooted handling, desirable styling and a high quality cabin ensure this model stands out from rivals. The rear seats are token efforts, though.

Not found the car for you? Browse all our sports car reviews

And the sports cars to avoid

We put more of an emphasis on driving appeal and performance when we test sports cars. But that doesn't mean a sports car can get away with having sky-high emissions and rubbish fuel economy.

Some sports cars we've tested emit more than enough CO2 to put them firmly in the highest tax bracket, which means a £2,000 bill in your first year, on top of the high price you paid for the car. 

Economy isn't anyone's first concern when buying a sports car, but that doesn't mean you shouldn't consider it. You could get an excellent, fast, beautiful sports cars that manages more than 40 miles to the gallon, while others barely make it over 20.

The worst sin of all is a sports cars that's not fun to drive. Even small problems, such as suspension that's slightly too stiff, or handling that's too vague, is enough to spoil the enjoyment. When you're spending upwards of £50,000, you expect the drive to be practically perfect.

We drive each car we test for 500 miles, analysing every facet of how it feels and handles. When we warn you off a car because of how dull it is to drive, we are talking from experience.

These are the sports cars that failed to impress on the road and in our lab.

Sports cars to avoid

45%
£9,140
Reviewed

This is a truly desirable roadster, being easy enough to use every day, but the handling and performance to thrill on demand. Unfortunately, it's fallen behind the times in terms of safety, and with a three-star Euro NCAP safety rating, we simply cannot recommend it.

45%
£42,165
Reviewed

This left-field model is powerful, fast and a joy to ride... but also uncomfortable, terrible for rear passengers and lacks safety equipment. Euro NCAP gave it three out of five stars for safety, making it an instant Don't Buy (it also drinks like a horse and produces unholy amounts of toxic emissions).

Convertible or coupé? 

Many sports cars are offered in two distinct body styles: 

  • closed-roof coupé  
  • open-roof convertible 

Which one you go for is obviously a matter of taste. But sun-seekers should beware that vehicle security isn't generally as good, and refinement (such as the level of cabin noise) and handling can be compromised somewhat in a car with a fabric roof.

If you want to drive with the roof down, one solution might be to choose a sports car with a retractable solid metal roof, such as the Mercedes-Benz SLC or older versions of the BMW Z4

However, boot space is normally drastically reduced when the roof is folded away, which can force a choice between carrying luggage or having the wind in your hair.

Will a sports car suit your lifestyle? 

This is a crucial question. If you ever need to use your car to carry more than the weekly shop, or for transporting more than two people, a sports car almost certainly won't fit the bill. 

Although four-seater coupés and convertibles do exist, they normally don't offer the same sort of rear legroom, headroom and boot space as a conventional hatchback or saloon.

Even if you're buying a second or perhaps third car for your household to supplement an everyday runaround, consider all the practical issues of owning a sports car before taking the plunge. 

Besides boot space, getting in and out, interior space, visibility, the driving position and seat comfort can all be very, very different to what you're used to.

The sheer power and performance of some sports cars may also require some acclimatisation, and many are a lot wider than a normal car. They're often noisy beasts too, so make sure you're going to be able to live with anything on the extreme side before you buy.

Best sports cars for performance 

Bottom line: sports cars are all about speed and the thrill of driving. For the ultimate adrenaline rush, you’ll need to look at models at the higher end of the price spectrum.

Besides the top-end exotics, such as the Audi R8, Mercedes-Benz SLS, Porsche 911 and Nissan GT-R, take a look at the Audi TT, BMW 2 Series Coupe and Porsche Boxster.

If you want to experience the ultimate in driver engagement and excitement, look for cars that have received five-star ratings in our sports car reviews for both performance and handling. 

Are sports cars fragile? 

The best sports cars feel like thoroughbred racehorses but, unfortunately, some seem to be just as highly strung and fragile.

Every year we ask tens of thousands of drivers – including sports car owners – to tell us about their vehicle. Thanks to our comprehensive annual reliability survey, we know which models are most likely to suffer faults and which will go the distance. 

To find out which sports cars you can trust, use our quick and easy reliable cars tool.

Best budget sports cars 

Not all sports cars are expensive and there's a model to suit most budgets. 

If you're looking to maximise your fun but minimise your outlay, the Mazda MX-5 starts from less than £20,000 new. The low-riding, driver-focused Toyota GT86 and Subaru BRZ both come in at under £30,000.

If buying used, you can get some great deals on hatchback-based performance models, such as the Mini Coupe and Mini Roadster.

Sharpen up your driving skills 

To make the most of your new sports car, it pays to brush up on your driving skills. 

Most high-end sports car manufacturers will offer extra-cost tuition to new buyers. This can help overcome any intimidation they may be feeling about driving a powerful car, and help them get the best out of their new motor. 

Manufacturers such as Porsche and Mercedes offer driving courses to the general public, so you can get a feel for a fast car in a safe environment, before deciding to buy.

Front or rear-wheel drive? 

Most purpose-built sports cars are rear-wheel drive, as it is normally the best configuration to maximise handling and agility.

However, driving a car that's rear-wheel drive requires more skill to drive enthusiastically than something with front-wheel drive. You're more likely to encounter oversteer, where the rear end of the car starts to swing around at the limit of grip, which requires experience to correct. 

Driving in slippery and snowy weather is also trickier. The sophisticated electronic stability control systems (ESC) and traction control of most modern sports cars means you needn't get over-concerned about this, unless you're expecting to deal with some very extreme conditions.

Front-wheel drive sports cars tend to be performance versions of normal hatchbacks, such as the VW Scirroco. There are also four-wheel drive options, including quattro versions of Audi's models and even of the Porsche 911.

We test cars more thoroughly than anyone else

Our tests go further than those carried out by other organisations, and because Which? is independent and doesn't accept advertising or freebies, you can trust our car reviews to give you the full, honest and impartial truth about every car we test.

Every car we review is subjected to more than 100 individual tests in a lab, on a test track, and on real roads – and we really clock up the miles, driving around 500 miles in every car we test.

Testing in controlled lab conditions means the results we collect are directly comparable between different cars, helping us determine exactly which models are better and why, and helping you find the perfect car for your needs

And so you know which cars are likely to prove reliable for years to come, we also gather feedback from thousands of UK car owners through the Which? Car Survey, using it to generate detailed reliability ratings for the cars we test.

To take the guesswork out of choosing your next car, join Which? and you'll receive access to all our expert reviews and advice.

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