Best sports cars for 2021
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, it needs more than just looks or outright speed.
Comfort, safety, ease of use 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.
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.
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.
Best new sports cars
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.
What to avoid when buying a sports car
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.
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.
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 - and your neighbours - are 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.
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.
Best budget sports cars
Not all sports cars are expensive and there's a model to suit most budgets.
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.
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.
We test cars more thoroughly than anyone else
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.