Best Sports Cars: The 2021 Reviews You’ve Been Searching For

Best Sports Cars: The 2021 Reviews You’ve Been Searching For

Everyone has their dream car. For most, that’s a sports car. 

Let’s face it, who doesn’t want to rip through the streets in a Porsche 911, its powerful engine announcing your presence as you go? Who hasn’t fantasized about taking a long oceanfront drive in a Jaguar F-Type with the soft-top down, and the salty wind tousling your hair.  

Everyone wants to own a sports car. Most would settle for a test drive. 

But you shouldn’t. You may be surprised to learn that sports cars are more attainable than you think, particularly when looking at the used market. But before you start hunting for your next weekend ride, there are a few things you should know: 

  • If you’re looking for a car with a low cost of ownership, a sports car isn’t for you. They often require premium fuel, which costs more per-gallon than standard unleaded. 
  • Maintenance costs are higher, too. Sports cars use specialist parts, which are produced in smaller numbers, and are frequently constructed out of high-end materials. 
  • You won’t be able to use ordinary tyres from AutoZone. Sports cars tend to have wider tyres to help with traction. Again, as these are less common, they cost more. 
  • Insurance will be costlier. This is due to a few reasons: they’re expensive to repair, expensive to buy, and their high-powered engines raise the risk of a potential collision, especially when an inexperienced driver is behind the wheel. 
  • They depreciate in value, fast. It’s not uncommon for a sports car to lose as much as 75 percent of its initial purchase value within the first five years. 
  • Many sports cars use a stick-shift transmission. If you’ve always driven an automatic, there’ll be a learning curve. 

These aren’t necessarily deal-breakers. If you want a sensible, practical runabout, get an SUV. If you want something that looks, feels, and drives amazing, and you’re prepared to swallow the steep day-to-day running costs, you’ll want a sports car. 

But what sports car is the right one for you? We’ve picked some of the best sports cars currently on the market, based on the qualified opinions of professional automotive journalists. Whether you’re more concerned about reliability or the overall driving experience, we’ve got you covered.

Best Sports Cars

Best Compact Sports Car

Best Compact Sports Car

The 2012 Mazda MX-5 Miata (from $17,000) is an unapologetically stylish vehicle. Evocative of some of the most iconic British touring sports cars, the car’s frame is distinguished by gentle curved elements and a low-riding suspension that draws you close to the action. 

But it’s not just a pretty face, and the 2012 Miata is living proof that good things come in small packages, with the two-seater offering unbeatable performance and handling. 
“True sports car handling, adequate power for its weight, and a classic roadster experience make the 2012 Mazda MX-5 unique,” argued The Car Connection editor Nelson Ireson. Although small, the Miata delivers a comfortable ride thanks to its efficient use of space, which Ireson said would comfortably fit even the largest of drivers.

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Best Compact Sports Car

The 2012 Mazda MX-5 Miata (from $17,000) is an unapologetically stylish vehicle. Evocative of some of the most iconic British touring sports cars, the car’s frame is distinguished by gentle curved elements and a low-riding suspension that draws you close to the action. 

But it’s not just a pretty face, and the 2012 Miata is living proof that good things come in small packages, with the two-seater offering unbeatable performance and handling. 
“True sports car handling, adequate power for its weight, and a classic roadster experience make the 2012 Mazda MX-5 unique,” argued The Car Connection editor Nelson Ireson. Although small, the Miata delivers a comfortable ride thanks to its efficient use of space, which Ireson said would comfortably fit even the largest of drivers.

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Best All-Around Sports Car

Best All-Around Sports Car

The 2008 Porsche Cayman S (from $30,000) is renowned for its distinctive — if not iconic — appearance and sporty performance. Capable of hitting 60MPH in around five seconds, and allowing for surgically-precise handling, this auto is well-suited for blazing down tight country lanes. 

But it’s the small details that matter, as CarThrottle’s James Mackintosh noted, and the Cayman S is surprisingly practical by the standards of most sports cars. “The Cayman has two trunks. And they're both huge. You could easily fit two roll-on suitcases in the frunk ("front trunk"),” he enthused. 

And you won’t be uncomfortable, thanks to its “unusually warm and inviting” interior, which boasts an intuitive instrument panel, plenty of legroom, and adjustable steering wheel that both tilts and telescopes.

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Best All-Around Sports Car

The 2008 Porsche Cayman S (from $30,000) is renowned for its distinctive — if not iconic — appearance and sporty performance. Capable of hitting 60MPH in around five seconds, and allowing for surgically-precise handling, this auto is well-suited for blazing down tight country lanes. 

But it’s the small details that matter, as CarThrottle’s James Mackintosh noted, and the Cayman S is surprisingly practical by the standards of most sports cars. “The Cayman has two trunks. And they're both huge. You could easily fit two roll-on suitcases in the frunk ("front trunk"),” he enthused. 

And you won’t be uncomfortable, thanks to its “unusually warm and inviting” interior, which boasts an intuitive instrument panel, plenty of legroom, and adjustable steering wheel that both tilts and telescopes.

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Most Fun Sports Car to Drive

Most Fun Sports Car to Drive

What comes into your mind when you hear the word “Nissan?” Do you think about practical SUVs like the Rogue, or the eco-friendly Leaf? I’m willing to wager your mind doesn’t immediately conjure up images of a nimble sports car capable of blasting through racetracks, while looking effortlessly cool. 

And yet, it should. 

I’m talking about the Nissan GT-R. Among the most prestigious cars in the Japanese automaker’s lineup, the GT-R has long blended performance with poise, and the 2012 Black Edition model (from $73,000) is no exception. When reviewed by Car Magazine’s Jethro Bovingdon, the hardy four-seater was described as “utterly brilliant,” with praise showered on the car’s lightning-quick acceleration and “stunning grip.”  

“The GT-R gives you all the tools to stay one step ahead of the crazy action. The engine has immense torque and a newfound keenness at the top end, the six-speed gearbox is absolutely seamless at speed (it’s still a bit clunky when shunting around at crawling pace) and the steering is precise and full of feel,” Bovingdon wrote.

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Most Fun Sports Car to Drive

What comes into your mind when you hear the word “Nissan?” Do you think about practical SUVs like the Rogue, or the eco-friendly Leaf? I’m willing to wager your mind doesn’t immediately conjure up images of a nimble sports car capable of blasting through racetracks, while looking effortlessly cool. 

And yet, it should. 

I’m talking about the Nissan GT-R. Among the most prestigious cars in the Japanese automaker’s lineup, the GT-R has long blended performance with poise, and the 2012 Black Edition model (from $73,000) is no exception. When reviewed by Car Magazine’s Jethro Bovingdon, the hardy four-seater was described as “utterly brilliant,” with praise showered on the car’s lightning-quick acceleration and “stunning grip.”  

“The GT-R gives you all the tools to stay one step ahead of the crazy action. The engine has immense torque and a newfound keenness at the top end, the six-speed gearbox is absolutely seamless at speed (it’s still a bit clunky when shunting around at crawling pace) and the steering is precise and full of feel,” Bovingdon wrote.

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Most Reliable Sports Car

Most Reliable Sports Car

The 2018 Tesla Model S 100D (from $65,000) blurs the line between SUV and sports car. Still, its performance credentials are good enough to justify its inclusion in this list. Capable of hitting 60MPH in just 3.9 seconds, the Model S is an undeniably nimble beast, and proves that electric cars can be just as sporting as their gas-guzzling equivalents. 

Reviewed by Car and Driver’s Joey Caparella, the Tesla won points for its powerful and responsive electric motors, which gave “a hearty, instantaneous response” when accelerating. Handing is similarly excellent, with the Model S providing “unerring stability and agile responses.” 

But what makes it reliable? You can chalk that down to the inherent advantages of electric cars. With fewer mechanical components to maintain (and ultimately replace), there’s less that could conceivably go wrong. There are no spark plugs or drive belts to worry about. No engine to maintain. 

Still, like any sports car, there are some drawbacks. Although you won’t spend as much on fuel, owners are still faced with comparatively high insurance rates, thanks to the high cost and breakneck performance of the Model S.

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Most Reliable Sports Car

The 2018 Tesla Model S 100D (from $65,000) blurs the line between SUV and sports car. Still, its performance credentials are good enough to justify its inclusion in this list. Capable of hitting 60MPH in just 3.9 seconds, the Model S is an undeniably nimble beast, and proves that electric cars can be just as sporting as their gas-guzzling equivalents. 

Reviewed by Car and Driver’s Joey Caparella, the Tesla won points for its powerful and responsive electric motors, which gave “a hearty, instantaneous response” when accelerating. Handing is similarly excellent, with the Model S providing “unerring stability and agile responses.” 

But what makes it reliable? You can chalk that down to the inherent advantages of electric cars. With fewer mechanical components to maintain (and ultimately replace), there’s less that could conceivably go wrong. There are no spark plugs or drive belts to worry about. No engine to maintain. 

Still, like any sports car, there are some drawbacks. Although you won’t spend as much on fuel, owners are still faced with comparatively high insurance rates, thanks to the high cost and breakneck performance of the Model S.

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Best New Sports Car

Hey big spender. Looking to buy new? If money’s no object, you could do worse than the 2021 Mercedes-AMG GT. Starting at $117,000, the latest track-ready sports car from the German automaker boasts a vibrant twin-turbo 4.0L V8 engine and a seven-speed automatic transmission capable of hitting 60MPH on the odometer in just 3.7 seconds, and a maximum speed of 194 MPH on the base model. 

Reviewing the Mercedes-AMG GT for Car and Driver, automotive journalist Eric Stafford praised the car’s athletic driving prowess, “absolutely stunning bodywork,” and refined interior features, which afford drivers an incredible level of control.  “The cabin is the opposite of roomy, but the driving position is perfect, with the capacitive-touch controls for the car's many performance settings placed comfortably within reach on the center console,” he wrote

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Conclusion

Whatever you pick, start your journey at Shift. With a massive inventory of quality used sports cars, you can find and buy your next ride in a matter of minutes. And since you’re no fan of waiting around, you’ll be pleased to know that we’ll handle all the paperwork for you, from transferring the title to registering the car with your local DMV. 

Other perks include a seven-day money back guarantee and a free 150-point inspection before delivery, as well as a complimentary 30-day warranty on our certified vehicles. To find out more, click here.

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Author
Shift Editorial Team