Nothing screams expense and opulence like owning a luxury sports car. It's generally well out of reach for all but the One Percent, as top-of-the-line models cost hundreds of thousands of dollars. There are some real deals out there, however, with prices that veer into relatively cheap territory. To find these bargains, you have to know where to look and compromise on features. Settling for a gently used specimen and partaking in hands-on maintenance also keeps prices more manageable. Here are eight low-cost luxury models, in descending order by price:
Admittedly, the 2014 Jaguar F-Type may be too pricey to be considered a cheap luxury sports car, with its minimum MSRP of $69,000. But expert reviewers insist the performance justifies the price. The F-Type comes with a standard 340-horsepower engine and eight-speed automatic transmission. It can hit 60 mph from a standing position in 5.1 seconds and reach a top speed of 161 mph.
The 2014 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray has been rated the No. 1 luxury sports car by U.S. News & World Report, and without any bells and whistles (no irony intended), the MSRP sits at $53,000. The Stingray houses a 455-horsepower engine, a seven-speed manual transmission (six-speed automatic transmission is optional), and enough torque to ensure maximum engine power. The Stingray also looks the part, with the kind of aerodynamic curves expected of a car of this stature.
Few luxury sports cars have the name recognition of Porsche. The 2014 Porsche Boxster is a steal given its moniker and performance. The Boxster sports a 265-horsepower engine that works alongside a six-speed manual transmission or an optional seven-speed automated manual transmission (a hybrid manual and automatic). Reviewers say the Boxster offers powerful handling and excellent seats, although the cargo space leaves something to be desired. The MSRP on the entry-level Boxster is about $50,000. The Boxster S steps up to $62,000, but the car sprints from 0 to 60 in 4.5 seconds and claims a top speed of 172 miles per hour.
The BMW Z4 combines the power and engineering of a BMW with the brand's prestige. The Z4 is a smaller sports car but presents with plenty of pep. It features a 240-horsepower engine with a six-speed manual transmission or an eight-speed automatic. The turbocharged engine ensures that the Z4 delivers sports-car level power. Starting price is a tad less than $49,000.
Luxury sports car handling, speed, and comfort are the hallmarks of the Mercedes-Benz SLK-Class Roadster. This cheap luxury sports car is equipped with a 201-horsepower engine and a standard six-speed manual transmission (a seven-speed automatic transmission is optional). The SLK is not the fastest or most powerful sports car around, but the Mercedes-Benz brand plays in a league of its own. The base price on this vehicle is about $43,500.
The Chevrolet nameplate might lack the cachet of Ferrari, but the features and performance of the 2015 Camaro in relation to its overall cost are hard to top. The Camaro sports a six-speed manual transmission with overdrive alongside a 323-horsepower engine for maximum speed. The car also boasts the latest in traction control and electronic stability indexes that deliver a tear-up-the-road ride that's smooth and easy to control. The most basic version of the 2015 Camaro is priced at $23,555.
The 2013 Ford Mustang V6 is an extremely powerful sports car that delivers everything expected of a luxury car without shredding your wallet. This model features a six-speed manual transmission with top-of-the line suspension and heavy-duty brakes. All this is powered by a 305-horsepower engine, which guarantees a brawny and smooth ride. The going price on last year's Mustang V6 is about $22,000; a used premium convertible can be had for about $40,000.
The Ferrari 400i beckons anyone dreaming of a raging four-wheeled stallion. The 400i was released in the 1980s, and its value will likely appreciate as cars from that decade ascend into the "classic" category. The 400i contains some of the cheaper parts needed to maintain a Ferrari without any loss of the raw power that defines this brand. Although each sell-buy transaction differs, a 400i generally changes hands for about $20,000. Be forewarned, though -- maintenance on most Ferraris adds up quickly.