Here Are the Best Cheap Sports Cars Under $30k

Mazda MX-5

Emirhan Karamuk/istockphoto

Cheapism is editorially independent. We may earn a commission if you buy through links on our site.
Mazda MX-5
Emirhan Karamuk/istockphoto

Fast and Frugal

It's rare to find a car that's fast, affordable, and well-reviewed, but we've compiled a list of rare machines that tick all three boxes. Whether you want a sleek example of Japanese engineering or a high-powered pony car, here are the best cheap sports cars under $30,000.

Note: Prices may vary by location and are subject to change.

Related: Affordable Used Cars Most Buyers Overlook

Subaru BRZ Driving
Brandon Woyshnis/istockphoto

2023 Subaru BRZ Premium

Starting MSRP: $28,595

Horsepower: 228

Acceleration: 0-60 mph in 6.3 seconds

Fuel Efficiency: 30 mpg highway, 21 mpg city

Automatic or manual

If you like to drive — and you should if you're buying a sports car — then you'll relish a ride in Subaru's BRZ. Car and Driver called the 2023 model an "absolute hoot to drive," a sentiment that you'll find echoed on enthusiast forums. While the two-plus-two seating configuration seems like a tight fit in this compact, light car, reviewers also say that the interior is surprisingly spacious, with plenty of storage compartments. If there's a downside, it's that the cockpit isn't entirely insulated from road noise.

Related: 52 of the Smallest Cars Ever Made

Mazda MX-5

2022 Mazda MX-5 Miata Sport

Starting MSRP: $27,650

Horsepower: 181

Acceleration: 0-60 mph in 5.7 seconds

Fuel Efficiency: 34 mpg highway, 26 mpg city

Manual only

Race through winding canyons with the wind in your hair in this masterfully designed soft-top convertible, which boasts some of the best handling in its class. Sharp corners, twists, and turns are this machine's forte, in part thanks to Mazda's new Kinematic Posture Control technology, which applies break force to aid cornering and reduce body roll. Although cargo space is sparse compared to the BRZ and others in its class, the Miata is less about practicality and more about enjoying its "eager and playful" handling. Just be prepared to drive stick (the top trim offers an automatic transmission).

Related: Vintage Convertibles That Will Blow Your Hair Back

2020 Ford Mustang GT

2022 Ford Mustang Ecoboost

Starting MSRP: $27,470

Horsepower: 310

Acceleration: 0-60 mph in 5.1 seconds

Fuel Efficiency: 32 mpg highway, 22 mpg  city

Manual or automatic

Even Ford Mustang's base trim, which comes with a smaller four cylinder engine, will give you a taste of the car's pure, unbridled power. That said, this car is a bit of a one trick pony, especially if you stick with the base trims that have "laughably small infotainment displays" and cheap components, according to Motor Trend. But if power and striking looks are enough, then you can't go wrong with the Ford Mustang.

For more informative auto stories like this, please sign up for our free newsletters.

2022 Toyota GR86 with GR Parts (Indonesia) front view
2022 Toyota GR86 with GR Parts (Indonesia) front view by Andra Febrian (CC BY-SA)

2023 Toyota GR86 Base

Starting MSRP: $27,900

Horsepower: 228

Acceleration: 0-60 mph in 6.1 seconds

Fuel Efficiency: 27 mpg highway, 20 mpg city

Manual or automatic

As the Subaru BRZ's "mechanical twin" — they share the same engines, transmissions, interiors, and more — picking between the two Japanese sports cars really comes down to the badge. Like the BRZ, the GR86 is a joy to drive, with excellent handling that also translates well to daily city driving. Again, the main issue is the road noise that can overpower the car's underwhelming sound system.

2023 Honda Civic Si

2023 Honda Civic Si

Starting MSRP: $28,100

Horsepower: 200

Acceleration: 0-60 mph in 6.8 seconds

Fuel Efficiency: 37 mpg highway, 27 mpg city

Manual only

The Honda Civic Si packs a sporty 200-horsepower engine and manual transmission in the body of one of the world's most practical economy cars. It's a perfect marriage of practicality, efficiency, and fun, given the car's spacious interior, respectable fuel efficiency, and more powerful engine. Its main downfall is that its engine is "50 horses short of greatness," according to Car and Driver. But for folks looking for a compromise between boring daily driver and performance car, the Civic Si is a logical choice.