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The Best Cheap Sports Cars You Can Buy in 2022

The Best Cheap Sports Cars You Can Buy in 2022

Volkswagen

When you hear “sports car,” your brain may jump to bedroom poster cars like Porsches, Ferraris, and Lamborghinis — cars that aren’t available when new and don’t get much more affordable with age. But there is no need to spend your kid’s tuition to have a fun and engaging driving experience.

There are several affordable sports cars out there – albeit not as affordable as they once were. And some of them are brand new for 2022. If you can commit to paying somewhere in the neighborhood of $30,000, much less than the price of an average new car at the moment — you can still score a quality driver’s car with a manual transmission, impressive handling and optimal ability to have fun on the open road. We know that because we’ve ridden almost all of them – for science.

These are the best cheap sports cars you can buy in 2022.

The best cheap sports cars

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2022 Chevrolet Camaro 1LT

The Camaro is Chevy’s iconic pony car. It will be out the door in 2024 as GM transitions to an EV manufacturer† But while it remains, it may still be the best value sports car on the market.

Advantages: The Camaro sounds like a sports car should sound. It contains powerful V6 and V8 engines. You can buy them for less than $30,000 and $40,000 respectively. Adding the 1LE pack will give you an underrated track artist. And you can fit a manual transmission with all three engine options.

cons: The Mustang looks better and the Camaro’s design gives it poor visibility. Those factors are enough to be deal breakers for many buyers.

Drivetrain: 3.6-litre V6; six-speed manual transmission (10-speed automatic); RWD
horsepower:
335
Couple:
284 lb-ft
0-60mph:
5.2 seconds
Fuel economy:
18 mpg city, 29 mpg highway
Starting price:
$28,490

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2022 Ford Mustang EcoBoost

The Ford Mustang is an icon. The Mustang EcoBoost is the base model, with a perky 2.3-liter four-cylinder engine and a price tag of less than $30,000 – about $10,000 cheaper than the V8 GT model.

Advantages: The Mustang EcoBoost is lighter and more agile than the GT, with better weight distribution. The four-pot engine still pulls with a ton of torque. You can take it to the next level with high quality and handling packages. And you can get it with a six-speed manual transmission.

cons: Rollin’ in a 5.0 is a bit more fun. The EcoBoost is not the 5.0-liter V8. It doesn’t sound like the 5.0-liter V8. And you remember that every time you sit in the car.

Drivetrain: 2.3-liter turbocharged I-4; six-speed manual transmission (10-speed automatic); RWD
horsepower:
310
Couple:
350 lb-ft
0-60mph:
5.0 sec
Fuel economy:
21 mpg city, 32 mpg highway
Starting price:
$27,205

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The Veloster N is Hyundai’s three-door compact performance hatchback coupe. It is the only version of the second generation Veloster still sold in America.

Advantages: The Veloster N is super fast and manoeuvrable. It sounds maniacal – in the best way. The “wet” dual-clutch automatic transmission may even be better than the manual one. It also has a customizable “N” performance mode.

cons: The Veloster N looks seriously weird, with an impractical three-door body style (there’s a reason it’s the only Veloster left). The ride quality is so stiff that it’s downright uncomfortable at times.

Drivetrain: 2.0-liter turbocharged I-4; six-speed manual transmission (8-speed dual clutch automatic transmission); FWD
horsepower:
275
Couple:
260 lb-ft
0-60mph:
4.8 seconds
Fuel economy:
22 mpg city, 28 mpg highway
Starting price:
$32,500

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The Honda Civic Si is a sportier version of Honda’s all-new Civic, which made the GP100. The compact liftback fits between the base Civic and the upcoming 11th-generation Type R.

Advantages: The Civic Si nothing but comes with a smooth short-range manual transmission. It is precise and very suitable for high revs and sporty driving. Honda added fixed mufflers and rev matching from the Civic Type R and tuned it for more low-rpm torque. It’s more practical than you might think.

cons: The Civic Si has only one level, 11. A tight chassis makes everyday driving on uneven roads uncomfortable if you don’t want to be sporty. There are better sports cars to drive in the winter.

Drivetrain: Turbocharged 1.5-liter I-4; 6-speed manual transmission; FWD
horsepower:
200
Couple:
192 lb-ft
0-60mph:
6.8 seconds
Fuel economy:
27 mpg city, 37 mpg highway
Starting price:
$27,500

READ THE FULL REVIEW

The MX-5 Miata is Mazda’s classic two-door, lightweight rear-wheel drive roadster. It is the purest version of Mazda’s Jinba Ittai philosophy of horse-rider unity. We also accept classic British roadster, but better and more reliable.

Advantages: Mazda has kept its puristic vision for this car. It has kept the manual. It remains lightweight. It offers some of the most refined driving dynamics available, not just for its price. You are allowed to drive on the limit on public roads. It looks like a cool sports car.

cons: The MX-5 is small and so impractical that it can hardly serve as an everyday one-car car. It has less horsepower and torque than many similarly sized crossovers.

Drivetrain: 2.0 liter I-4; 6-speed manual transmission (6-speed automatic); RWD
horsepower:
181
Couple:
151 lb-ft
0-60mph:
5.7 seconds
Fuel economy:
26 mpg city, 35 mpg highway
Starting price:
$27,650

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The BRZ is Subaru’s compact sports coupe. It’s a twin brother of the Toyota GR86 — they share one Wikipedia page, and you can refer to both as the Toyobaru. It’s all new for 2022.

Advantages: Subaru has upgraded the engine with the new generation for an engine with more power and better torque in the mid-range. It handles superbly. It’s fun to drive on normal roads. And the BRZ still offers a manual transmission.

cons: Toyota and Subaru don’t add turbo. The BRZ is more practical for track days – four spare tires fit in the boot – than for kids with the small rear seat.

Drivetrain: 2.4 liter boxer four; 6-speed manual transmission (6-speed automatic); RWD
horsepower: 228
Couple:
184 lb-ft
0-60mph:
6.1 seconds
Fuel economy:
21 mpg city, 30 mpg highway
Starting price:
$27,995

READ THE FULL REVIEW

The WRX is Subaru’s all-wheel drive sports sedan. The WRX descends from the brand’s rally champion Imprezas in the 1990s, although it is now a separate model. It’s all new for 2022.

Advantages: Subaru’s excellent AWD system gives the WRX tremendous grip and capability in all weather conditions. The steering is well weighted. The manual gearbox is smooth. The interior is ergonomically suitable for sporty driving. It is clearly no-nonsense by modern standards.

cons: The ride can be bumpy. You don’t get the best options with a manual gearbox. It didn’t get a massive power upgrade from the previous generation (and there’s no STI coming to rectify that). The fuel consumption is disappointing. It doesn’t look as good as the previous generation. And with the WRX’s reputation, it will be hard to convince others that you’re up to no good.

Drivetrain: Turbocharged 2.4-liter flat-four; 6-speed manual transmission (CVT); AWD
horsepower:
271
Couple:
258 lb-ft
0-60mph:
5.2 seconds
Fuel economy:
19 mpg city, 26 mpg highway
Starting price:
$29,105

READ THE FULL REVIEW

The Volkswagen GTI is the legendary, original hot hatchback. VW debuted the new Mk8 model for 2022. It is now VW’s entry-level hatchback as the base MK8 Golf will not be sold in America.

Advantages: The Mk7 GTI was one of the best driving cars on the road. VW somehow made the Mk8 even better. It gets a power bump over the previous generation. It transfers well to a normal, practical daily driver on real roads. A manual gearbox is still offered.

cons: VW cut corners on the interior. The seats and steering wheel feel high quality. Everything else on the inside – from the haptic buttons to the cheap materials to the laggy and sub-optimal infotainment system – disappoints.

Drivetrain: 2.0-liter turbocharged I-4; six-speed manual transmission (7-speed automatic); FWD
horsepower:
241
Couple:
273 lb-ft
0-60mph:
5.1 seconds
Fuel economy:
25 mpg city, 34 mpg highway
Starting price:
$29,880

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Acura has revived the iconic Integra nameplate as an entry-level sports car for the 2023 model year. The original was a coupe. This model will be a four-door liftback that replaces the ILX sedan. We haven’t been able to drive it yet.

Strengths: The Integra comes in at an affordable price for a luxury brand and still offers a six-speed manual transmission with a limited-slip differential.

Weak points: Acura hasn’t done much to differentiate it from the Honda Civic Si it’s based on — aside from the price.

Drivetrain: 1.5 liter I-4; 6-speed manual transmission (CVT); FWD
horsepower:
200
Couple:
192 lb-ft
0-60mph:
Not yet known
Fuel economy:
Not yet known
Starting price:
$30,800

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The Toyota GR86 is Toyota’s entry-level sports car. GR stands for Gazoo Racing. It’s a twin brother of the Subaru BRZ and brand new for 2022. We haven’t had a chance to drive it yet. But Car and driver called it, along with the BRZ, as a 10Best choice for this year.

Strengths: Toyota added more power with the new engine and solved the problem with the mid-range torque curve of the previous model.

cons: Toyota does not add a turbo for more power. The rear seat is not convenient for children.

Drivetrain: 2.4 liter boxer four; 6-speed manual transmission (6-speed automatic); RWD
horsepower:
228
Couple:
184 lb-ft
0-60mph:
6.1 seconds
Fuel economy:
21 mpg city, 31 mpg highway
Starting price:
$27,700

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The best cars you can buy in 2022

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