Everyone wants a sportscar right? They're low and sleek, have good strong powertrains and are built for enjoyment. But there are so many companies in this sector how do you know what to choose? Well here are my top picks.
5) Audi TT RS
The Audi's RRP is £50,965. The main reason for considering the TT RS is its powertrain. The 5 pot engine has a wonderful soundtrack that hearts back to the original Quattro but it also produces some pretty punchy numbers. This engine produces a smidgen under 400 hp (394 to be exact) and gets 343lb ft which makes it super easy to drive. The car has also has the famous Quattro system allowing power to drive all 4 wheels. This means you get confidence even in slippery conditions and it makes the 0-60 dash comfortably under 4 seconds.
However its not really a full on drivers car as its got the weight slightly over the front axle so turn in can be a little tricky which can lead to frustration. But ultimately for me is its an Audi at heart so other than body shape there isn't really anything setting it apart from any other fast Audi with this powertrain (RS3 for example.)
4) Porsche 718 Cayman S
The Cayman used to be the go to sports car. Mid-engined, flat 6 the option for a manual gearbox and a wonderful chassis balance no one could seem to match. But this new generation of Cayman dubbed the "718" lacks some of the previous generation's charm. This is down to the new engine. Gone is the flat 6 of old and in comes a new turbocharged flat 4 unit that really doesn't sound very special. In fact at idle it sounds like a Subaru Impreza not a 50k sports car. However this new engine does give more power than the old flat 6 and more torque so it makes it easier to explore the profound chassis balance of the car. Power output for the S model is 350hp and 331lb ft of torque.
The chassis in this car is sublime. It has good control of its masses and is very keen to change direction. When cornering hard you can feel the car starting to move around. It is a very predictable chassis however so you dont feel scared by its movements. It also comes with some okay tires from factory so grip is good all round. This car also can be spec'd with a 6 speed manual gearbox for the next level of driver engagement. The shift is positive and feels rewarding when you get it right. The lever could do with being a bit shorter though. Overall though the engine is the only thing letting down this new generation of Cayman.
3) BMW M2 Competition
The M2 Competition is the midlife 'facelift' for the baby M car. The competition features lots of updates. The main one is it now has the same twin turbo straight 6 that is found in the M3/4 but with a slight de-tune so it produces 404 hp rather than 425 hp. This car like the Porsche also has the option for a 6 speed manual gearbox which is wonderful news. The M2 Competition is harder, keener and sharper than before. It gets a wishbone-shaped engine bay brace, there's a retuned steering map and some rose joints in the rear suspension. Together with tweaks to spring and the damper settings and the stability control system, the whole caboodle is said to improve response and enable more progressive on-the-limit handling. The car also gets bigger brakes too, although they are not ceramic. BMW have updated the styling aswell. A reworked front bumper shows the new style of kidney grill the company is starting to use more and more. It also features new wheels and the bottom of the bumper as some extra detailing too. They are now finally offering proper M seats and mirrors too. Lots of changes then.
The engine is mega. It sounds far better than the engine found in the Porsche and the chassis is setup like a M car where it feels very natural going sideways, but it still doesn't quite have the finesse of the Cayman. But it has its own way of driving which is still very engaging especially with 'that' manual gearbox and for £43,770 it sounds like a real bargain.
2) Alpine A110
Alpine is a French sports car manufacturer that hasn’t actually manufactured a sports car – or any car, for that matter – in around two decades. Now they return with there new A110 with its sights set on a sporting giant: the Porsche 718 Cayman. (non s model) The engine in the Alpine is a unique 1.8l Turbo 4 cylinder which as plenty of character. The engine doesn't produce that much power (248 hp) but because the car is lightweight it still has plenty of pace. 0-60 is done in just over 4 seconds. This car is DSG only which I think is a mistake. I think if it came with a manual it could perhaps be the sweetest car for around 50k. Like the Cayman this car is mid-engined but because its quite a bit lighter it feels much more positive in its movements. It's also quite softly sprung especially at the rear giving it a distinct feeling. You can see the weight transfer in this car especially when it pitches under heavy breaking.
Exterior styling takes a subtle nod to the original A110 with the dual front head lights. I think its a very smart looking car, a car really embodies that modern 'retro' look. For a 51k though is it a bit took much seeing as the M2 competition is nearly 10k cheaper?
1) Lotus Elise Cup 250
The Elise is the baby lotus and a car for the serious driver: uncompromising and raw. What is the Elise cup 250 about? Well, it's a two-seater sportscar with a stiff, lightweight aluminium tub and powered by a high-revving supercharged 1.8-litre four-cylinder engine producing 243 hp. It weighs just 931 kg and focuses purely on feedback, balance and excitement. There’s not even any power steering. Other cool features include lightweight forged wheels and wonderful carbon bucket seats and as you can see, there are many aero bits. All look very dramatic and make the car feel that much more special. They even give you the option to have the aero kit in carbon just adding to that baby supercar feel.
The standout feature of the Elise compared to all these other cars is the steering. Its just filled with detail. You really notice it after driving a car with assisted steering like a Golf R. The engine in the Elise doesn't thrill the way the Audi's or BMW's does. It sounds a little like a vacuum but it makes up for it with good throttle response. The Cup 250 is a car that is really putting emphasis on grip; it even comes with pretty hardcore semi-slick compound tires. The Elise flows across the ground and rarely gets upset by road imperfections but because of the absurd levels of mechanical grip you cant really start finding the limits on the road. Out of all the cars mentioned in this list I think this is the most special. The baby race car vibe is just too cool and as a drivers car the levels of engagement and feedback are unparalleled. It's the second cheapest car here. Bargain? I think so
If you had around 50k for a sports car where would your money go? let me know in the comments.