The best cheap sports cars to buy in 2022

Volkswagen

When you hear “sports cars,” your brain might jump to flagships like Porsches, Ferraris and Lamborghinis – cars that aren’t available new and don’t get much more affordable with age. But there is no need to pay your child’s tuition money to have a fun and engaging driving experience.

There are several affordable sports cars out there – albeit not quite as affordable as they used to be. And some of them are completely new for 2022. If you can commit to paying anywhere near $30,000 — much less than the price of the average new car right now — you can still score a quality driver’s car with a manual transmission. Impressive handling and optimal performance for fun on public roads. We know because we’ve spent a lot of time driving almost all of them – for science.

Here are the best cheap sports cars to 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’s on the way out the door by 2024, when GM transitions into an EV maker. But while it remains, it can still be the best sports car value on the market.

Advantages: The Camaro sounds like a sports car should. It includes powerful V6 and V8 engines. You can buy them for under $30,000 and $40,000 respectively. Add the 1LE package and you have an underrated track performer. And you can install a manual gearbox on all three engines.

Disadvantages: The Mustang looks better, and the Camaro’s styling gives it poor visibility. These factors are enough to be deal breakers for many buyers.

Drivetrain: 3.6 liter V6; 6-speed manual (10-speed automatic); RWD
PS:
335
Torque:
284 lb ft
0-60MPH:
5.2 sec
Fuel Consumption:
18 mpg city, 29 mpg highway
Starting price:
$28,490

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2022 Ford Mustang EcoBoost

The Ford Mustang is iconic. The Mustang EcoBoost is the base model, with a perky 2.3-liter four-cylinder engine and priced under $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 through with a ton of torque. You can upgrade it with performance and handling packages. And you can get it with a six-speed manual.

Disadvantages: Rollin’ in a 5.0 is a little bit more fun. The EcoBoost isn’t the 5.0-liter V8. It doesn’t sound like the 5.0-liter V8. And you’ll remember it every time you sit in the car.

Drivetrain: 2.3-liter turbocharged I-4; 6-speed manual (10-speed automatic); RWD
PS:
310
Torque:
350 lb ft
0-60MPH:
5.0 sec
Fuel Consumption:
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 crazy – in the best sense. The “wet” dual-clutch automatic transmission can be even better than the manual. It also has a customizable “N” power mode.

Disadvantages: The Veloster N looks really odd, with an impractical three-door body style (there’s a reason it’s the only Veloster left). The ride quality is stiff to the point where it’s downright uncomfortable at times.

Drivetrain: 2.0-liter turbocharged I-4; 6-speed manual (8-speed dual-clutch auto); FWD
PS:
275
Torque:
260 lb ft
0-60MPH:
4.8 sec
Fuel Consumption:
22 mpg city, 28 mpg highway
Starting price:
$32,500

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The Honda Civic Si is a sportier version of the all-new Honda Civic from which the GP100 derives. The compact liftback will be placed between the base Civic and the upcoming 11th generation Type R.

Advantages: The Bourgeois Si only comes with a smooth short-throw manual transmission. It is precise and well suited to high-revving and sporty driving styles. Honda added fixed-rate rev-match dampers from the Civic Type R and tuned it for more low-end torque. It’s more practical than you think.

Disadvantages: The Civic Si only has one level, 11. Firm suspension makes everyday driving on rough roads uncomfortable unless you want to be sporty. There are better sports cars for winter driving.

Drivetrain: 1.5-liter turbocharged I-4; 6-speed manual transmission; FWD
PS:
200
Torque:
192 lb ft
0-60MPH:
6.8 sec
Fuel Consumption:
27 mpg city, 37 mpg highway
Starting price:
$27,500

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

Advantages: Mazda kept its purist vision in this car. It kept the manual. It stays easy. It offers some of the most refined driving dynamics out there, not just for its price. You can drive at the limit on public roads. It looks like a cool sports car.

Disadvantages: The MX-5 is tiny and so impractical that it basically can’t serve as a one-car day driver. It has less horsepower and torque than many similarly sized crossovers.

Drivetrain: 2.0-liter I-4; 6-speed manual (6-speed automatic); RWD
PS:
181
Torque:
151 lb ft
0-60MPH:
5.7 sec
Fuel Consumption:
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 of the Toyota GR86 – they share one Wikipedia side, and you can call them both Toyobaru. It’s all new for 2022.

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

Disadvantages: Toyota and Subaru do without a turbocharger. The BRZ is more practical for days at the track – it fits four spare tires in the cargo area – than for kids with the tiny rear seat.

Drivetrain: 2.4-liter boxer-four; 6-speed manual (6-speed automatic); RWD
PS: 228
Torque:
184 lb ft
0-60MPH:
6.1 sec
Fuel Consumption:
21 mpg city, 30 mpg highway
Starting price:
$27,995

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

Advantages: Subaru’s superb AWD system gives the WRX tremendous grip and all-weather capability. The steering is well weighted. The manual transmission is smooth. The interior is ergonomically designed for sporty driving. It’s clearly unfussy by modern standards.

Disadvantages: The ride can be bumpy. You can’t get the best options with a manual transmission. It didn’t get a massive performance upgrade from the previous generation (and no STI is coming to rectify that). Fuel economy is disappointing. It doesn’t look as good as the last generation. And with the WRX’s reputation, it will be difficult to convince others that you are up to no good.

Drivetrain: 2.4-liter turbocharged flat-four; 6-speed manual transmission (CVT); all wheel drive
PS:
271
Torque:
258 lb ft
0-60MPH:
5.2 sec
Fuel Consumption:
19 mpg city, 26 mpg highway
Starting price:
$29,105

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The Volkswagen GTI is the legendary, original hot tail. VW has unveiled the new Mk8 model for 2022. It’s now VW’s entry-level hatchback, as the base Mk8 Golf isn’t sold in America.

Advantages: The Mk7 GTI was one of the most manageable cars on the road. VW somehow made the grip of the Mk8 even better. It gets a performance boost over the previous generation. It transforms well into a regular, practical, everyday driver on real roads. A manual transmission is still offered.

Disadvantages: VW has cut back on the interior. The seats and steering wheel feel premium. Everything else inside – from the haptic buttons to the cheap materials to the sluggish and subpar infotainment system – disappoints.

Drivetrain: 2.0-liter turbocharged I-4; 6-speed manual (7-speed automatic); FWD
PS:
241
Torque:
273 lb ft
0-60MPH:
5.1 sec
Fuel Consumption:
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 replacing the ILX sedan. We haven’t had a chance to drive it yet.

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

Weaknesses: Acura hasn’t done much to differentiate it from the Honda Civic Si on which it’s based – aside from the price.

Drivetrain: 1.5 liter I-4; 6-speed manual transmission (CVT); FWD
PS:
200
Torque:
192 lb ft
0-60MPH:
TBA
Fuel Consumption:
TBA
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 of the Subaru BRZ and all new for 2022. We haven’t had a chance to drive it yet. but car and driver named it along with the BRZ as the 10Best Pick for that year.

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

Disadvantages: Toyota won’t add a turbocharger for more power. The back seat is not suitable for children.

Drivetrain: 2.4-liter boxer-four; 6-speed manual (6-speed automatic); RWD
PS:
228
Torque:
184 lb ft
0-60MPH:
6.1 sec
Fuel Consumption:
21 mpg city, 31 mpg highway
Starting price:
$27,700

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The best cars to buy in 2022

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