You may imagine anything from a lightweight track car or a modern hot hatchback to a mid-engined two-seater or a front-engined grand touring coupé when thinking about a current sports car.
There are front, mid, and rear-engined vehicles, as well as rear-wheel-drive and four-wheel-drive configurations, and open and closed cockpits.
After all, there are many ways to achieve the level of extravagant performance, vivid handling poise, immersive driver involvement, and character that a great sports vehicle should have.
Since its debut in 2019, the ‘992’ variant range of Porsche’s latest-generation 911 has grown significantly. The car is now offered in coupe, cloth-top Cabriolet, and ‘folding fixed head’ Targa body styles; with either rear- or four-wheel drive; and with either an eight-speed twin-clutch ‘PDK’ automatic or a seven-speed manual transmission.
Higher up the range, the extra-quick Turbo and Turbo S versions of the automobile are available.
Porsche 718 Cayman/Boxster GTS 4.0
The 718, Porsche’s smaller, mid-engined two-seater sports vehicle, ranks among the bigger boys in this table, which may surprise you. However, when Zuffenhausen decided to respond to the critics and bring back an atmospheric flat six in 2019, it constructed series-production 718 derivatives with costs well beyond £60,000 before adding even a single option.
As a result, while Porsche’s more cheap four-cylinder, sub-£50k 718 derivatives continue to appeal to consumers on a budget (and are placed in our Affordable Sports Car ranking), the higher-end 718s have firmly established themselves among the sportier fish of the class.
The success of Jaguar’s much-anticipated successor to the Lyons-designed E-Type will reveal a lot about the modern sports car market. When it first came out in 2013, we hoped that buyers would see it as a more attractive and reliable modern TVR, preferring the most powerful eight-cylinder engines and seeing it as a cheaper and more powerful front-engined competitor to the 911.
Buyers did just that for a while. However, as the car grew older and the purist sports car market shifted (both upwards to mid-engined super sports cars like the Audi R8, and downwards to less expensive mid-engined machines like the Porsche Cayman and the Alpine A110), the F-Type had to adapt.
The six-cylinder variants increased in popularity until Jaguar introduced a four-cylinder engine, which sparked a new surge of interest in the car.
The Mercedes-AMG GT is an even more perplexing addition to the sports car world than the Mercedes-Benz SLS was, with a space frame body structure, a front-mounted engine from a muscle saloon, suspension tuned for maximum attack on the track, and yet the practicality and luxury allure of an elegant coupé or roadster.
It deserves to be considered among higher-end specimens of the Porsche 911 Carrera S and Jaguar F-Type, with lower-end variants available for less than £110,000.
Chevrolet Corvette C8
Much has been said about General Motors’ choice to convert from a front-mounted to a mid-mounted engine in this, the eighth-generation of its renowned Corvette sports car. It was done for objective reasons: it improves the weight distribution of the car and its overall handling potential.
There was also a more sophisticated argument: that in this segment of the sports car market, a mid-engined layout has become standard, and the original Corvette’s front-engined arrangement made it a relic to the latest generation of sports car purchasers.
Whatever it took to persuade GM to make the transition, it was well worth the effort. The C8 Corvette has all of the metal-for-the-money and bang-for-your-buck value appeal of any of its predecessors (the car is available in North America for less than the Porsche 718 Boxster), and while its cabin has plenty of ergonomic quirks, it’s the driving experience that will keep you coming back.
Although early imported models of the car are presently selling for six figures, Chevrolet anticipates genuine UK right-hand drive cars starting at about £90,000 in 2021.
Godzilla will feel as if he’s in great shape until the end of his days, no matter how old he is. If you want pure real-world, any-condition speed from your sports car, nothing does it better under £100,000 than Nissan’s self-proclaimed “world’s fastest brick,” the fantastic, indefatigable GT-R.
However, Nissan understands that speed isn’t all you desire in a modern sports vehicle. Over the years and updates, it has attempted to make the GT-R a more developed, sumptuous, and mature axe-wielding mentalist of a device — and it has made a difference, albeit a minor one.
The Evora, Lotus’ mid-engined, 2+2 Porsche-chaser, has been on the market for a decade; 2021 will be the car’s final year of manufacture.
The car had a lot of good attributes when it was first introduced, but it also had a lot of problems. It still features a chassis and steering system that are both deserving of top honors.
Few sports cars offer such immersive, positive steering or a ride and handling compromise that is so well adapted to life on British roads, and this is especially true now that Hethel has produced the GT 410 Sport, a less expensive, softer-suspension version of the GT 410.
Audi TT RS
Except for its size, Audi’s warbling five-pot TT RS is anything but little or modest. This top-of-the-line small coupe comes with a powerful 395bhp five-cylinder engine and a price tag of £60,000 or more in upper-level trims.
It can reach 60 mph in less than 4.0 seconds thanks to ‘quattro’ four-wheel drive, and if you pay extra, it can reach 174 mph. That’s right, this Audi TT can reach speeds of 170 mph. What a fantastically insane concept.
The car’s ‘chi-chi’ design appeal is unlikely to appeal to the same number of people as Mazda MX5s and Toyota GT86s, and it isn’t the most multi-faceted or entertaining driver’s car in its class.
The TT RS’s controls feel slightly remote and over-filtered due to the four-wheel-drive arrangement, which results in a minor lack of throttle-on cornering balance at the limit of grip.
As a seasoned driver, you’re tempted to argue in favor of the LC. It boasts a brilliantly charismatic and attractive V8 engine, and its balanced, nimble, engaging handling makes it feel more like a natural challenger for the Jaguar F-Type or Porsche 911 than the combination of two- and four-door sporty grand tourers that Lexus considers its actual competitors at times. As a result, it’s included here.
On the road, the LC appears huge, heavy, leaden-footed, and a little unwieldy at times, so you can’t help but feel ambivalent about it. On a smooth surface, its V8 engine is incredibly special, and its sheer agility and balance are incredible.
Morgan Plus Six
At Morgan Motor Company, the last few years have been revolutionary. After being family-owned and run until its 110th anniversary, the company is now majority-owned by private investors, and the Plus Six is the company’s first new car in nearly two decades.
The Plus Six is powered by the same BMW turbocharged straight six petrol engine used in the Toyota GR Supra and is built on an all-new box-section aluminium monocoque chassis with twice the stiffness of the original Aero-series Plus Eight.
And, given that the 335bhp it produces propels a car that weighs nearly half a tonne less than a Jaguar F-Type, you can expect it to be quick.