Exotics might get all of the attention, but affordable sports cars typically triumph when it comes to sales. The availability of inexpensive performance cars that deliver thrills and fun at a price that won't require a second mortgage on your house has only increased in recent years, with a host of automakers getting in on the action. It used to be that you had to turn to the used market for your affordable sports car fix, but nowadays it's as easy as walking down to your local new car dealership and taking a test drive. Let's take a look at 10 affordable sports cars currently in showrooms.
1) 2015 Subaru BRZ
The 2015 Subaru BRZ is the kind of affordable sports car that we hadn't seen for quite some time: a lightweight, four-seat coupe that offers spirited but not overwhelming power from a small-displacement four-cylinder engine. Balance is the name of the game for the Subaru BRZ, which features a rear-wheel drive layout, the availability of either a six-speed manual or six-speed automatic transmission, and a track-ready suspension system. 200 horsepower and 151 lb-ft of torque keep things interesting under the hood, where a 2.0-liter boxer engine sits low in the chassis to keep the car's center of gravity as close to the Earth as possible. A bare-bones example of this Subie starts at $25,695.
2) 2015 Ford Mustang
The 2015 Ford Mustang is all new, and it marks the model’s 50th anniversary. The Mustang has long been a leader in the affordable sports car sweepstakes, but the development of the entry-level V-6 edition of the coupe has created a second tier to its performance personality, providing 300 horses and 280 lb-ft of torque from its 3.7 liters. When ordered with the Performance package, it also features a stiffer suspension system, upgraded brakes, a more aggressive rear axle ratio, and sticky rubber stretched over 19-inch rims. A six-speed manual transmission gets the most out of the 3.7-liter mill, but a six-speed automatic can also be ordered with the car. The 2015 Mustang has an entry-level MSRP of $23,800.
3) 2015 Mazda MX-5 Miata
The 2015 Mazda MX-5 Miata is the most affordable roadster money can buy, allowing you to feel the wind whipping through your hair while you sample the compact car's exceptionally-tuned chassis. Like the BRZ - only lighter - the Mazda MX-5 Miata isn't about muscle, it's about handling, and it's hard to argue with this design philosophy when hustling the roadster through a set of sharp corners. 167 horsepower and 140 lb-ft of torque are offered with the base model Miata, which also features a five-speed automatic transmission as standard equipment. The 2015 Miata comes with a lot of thrills for its starting price of $23,970.
4) 2015 Hyundai Genesis Coupe
If you're looking for an affordable, turbocharged rear-wheel drive sports car, then the 2015 Hyundai Genesis Coupe is the only game in town. As of the 2015 model year, Hyundai’s kicked the lowest-tier four-cylinder drivetrain to the curb, making a 3.8-liter V-6 the most basic offering. It’s good for 348 horsepower and 295 lb-ft of torque, paired to a standard six-speed manual transmission or an optional eight-speed automatic. While the Genesis Coupe's suspension is a hoot right out of the box, the availability of the 2.0T R-Spec trim and its Brembo brakes, firmer shock and spring settings, and limited-slip rear differential makes for a tempting choice at ordering time. The base model Genesis Coupe can be had from $26,750.
5) 2015 Ford Focus ST
The 2015 Ford Focus ST is a hot hatch that crosses the line from practical daily driver to affordable sports car. Fueling the Ford Focus ST's fire is a turbocharged 2.0-liter engine that derives 252 horsepower and 270 lb-ft of torque from its four-cylinder arrangement. There's only one transmission available with the Focus ST - a six-speed manual - and the car also comes with a torque vectoring system up front to help improve cornering, as well as an active anti-torque steer system that helps the hatch track straight and true with the throttle pinned to the floor. This feisty Ford is available starting from $24,370.
6) 2015 Chevrolet Camaro
The 2015 Chevrolet Camaro follows in the Mustang's footsteps by making its six-cylinder model more than just a muscle car consolation prize. The 3.6-liter V-6 that comes standard with the Chevrolet Camaro can be relied on to produce 323 horsepower and 278 lb-ft of torque, numbers that really come alive when fed to the rear wheels through the coupe's standard six-speed manual transmission (a six-speed automatic is also available). The Camaro doesn't get access to the additional performance gear that can be ordered with the eight-cylinder SS model, but it's still quick and fun on a road course thanks in part to its independent rear suspension system. For 2015, the Camaro starts at $23,705.
7) 2015 Scion FR-S
The 2015 Scion FR-S is for all intents and purposes the mechanical - and in most ways, stylistic - twin of the Subaru BRZ. Developed as part of a partnership between Toyota and Subaru, the Scion FR-S and Subaru BRZ share the same 200-horsepower, 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine (that also generates 151 lb-ft of torque) and the same six-speed transmission options (manual and automatic). There's a subtle difference in suspension tuning when comparing the two vehicles, with the Scion model coming across as a bit more focused, although Scion adjusted the suspension on the 2015 model to make it more closely emulate the Subaru. The single-trim FR-S also happens to be marginally cheaper than its BRZ counterpart, starting at $24,900.
8) 2015 Fiat 500 Abarth
The 2015 FIAT 500 Abarth isn't exactly a sports car, but its affordable enough, and fun enough, to merit inclusion on our list. The Fiat 500 Abarth stuffs a powerful engine into a tiny platform, which is a time-honored strategy for producing inexpensive performance cars that dates back to at least the 1960s. The Abarth designation indicates that there's a 1.6-liter, turbocharged four-cylinder engine sitting under the hatchback's hood, where it produces 160 horsepower and 170 lb-ft of torque. A six-speed manual transmission manages this output and is paired with a stiff suspension system in order to give the 500 Abarth a fun character absent from the base Fiat 500. This sporty little hatch starts at $22,395.
9) 2015 Ford Fiesta ST
The 2015 Ford Fiesta ST can be thought of as a less-rambunctious counter-punch aimed at the Fiat 500 Abarth. The Ford Fiesta ST is a more refined subcompact hatchback that still packs decent power thanks to the presence of a turbocharged four-cylinder engine. Also displacing 1.6 liters, the four-banger grinds out 197 horsepower and 214 lb-ft of torque, which helps the car hit 60 mph in just a tick over seven seconds. A six-speed manual comes free of charge with the Fiesta ST, and there's no slushbox option, but the car does feature more rapid steering than the entry-level Fiesta, as well as a sporty body kit and a more engaging suspension system. The 2015 Ford Fiesta St starts at $21,400.
10) 2015 Subaru WRX
The 2015 Subaru WRX is an all-new version of the automaker's popular four-seasons sports car, and it has only gotten better. The Subaru WRX now features a stiffer chassis that is willing to turn in quickly, thanks in part to a torque vectoring system up front that makes use of the brakes to pivot the car. In the drivetrain department, the WRX boasts a fresh 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine that has been tuned to offer 268 horsepower and 258 lb-ft of torque through its standard all-wheel drive system. A six-speed manual transmission also makes it first appearance with the 2015 edition of this compact Subaru sedan, with the option of a continuously-variable automatic transmission that features launch control. The MSRP for the 21015 WRX is $26,295.