The votes are in, and it’s time to present our favorite cheap sports cars for 2019. All of them have MSRPs that are well under the average transaction price of a new vehicle today, which is about $37,000. In fact, we’ve got a number of fun-to-drive choices that you can get for a whopping $10K below that mark. Another similarity is the obvious one: These cars all deliver pulse-pounding performance despite their affordability. As for other benefits, you can also enjoy upscale technologies, a smattering of comfort cues, and fuel-economy ratings north of 30 mpg. Finally, although the list does have sporty variants of mainstream cars, there are true athletes here, too. This means vehicles engineered as dedicated sports cars with serious motorsports credentials.
Cheap Sports Cars for 2019
2019 Subaru WRX
To get us off to a fast start, our list of cheap sports cars for 2019 begins with the Subaru WRX. Now, the range-topping WRX STI sets the bar at $36,595, but you can maximize value with the 2019 Subaru WRX itself. For an MSRP of $27,195, the WRX can serve up 268 horsepower and 258 pound-feet of torque from its 2.0-liter turbocharged engine. That output is then routed to a standard all-wheel-drive setup that’s enhanced by a sport-tuned suspension, active torque vectoring and a specific performance mode for the vehicle-dynamics control system. The hot-handling WRX also boasts cool new connectivity features as standard equipment: Its entry-level infotainment system has been updated with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay.
2019 Chevrolet Camaro
Cheap sports cars for 2019 include one that puts a new spin on a classic recipe for performance. We’re talking about the 2019 Chevrolet Camaro, since it combines the traditional rear-wheel-drive powertrain of a muscle car with a modern-day turbo engine that makes 275 horsepower and 295 pound-feet of torque. The Camaro complements that unit with a standard limited-slip rear differential, a performance-tuned suspension, and a dual-outlet exhaust system. On the tech front, the Camaro’s sticker price of $25,000 covers Android Auto and Apple CarPlay. It’s also worth noting that Chevy has refreshed the car’s appearance for 2019, introducing standard LED signature lights and unique front-end designs for many trims. The Camaro Convertible opens up the world of drop-top driving with an MSRP of $32,495.
2019 Ford Mustang
The Camaro’s cross-town rivals are also in our gallery of cheap sports cars for 2019. First up is the 2019 Ford Mustang, which is more expensive than the Camaro in coupe format and less expensive in its convertible configuration. The Mustang hardtop begins at $26,395 while the open-air model has an MSRP of $31,410. Regardless, Ford’s muscle-car entry is also more powerful than the Chevy. The least expensive Mustang can muster 310 horsepower and 350 pound-feet of torque from its 2.3-liter turbocharged engine. Ford also furnishes standard performance enhancers like launch control and line lock. Designed to heat up the Mustang’s rear tires for dragstrip runs, line lock engages the front brakes and lets the rear wheels spin free for burnouts.
2019 Dodge Challenger
The third member of the muscle-car class—the Dodge Challenger—is next on our list of cheap sports cars for 2019. It starts at $27,295 with a standard 3.6-liter V6 that pumps out 305 horsepower and 268 pound-feet of torque. This outlay is also enough for cool LED “halos” around the Challenger’s headlights, plus the popular combination of Android Auto and Apple CarPlay in the cabin. Some folks will consider the R/T ScatPack model a relative bargain as well. Yes, it stickers at $39,995, but you won’t find too many other cars that give you 485 horsepower and 475 pound-feet of torque for less than $40,000. The standard 2019 Porsche 718 Cayman carries 300 horses, 280 pound-feet of torque, and a price tag of $56,900.
2019 Hyundai Veloster N
A lot of automakers develop high-performance models with their own in-house tuning partners, and Hyundai recently got in on the action with its N-Brand. Indeed, we’re so impressed with the first example—the Hyundai Veloster N—we’ve picked it as one of our favorite cheap sports cars for 2019. You can actually choose between two configurations, both of which keep you below 30 G’s. The standard package starts at $26,900 and is anchored by a 2.0-liter turbocharged engine with 250 horsepower and 260 pound-feet of torque. Opting for the performance package will increase your cost by $2,100, but it also raises output to 275 horsepower and adds bigger brakes and a limited-slip differential. In either case, a multimode drive system with three dedicated high-performance settings is standard.
2019 Mazda MX-5 Miata
You can’t have an honor roll of cheap sports cars for 2019 without mentioning the Mazda MX-5 Miata—especially after its engine gained 26 horsepower for the new model year. The latest version of the iconic drop-top can squeeze 181 horsepower and 151 pound-feet of torque from its 2.0-liter engine. This may seems a little low for a sports car, but you have to remember the Miata’s own low curb weight. With a manual transmission, it tips the scales at only 2,339 pounds. The lightest Dodge Challenger is more than 1,500 pounds—or 65 percent—heavier. The Miata also makes the most of that output with the kind of rear-wheel-drive powertrain. Mazda’s open-air driving experience and an MSRP of $25,730 help close the deal.
2019 Ford Fiesta ST
We didn’t necessarily want two Fords in our gallery of cheap sports for 2019, but the FiST forced our hand. That’s the nickname for the Ford Fiesta ST that can punch out 197 horsepower and 202 pound-feet of torque from a 1.6-liter turbocharged engine. And don’t forget, the Fiesta ST is a subcompact hatchback, so all that power is pushing a pretty lightweight car. Ford also sits the Fiesta ST on a standard sport-tuned suspension for superior handling. Yet the car’s price tag is a mere $21,340, and that includes a premium Sony audio system, Apple CarPlay, and Android Auto. Kick in another $1,995 and you can upgrade to heated partial-leather sport seats from Recaro, along with heated exterior mirrors, for $23,335.
Photo Credit: Nissan
2019 Nissan Sentra NISMO
If you want to zig where everyone else zags, you can skip the hot hatches and check out the hot sedans. To be exact, we’ve got a pair of high-performance compact sedans that qualify as fun-to-drive cheap sports cars for 2019. No. 1 is the NISMO-fied Nissan Sentra. It starts life as a typical mainstream car but then gets a makeover from the brand’s motorsports division. The key new component? A turbocharged 1.6-liter engine that’s good for 188 horsepower and 177 pound-feet of torque. Also in the mix with the car’s MSRP of $25,940 are a special NISMO suspension, a NISMO-tuned steering system, NISMO front sport seats, and an aerodynamic NISMO bodykit that reduces unwanted lift by up to 30 percent.
Photo Credit: Honda
2019 Honda Civic Si
Honda has a hot-hatch of its own, but that car—the Civic Type R—is almost $36,000. So given our focus on affordability, we think the best cheap sports cars for 2019 should include the Honda Civic Si instead. Available in sedan and coupe body styles, the Civic Si is priced at $24,300 no matter how many doors you prefer. The Si sedan and coupe also share the same responsive powertrain. That setup is anchored by a 1.5-liter turbocharged engine with 205 horsepower and 192 pound-feet of torque. A standard six-speed manual transmission, limited-slip differential, and adjustable two-mode adaptive damper system help you convert that output into award-winning performance. Standard tech highlights range from the Honda Sensing bundle to both Android Auto and Apple CarPlay.
2019 Fiat 500 Abarth
If you’re looking for the least-expensive cheap sports cars for 2019, you should look at the FIAT 500 Abarth. The feisty Fiat is a small car with an MSRP to match. Yet its sticker price of $20,495 still covers special tuning and hardware from the automaker’s Abarth performance-engineering team. This includes a track-ready suspension that relies on high-performance KONI twin-tube struts. Additionally, an aggressive high-flow Abarth fresh-air intake is onboard to boost the output from the car’s 1.5-liter turbocharged engine. As a result, you can count on 160 horsepower and 170 pound-feet of torque with a standard five-speed manual transmission or 157 horses and 183 pound-feet of torque with the optional six-speed automatic—in a city-sized car over a foot shorter than a Honda Fit.