The Best Cheap Sports Cars You Can Buy in 2022

Volkswagen

When you hear “sports car,” your brain may jump to bedroom poster cars like Porsches, Ferraris and Lamborghinis — cars that are unobtainable when new and don’t get much more affordable as they age. But there’s no need to fork over your child’s college 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 once were. And several of them are all-new for 2022. If you can commit to paying somewhere in the neighborhood of $30,000 — much less than the price of an average new car right now — you can still score a quality driver’s car with a manual transmission, impressive handling and optimal power output for having fun on public roads. We know because we’ve spent ample time driving nearly all of them — for science.

Here are the best cheap sports cars you can 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 its way out the door by 2024 as GM transitions to an EV manufacturer. But while it remains, it still may be the best sports car value on the market.

Pros: The Camaro sounds like a sports car should. It packs potent V6 and V8 engines. You can buy them for under $30,000 and $40,000 respectively. Adding the 1LE package will get you an underrated track performer. And you can fit a manual transmission with all three engine options.

Cons: The Mustang is better looking, and the Camaro’s design gives it poor visibility. Those factors are enough to be dealbreakers for many buyers.

Powertrain: 3.6-liter V6; 6-speed manual (10-speed auto); RWD
Horsepower:
335
Torque:
284 lb-ft
0-60 MPH:
5.2 sec
Fuel Economy:
18 mpg city, 29 mpg highway
Starting Price:
$28,490

READ THE FULL REVIEW

2022 Ford Mustang EcoBoost

The Ford Mustang is an icon. The Mustang EcoBoost is the base model, packing a perky 2.3-liter four-cylinder engine and a price point under $30,000 — about $10,000 cheaper than the V8 GT model.

Pros: The Mustang EcoBoost is lighter and more agile than the GT, with better weight distribution. The four-pot engine still pulls with a ton of torque. You can level it up with high-performance and handling packages. And you can get it with a six-speed manual transmission.

Cons: Rollin’ in a 5.0 is a 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 that every time you’re in the car.

Powertrain: Turbocharged 2.3-liter I-4; 6-speed manual (10-speed auto); RWD
Horsepower:
310
Torque:
350 lb-ft
0-60 MPH:
5.0 sec
Fuel Economy:
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’s the only version of the second-generation Veloster still sold in America.

Pros: The Veloster N is super quick and nimble. It sounds maniacal — in the best way. The “wet” dual-clutch automatic transmission may be even better than the manual. It also has a customizable “N” performance mode.

Cons: The Veloster N is seriously weird-looking, 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 of being downright uncomfortable at times.

Powertrain: Turbocharged 2.0-liter I-4; 6-speed manual (8-speed dual-clutch auto); FWD
Horsepower:
275
Torque:
260 lb-ft
0-60 MPH:
4.8 sec
Fuel Economy:
22 mpg city, 28 mpg highway
Starting Price:
$32,500

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The Honda Civic Si is a sportier version of Honda’s all-new Civic, which made the GP100. The compact liftback will slot between the base Civic and the upcoming 11th generation Type R.

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

Cons: The Civic Si only has one level, 11. A tight suspension makes daily driving on rough roads uncomfortable when you don’t want to be sporty. There are better sports car for driving in the winter.

Powertrain: Turbocharged 1.5-liter I-4; 6-speed manual; FWD
Horsepower:
200
Torque:
192 lb-ft
0-60 MPH:
6.8 sec
Fuel Economy:
27 mpg city, 37 mpg highway
Starting Price:
$27,500

READ THE FULL REVIEW

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

Pros: Mazda has kept its purist vision for this car. It has kept the manual. It remains lightweight. It offers some of the most refined driving dynamics available, not just for its price point. You can drive on the limit on public roads. It looks the part of a cool sports car.

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

Powertrain: 2.0-liter I-4; 6-speed manual (6-speed auto); RWD
Horsepower:
181
Torque:
151 lb-ft
0-60 MPH:
5.7 sec
Fuel Economy:
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 a Wikipedia page, and you can refer to both as the Toyobaru. It’s all-new for 2022.

Pros: 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 transmission.

Cons: Toyota and Subaru won’t add a turbocharger. The BRZ is more practical for track days — it holds four spare tires in the cargo area — than for kids with the tiny rear seat.

Powertrain: 2.4-liter boxer-four; 6-speed manual (6-speed auto); RWD
Horsepower: 228
Torque:
184 lb-ft
0-60 MPH:
6.1 sec
Fuel Economy:
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 rally-champion Imprezas in the 1990s, though it is now a distinct model. It is all-new for 2022.

Pros: Subaru’s excellent 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 suited for sporty driving. It’s markedly unfussy by modern standards.

Cons: The ride can be bumpy. You can’t get the best options with a manual transmission. It didn’t get a massive power upgrade from the previous generation (and no STI is coming to rectify that). The fuel economy is disappointing. It’s not as good-looking as the last generation. And with the WRX’s reputation, it will be tough to convince others you aren’t up to no good.

Powertrain: Turbocharged 2.4-liter flat-four; 6-speed manual (CVT); AWD
Horsepower:
271
Torque:
258 lb-ft
0-60 MPH:
5.2 sec
Fuel Economy:
19 mpg city, 26 mpg highway
Starting Price:
$29,105

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The Volkswagen GTI is the legendary, original hot hatchback. VW debuted the new Mk8 model for 2022. It’s now VW’s entry-level hatchback as the base MK8 Golf will not be sold in America.

Pros: The Mk7 GTI was one of the best handling cars on the road. VW somehow made the Mk8 handle even better. It gets a power bump over the previous generation. It transitions well to being a regular, practical daily driver on real roads. A manual transmission is still offered.

Cons: VW cut corners on the interior. The seats and steering wheel feel high quality. Everything else on the inside — from the haptic buttons to the cheap materials to the laggy and sub-optimal infotainment system — disappoints.

Powertrain: Turbocharged 2.0-liter I-4; 6-speed manual (7-speed auto); FWD
Horsepower:
241
Torque:
273 lb-ft
0-60 MPH:
5.1 sec
Fuel Economy:
25 mpg city, 34 mpg highway
Starting Price:
$29,880

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Acura 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 that replaces the ILX sedan. We have not had a chance to drive it yet.

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

Weaknesses: Acura did not do much to distinguish it from the Honda Civic Si it is based on — besides the price point.

Powertrain: 1.5-liter I-4; 6-speed manual (CVT); FWD
Horsepower:
200
Torque:
192 lb-ft
0-60 MPH:
TBA
Fuel Economy:
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 have not had a chance to drive it yet. But Car and Driver named it, along with the BRZ, as a 10Best pick for this year.

Strengths: Toyota added more power with the new engine and resolved the issue with the mid-range torque curve from the previous model.

Cons: Toyota won’t add a turbocharger for more power. The back seat isn’t convenient for kids.

Powertrain: 2.4-liter boxer-four; 6-speed manual (6-speed auto); RWD
Horsepower:
228
Torque:
184 lb-ft
0-60 MPH:
6.1 sec
Fuel Economy:
21 mpg city, 31 mpg highway
Starting Price:
$27,700

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The Best Cars You Can Buy in 2022

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