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The Best Sports Cars You Can Buy

Hunter Kelley

For as long as we’ve had the automobile, we’ve had the impulse to not just go fast, but more specifically, faster than the next person. And from humble beginnings — often two drunk, soot-covered aristocrats trying not to blow themselves up with a steam boiler — we know have a proliferation of modern sports cars, ranging from the spartan Mazda MX-5 Miata, with less power than a Toyota RAV4, to meticulously constructed V12 monsters that cost more than your house.

Here at Gear Patrol, we love sports cars. (We suspect we share that sentiment with many of you reading this.) We’ve spent ample time driving nearly every one that we can get our butt into — for science. Here are our choices for the best sports cars you can buy in 2023 — at least, sports cars of the two-door variety.

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Best Overall Sports Car: Porsche 911

Best Affordable Sports Car: Porsche 718 Cayman/Boxster

  • Powertrains: Turbocharged 2.0-liter flat-four, Turbocharged 2.5-liter flat-four, 4.0-liter flat-six
  • Horsepower: 394 (GTS 4.0)
  • Torque: 317 lb-ft (GTS 4.0 w/PDK)
  • 0-60 mph: 4.3 seconds (GTS 4.0)
  • Starting Price: $68,300

What is it: The 718 is Porsche’s (relatively) affordable two-seater, mid-engine sports car. The Cayman is the coupe; the Boxster is the convertible. The current generation is purist combustion. The next-gen will be electric.

What we like: Porsche knows how to build a sports car. And the 718 may be the best-handling road car at any price point. The mid-engine offers phenomenal balance, and the steering is so crisp, precise and natural, the car begins to feel like an appendage. The manual transmission is smooth, and the PDK alternative crisp as a fresh apple. And unlike many competitors, it’s a perfectly comfortable daily driver.

What to watch out for: Not a lot, really. The cabin can get a little tight for taller drivers, and the infotainment system is a bit dated since it’s been a while since this model has been completely updated.

Read Our Review: 2017 Porsche 718 Boxster
Read Our Review: 2018 Porsche 718 Cayman GTS

Read Our Review: 2021 Porsche 718 Boxster GTS 4.0
Read Our Review: 2021 Porsche 718 Cayman GTS 4.0

Best Bargain Sports Car: Mazda MX-5 Miata

  • Powertrain: 2.0-liter inline-four
  • Horsepower: 181
  • Torque: 151 lb-ft
  • 0-60 mph: 5.7 seconds
  • Starting MSRP: $28,050

What is it: The MX-5 Miata is Mazda’s roadster. The fourth-generation ND model debuted for 2015.

What we like: The MX-5 Miata is one of the best pure driver’s cars you can buy, with the classic combo of rear-wheel-drive, a manual transmission (automatic available, if you must) and a naturally-aspirated motor. It’s also dirt cheap, has limits you can test on public roads and delivers in the looks department.

What to watch out for: The cabin and seats are tiny. So is the trunk. If you have any sort of practical needs, it’s hard to make one work as your primary vehicle.

Read Our Review: 2020 Mazda MX-5 Miata

Best 4-Person Sports Car: BMW M4

  • Powertrain: Twin-turbo 3.0-liter inline-six
  • Horsepower: 503 (M4 Competition)
  • Torque: 479 lb-ft (M4 Competition)
  • 0-60 mph: 3.4 seconds (M4 Competition)
  • Starting MSRP: $78,100

What is it: The BMW M3 used to offer coupe and convertible versions. In 2014, BMW split those two-door models into their own vehicle line with the M4.

What we like: The M4 is one of the final testaments to what sort of “ultimate driving machine” BMW can produce with a six-cylinder combustion motor and a six-speed manual transmission. The M4 is powerful. It’s precise. And most importantly, it’s fun.

What to watch out for: It’s heavy by sports car standards at more than 3,800 pounds. (On the flip side, it’s big enough for a fairly usable back seat.) And the prodigious kidney grille snout is tough to look at; fortunately, you can’t see it while driving the car.

Read Our Review: 2021 BMW M4

Best Mid-Engined Supercar: Ferrari 296 GTB / 296 GTS

  • Powertrain: Twin-turbo 3.0-liter V6 hybrid
  • Horsepower: 818
  • Torque: 546 lb-ft
  • 0-60 mph: 2.9 sec
  • Starting MSRP: $338,255

What is it: The Ferrari 296 is a two-seater that comes in hardtop coupe or convertible form. It’s the first true Ferrari to feature a V6, albeit a twin-turbo V6 massaged up to 654 horsepower paired with an electric motor that gives you a total of 819 horses on tap.

What we like:
The 296 has physics-defying power and control, with a tight, sweet steering rack that’s ideal for winding roads. The noise makes Ferrari’s dubbing of the V6 as “a piccolo V12″ feel not so ridiculous. And you can cut the noise entirely when puttering around town in EV mode.

What to watch for:
Very little, really. Legroom for taller occupants is limited. You may wish to roll up the windows to kill the road noise a bit above 80 mph. Also, uh, bring money.

Read Our Review: 2023 Ferrari 296 GTS

Best Muscle Car: Ford Mustang

  • Powertrains: Turbocharged 2.3-liter inline-four, 5.0-liter V8
  • Horsepower: 500 (Dark Horse)
  • Torque: 418 lb-ft (GT)
  • 0-60 mph: 3.7 seconds (Dark Horse, Auto)
  • Starting Price: $30,920

What is it: The Mustang is Ford’s iconic 2+2 pony car. It has been in production since 1964. The new seventh-generation model debuted for the 2024 model year.

What we like: The Mustang has gotten more expensive. But it’s still one of the best power/performance-for-money bargains on the planet. You get a majestic-sounding V8 with the GT model. You can wield that V8 with a manual transmission. And the Mustang is more athletic and tech-forward than it has ever been.

What to watch out for: The coupe is significantly stiffer and sportier than the convertible; get the former if you want to do more serious driving. Ford also cut the manual transmission as an option from the more affordable EcoBoost model.

Read Our Review: 2024 Ford Mustang

Best Budget Supercar: Chevrolet Corvette Stingray

  • Powertrain: 6.2-liter V8
  • Horsepower: 490
  • Torque: 465 lb-ft
  • 0-60 mph: 2.9 seconds
  • Starting MSRP: $68,300

What is it: The Corvette is Chevrolet’s two-seater sports car. The C8 model bucked tradition, switching from a front to a rear mid-engine layout and dropping the manual transmission for a dual-clutch.

What we like:
The Corvette is a different beast than it once was, but it has lost none of its charm. The dual-clutch transmission is crisp and instantaneous. The C8 has swapped oversteer for supercar dynamics on a budget. And the cabin has an impressively driver-focused (albeit to the point of being a little odd-looking) interior with uncharacteristically premium-feeling materials.

What to watch out for: Cargo space for the C8 version — split between a compromised rear bay and a frunk — is not quite as practical as the C7. The driving dynamics will entice you to level up to more power than the base Stingray provides.

Read Our Review: 2020 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray
Read Our Review: Driving the 2022 Corvette in Winter

Best Affordable Coupe: Toyota GR86 / Subaru BRZ

  • Powertrain: 2.4-liter inline-four
  • Horsepower: 228
  • Torque: 181 lb-ft
  • 0-60 mph: 6.1 seconds
  • Starting MSRP: $28,400

What is it: The Toyota GR86 and Subaru BRZ are twins. The “Toyobaru” is a two-plus-two sports car built on a Subaru platform and manufactured by Subaru.

What we like: The GR86/BRZ was overhauled for the 2022 model year with a more powerful (though still naturally aspirated motor) and more linear torque delivery. It steers directly, it’s well-balanced, it’s lightweight and it offers tremendous road feel.

What to watch out for: NVH improved dramatically from the first-gen model, but it can still get fatiguing on long drives with a stiff ride and a substantial level of road noise.

Read Our Review: 2022 Toyota GR 86
Read Our Review: 2022 Subaru BRZ

Best GT Sports Car: Ferrari 812 Superfast / GTS

  • Powertrain: 6.5-liter V12
  • Horsepower: 789
  • Torque: 530 lb-ft
  • 0-60 mph: 2.7 seconds
  • Starting MSRP: $429,815

What is it: The 812 GTS is a two-seater V12 roadster, the first produced by Ferrari in more than five decades. The 812 Superfast is its coupe counterpary.

What we like:
Its naturally aspirated V12 delivers 789 horsepower of organic-feeling power to a car that handles like an oversized Miata. And you can’t beat that open-air driving feel, even if it means a little eau de Jerz emanates into the cockpit when driving
through New Jersey.

What to watch out for:
It’s a Ferrari, so not a whole lot, other than the price tag. The 812 GTS in particular lacks leg room for taller drivers. And the fit and finish on the interior may not quite be up to Bentley quality.

Read Our Review: 2019 Ferrari 812 Superfast
Read Our Review: 2021 Ferrari 812 GTS

Best for the Tech Lover: McLaren Artura

  • Powertrain: Twin-turbo 3.0-liter V6 PHEV
  • Horsepower: 671
  • Torque: 531 lb-ft
  • 0-60 mph: 2.6 sec
  • Starting MSRP: $237,500

What is it: The Artera is McLaren’s plug-in hybrid two-door coupe. It’s the brand’s first vehicle on its new Carbon Lightweight Architecture, first V6 (a twin-turbo unit), first car with a limited-slip differential and first car with an eight-speed dual-clutch transmission.

What we like:
It weighs a little more than 100 pounds more than a Volkswagen Golf GTI and packs nearly three times as much power. It’s supremely quick with impressively high road-holding limits and it also gives you the old-school hydraulic steering feel you didn’t know you missed. And like most McLarens, it’s a surprisingly comfortable car to live with in normal life.

What to watch out for:
The infotainment setup isn’t the most user-friendly on the market, though it now includes Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.

Read Our Review: 2023 McLaren Artura

Best Ultimate Driving Machine: BMW M2

  • Powertrain: Twin-turbo 3.0-liter inline-six
  • Horsepower: 453
  • Torque: 406 lb-ft
  • 0-60 mph: 4.2 seconds
  • Starting MSRP: $63,200

What is it: The M2 is BMW’s two-plus-two sports coupe. And the new version is the last in the line of what we like to call “pure M cars,” with an internal combustion engine, rear-wheel-drive and an available manual transmission.

What we like: The M2’s twin-turbo inline-six is smooth as hell and delivers a ton of power. It’s a rocket in a straight line, playful in corners and perhaps the optimal tool for darting your way through rush hour traffic. You can get one with a manual, but hey, the eight-speed automatic’s not a bad option either.

What to watch out for: It’s beefy, checking in north of 3,800 pounds. Its looks are polarizing. (There’s a reason we have a photo of the back end here.) And the form-hugging carbon fiber bucket seats with the bump protruding in the crotch area are overkill for everyday driving.


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