Top 10 Most Fun Lightweight Cars to Drive

 

Lightness is one of the best qualities to have in a sports car.

In a world where cars are typically judged by their zero-to-60 times or horsepower figures, it’s easy to overlook the importance of an optimal power-to-weight ratio. AutoGuide.com is throwing out acceleration times and horsepower numbers for now to bring you a list of 10 lightweight vehicles from various segments that are under 3,000 pounds and are simply fun to drive.

So without wasting anymore time, these are our Top 10 Most Fun Lightweight Cars!


 

Caterham Seven 170 – 970 lb

Small and simple: that’s the ethos that has guided the Caterham Seven for decades. The latest variant of the Lotus-sourced design is tiny everywhere: just 57.9 inches (1,470 mm) across, with 155-section tires. Even the engine is small, a 660-cc turbocharged three-cylinder producing just 84 horsepower. It also only has 970 pounds (440 kilograms) to shift, which results in a power-to-weight ratio of 170 horsepower-per-ton, hence the name.


Ariel Atom 4 – 1,312 lb

Some would argue that the Ariel Atom 4 is the most fun car in the world to drive, and very few have been fortunate enough to get behind the wheel of one. Powered by a turbocharged four-cylinder engine sourced from Honda, the Atom 4 has 320 hp and 310 lb-ft of torque to propel a 1,312-lb body to 60 mph (96 km/h) from a standstill in just 2.8 seconds. But it’s the suspension that makes the Ariel Atom 4 such a blast to drive, with a set of fully adjustable Öhlins TTX dampers and Öhlins springs. It’s seriously like driving a go-kart on the streets, except it’s so much faster.


KTM X-Bow GT – 1,867 lb

Although there are more extreme versions of the KTM X-Bow, we chose the GT because it’s the most capable model for being driven on the streets. The KTM X-Bow GT has a frameless windshield, side mirrors, sun visors, a wind deflector mounted between the seats, an upgraded heater, a center console, a fabric soft top and even a luggage system. With an empty fuel tank, the X-Bow GT tips the scales at 1,867 lbs. Powering the X-Bow GT is a 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine from Audi with 285 hp and 309 lb-ft of torque, enabling the GT to go zero to 62 in 4.1 seconds. If you want something more extreme, the X-Bow RR weighs 1,785 lbs and has its power output bumped to 300 hp.


Lotus Elise – 1,931 lb


You’ve arrived at some more realistic and somewhat more practical cars, starting with the Lotus Elise. The Lotus Elise 1.6 tips the scales at 1,931 lb, thanks to a lightweight composite body and an aluminum chassis. It might not have ridiculous specifications, with a 1.6-liter engine providing 134 hp and 118 lb-ft of torque, but the Elise is arguably the most fun car you can feasibly drive on the streets everyday. Its zero-to-60 time isn’t going to make you go crazy at six seconds flat, but those who have driven an Elise knows what we’re talking about.

SEE ALSO: 2010 Lotus 2-Eleven Review


Mazda MX-5 Miata – 2,341 lb

When it debuted in 2016, the Mazda MX-5 Miata was 148 lb (67 kg) lighter than its predecessor, coming in at 2,332 lb (1,058 kg) when equipped with a manual transmission. Since then, it’s gained a couple pounds, but still tips the scales as one of the lightest new cars you can buy. Opting for the automatic—why, though?!—adds another 62 lb (28 kg). The MX-5 Miata has a rich history of being a fun-to-drive, lightweight roadster and Mazda is quite proud of the latest model’s perfect balance. Under the hood is a 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine with 181 hp and 151 lb-ft of torque. Those numbers are just slightly better than some economy cars these days, but we don’t think you’ll find a single person that says a Civic is more fun to drive than a Miata.

SEE ALSO: How Driving the Current and Original Miatas Has Me Excited for Its Electrified Future

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Alfa Romeo 4C – 2,495 lb

If you want lightweight Italian performance, then the Alfa Romeo 4C belongs on the top of your list. The Alfa Romeo 4C was built from the ground up to be a pure driver’s car, so it tossed out any optional amenities and stripped it down for an unadulterated experience. In fact, there’s no power steering in the Alfa Romeo 4C and its suspension and lightweight chassis will rattle your bones. Powering the 4C is a 1.75-liter turbocharged engine with 237 hp and 258 lb-ft of torque, and the sports car will constantly remind you of that when you’re stomping on the go-fast pedal. Maybe the biggest complaint we have for the 4C is that there’s no manual transmission option.


Noble M600 – 2,645 lb

The Noble M600 is one of the more powerful vehicles on our list, sporting a 4.4-liter twin-turbo V8 engine that can have its output range from 450 hp to 650 hp and 604 lb-ft of torque. Considering the M600 weighs just 2,645 lbs, its zero-to-60 time of three seconds flat shouldn’t be surprising. Oh, it also has a top speed of 225 mph.

Don’t let the car’s exterior fool you into believing it’s packed with luxury amenities on the inside. It’s back to basics for the M600 with no climate control or no large infotainment screen – just an interior with bucket seats to hold you firmly in place.


Toyota GR86 / Subaru BRZ – 2,758 lb

It’s no real secret that the Toyota GR86 and Subaru BRZ are fun-to-drive cars. Ever since the two emerged onto the market, they have been praised for their excellent driving dynamics with a lightweight, front engine, rear-wheel-drive platform. For their sophomore generation, the Toyobaru twins have a larger, 2.4-liter flat-four engine, with more power and (more importantly) more torque. They’ve always been more about corner carving, but now these two sport coupes are even more fun in the stretches between the curves.

SEE ALSO: 2022 Toyota GR86 First Drive Review: Old-School, Evolved

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McLaren 765LT – 2,952 lb

It has 755 hp, 590 lb-ft of torque and weighs under 3,000 pounds. The McLaren 765LT goes zero to 62 mph in 2.4 seconds, thanks to the British automaker’s 4.0-liter twin-turbo V8 engine and it’s perfectly acceptable to just stare. The 765LT pays homage to the 1997 McLaren F1 GTR “Longtail” and features plenty of lightweight hardware. If you want power but appreciate agility more than anything, the 765LT is the supercar for you.

SEE ALSO: 2017 McLaren 675LT Spider Review


Porsche 718 Cayman GT4 RS – 3,227 lb

Porsche had a bit of a surprise in store when it announced the 718 Cayman GT4 RS. 3,227 lb doesn’t sound that light, until you realize this is essentially a 911 GT3 in the smaller, mid-engined Cayman shell. With 493 horsepower, this PDK-only beast will shoot up to 60 mph in only 3.2 seconds. Want another number? How about 7:04.511? That’s the GT4 RS’ lap time around the vaunted Nürburgring Nordschleife, which is a monstrous 23.6 seconds quicker than the “regular” GT4. Uh, yes please.

SEE ALSO: 2022 Porsche 911 GT3 Review: You Get What You Give


Recent Updates: 

November 29, 2021 – Revised list based on current rankings and new cars.

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