2021 Sports Cars

Sports cars allow automakers and drivers to let their hair down and have some fun. These two-door performance machines have continued to evolve over the years. Not only are they quicker and brimming with more cutting-edge tech, they're more efficient than their predecessors. They're also safer, and easier to live with day to day. Sports cars can now keep pace with older supercars, while modern supercars out-perform hypercars. The typical sports car blueprint calls for rear-wheel drive, two doors and a low-slung, lightweight body. That isn't always the format, and many automakers have produced their own riffs on it, with great results. No matter your budget there's a sports car available, from the humble Mazda MX-5 Miata through to McLarens, Lamborghinis, and Ferraris. Every sports car shares a common theme: they represent the best of the industry in terms of technology, engineering, and design.

SEE ALSO: Top 10 Best American Sports Cars of the 2000s

Pros and Cons of Sports Cars

Pros

  • Driving fun is top priority
  • Dramatic looks
  • Come in many sizes and prices
  • The bleeding edge of tech
  • Light weight means better fuel efficiency
  • Hold their value well
 

Cons

  • Less practical than sedans/SUVs
  • Higher operating costs (fuel, insurance)
  • Not always four-season appropriate
  • Can attract the wrong kind of attention

Manual Transmission Sports Cars

It seems kind of obvious to say this, but if you're a fan of the manual transmission, sports cars remain one of the last bastions of the three-pedal shuffle. Manual transmissions offer drivers an additional level of control and interaction—two aspects of driving that remain central to the sports car experience. The good news is that it's the affordable end of the market that's championing the 'stick the most. The Toyota GR86 and Subaru BRZ are two of the least expensive ways to own a new manual transmission sports car. Feeling a little more muscle? The Chevrolet Camaro, Ford Mustang, and Dodge Challenger all still come in manual form, too. And there's the evergreen Mazda MX-5 Miata. Higher up, it's Porsche that carries the torch, with a manual available in the 718 Boxster, 718 Cayman, and 911.

What’s New in Sports Cars for 2022?

We kicked off the new decade with a whole pack of new sports cars. Some trumpeted the return of iconic names, while others focused on switching (back) to highly responsive naturally aspirated engines over turbocharged power. Every one of them promised driver enjoyment at all speeds. The year's biggest story happens to belong to a homegrown American icon, however.

Toyota GR86 and Subaru BRZ

Toyota and Subaru continued their sports car partnership for another generation with the release of the 2022 GR86 and BRZ. The chassis is stronger, there's more modern tech, and weight is up by about a Thanksgiving turkey's worth, but the important elements remain. These little coupes are some of the most fun you can have under $50,000.

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

Early rumors of a turbocharged engine turned out to be for naught. No matter which brand you go with, you'll find a larger, 2.4-liter Boxer engine mounted low under the hood. Outputs of 228 horsepower and 184 pound-feet don't sound like much, but with the light curb weight and improved six-speed manual, the Toyobaru twins scoot. Prices start under $30,000 (roughly $33,000 CAD).

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Chevrolet Corvette Z06

America's favorite sports car is celebrating 70 years this year. To mark the occasion, Chevrolet will be offering a 70th Anniversary Package on all C8 Corvettes. That's all well and good, but what we're really interested in is the new Z06, a badge that has long represented the ideal track-ready road 'Vette.

SEE ALSO: Chevrolet Corvette vs Porsche 718 Boxster vs Toyota Supra: Sports Car Shootout

For the first time in modern Corvette history, the Z06 will carry a smaller-displacement engine than the regular car. The LT6 V8 is a dual overhead camshaft (DOHC) design, producing a huge 670 horsepower from just 5.5 liters. Did we mention the 8,600-rpm redline? Of course, Chevy didn't just drop in a hot engine and leave the Z06 be. It's lower, wider, and stiffer, with larger brakes, a shorter final drive ratio for even quicker acceleration, more downforce and less drag, and a reconfigured Magnetic Ride Control system. No hyperbole here: the Z06 should be one of the absolute quickest road cars around a track when it touches down. We can't wait.

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Porsche 718 Cayman GT4 RS

It's a car that's been rumored pretty much since the first Cayman GT4 arrived seven years ago. But finally, at the 2021 Los Angeles auto show, Porsche pulled the sheet back on the most extreme 718 variant yet, the 718 Cayman GT4 RS. With the next generation of the little two-seater likely going electric, consider this a final, 9,000-rpm salute to the glorious internal combustion engine.

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

Essentially, what you're looking at is a 911 GT3 crammed into the body of the lighter (and better-balanced) Cayman. Sitting behind the driver is the GT3's 4.0-liter flat-six, spitting 493 horsepower straight to a pair of huge, sticky rear tires. This one's PDK-only, too. With race-inspired aero addenda and a curb weight of just 3,2227 lb, the GT4 RS should be utterly scintillating. This sort of specialized performance will cost you: the GT4 RS starts from $143,050.

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Also in the Segment

Sports cars may be a smaller percentage of the market these days, but what does remain sells consistently. At the affordable end, there's the afore-mentioned Toyobaru twins, and the pony car triplets. There's not much else, at least for now: once Nissan reveals more on its retro-futuristic Z, we'll have an idea where it lands in the range. We still think it'll undercut the Toyota GR Supra by thousands...
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In the bantam-weight class we find the BMW Z4 and Porsche 718. Audi will still sell you a TT in 2022, which is the style icon's final model year. Shift slightly higher and you'll find the Jaguar F-Type, a gorgeous, V8-only two-seater in coupe and convertible flavors. Higher still and you're into the six-figure range, which nowadays includes the Porsche 911, Audi R8, Aston Martin Vantage, Mercedes-AMG SL, and Lexus LC. They all range from flashy boulevardiers to quick corner carvers, depending on what you'd like. Beyond that we're into the elite territory, where brands like Aston Martin, Bentley, Ferrari, Lamborghini, and McLaren play. We're talking six-figure price tags starting with a 2 or higher, and production numbers topping out in the low four figures.
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2021 Chevrolet Camaro
2021 Chevrolet Camaro
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$25,000 - $69,000 14/20 mpg
2021 Dodge Challenger
2021 Dodge Challenger
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$28,295 - $58,995 13/21 mpg
2021 Toyota GR Supra
2021 Toyota GR Supra
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$42,990 - $54,795 22/30 mpg
2021 BMW Z4
2021 BMW Z4
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$49,700 - $63,700 22/30 mpg
2021 Audi A5 Cabriolet
2021 Audi A5 Cabriolet
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$50,400 23/31 mpg
2021 Audi TT Roadster
2021 Audi TT Roadster
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$53,900 23/31 mpg
2021 Chevrolet Corvette
2021 Chevrolet Corvette
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$58,900 - $77,850 15/27 mpg
2021 Porsche 718 Cayman
2021 Porsche 718 Cayman
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$59,900 - $100,200 16/23 mpg
2021 Polestar 2
2021 Polestar 2
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$59,900 N/A
2021 Audi S5 Cabriolet
2021 Audi S5 Cabriolet
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$60,600 20/26 mpg
2021 Jaguar F-TYPE
2021 Jaguar F-TYPE
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$61,600 - $105,900 16/24 mpg
2021 Porsche 718 Boxster
2021 Porsche 718 Boxster
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$62,000 - $88,900 19/24 mpg
2021 Porsche 718 Spyder
2021 Porsche 718 Spyder
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$97,300 16/23 mpg
2021 Porsche 911
2021 Porsche 911
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$99,200 - $216,300 N/A
2021 Nissan GT-R
2021 Nissan GT-R
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$113,540 - $210,740 16/22 mpg
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