Affordable Sports Cars: Paradox or No?


By Ray Prince, NorCalCars Writer

The Porsche Carrera, Lamborghini Gallardo, and Ferrari Enzo might blind the eyes with its impeccable sleek style and handling, along with its price tag. To the casual observer, sports cars electro-sticker-shock the wallet with high end features that belong in 2014 rather than now. Surprisingly but surely, there are lots of sports cars possessing nearly all qualities high end models own. From the proverbial bucket seat famous with the Cobalt and Wrangler (not a sports car) to supercharged coupe editions, affordable sports cars are the way to go.

After getting a few ideas on what you might want stop by our photo gallery and see if we have the right sports car for you. Some of these high end sports cars are likely to become collector items. If you own one of these vehicles be sure to get the right coverage for a collector car like AARP collector car insurance. Always protect your investment from the unexpected.

Mazda RX-8

Mazda RX-8

If you want a cheaper alternative to the Porsches and Ferraris, but with better handling and ride than my standard Acura RSX and just traded-in Pontiac Grand Am, consider the equally priced Mazda RX-8, Chevy Cobalt, and 2007 Toyota Solara. The Mazda RX-8 profile is impressive, with rear opening doors that bears semblance to swinging Ferrari doors. Its best asset is its engine with 9000 rpms/238 HP of pure power without distinguishing itself as a "supercharged coupe" like the Cobalt. The RX-8's body is a masterpiece with Jessica Simpson-like curves and overfenders to make it look sturdier. The interior is solid, with front bucket seats and a triangular shaped instrument panel unlike the rounded edged interfaces we see in most cars. For a combination of looks and power, the Mazda RX-8 does the job at just under $27,000 for the standard package.

Toyota Solara Convertible

Toyota Solara Convertible

To glide past roads with the feel of a 911 for $27,000, the Toyota Solara Convertible is another good bet. It's a rag topped four seater with one of the sleekest designs I've ever seen with curvy tail and head lamps along with enough concave surfaces that makes standing water look impossible. If you like the Lexus ES 350s dynamic front hood, you will appreciate the Solaras. The interior is pretty neat as well, a four seater with dual color scheme options (SLE wood grain and SE silver trim), along with a futuristic looking, brightly lit cockpit panel. Audio and video enhancements include a GPS navigation system based off DVD and XM Satellite Radio. XM Satellite Radio, by the way, integrates extremely well into any car. My Mercury Mariner's XM system is easy to figure out with music category displays (bluegrass anyone?), no static (minus under bridges), and rich sound overall.

Chevy Cobalt SS

Chevy Cobalt SS

Another sports car that has been receiving critical acclaim for its versatility and modest price tag is the gas saving Chevy Cobalt series launched in 2005. I say series because the Cobalt line holds a record number of different versions like the LS and SS Supercharged coupe - all with modified interiors and trim. Fans of Cobalt will love its classic emerald taillights and round tail lamps. In addition, the entire ride has a low weight to horsepower ratio (compared to the "slower" and more gas consuming Ford Mustang) which means better acceleration. With front bucket seats and folding back seats that stand a bit higher than usual, it’s a winner in my personal favorite barometer of sportiness: comfort-speed ratio. In my opinion, this is a smart move. How many times have we had to endlessly adjust our seating just to keep our eyes above the dashboard? Sports cars should double as mini SUVs every once in a while! Plus, with iPod jack compatibility, leather seats, satellite radio, and the option OnStar navigation system - you'd barely scratch its $20,000 asking price.

Ford Mustang Coupe

Ford Mustang Coupe

If a $27,000 MSRP is too steep for you, go $7-8000 cheaper with the $19,000 Ford Mustang Coupe and $20,000 Pontiac Solstice. The redesigned 2005 Mustang philosophy continues into 2006 with a V6 210 horsepower, bigger tires, and an even bigger attitude with fog lit grilles. With just a strong following as Harley Davidson and Jeep Wranglers, it's a classic sports car overall. The Pontiac Solstice is a lightweight version of the Mustang with 177 horsepower and a 5 speed manual. Although it has less horsepower than the typical sports convertible, I like it because insurance is cheaper. Overall, its best asset is its handling and response, a must in matching expensive performance in a matchbox package.

In a world of ancient Shelbys, McLarens, and $90,000 sports cars - it's nice to refer back to nitty gritty, 20 grand two-door coupes every once in a while. With comparable horsepower, traction, comfort, audio options, and stylish instrumental panels on all of the above mentioned cars, you may even be more inclined to dream about these.