Looking for power and style without breaking the bank?

Best Affordable Sports Cars | CarMax

Sports cars offer all the performance and style you could want in a package that is a lot more accessible than you might think. Want a sleek two-seater convertible like the Mazda MX-5? A striking coupe like the Nissan 370Z? A punchy and potent hot hatch like the Volkswagen Golf GTI? Or even a bold and iconic muscle car like the Ford Mustang? These used sports cars and more are waiting for you to explore—and many of them won't break the bank for you to drive.

Check out this list of the 10 best affordable sports cars for 2019, based on CarMax vehicle sales data from January 1, 2019 through June 30, 2019. Vehicles on this list had average CarMax prices under $30,000.1 Be aware that certain model years and upper trim configurations may bring the prices of some of these vehicles over the average price.

  1. Chevrolet Corvette
  2. Subaru BRZ
  3. Nissan 370Z
  4. Subaru WRX
  5. BMW X1
  6. Mazda MX-5 Miata
  7. Mini Cooper Countryman
  8. Volkswagen Golf GTI
  9. Chevrolet Camaro
  10. Ford Mustang


Chevrolet Corvette

Best Affordable Sports Cars: Chevrolet Corvette | CarMax


The Chevrolet Corvette is a true sports car icon. The C7 generation of the Corvette was first introduced in 2014, with 2019 being the last model year of this generation before an updated mid-engine model arrives in 2020. The C7 will be the last generation of Corvette with the traditional front-engine, rear-wheel-drive layout that has made it so iconic for decades.

The power varies across trims on 2014-2019 models, with the top ZR1 trim packing 755 hp. But the Corvette is surprisingly practical too, with plenty of cargo space⁠—15 cubic feet in the trunk for coupe models and 10 cubic feet for convertibles (2014-2019 model years). There are also plenty of standard features, no matter the model you choose. For example, the 2017 Chevy Corvette gets standard features such as:

  • Five-position drive mode selection
  • Standard rearview camera
  • Active handling and electronic stability control
  • Apple CarPlay® and Android Auto™ smartphone capability
  • Available front curb-view cameras


Subaru BRZ

Best Affordable Sports Cars: Subaru BRZ | CarMax


Being a Subaru, this fun sports car comes with a 2.0L flat-four-cylinder Boxer engine across all model years. Launched in 2013, with styling and power updates arriving in 2017, this is a fun sports car that packs 205 horsepower and 156 lb-ft of torque (2017-2019 models). 2018 models onward also come with plenty of tech features, including:

  • 6.2-inch touchscreen
  • LED headlights
  • Multifunction steering wheel
  • Bluetooth® and dual USB ports
  • Eight-speaker sound system with auxiliary jack and media player interface
  • Apple CarPlay and Android Auto
  • Standard backup camera


Nissan 370Z

Best Affordable Sports Cars: Nissan 370z | CarMax


The Nissan Z-Car series has a reputation for glamour and driving thrills. And though the sixth generation (2009 to present) of this Z car is now ten years old, it still remains popular with drivers. It's a traditional sports car in every sense. For 2009 models and onward, the Nissan 370Z offers:

  • Fastback coupe style
  • Front-engine rear-wheel-drive chassis
  • Potent 3.7L V6 engine
  • Stripped-back interior

The handling is crisp and sharp for a pure driving experience— it's just you and the road with nothing getting in the way.


Subaru WRX

Best Affordable Sports Cars: Subaru WRX | CarMax


Built on the Impreza platform but listed as a separate model, the all-wheel-drive WRX became famous for tearing through forests and deserts as one of the most iconic rally cars of all time, and that performance DNA still exudes from every pore of the current WRX, part of its third generation (2015 to present).

The current-generation (2015 onward) sedan styling is a return to the WRX's roots. All-wheel-drive handling, combined with a 2.0L turbocharged flat-four-cylinder Boxer engine producing 268 hp, means fantastic acceleration and grippy handling.

Additionally, the WRX comes packed with tech features, like:

  • Rearview camera
  • Automatic climate control
  • StarLink multimedia interface including 6.5-inch touchscreen and voice control
  • Subaru EyeSight Driver Assist Technology suite



Best Affordable Sports Cars: BMW X1 | CarMax


Hatchback performance in the body of a luxury compact SUV is the philosophy behind the BMW X1: what looks like a fairly conventional compact SUV also packs a 2.0L turbocharged engine outputting 228 hp (2015 models onward). That's more than enough to leave its rivals in the SUV segment in the dust and contributes to a fun and satisfying driving experience.

Additionally, being an SUV, the second-generation X1 (2015 to present) comes with decent cargo space—27.3 cubic feet with the rear seats up—and plenty of driver convenience features, like:

  • Forward collision warning
  • Lane departure warning
  • Automatic high-beam actuation
  • BMW iDrive infotainment system

If you always dreamed of a sports car but need something with more seats and storage, the BMW X1 is a great choice.

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Mazda MX-5 Miata

Best Affordable Sports Cars: Mazda MX-5 Miata | CarMax


The Mazda MX-5 Miata has been with us since 1989, and through four generations has stayed true to the original design philosophy of a small, light, compact two-seater sports car which proves you don't need a big, powerful engine for a great driving experience.

The most recent generation, first introduced in 2016, adds new elements to the formula, including more aggressive styling. And the 2.0L four-cylinder engine allows the 2019 model to manage an EPA-estimated 30 mpg combined.2 The 2016 model's top-level Grand Touring trim offers the following features:

  • Blind-spot monitoring
  • Heated seats
  • Nine-speaker sound system
  • Leather seats
  • Automatic climate control


Mini Cooper Countryman

Best Affordable Sports Cars: Mini Cooper Countryman | CarMax


Like the BMW X1, this might not jump out at you as a sports car per se. But also like the X1, the Mini Cooper Countryman aims to show that you don't need a sleek coupe body to pack in plenty of performance and fun handling.

A beefed-up version of the regular Mini Cooper, the 2017 model Cooper Countryman comes with three trim levels (Cooper, Cooper S, and John Cooper Works) and three engine choices on offer. And if it's maximum performance you are after, a 2017-2019 John Cooper Works model is the one for you, with its 2.0L four-cylinder turbocharged engine packing 228 hp.

Additionally, the second-generation (2017-present) Cooper Countryman offers:

  • A chilled glovebox
  • Automatic headlights/wipers
  • Cruise control
  • Dynamic traction control (S and JCW models only)


Volkswagen Golf GTI

Best Affordable Sports Cars: Volkswagen Golf GTI | CarMax


In 1976, Volkswagen decided to beef up the Golf hatchback with a more powerful engine, and the GTI has been the gold standard in hot hatchback performance ever since. Now into the seventh generation, introduced in 2015, the GTI remains as potent a package as ever.

Standard features on seventh-generation models (2015-present) include:

  • 93 cubic feet of passenger volume
  • 16 cubic feet of cargo volume
  • Adaptive suspension keeping the ride nice and comfy for all passengers
  • A turbocharged four-cylinder engine producing 228 hp.
  • 6.5-inch touchscreen display
  • Rearview camera


Chevrolet Camaro

Best Affordable Sports Cars: Chevrolet Camaro | CarMax


If you've ever dreamed of owning a muscle car, full of all the bold styling and powerful performance you could ever want, there's never been a better time to do so.

The Camaro is currently in its sixth generation (2016 to present) and comes with four engine choices: a 2.0L turbocharged four-cylinder, a 3.6L V6, a high-output 6.2L V8 engine, and a supercharged variant of the 6.2L V8 in the top-level ZL1 trim.

And that's before we even mention the standard features on sixth-generation models (2016 to present):

  • Keyless entry and ignition
  • Rearview camera
  • Cruise control
  • Power-adjustable front seats
  • Six-speaker sound system


Ford Mustang

Best Affordable Sports Cars: Ford Mustang | CarMax


Going all the way back to the 1960s, the Ford Mustang is arguably the most well-known sports car. The most recent generation (2015-present) offers so many goodies, including:

  • Low cabin-noise levels
  • Comfortable ride
  • Evocative, retro styling
  • Independent rear suspension
  • 10+ exterior color options

There are two engines available for 2015-and-newer models: a very potent 2.3L four-cylinder EcoBoost powerplant and the mighty 5.0L V8, good for 460hp. Whatever motor you pick, you will drive away with a huge smile on your face—the Mustang lives up to its legacy in every way possible.

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Hungry for more information on sports cars as you research your options? Check out some of these related resources:

1Average prices based on total make and model inventory, including all trims available for each model, listed for sale on CarMax lots from June 1, 2018 through November 30, 2018. Actual prices vary based on model year, selected features, and trim packages. Prices do not include taxes, title, tag, or any applicable fees.
2Fuel economy figures are based on EPA estimates when vehicles sold as new. Fuel economy may vary for reasons like driving conditions and vehicle history. Unless specified, figures are for vehicles equipped with an automatic transmission. See fueleconomy.gov for details.
Unless otherwise noted, information relating to these featured vehicles comes from third-party sources, including manufacturer information. Product and company names may be trademarks™ or registered® trademarks of third-party entities. Use of them does not imply any affiliation with or endorsement by these entities.