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Affordable sports cars that your mates will admire

  • Published 30 March 2020
  • 5 minute read
  • By Gavin Braithwaite-Smith

You’ve got the rest of your life to drive something practical, economical and boring. While you’re young - or young at heart - you should get behind the wheel of something that’s fun to drive, stylish and guaranteed to impress your mates.

We’ve selected half a dozen sports cars that will put a smile on your face and won’t cost the earth to lease. Indeed, one of these racy little numbers could be parked outside your apartment for around £200 a month. Bargain.

Read on to discover which cars have made our shortlist. Practicality can wait until tomorrow.

Mazda MX-5

Small and cheap but also stylish and stacks of funMazda MX5Available to leaseLease Now

The Mazda MX-5 is like a classic sports car made modern - so it does basic thrills brilliantly well, but it's also pretty eco-friendly, will do its best to keep you safe in a crash and is unlikely to leave you stranded at the side of the road.

But as well as being fun to drive, it's also great to look at - appearing anything but a budget choice from the outside. It's available in two flavours: the traditional soft-top MX-5 and the RF, complete with a retractable folding hard-top (hence the ‘RF’). There are also two engines: a buzzy 1.5-litre and a sweet 2.0-litre. Both come with a superb six-speed manual gearbox.

The RF is great if you want the security of having a hard-top and intend to spend more time with the roof shut than open. But for us, the simplicity and authenticity of the soft-top make it hard to resist. The most popular sports car in the world is also one of the best sports cars in the world.

Toyota GT86

The most fun you can have in a Toyota with your clothes onToyota GT86 Available to leaseLease Now

The Toyota GT86 – a sports coupe developed alongside the near-identical Subaru BRZ – is the closest thing the Mazda MX-5 has to a genuine rival. Even if it doesn't come as a convertible and is big enough to cram in a pair of back seats (note that these are next to useless for carrying adult passengers).

It offers a very old-school set-up: a non-turbo 2.0-litre engine at the front, a low-slung driving position and classic rear-wheel-drive handling. In a world of overpowered, overweight and overhyped hot hatchbacks, the GT86 is a welcome tonic.

You’ll have to put up with one or two minor issues. After nearly a decade on sale, the interior feels dated, and the engine has to be worked hard to get the best from it. To many people, the second point is part of the appeal. This is a real driving enthusiast's car, and the balance, poise and agility of the GT86 are legend among those in the know.

Porsche 718 Cayman

Even a low-cost Porsche is still a PorschePorsche 718 Cayman Available to lease Lease Now

Right, we’re not saying that the Porsche 718 Cayman is a super-cheap car to lease, but hear us out: you won’t get much change out of £1,000 when leasing the bigger Porsche 911, so the £600 a month it costs to lease a 718 Cayman is a relative bargain.

Put it this way: the 718 Cayman offers the same build quality as the 911, the same Porsche ownership experience and near enough the same balanced handling of its more illustrious – and not to mention, more expensive – sibling.

And because it’s smaller, the 718 Cayman feels more at home on Britain’s tight and congested streets, and you’ll be able to extract more of its full potential on a regular basis. It’s a fun-size 911 for a fun-size price, and few badges say you've made it in life like the Porsche one does.

Abarth 595

Very silly, very fun, very affordableAbarth 595Available to lease Lease Now

Here’s some bad news: there aren’t that many sports cars on sale in Britain in 2020. Buyers seem more obsessed with performance SUVs and smartphone connectivity than they do with rear-wheel-drive handling and B-road thrills.

So we’ve been forced to go a little leftfield to find a further trio of cars that offer the kind of enjoyment you’d expect from a sports car. The Abarth 595 is a good case in point. It’s a little pocket rocket that will leave you grinning like a Cheshire Cat.

There are a number of trim levels to choose from, each one bedecked in beautifully bespoke-feeling details and powered by a whizz-poppingly enthusiastive 1.4-litre turbo engine that - depending on model - packs around 160hp. It sounds great, especially if you opt for the ‘Record Monza’ exhaust system, and as a small, light slip of a thing is genuinely hilarious to drive.

Ford Fiesta ST

Is a Fiesta actually a sports car? Keep reading...Ford Fiesta ST Available to leaseLease Now

How can a Ford Fiesta be a sports car? In reality, it’s not, but the Fiesta ST is one of the reasons why so few sports cars are on sale today. When a supermini is this good to drive, why restrict yourself to an impractical and more expensive coupe or convertible? Honestly, a well-driven Fiesta ST could keep up with a supercar on a British lane.

At its heart is a 1.5-litre three-cylinder engine, which is both fruity - it conjures up an outstanding 200hp - and surprisingly fuel efficient. Don’t let the fact that this sporty little number is based on the country’s most popular car fool you. Beneath that familiar body lies a hot hatchback that’s brimming with ability.

It’s also well-equipped, especially if you opt for the ST-3 model, and unlike many hot hatches, you can order it as a three-door. Trust me, you'll have so much fun in a Fiesta ST a four-year leasing contract will fly by.

Kia Stinger GT S

A sexy Kia? We kid you notKia StingerAvailable to leaseLease Now

Our final car is so leftfield, we’ve practically gone full circle. The Stinger GT S is a bit of a wildcard, but as Kia’s fastest ever model, we think it deserves a mention.

It’s powered by a 3.3-litre V6 engine, which is potent enough to propel this seven-year warranty on wheels 0-62mph in just 4.7 seconds. It’ll go on to reach a top speed of 168mph, which is outrageous for most cars, let alone a Kia.

What's more, there's loads of room in the cabin, plenty of toys to keep you occupied on a long drive, and the additional benefit of exclusivity. Ask yourself, when was the last time you saw a Kia Stinger on the road? Precisely.

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