Buying a new car is daunting task. Even after all the research, cross-shopping and deliberation, when you finally do decide on the car you want, there’s still the matter of picking out a trim level and options (which basically starts the whole research, cross-shopping and deliberation cycle all over again). Salesmen don’t make it any easier, mainly because they’re working for commission, and will try to upsell you left and right.
But if you know what you want and stick with it, you’ll save money — especially if the base car is fantastic as-is. These ten base-level sports cars should inspire some confidence at the dealership.
2017 Porsche 718 Cayman
A 300-horsepower mid-mounted flat-six engine mated to a six-speed manual is all anyone ever needs in life. At its core, the 718 is one of the best-handling and most finely balanced cars Porsche makes. It’s already an exhilarating drive, and the 50 extra horsepower and the 0.5-seconds-quicker 0-60 time of the Cayman S are certainly not worth the extra $12,400.
Read the Review: Porsche 718 Boxter
2017 Mazda Miata Sport
As an everyday driver, the base-level Miata is hard to beat. It’s a car that made a name for itself with minimalism, so to even get a touchscreen interface as standard seems a bit much — but it’s a nice amenity. The Club and Grand Touring upgrades don’t necessarily dilute the car’s character; if anything, the Club’s suspension and brakes only amplify it. But the point is that those extra upgrades aren’t entirely worthwhile. The base-level Miata is more than enough to put (and keep) a smile on your face.
Read the Review: Mazda Miata RF
2017 Jeep Wrangler Sport
Okay, it’s not a go-fast sports car, but this version does have “Sport” right there in its name. Right out of the box, the Wrangler can tackle trails in Moab — it’s one of the reasons it’s America’s poster child for overlanding. You don’t need massive lift kits or winches to enjoy what the Wrangler has to offer.
Read the Review: Jeep Rubicon Hard Rock
2018 Jaguar F-Type i4
The four-cylinder F-Type is the newest edition to the coupe’s family, but at nearly 300 horsepower and a 0-60 time of 5.4 seconds, it still makes for an admirable sports car. The V8 version has been said to have too much power and the V6 is actually a tenth of a second slower than the four-cyclinder to 60 mph, so think of the F-Type i4 as a lightweight middle-ground model.
Read the Review: Jaguar F-Type SVR
2017 Porsche 911 Carrera
Now that there are 21 different models (22 if you include the yet-to-be-released GT2 RS), picking between Porsche 911 models these days is a real rabbit-hole journey. But know that for $91,100, the base-level 911 is one of the most lauded sports cars on the market, and Porsche is infamous for overcharging on the options list. Save your money and enjoy the baseline; it’s a good place to be.
Read the Review: Porsche 911 Carrera
2017 Toyota 86
Like the Miata, the 86’s strong suit is its simplicity. You can save $700 right away, just by getting the manual transmission. Other than that, the more expensive trims for the 86 are “special editions” that don’t really add anything of value other than a few cosmetic pieces.
Read the Review: Toyota 86 Coupe
2017 Lexus LC 500
This is an easy choice to make. Not only is the LC500 base model less expensive than the LC500h hybrid, it’s also more powerful, quicker to 60 mph and has a better transmission. Case closed.
Read the Review: Lexus LC 500
2017 Audi TT
The Audi TT is similar to the Porsche Cayman in that, at its core, the TT passes the sports car test with flying colors (meaning it’s far, far more fun to drive than any car really deserves to be). The only significant upgrade the higher-tier TTS gets is a small power pump. Quattro AWD and Audi virtual cockpit come standard — that’s already more than most cars with twice the price tag can boast.
Read the Review: Audi TTS
2017 Corvette Stingray
No one scoffs at a Corvette Stingray. The higher level Grand Sport and Z06 models may boast more power and better handling, but the Stingray already sets the bar incredibly high. For just over $55,000 you’ll get 460 horsepower and 465 lb-ft of torque and a sub-four-second 0-60 time — anything more than that is honestly unnecessary. It’s a solid bet the 190 extra horses in the Z06 rarely go to use outside of a track anyhow.
Read About the New Mid-Engine ‘Vette: Here
2017 Subaru WRX
This inclusion qualifies on a technicality.: since it was only last year that Subaru split the WRX from the Impreza, making them two separate cars, the WRX has become its own base model. The higher grade WRX STi gets a small power bump and stiffer suspension, but is that really worth the $10,000 premium? Save the cash, buy a set of great snow tires, and you’ll have a daily driver that can tackle any season with poise.
See the 2018 WRX: Here