Never has the choice of sports cars at the affordable end of the spectrum been greater, each offering thrills to match and in some cases exceed those of more expensive peers.
It's not all about brake horsepower at this end of the market: most of the cars in our top 10 list put driving bliss ahead of raw, straight-out performance. But we guarantee each will put a huge smile on your face.
Every significant component part of the Alpine A110 driving experience – from the rasping turbocharged torque of its engine to the hilariously immersive poise and panache of its handling – is all about the F word: fun. It brings to life journeys and roads that rivals wouldn’t and has handling for which your affection can only grow as you explore it more closely.
Anatomise the car and you won’t find too many mechanical ingredients or areas you could genuinely call exceptional; but put them all together and you can’t help but conclude that the A110 is a much greater car – and achievement - than the sum of its parts would suggest. The subsequent arrival of the A110 S has also seen power rise to 288bhp and the fitment of firmer suspension, though the basic A110 remains the sweeter machine for road driving.
Rarely does a car come along so devoted to driver involvement, and so singularly effective at it, even among affordable sports cars; the last time was probably the Toyota GT86 in 2012, a car to which we also gave a five-star recommendation for its supreme fitness to the purpose of sucking the marrow out of every mile. The A110 is quicker, more agile, more effusive and ultimately even more fun. It deserves no less of an ovation.
The new BMW M2 Competition is now the only M2 model you can buy here in Britain, and that’s no bad thing. The previous model’s single-turbo six-cylinder unit has been swapped out for the twin-turbocharged straight six (albeit in slightly detuned form) from the larger M3 and M4 models, while a handful of tweaks to the chassis and suspension mean it’s now even sharper and more controlled on battered UK roads than ever before. Weighty steering allows you to point the car’s nose into a corner with confidence, and it’s supremely adjustably on the throttle, too.The new M2 Competition is so good, in fact, that we think it’s one of the best driver’s cars BMW currently makes. You won’t be disappointed.