Currently reading: Top 10 best sports cars 2024
Here is the definitive top 10 list of the best sports cars currently on sale. Each has a compelling reason to take top spot, but only one can claim the throne…

There's a very obvious part of the new car market for dyed-in-the-wool petrolheads to go in search of meaningful driver entertainment: the sports car segment. And even as so many other segments undergo such rapid change, this one still deals in big power, lightweight engineering, high-revving combustion engines and outstanding handling dynamism.

A genre that's almost as old as the car itself, sports cars were first developed to bring some of the speed and excitement of early motorsport machines to the everyday driver on the road. Over the decades, these cars have matured into more talented all-rounders, abandoning their direct links to racing but retaining the same remit to place the driver squarely at the centre of the action but also give him or her a product to be used ever more widely.

Of course, the passage of time has meant that the definition of the sports car has been stretched in all directions, with everything from hot hatchbacks to scalpel-sharp track cars being grouped under the banner. However, for this list, we're going to limit those that qualify to the sort of full-sized and sophisticated machines that deliver deep-chested acceleration and uplifting handling but are as home on the road as the track. And while having more than two seats isn't a disqualification from consideration, we're keenest on those that place more of an emphasis on performance than practicality. Their grown-up status is cemented by pricing that falls between about £60,000 and £150,000, so we're short of supercar territory here - although in some cases with a little more breathing space that in others.

However, that's not to say there isn't room for variety, which is why front, rear and mid-engined contenders make the cut here. The same goes for engine layout and cylinder count (the more the merrier in the latter's case).

So read on as we run the rule over the best sports cars still on sale in 2024.

1. Porsche 911

Pros Unrivalled blend of four-seat usability, multi-faceted driver appeal, as much power and pace as you've got budget for

Cons A certain sense of ubiquity next to rarer sports cars

The derivative range of Porsche's latest-generation 911 (the 992) has filled out quite a bit since its introduction in 2019. The car is now available in 380bhp Carrera and Carrera T444bhp Carrera S and 473bhp Carrera GTS forms, all powered by a 3.0-litre turbocharged flat-six engine; in coupé, cloth-top Cabriolet and folding fixed head Targa bodystyles; with rear or four-wheel drive; and with eight-speed dual-clutch PDK automatic and seven-speed manual gearboxes. There are also the extra-rapid Turbo, Turbo SGT3 and GT3 RS versions higher up, not to mention extra-special limited-run versions like the 911 Dakar and 911 S/T.


Read our review

Car review

Engine downsized, turbo added and chassis tuned. Has Porsche made all the right moves, or is the 718 Boxter a worthy soft-top successor?

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We've tested most versions of the 911 and not found much to dislike in any of them. Although the 911 has certainly become a better and more refined and sophisticated luxury operator than it ever used to be, the 992 iteration of this rear-engined sporting hero is every inch as great a driver's car as the 991 it replaced - and, if anything, stands ready to take the game further away from its rivals.

For performance value, the Carrera T takes a lot of beating, its blend of pace, poise and rawness making it closest in spirit to 1960s and 1970s 911s. It's particulary pleasing with the manual gearbox (the first time the three-pedal layout has been made available with the entry-level 380bhp Carerra engine), but Porsche's dual-clutcher effortlessly mixes precise control with ease of use.

The 992 grew longer and slightly wider than its predecessor, all versions using what used to be called the 911's 'widebody' shell (which has been lightened by more extensive use of aluminium in its construction), while four-wheel steering is now an option even on non-GT-level cars and mixed-width wheels and tyres come as standard.

Although there's as much reason as ever for the keenest of drivers to stick with the purer rear-driven mechanical layout, the 992's wider front-axle track and quickened steering ratio seem to have sharpened its handling very effectively. Its turbocharged engine may not have the audible qualities of Porsche's old atmospheric units, but it makes for very serious real-world performance.

Overall, for a car that remains without equal among direct contemporary rivals for usability, rounded sporting credibility and especially for the accessible, everyday-use, any-occasion brilliance of its driver appeal, the evergreen 911 still stands head and shoulders above its peers.

Read our Porsche 911 review

2. BMW M2 Coupé

Pros Great blend of power, space, compactness and usability, appealing price

Cons Not always a much fun as earlier iterations, poor RHD pedal layout in the manual version

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When BMW's M division decided to wrap modern BMW M4 sports coupé mechanicals in a shorter, slightly lighter shell and then to retune what resulted to suit even keener enthusiast tastes, it hit on a winning recipe for the current BMW M2. The sense of technical inferiority that hung around previous iterations of this car was banished, and while the car grew (and grew heavier) as a result, it gained a sense of integrity, maturity and completeness as a modern M car that earns it a very high ranking in this chart.

The M2 now uses a slightly detuned version of the same turbocharged straight six that powers the M4 and has a healthy 453bhp to call on. Driven exclusively by its rear wheels and available with a six-speed manual gearbox if you want one, this car is a simpler, purer driver's car than bigger M cars, and it retains just enough compactness to appeal in a way that the company's bigger saloons and estates can't. It's fast, balanced, involving and communicative yet also versatile, capable and very instantly driver-configurable, as characterises modern M cars so uniquely.

Pricing that allows you to escape from the showroom having spent less than £70,000 seals the appeal for a car that has a right-sized compromise of just enough power and space at just the right price - and no shortage of vivid driver reward.

Read our BMW M2 Coupé review

3. Lotus Emira

Pros Supremely poised chassis, talkative steering, driver involvement like little else

Cons Four-cylinder engine is a little unworthy, still isn't as easy to live with as a Porsche 911 or 718 Cayman

The last hurrah for ICE power at Lotus, the Emira certainly has a lot resting on its shoulders. And the good news is that the Norfolk newcomer gets so much right, from its junior exotic looks through to a chassis that maintains the decades-long tradition of Hethel handling greatness.

There are some novelties for a Lotus, too, such as an interior that delivers previously unheard of levels of luxury and quality, plus all the latest gadgets and gizmos. It's decently practical too, proving easier to get into and out of than the old Evora and packing handy storage. This is an everyday-usable sports car.

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However, this extra usability and refinement comes at a cost, with the Emira weighing in at a very un-Lotus 1440kg, which is heavier even than a Porsche 718 Cayman GTS 4.0. That means the supercharged Toyota 3.5-litre V6 doesn't feel quite as strong as you would expect, its efforts aided and abetted by the slightly slack six-speed manual gearbox. That said, this is still a quick car, with the 0-62mph sprint taking 4.3sec.

More importantly, it drives like a Lotus where it matters: in the corners. The extra mass means it doesn't feel quite as lithe as the old Elise, but the Emira is beautifully balanced and damped, helping it breathe with the surface where others attempt to pummel it into submission. The steering is quick and feelsome, and as a result the Emira dives through bends with quick-witted agility, its ability to shrug off unsettling bumps further boosting your confidence.

Read our Lotus Emira review

4. Porsche 718 Boxster/Cayman GTS 4.0

Pros Nimble, balanced, fluent and composed like little else, now with an engine fully worthy of the chassis

Cons Only the GT and RS versions have really big-hitting pace, some will be snobby about them

Yes, there are two Porsches towards the top of this chart – and quite rightly so. The German firm really knows what it's doing when it comes to screwing together a sensational sports car. No more so than when Zuffenhausen took the decision to answer the critics and return an atmospheric flat six back into this car in 2019, creating series-production 718 derivatives with prices well above £60,000 before you put a single option on them. So while the more affordable four-cylinder, sub-£50,000 derivatives of the 718 continue to present themselves to buyers with less to spend (and are ranked in our affordable sports car top 10), the higher-end models have absolutely progressed in among the bigger fish of the sports car class.

Not that they struggle in such treacherous water. Porsche's latest naturally aspirated six-cylinder boxer engine is an utter joy, offering as much outright performance as any road-going sports car really needs but also wonderful smoothness and response and an 8000rpm operating range. Unusually long-feeling gearing makes the six-speed manual versions slightly less appealing to drive in some ways than the seven-speed paddle-shift automatics, but for pure driver interaction, the three-pedal versions are hard to beat.

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The 718's beautifully poised handling, incredibly linear handling response and effortless body control at speed are now widely celebrated. This is the kind of sports car that can seem word-perfect in how it takes apart a cross-country road tough enough to expose a lesser machine. If you like a sports car with more power than its chassis can easily deploy or whose dynamic quirks and flaws present something of a challenge to be 'driven around', you might even think a GTS 4.0 too good. Only kidding: it's flippin' brilliant.

Compared with some cars in this list, there's also perhaps a slight lack of desirability about this car. But its usability is first-rate - and its powertrain can be considered every bit as stellar as its ride and handling. Quite simply, it's one of the most complete driver's cars there has ever been.

Read our Porsche 718 Cayman review

5. Audi R8 V10 Performance RWD

Pros Supercar-grade mid-engined chassis, heroic atmo V10 engine, Audi-typical cabin quality

Cons None of the above comes cheap and it won't be available at all for much longer

For the past 18 years, there has been an anomaly in the sports car space-time continuum that has allowed people to buy a mid-engined Audi with a spaceframe chassis that might otherwise have been used in a Lamborghini for about 70% of the money than that Lamborghini might have cost. It has been known as the Audi R8 - and, after various stays of execution, it finally went out of production in Neckarsulm, Germany, earlier this year.

Which means that the very last examples of this extra-special Audi can now be snapped up if you hunt them out. And since the cheapest of them might just crop up for less than £150,000, they can just about be considered here. For that money, you get one of the most involving rear-driven chassis that the R8 has ever had, together with an unforgettably dramatic atmospheric V10 engine making 562bhp at a heady 8000rpm.

It's a very special combination, and it would make a wonderful alternative to a higher-end Porsche 911, for those spending that kind of money. The rest of us may only be able to dream, but if you're in a position to do more than that, you will need to act quickly or else miss your opportunity for good.

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Read our Audi R8 review

6. Alpine A110 R

Pros Real circuit-ready dynamic purpose for a fairly affordable price, still enjoyable on the road

Cons Could have done with a more special engine

The standard Alpine A110 already appears in our list of affordable sports cars, but the recently launched R model is an altogether more serious proposition (not least because it costs a whisker under £90,000) and so earns its place among the sports car elite. In terms of power, it's no more potent than its less costly siblings; but with a laser-like focus on delivering hardcore driving thrills and a more than dash of track-ready kudos, the French flyweight is a desirable option for those the simple want to get behind the wheel for the hell of it.

The addtion of carbonfibre bodwork and figure-hugging one-piece seats helps slash 34kg from the already waif-like A110, while the suspension gets 20-way manually adjustable dampers and helper springs. In its default setting, the A110 R sits 10mm lower and is 10% stiffer than the previous flagship A110 S, while sticky Michelin Pilot Cup Sport 2 tyres give an extra clue to the enhanced performance potential.

On the road, the A110 R feels stiffer but remains comfortable, while there's an increase in noise, due to a slightly ruder exhaust. Yet the upshot is even sharper and more connected steering, increased grip and, crucially, cast-iron body control at the limit (the standard A110 can get floaty at this point, while faster corners can promote a slightly disconcerting corkscrewing effect). It's even more pronunced on the track, clinging on tenaciously and resisting the time-consuming (if fun) roll oversteer that occurs in lesser variants.

So why doesn't it finish higher in our rankings? Well, with no increase in power, the turbocharged 1.8-litre four-cylinder Renault engine lacks the hard-hitting punch to truly test such a grippy and poised chassis. It's a fantastic piece of kit and a surefire future collector's item, but it's also a classic case of more sometimes being less. 

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Read our Alpine A110 R review

7. Chevrolet Corvette

Pros Ebullient V8 engines, much-improved mid-engined handling, lots of cargo space

Cons Slightly derivative styling, questionable interior ergonomicsone-outlet UK dealer support

Much has been written about General Motors' decision to gamble with its iconic Chevrolet Corvette by switching from a front-mounted engine to a mid-mounted one for its eighth generation (known as the C8). There were objective reasons to do it: because it improves the car's weight distribution, enhances its outright handling potential and makes it more competitive for motorsport use. And there was a more complex argument: that a mid-engined layout has become expected of an operator within this part of the sports car market and the old C7 Corvette's front-engined configuration made it something of a relic to the latest generation of sports car buyers.

Whatever it took to finally convince GM to make the switch, you could say it was worth it. The C8 Corvette has all of the metal-for-the-money and bang-for-your-buck appeal as any of its forebears possessed, its supercar-looks-for-sports-car-cash shtick earning it the Dream Car accolade in the 2022 Autocar Awards. Yet there's more to its appeal than simple showroom sparkle and prices that run to £81,700 for the coupé and £87,110 for the convertible (911 Carrera cash).

Bristling with small-block-V8 combustive charm, the Corvette's engine has excellent throttle response and a wonderful mid-range power delivery, liking to rev to beyond 6500rpm and sounding superb doing it. For outright performance, it feels broadly in line with the old C7. It's perhaps not quite fully 'supercar fast', then, but for this money, you're unlikely to quibble with any run-to-60mph figure that starts with a three.

The Corvette also handles with plenty of stability and precision, feeling instantly more benign and easier to drive quickly than any of its front-engined forebears, even if the slightly numb steering and a predilection for on-the-limit understeer might take the edge of its appeal on track days. In a subsequent twin test with a Porsche 911, however, it stood up and held its own remarkably well, and any sports car that can retain its own particular appeal under pressure from a car as complete as the 992 must be a pretty good one.

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Yes, its cabin has plenty of ergonomic quirks and it still lags behind the best for perceived quality, but we can't help but feel grateful that a car like the Corvette exists at all, and in right-hand-drive form to boot. It's not an unequivocal recommendation, but the caveats are small and easily offset by the car's big-hearted character.

Meanwhile, for those with bigger budgets and appetites, there's also the bewinged Z06 version, with its waspish flat-crank V8 and trackday-ready temperament. Memorable indeed.

Read our Chevrolet Corvette C8 and Chevrolet Corvette Z06 reviews

8. Jaguar F-Type

Pros Plenty of bang for your buck, plenty of front-engined, rear-driven dynamic attitude

Cons Not very practical even by two-seater standards, cabin is showing some age

Nearly a decade after its debut, the Jaguar F-Type is beginning its farewell tour. Jaguar has announced its flagship sports car will die, with no direct replacement in the pipeline. In fact, the sales fortunes of the British brand's much-hyped successor to the legendary E-Type will tell you much about the development of the modern sports car market.

When it was launched in 2013, we imagined the buying public would value it as a sort of prettier and more dependable modern TVR, favouring the biggest-hitting V8 engines and viewing it as a cheaper and more powerful front-engined rival to the 911. And for a while, they did exactly so. But as the car aged and the focus of the purist sports car market migrated (both upwards towards mid-engined super-sports cars like the Audi R8 and downwards towards cheaper mid-engined machines such as the Cayman and A110), the F-Type had to move with it. The six-cylinder models grew in popularity, until Jaguar created another wave of interest in the car by furnishing it with a four-cylinder engine.

So after its 2020 facelift, the F-Type straddles even more market territory than it used to, despite the decision to axe the V6, which was becoming increasingly difficult to clean up to meet emissions regulations. At the top of the range, the new R version remains a bleeding-heart, 567bhp upper-level-911 and cut-price Aston Martin Vantage rival; at the lower end, it costs less than £60,000 and makes do with just under 300bhp; and in the middle, the V8-engined, rear-wheel-drive, £70,000 P450 version might even be the pick of the range.

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As a nod to the 75th anniversary of Jaguar sports cars, which stretches back to the XK120, the V8 machines will all be badged 75 for the last year of production and feature bespoke trim and equipment treatments.

Jaguar's new styling treatment for the F-Type certainly gives it some fresh and distinguishing visual appeal, though. We have thus far only driven the range-topping R AWD, but it charmed us with its somewhat antediluvian V8 hot-rod speed and noise and yet impressed with its outright handling precision and chassis composure too.

In its early days, the F-Type existed partly on the patriotic fervour of an audience who had long been calling for a succuessor to the legenday E-Type, yet as it has aged, its flaws have become harder to ignore. Yes, it's still charming and drives well, but its poorly packaged interior is a bugbear and its facelift has blunted its visual appeal.

Read our Jaguar F-Type review

9. Mercedes-AMG SL

Pros Lots of power, speed and AMG V8 theatricality when you want it, good cruising manners when you don't

Cons Not the most naturally involving sports car in this list, not cheap

Over the years, the Mercedes-Benz SL has swung between out-and-out sports car and sunshine-seeking cruiser, but with this latest seventh iteration, the drop-top two-seater is aiming to be more of the former and less of the latter. Underpinned by an all-new aluminium platform, the R232 has been engineered exclusively by the performance-enhancing engineers at AMG, which gives you the clearest indication of its intent.

Other clues to the SL's renewed focus include the use of a weight-saving fabric roof in place of the old car's folding metal hardtop, the option of four-wheel steering for enhanced agility and the fact that the entry-level engine is the 470bhp twin-turbocharged 4.0-litre V8 in the SL 55, which results in a claimed 0-62mph sprint of 3.9sec and 183mph top speed. If that's a bit tame for you, the SL 63 offers a 577bhp version of the same unit.

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Whichever way you cut it, the SL is a more dynamic and capable car than its predecessor, its quick steering, strong grip and taut body control allowing it to scythe through corners with greater precision and poise. It's aided by four-wheel drive that allows you deploy all of the V8's considerable firepower out of a corner yet also has enough of a sense of humour to permit some throttle-induced yaw shenanigans when you're in the mood.

That said, anyone expecting Porsche 911 levels of driver interaction and agility will be disappointed, as the SL still feels a little too big and bloated in this company. However, it counters this by being more easy-going when you just want to get from A to B, its adaptive dampers slackening off for a more compliant ride and its cosseting interior feeling as luxurious as that of the S-Class limousine. As a result, it's a fine all-rounder, one that's willing to play when you're in the mood but capable of cosseting when you're not.

Read our Mercedes-AMG SL review

10. Lexus LC 500

Pros Knockout concept-car looks, effusive V8 soundtrack, lavish and rich material cabin quality

Cons Part sports car, part GT so fairly big and heavy, the auto 'box isn't an enthusiast's dream

As a keen driver, one feels inclined to make a case for the Lexus LC 500. It has a superbly charismatic and likeable V8 engine, while balanced, spry, involving handling makes it feel at times more of a natural rival for the Jaguar F-Type or Porsche 911 than the mix of two- and four-door sporting grand tourers that Lexus identifies as its true opponents. Hence its inclusion here.

But the LC seems large, heavy, leaden-footed and a bit cumbersome on the road at times, so you never quite escape a feeling of ambivalence towards it. On song, its V8 is hugely special, and on a smooth surface its sheer agility and balance are quite something. Equally the cabin, while remarkably luxurious, wants for much in the way of storage space, while the car's touring credentials are undermined by a particularly unpleasant secondary ride on its runflat tyres.

Ultimately, depending on how much you're moved by its virtues or irked by its shortcomings, the LC is either a bit of a rough diamond or the dreaded curate's egg. For us, it's much closer to the former.

Read our Lexus LC review

Matt Saunders

Matt Saunders Autocar
Title: Road test editor

As Autocar’s chief car tester and reviewer, it’s Matt’s job to ensure the quality, objectivity, relevance and rigour of the entirety of Autocar’s reviews output, as well contributing a great many detailed road tests, group tests and drive reviews himself.

Matt has been an Autocar staffer since the autumn of 2003, and has been lucky enough to work alongside some of the magazine’s best-known writers and contributors over that time. He served as staff writer, features editor, assistant editor and digital editor, before joining the road test desk in 2011.

Since then he’s driven, measured, lap-timed, figured, and reported on cars as varied as the Bugatti Veyron, Rolls-Royce PhantomTesla RoadsterAriel Hipercar, Tata Nano, McLaren SennaRenault Twizy and Toyota Mirai. Among his wider personal highlights of the job have been covering Sebastien Loeb’s record-breaking run at Pikes Peak in 2013; doing 190mph on derestricted German autobahn in a Brabus Rocket; and driving McLaren’s legendary ‘XP5’ F1 prototype. His own car is a trusty Mazda CX-5.

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