For the purposes of this top 10 list, however, we can narrow our terms of reference down a bit: Caterham Sevens, Ferrari 488s, Audi R8s, Alpine A110s and BMW M cars are ranked and dealt with elsewhere. Here, we’re interested in full-sized, fulsomely endowed, dedicated sports cars with rich and enticing multi-cylinder engines priced between about £60,000 and £120,000. Only grown-up, big-hitting, multifaceted and purpose-built options get in.
Front-, mid- and rear-engined offerings are included, likewise rear-wheel-drive and four-wheel-drive layouts, and open and closed cockpits. There are plenty of routes towards the level of indulgent performance, vivid handling poise, immersive driver engagement and character you’d expect of a true sports car, after all. But which should you take – and why?
1. Porsche 911
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, 444bhp 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 either rear- or four-wheel drive; or with eight-speed dual-clutch PDK automatic or seven-speed manual gearboxes. There are also the extra-rapid Turbo and Turbo S versions of the car on offer higher up the range, which we deal elsewhere with in our super-sports car top 10 chart.
We’ve tested most versions of the car, and we've yet to find much to dislike in any of them. Although it has certainly become a better and more refined and sophisticated luxury operator than it ever used to be, this eighth-generation, rear-engined sporting hero is every inch as great a driver’s car as the '991' it has replaced – and, if anything, stands ready to take the game further away from its rivals.
Having grown longer and slightly wider, all versions of the the 992 now use 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 car’s 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 textural qualities of Porsche’s old atmospheric units, but it makes for very serious real-world performance – and, overall, for a car that remains without equal among direct contemporary rivals for usability, for rounded sporting credibility and especially for the accessible, everyday-use, any-occasion brilliance of its driver appeal.