12 Affordable Sports Cars You Can Actually Buy In 2022

The car market in 2022 is at an all-time price high, with inventory shortages and the lasting effects of the COVID-19 pandemic pushing the average price for a new car to over $47,000. It doesn't look like this trend is set to go away anytime soon either, as analysts expect that prices will remain high throughout 2022 and into 2023. But, there is still value to be found in some segments, and in particular, plenty of new and used sports cars out there remain affordable despite this overall surge in prices.

In the past couple of years, a slew of excellent new sports cars have hit the market, and in an attempt to draw sales away from their competitors, their starting prices have remained a surprisingly good value in many cases. Likewise, there are plenty of lightly-used sports cars that, thanks to depreciation, can be picked up for considerably less than their original asking price. The cars listed here can all be bought for less than the average price of a new car, but they're all excellent to drive and will provide lots more driver enjoyment than any run-of-the-mill passenger car or truck could do.

Subaru BRZ

Built in collaboration with Toyota, the Subaru BRZ and its twin, the Toyota GR86, remain two of the best cheap sports cars on the market. The second generation of the BRZ arrived on the market in 2022, and it sports a number of key improvements over its predecessor. Subaru claims the 2022 car benefits from a 50% increase in torsional stiffness and a 60% increase in front lateral bending rigidity. They've also added a new, more powerful engine, which makes 228 horsepower and 184 lb-ft of torque. Still not a huge amount, but more than enough to make the smallest Subaru great fun to drive.

Prices start at $28,955 including destination fee for the base-spec model, or $31,455 for the top-of-the-line Premium trim. If that still seems like too much, buying a well-maintained example of the first-generation car is a great alternative. The design of the first-gen car has aged well and there isn't a huge difference in performance. Plus, with so many used examples on the market, it's not too difficult to find a pre-owned bargain for a rock-bottom price.

Porsche Cayman

The Porsche Cayman is a car that's often overlooked in favor of its more famous sibling, the 911, but it shouldn't be. Every generation of the car has been praised for its class-leading combination of performance and handling, but since a 2022 Cayman starts at around $60,000, it's hardly what most people would call affordable. However, used examples of the 981 generation can be picked up for nearly half that price, and they come with the same features that make the Cayman a hidden gem in Porsche's lineup. The 981 was unveiled for the 2013 model year and ran until 2016, when it was replaced with the current-gen 718 Cayman.

The 981 was lighter, faster, and more efficient than its predecessor, reportedly using 15% less fuel per 100 km. The base-spec Cayman made 275 horsepower and the higher-spec Cayman S made 325 horsepower, and both came with a suite of convenience features including keyless entry and adaptive cruise control. It might not have the prestige of a 911, but the Cayman arguably offers better value for money than its range-topping sibling, especially in used form.

Mazda MX-5 Miata

The Mazda Miata is one of the best-selling sports cars of all time, and for good reason. Since its debut in 1989, the pint-sized roadster has remained a firm favorite among sports car fans. Mazda has always stuck to the tried-and-tested formula of making the car lightweight, affordable, and fun to drive, and the latest ND generation of the car is no different. The 2022 car starts at $27,300 for the base-spec Sport trim, while the most expensive RF Club trim with the optional Brembos and BBS Recaro packages top out at $38,200.

SlashGear tested the Miata RF in 2021, and our verdict was that it was simply the "epitome of the modern, attainable sports car." The folding metal roof available on the RF adds an extra layer of practicality and makes it better for daily driving, so it's worth paying the premium for the RF over the soft-top version. Even in top-spec form, the Miata remains solid value for money, and it's worth noting that the car is generally very reliable and cheap to run. For a fun, affordable sports car that's easy to live with every day, it's difficult to go wrong with a Miata.

Chevrolet Corvette C6

The latest generation C8 Corvette debuted in 2020 to great acclaim, but while everyone was busy fawning over this mid-engined supercar killer, previous generations of the car were quietly becoming performance bargains. In particular, the C6 has now depreciated to levels that Road and Track call, "dangerously cheap." It debuted in 2005 with the most powerful standard engine ever available on a Corvette, with 400 horsepower and a curb weight of just under 3,250 pounds. It was available as a hatchback, a Targa, and a soft-top convertible, and came with a choice of two transmissions, a six-speed manual or an automatic.

For the 2008 model year, the C6 got a major upgrade, with the introduction of the LS3 engine, which replaced the LS2. Power was boosted to 436 horsepower, and there were also a number of other performance improvements including reworked steering and a revised final drive ratio, according to Road and Track. The car was a best-seller; as a result, there is plenty of used inventory in dealerships across the country. After several years of price stagnation, used values for the C6 are starting to increase, with higher-mileage cars selling for around $30,000 depending on condition.

Audi TT

The Audi TT is set to be axed in 2023 after 25 years on sale, but there are still plenty of used examples out there. The 2016 TT has now depreciated enough to earn the title of "affordable", and by all accounts, it's a great car. It features a 2.0L four-cylinder engine that makes 220 horsepower, which might not sound like much, but provides enough oomph for a 0-60 mph time of just 5.2 seconds. It won't provide raw power in the way that, say, a Corvette will, but its four-wheel drive Quattro system more than makes up for any power deficit on twistier roads.

For those with a big enough budget, the TTS and TT RS are arguably better cars, as they both come with significant power increases and feel closer in their overall handling profile to the range-topping R8 supercar. However, even a base-spec TT still remains a solid sports car, and they're now cheap enough that most buyers won't care that they're not getting the most powerful model.

Ford Mustang GT

Buying a 2022 Mustang GT might not be the most original choice, but it's hard to argue with its value for money. After six decades on sale, the Mustang has remained a best-seller, and a new model is currently in development. However, the current car is by no means ready for retirement yet, and it continues to offer excellent value, with a starting price of around $38,000 for the GT model, including fees. The GT comes with a 450-horsepower V8 and a choice of two transmission options, a six-speed manual or a 10-speed automatic transmission. There are plenty of upgrade packs available, which improve performance even further, although most options come with a hefty price hike over the base car.

The current generation Mustang is not only quicker than ever, it's more liveable than ever. Ford gave the car's interior a makeover when the current-gen car debuted in 2016, and it still looks modern, although a few of the cabin materials could be improved. There is also a generous amount of luggage space with the rear seats folded, and there is plenty of cubby storage dotted around the cabin. All in all, the Mustang remains a strong competitor, offering a lot of car for not a lot of cash.

Nissan Z

After years of hints and teasers, the 2023 Nissan Z has finally arrived, and its first customer deliveries are scheduled for summer 2022. The new car packs a lot of desirable features into its small frame, and it's affordable too, with a starting price of roughly $40,000. Nissan chose to stick with the classic formula of rear-wheel drive, V6 power, and a manual transmission for the new Z, although a slick nine-speed auto 'box is also available. The Z only comes with one engine option, a twin-turbo V6 that makes 400 horsepower, and features an aluminum-alloy block and heads to keep weight to a minimum.

The Z's lack of electronic trickery and its plentiful horsepower give it a more old-school feel than many of its rivals, and on our first drive, we were impressed with the car's overall performance. It helps, of course, that the car looks the part, blending classic design quirks from the 240Z with the shape and stance of a contemporary sports car. Some critics have argued that the car isn't radical enough considering how long it has been in development. But, with the rise of EVs forcing nearly every manufacturer to overhaul their lineup, a healthy dose of nostalgia is exactly what many sports car buyers will be clamoring for, and the new Z delivers that in spades.

Honda S2000

Despite the rumors that have circulated for years, Honda has never made a successor to the high-revving S2000 roadster. The two-seater sports car was axed in 2009 amid a general decline in sports car sales, having already been in production for years longer than Honda originally planned it to be. The reason for its long-standing popularity is simple: the car was designed by enthusiasts, for enthusiasts, and it remains one of Honda's greatest drivers' cars to this day.

Its engine is a particular highlight, a naturally-aspirated four-cylinder unit that produces 237 horsepower and is most alive in the highest reaches of its rev range. In comparison to the many turbocharged, electronically-assisted sports cars of today, the S2,000 offers a much more pure package, one that hasn't been replicated since. Used prices for the car currently sit at around $30,000, or slightly more for later-model cars. However, the S2,000's value is rapidly rising, with a 7.3% increase in selling price between 2021 and 2022, according to data from CarGurus. The first-edition 2000 model year cars have seen an even bigger price increase of 22.9% over the same period. So, anyone who wants one of these iconic Hondas at an affordable price had better act fast.

BMW Z4 (E89)

A punchy, stylish German roadster with a more grown-up feel than most of its competition, the Z4 is often overlooked in favor of BMWs with an M badge, but it has plenty of appeal in its own right. The E89 generation isn't quite as sharp to drive as the latest generation Z4, but it compensates for that by being roughly half the price on the used market. The E89 was in production from 2009 to 2016, and came with a choice of two engines, a naturally aspirated 255-horsepower inline-six, or a turbocharged version that made 300 horsepower.

Both specs were offered with the same six-speed manual transmission or one of two automatics. The top-spec dual-clutch sport automatic was the one to have, according to The Car Connection, as it was borrowed from the BMW M series, and the first time that such a transmission had featured on a non-M car. CNET reviewed the car upon its release in 2009 and gave it an Editor's Choice award, praising its performance, but also its suite of tech features, including a premium audio system, easy-to-use navigation, and quite fittingly for the era, iPod integration. Being able to connect an iPod might not be such a useful feature today, but the Z4 remains a great everyday sports car, and used examples can now be picked up for a very reasonable price.

Abarth 124 Spider

Italian cars are renowned for their style and driving dynamics, but their build quality and reliability are stereotypically lacking. Likewise, Japanese cars are famed for being well-built, but sometimes lack the flare of their European counterparts. What do you get if you combine the two? Well, in the worst-case scenario, you get the Alfa Romeo Arna, and in the best case, the Abarth 124 Spider. The Abarth is the hotter version of the Fiat 124 Spider, which itself is essentially a Mazda Miata in a suave Italian suit. Underneath, the regular Miata's engine has disappeared and been replaced with Fiat's 1.4L MultiAir unit, which in the Abarth, is boosted to make 168 horsepower.

The Abarth also gets a sport exhaust, Brembo brakes, Bilstein dampers, and a limited-slip differential to set it apart from its lesser Fiat-branded sibling. It's predictably faster to drive than either the Fiat or the Mazda, and it proves what enthusiasts have been saying for years: that the Miata can handle more power. The car was axed in the US in 2020 and was a slow seller before that, so finding a used one won't be as easy as some of the other cars listed here. However, it's worth the search, as the Abarth offers a unique combination of Japanese and Italian traits that aren't found in any other sports car on sale today.

Porsche 911 (996)

The cheapest and least-appreciated generation of the 911, the 996 fell out of favor with purists thanks to its notorious water-cooled engine and radical styling overhaul from previous generations. However, this has meant that used prices for the car have remained the lowest of any 911, and for buyers who can look past its reputation, the 996 is a real performance bargain. It's far from the most refined of Porsche models, and its interior feels cheap and tacky even for the era, but in terms of its engineering, it's surprisingly solid.

The car had a reputation for blowing its engine thanks to a faulty IMS bearing but, Road and Track says, the problem is a lot less prevalent than many buyers are led to believe. Even if the car is one of the few that has the fault, it can be corrected by a fix that will cost less than $1,000, a small fraction of the savings that can be made by buying a 996 over any other generation of 911. While its reputation as the impure 911 has stopped it from rising in value as much as older Porsche generations, it has still been rising nonetheless. Data from CarGurus suggests that the car's real-world value has risen around 3% in the past year, a small increase, but one that may continue exponentially as more collectors realize the value that the 996 offers.

Chevrolet Camaro SS

A worthy rival to the best-selling Ford Mustang, the latest generation of the Chevy Camaro SS offers a beefy 455-horsepower V8 and refreshed styling. The current Camaro SS debuted in 2019, and for 2022, the car starts at $38,895 including fees for the 1SS and $43,845 for the 2SS. It remains primarily a sports car that is designed for the road, but the SS is also a competent track performer, although it reportedly requires more driver involvement than its rivals to be kept in line around high-speed corners.

Also, MotorTrend reports that visibility is an issue, making driving the SS in rush-hour traffic more of a chore than many of its competitors. Still, what the Camaro lacks in refinement, it makes up for in bang-for-the-buck. Much like the Mustang, it's hard to argue with that kind of power at that kind of price, and although it's not the most original or even the most prestigious option, the Camaro SS remains an excellent affordable sports car that's within the reach of most buyers, even in 2022's record-high car market.