► What is the best sports car out there?
► Porsche’s 911 takes on the world
► CAR’s definitive list
What’s the best sports car on sale? It’s a simple question without a simple answer. And as much as we hate to say it, it depends on how deep your pockets are. This list assumes your wallet is as unplumbed as the Pacific. But if you don’t fancy committing £50k plus to a car, we also have a best cheap sports cars article.
What makes something a sports car? General consensus is that it needs to be low and impractical. Some people say it needs to be front-engined. Not us.
The pertinent characteristic of any sports car is that it’s special. A sports car should turn every drive into an event, every nip to the shops in to a full 30-minute hoon, every school run into a cherished memory.
With that in mind, these are the best sports cars on sale.
Best sports cars
The 911 is the predictable choice at number one. But like a pint of bitter, it’s earned its status because lots of people like it. Everything about the 992 911 feels honed and precise. It could only have come from a team that has been working on the same model for decades.
When you push it hard, the 911 stays together willing you to go on. The driving position is bang on, the steering wheel delightful to grasp, and the gearchange seamless.
Go for the Carrera S for the best drive, with the optional £1844 sports exhaust if you want some extra audible goodness.
Workshop benches nationwide were stained with tears when Lotus announced it was binning the Elise.
Despite this, it’s still among the best sports cars out there. The engine is still just an engine, the car is as spartan as a pair of flip flops, and it weighs a mere 922kg. It sits low. Not modern car low, but as close to the ground as sports cars from the Sixties.
And we haven’t even got to the manual gearchange. Crisper than a cold lager on a warm day and forgiving, unlike the lager.
We adored the McLaren 570S for its sheer ability to excite. But the 570S is gone and the McLaren GT stands holding the torch. McLaren insists this is a GT car, but compared with what? Its 2021 MCL35M F1 car?
The GT does at least bear some extra creature comforts over the 570S. The seats are now covered in plush memory foam, and luggage space is more capacious at 570 litres.
With 612bhp, it’s monstrously quick and even more sporty to drive than a 911. On the inside, it’s almost the same as the 570S and therefore fairly basic. Not very GT-ish, is it?
Pretty as a picture but sharp as a razor blade. The Ferrari Roma is worthy of the prancing horse, and moulded into a classic shape, rather than a floppy GT car sprinkled with some Ferrari tabasco.
Acting as indicators of the Roma’s sporty intent, are the gearbox, which is borrowed from the Ferrari SF90, and the size of the body – it’s smaller than the McLaren GT.
Throttle response is up there with the best in the biz. Plus the Roma is 100kg lighter than the Portofino on which it is based and has less body roll. Yet, still manages to be comfortable. It ain’t cheap, though.
The R8’s V10 is a musical gem, with a soul-stirring howl. The rest of the car is far more focused on being practical (well, for a sports car).
At normal and medium speeds, the R8 is fairly sedate and only properly comes alive when you really work it.
Luckily, working it out Arnie style is easy because it’s user-friendly and enormously capable. If you want some extra drama and theatrics, go for the drop-top Spyder. That way, you get to indulge fully in that wonderful engine note.
The only hybrid to grace this list. The NSX is also the most controversial with many claiming it’s too complicated and too heavy (1.8 tonnes).
It’s neither of those things. Plus the NSX has recently undergone minor dynamic tweaks that have made the hybrid supercar more engaging to drive. It also has incredible and (crucially) usable performance and is extraordinarily quick in the dash off the line – faster than anything here (0-60mph in three seconds).
The interior won’t rival Ferrari or Porsche. But it is at least exclusive. When’s the last time you saw one on the road?
When looking into sports cars it’s easy to get caught up in the horsepower and tech races. But the Alpine A110 is a reminder of the unbridled enjoyment that can only be delivered by lightweight sports cars.
The Alpine is aimed at those chasing the purity of driving. And it delivers in spades, mostly because it’s not overloaded with grunt, isn’t intimidating, and instead offers unrivalled levels of fun and agility.
Interior is very Renault, and there isn’t a manual option either.