And there’s still plenty of money left over for a year’s supply of fuel.
Ask any motoring enthusiast what sports car they would most like to have parked in their garage and the 911 will inevitable be at or near the top of their list. There is just one small problem, and that is the $91,100 asking price for the base model. Once you add a few essential extras you will be looking at closer to $110,000, not exactly pocket change. The desirable track-focused GT3 is $143,600, while the manic 540-hp Turbo models start at $161,800.
At the other end of the scale we have the GT2 RS, this Nurburgring record-breaking beast is a cool $294,000. But while the 911 may be an accomplished sports car, it is not the only thing on four wheels that can offer driving enjoyment. We took a look at ten engaging and fun-to-drive alternatives that cost less than one brand new Porsche 911, combined. Don’t think that’s possible? We didn’t either.
Mazda MX-5 Miata
Rear-wheel-drive, nippy and just the right amount of power to have some fun, the Mx-5 Miata is $25,295 of pure entertainment. 155-bhp is plenty when it only has to push 2,300 lbs along. A Dodge Challenger is so fat it needs twice that power just to keep up.
You may remember it as the now discontinued Scion FR-S, it is also available as the all-but identical Subaru BRZ. Whatever name it goes by, the $26,255 Toyota 86 is analogue driving distilled to its essence. 200 hp is just enough to get you into trouble but it is the biddable chassis that is the star of the package.
Honda Civic Si Coupe
At $24,100 the Civic Si is startlingly good value, while the front-wheel-drive chassis is one of the very best and comes standard with a limited-slip diff. The turbocharged three-cylinder engine is great too and offers 205 hp performance as well as 32 mpg combined fuel economy.
Ford Focus ST
The sporty hatchback segment is bristling with great cars and the Ford Focus ST is a mere $925 more than the Honda and offers a 2.0-liter turbocharged motor which bumps the power up to 252 hp. It also comes with Torque Vectoring Control for its FWD setup to improve cornering ability.
VW Golf GTI
The GTI may not compete on power with the Focus ST (it makes do with 220 hp) and it is not quite as economical as the Civic Si but as an overall package this is arguably the best of the lot. The $26,415 base price also includes a comprehensive 6-year/72,000 mile warranty.
Hyundai Elantra GT Sport
If you are on a really tight budget the Elantra GT Sport is an oft-overlooked option that makes a lot of sense at its $23,250 starting price, especially if you take advantage of the $2,500 dealer discounts that are available off that price up until April 2. The 201-hp 1.6-liter turbocharged engine offers strong performance and you won’t be shortchanged on driving dynamics either.
All-wheel-drive performance cars can provide exotic car rivalling performance in the right conditions and the WRX is such a machine. For your $26,995 you get 305 turbocharged horsepower and the ability to scramble up a slippery mountain pass quicker than cars costing twice as much.
Whereas the Mazda and Toyota are all about finesse, the 370Z is a decidedly more old-school offering. Its big 3.7-liter V6 sends 33 -hp to the rear wheels and the 6-speed manual transmission offers rev-matching to make you look like a pro too. $29,990 is a bargain for this level of performance.
Chevrolet Camaro V6
The Camaro is more modern than the old-timer Nissan, and at $26,900 a fair bit cheaper too. You do have to make do with the 275-hp turbocharged 2.0-liter lump at that price but even the 335-hp 3.6-liter V6 is still only $28,395, so we would definitely go with that one.
Ford Mustang EcoBoost
The base Mustang is an interesting alternative to the similarly priced Focus ST as well as the more obvious Camaro rival. At $25,585 for the 310-hp 2.3-liter turbocharged you get strong performance and, as the V6 model has now been discontinued, you will have to fork out another $10,000 for the big boy 5.0-liter V8. We will stick with the capable EcoBoost model here.
Total cost? If we bought every one of these cars fresh off the showroom floor it comes to $261,305. That’s still $32,695 less than the GT2 RS so we have money left over for a few desirable options. So, while none of our picks can match a Porsche 911 on ultimate ability, it is good to know that for less than a tenth of its price you can have a sports car that will give you way more than just a tenth of the enjoyment.