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Priced from $27,000 the Toyota 86 isn't exactly cheap.

If you were going for a more affordable sports car, what would you get?

Some suggestions found here include:

2013-2020 Toyota 86/BRZ
1990-2020 MX-5/Miata
2016+ Chevy Camaro
2000-2009 Honda S2000
2009-2020 Nissan 370Z
and many others.
 

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For me it's either the GR86 or Miata. The Miata with the soft top is a bargain, but I want the the RF and that's actually more expensive than the 86. Plus the ND Miata has a potentially weaker engine and transmission than the 86. So unless Toyota and Subaru really screw this gen up (like numb the wonderful Gen1 steering or give it terrible handling dynamics), I don't see anything else that interests me in the current market.

I don't think the S2000s are in this price range in the US unless you get a really beat one. Same with the Cayman and Boxster. You could probably get a nice one, but old with high mileage. Plus the Porsches have a lot of potentially expensive reliability and maintenance issues. Ultimately, you'd want a 2009+ and those are over $40k.

The Camaro and Nissan Z are fat pigs and not even in the same league as the 86 and Miata. They may be faster but not nearly as light and entertaining on the mountain back roads.
 

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Priced from $27,000 the Toyota 86 isn't exactly cheap.

If you were going for a more affordable sports car, what would you get?

Some suggestions found here include:

2013-2020 Toyota 86/BRZ
1990-2020 MX-5/Miata
2016+ Chevy Camaro
2000-2009 Honda S2000
2009-2020 Nissan 370Z
and many others.
It is absolutely an inexpensive new sports car. With the used market the way it is right now, the new 86 twins are the best bang for the buck. The used car market is crazy!
 

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It is absolutely an inexpensive new sports car. With the used market the way it is right now, the new 86 twins are the best bang for the buck. The used car market is crazy!
^this

Im selling my 2020 Corolla SE, that i bought for $21,500 in May 2019. Only owe $12000 on it still and Carvana/Carmax are offering me $22000 to $24000 using their online tool. I know they probably knock it down a little when they come see and nitpick it, but still id be happy as hell with 20 - 21K.
 

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Pre-pandemic I would have gotten the best used NC Miata (2006-2013) I could find for around 15K. There were even some power retractable hardtop's around that price. Used car prices are just too stupid right now. We have two loans on family cars now which has never happened before. They are both paid off in 2 years so that's when I plan to add a GR as a fun car, if not a year before. I can squeeze two kids into the right side of a GR though, which makes another Miata probably not worth considering anymore.

Other used things I consider cool practical-ish sports cars (loose term) under 20K some of which I've driven and some I haven't. Manual transmission would be mandatory imho:

Fiesta ST (it would need to be pretty low mileage though)
GTI (as a slower cheap to run alternative look for a TDI Golf that's not beat up)
BMW 1 or 2 series (or find an E46/E90 if you're not terrified of repair costs and/or can do some work yourself)
Fiat 124 (more or less an ND Miata with a small turbo engine that's easily tuned)
ND Miata (but they are tight inside)

S2000s are more fun on a track than on the street and are overpriced now. Could be a good investment if you barely drive it.

Camaros and Zs and Mustangs are more muscle cars than sports cars imo, but nothing really wrong with them!
 

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Pre-pandemic I would have gotten the best used NC Miata (2006-2013) I could find for around 15K. There were even some power retractable hardtop's around that price. Used car prices are just too stupid right now. We have two loans on family cars now which has never happened before. They are both paid off in 2 years so that's when I plan to add a GR as a fun car, if not a year before. I can squeeze two kids into the right side of a GR though, which makes another Miata probably not worth considering anymore.

Other used things I consider cool practical-ish sports cars (loose term) under 20K some of which I've driven and some I haven't. Manual transmission would be mandatory imho:

Fiesta ST (it would need to be pretty low mileage though)
GTI (as a slower cheap to run alternative look for a TDI Golf that's not beat up)
BMW 1 or 2 series (or find an E46/E90 if you're not terrified of repair costs and/or can do some work yourself)
Fiat 124 (more or less an ND Miata with a small turbo engine that's easily tuned)
ND Miata (but they are tight inside)

S2000s are more fun on a track than on the street and are overpriced now. Could be a good investment if you barely drive it.

Camaros and Zs and Mustangs are more muscle cars than sports cars imo, but nothing really wrong with them!
Regarding the camaros- The LS with the 1LE track package is a wonderful sports car and track car. It's like a Camaro Miata; It has the lower power 4 cyl turbo with all of the track goodies of the SS. They are going for around 30k used right now with under 10k miles. Since they don't have the ridiculous V8 the market has forgotten about them!
 

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I remember reading about that and seemed like a great spec. My issue with Mustangs and Camaros are more with their packaging than anything. If Ford made a four or five door Falcon again for the US market based on a Mustang platform I'd be seriously interested.
 
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