Top 10 Affordable Sports Cars in Australia

By Alexi Falson on 04 Apr 2022
image for Top 10 Affordable Sports Cars in Australia If you've had your eyes on the Australian sports car market, you would have noticed some pretty exciting additions over the past few years.

While some manufacturers might have you believe otherwise, there really is no need to purchase a fire-breathing supercar in the name of having some serious fun on the road. In reality, you just need a capable chassis, motivated engine and supportive suspension package. 

The thrills and excitement of a sports car have never been more accessible, as manufacturers release new sporting variants of exciting cars, and bring more standalone sports cars to the Australian market. 

With that in mind, let’s take a look at some of the more affordable sports cars you’ll find here in Australia. 

1. Mazda MX-5

We’ll start our list with one of the most iconic names in the world of affordable sporty motoring, the Mazda MX-5.

Mazda’s recipe for the MX-5 is, and has been for decades now, remarkably simple. Package a perky naturally-aspirated engine in a low-slung and lightweight platform with a near perfect 50-50 weight distribution, and you’ve got yourself a genuine sports car. 

Better yet, the MX-5 puts its power to the ground via a manual gearbox that throws all its power to the rear wheels, topping-off what is widely received as one of the most iconic affordable sports cars. 

2. Toyota GR86

Around ten years ago, Toyota surprised the automotive world with the release of the GT86, which took a similar approach to the MX-5. It packaged a perky naturally aspirated engine with a lightweight body, manual transmission and a rear-wheel drive platform that proved an absolute hit with Australian buyers.

Ten years later, Toyota has released a follow-up to its affordable sports car favourite, in the form of the GR86, which will touch down in Australia in the coming months. 

The GR86 is powered by a 2.4-litre flat-four engine that sends 173kW/250Nm to the rear-wheels via a manual gearbox, making it the perfect option for buyers looking for an entertaining sports car that doesn’t break the bank. 

3. Ford Fiesta ST

Ford is no stranger to the world of affordable sports cars, with vehicles like the Focus and Fiesta ST providing a world of excitement with attractive price tags attached. 

The Fiesta ST is a great example of Ford’s commitments to affordable sports cars, with the Fiesta receiving a powerful 1.5-litre turbocharged three-cylinder unit producing 147kW/290Nm, with a manual transmission. 

All that power in a small, lightweight package combined with a short wheelbase means that the Fiesta is a huge amount of fun to drive aggressively. The front axle has been well-engineered to handle all that power and the stresses of aggressive handling while remaining user-friendly for the driver, making it a perfect little hot hatch. 

4. Volkswagen Polo GTI

While the Volkswagen Polo GTI might be the baby of Volkswagen’s performance range, it offers an extremely entertaining package for buyers looking for a rapid point-and-shoot hatchback that performs well in the corners, too. 

The Polo receives a 2.0-litre turbocharged engine that throws 147kW/320Nm to the front wheels, which might sound like it could overwhelm the front axle, but in reality, VW’s clever engineering ensures the front end feels planted and minimises understeer when pushed. 

Better still, the Polo retains VW’s hallmark attention to detail in and around the cabin, in an extremely well-engineered package. 

5. Subaru WRX

If there’s one name on our list that needs no introduction, it’s the Subaru WRX. For decades now, the WRX has been priced around the same $40,000 threshold - a very intentional move from Subaru to make its rally-bred performance machine accessible to the masses. 

The WRX platform benefits from Subaru’s experience in the WRC rally championship, and packages a turbocharged four-cylinder engine with the company’s iconic symmetrical all-wheel drive platform, making it a genuine sports car that can handle some serious punishment when the sealed road ends. 

Better yet, the current Subaru WRX is due to be replaced by its next-generation replacement, which will see updates for the engine, the suspension and even the chassis it rides on, promising what should become the most capable and entertaining WRX we’ve seen yet. 

6. Toyota GR Yaris

If there’s one car that has blown the automotive world’s collective mind in recent months, it’s been the Toyota GR Yaris. The GR Yaris is a specialised rally-bred, road machine that is powered by no less than the world’s most powerful three-cylinder engine. 

Don’t let the three-cylinder headline fool you, because the addition of a turbocharger brings the GR Yaris’ power up to 225kW/385Nm of torque, making it one of the most powerful vehicles on our list. 

Toyota created the GR Yaris in order to compete in the WRC, which means it’s effectively a road-going rally car that you can own. The adjustable all-wheel drive platform, upgraded brakes and fire-breathing engine make it every bit as fast as a pure-bred supercar - especially when the roads get twisty.

Toyota is receiving massive amounts of interest for the GR Yaris, so if you’re not a fan of waiting lists, you best get your order in ASAP!  

7. Volkswagen Golf GTI

The Golf GTI has been the figurative yardstick that a number of affordable sports cars and hot hatches are measured against - and there’s a good reason for this. 

For years now, the GTI has set the standard of how affordable sports cars should perform, with a simple recipe that has proved a hit with buyers worldwide. Package a turbocharged four-cylinder engine with a clever front-wheel drive package that can handle huge amounts of power and the stresses of aggressive cornering. 

For the everyday driver, the Golf GTI is a huge amount of fun and really is one of the fastest affordable sports cars you can get for a reasonable price. 

8. Hyundai i30 N

The Hyundai i30 N is the company’s answer to icons like the Golf GTI, and it has shot straight to the top of the podium since its launch, impressing buyers with its performance and fun-loving personality. 

The i30 N is powered by a 2.0-litre turbocharged four-cylinder producing 206kW/392Nm, throwing all that power to the front wheels with a choice of manual and DCT automatic transmissions. The chassis and suspension packages have been upgraded thanks to Hyundai’s recent experience in the WRC Rally championship, and it handles exceptionally well for a front-wheel drive platform.

For the majority of drivers, you really don’t need any more power and performance than what’s on offer in the i30 N, which is made even more impressive by Hyundai’s ownership program and $44,500 price tag. 

9. Subaru BRZ

The Subaru BRZ is a twin to the Toyota GR86, because under the skin, they share almost every mechanical part that make each of them a truly special sports car. 

Like the GR86, the BRZ is being readied for the first deliveries of the latest generation, with 500 units expected to reach Australia by the middle of the year. It features a 173kW/250Nm four-cylinder engine putting power to the road via a choice of manual and automatic transmissions in a rear-wheel drive package that is a heap of fun on the road. 

Better yet, prices for the updated BRZ range are set to stay around the $38,990 mark, making it an extremely attractive entry-point into the world of affordable sports cars. 

10. Kia Stinger

Kia’s Stinger range comes in two engine variants, with a twin-turbo V6 headlining the performance lineup, throwing a massive 274kW/510Nm to the rear wheels, giving buyers a slice of high-powered grand touring for a remarkably affordable price. 

Kia has always been in the business of giving buyers value for money, and the Stinger range is no different, with handsome equipment lists as standard, and even the option of an entry-level Stinger featuring a turbocharged four-cylinder engine. 

If you’re looking for a powerful sports car that is large enough to comfortably move you and your family, the Stinger range is a great option with an affordable price tag to match. 

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Alexi Falson

Alexi is an automotive journalist and road tester hailing from Byron Bay. He has an affection for both cars and motorbikes, a great admiration for the simplicity of old-school engineering, and a fascination of new technology making its way to modern cars. When he's not road testing, you'll find him surfing, hiking or helping people find their dream cars.

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