The Lightest Sports Cars You Can Buy for Under $30,000
These cars all weigh less than 3,000 pounds but deliver outsized fun
Power-to-weight ratios matter, and what these sports cars lack in horsepower they more than make up for in their abilities to attack the roads with venom. Credit their superlight curb weights, which, combined with sporty suspension tuning allow for tons of dynamic goodness—even if none will challenge a Tesla or a V-8-powered muscle car in a stoplight drag race. The lightest among these bantam-weight sports cars is also our favorite: The 2020 Mazda Miata, but the rest on this list are plenty appealing, not least because each of them can be bought for less than $30,000. Read on for our top five lightweight sports cars, as determined by their makers' self-published weight figures:
2020 Honda Civic Si Coupe | Price: $25,930 | Weight: 2,906 lbs
The Civic Si Coupe is no substitute for the mightier 306-hp Civic Type R—if power is what you seek. However, while the Si gives up 101 horsepower to its burlier sibling, it is nearly 200 pounds lighter. Besides, the Si's 205-hp 1.5-liter turbo four is perfectly matched to its elegantly tuned suspension, quick steering, and delightful-to-use six-speed manual transmission. And with a price starting at $25,930, the Civic Si is as light on your wallet as it is on its feet.
2020 Subaru BRZ | Price: $29,745 | Weight: 2,798 lbs
Like its twin the Toyota 86, the Subaru BRZ packs a 2.0-liter flat-four engine delivering 205 horsepower and 156 lb-ft of torque. However, the Subie is slightly heavier, weighing in at 2,798 pounds—a 22-pound difference. As does the 86, the BRZ sports a six-speed manual gearbox as standard that offers precise short shifter throws and pedals perfectly spaced for heel-and-toeing. A six-speed automatic mission is also available if you want to hammer one of the last nails into the manual transmission's coffin while making the BRZ heavier.
2020 Toyota 86 | Price: $27,940 | Weight: 2,776 lbs
The lightweight, pocket-sized Toyota 86 weighs in at just 2,776 pounds when equipped with its standard six-speed manual transmission, yet (technically) seats four adult humans, just like its BRZ twin. While you might never force your least-favorite friends into either sports car's tiny back seat, you can fold those seatbacks down to impressively expand the cargo area from the trunk. The 86 also is affordable and rear-wheel-drive, a rarefied station also occupied by the Mazda Miata, and, duh, the BRZ. Power comes from a flat-four engine that makes 205 horsepower and 156 lb-ft of torque; opting for the available automatic means sacrificing five horsepower. Prices start at $27,940 for one with a base manual and can stretch just past $31,000 for a loaded, automatic-transmission model.
2020 Fiat 124 Spider | Price: $26,885 | Weight: 2,436 lbs
Sharing platforms with the Miata, Fiat's 124 Spider nonetheless is slightly heavier. Mostly, that's because the 124 Spider is a svelte drop-top powered by a 1.4-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine compared to the Miata, which uses a non-turbo engine. While the Fiat makes up for the turbo's weight somewhat thanks to its torque advantage (184 lb-ft to the Mazda's 151 lb-ft), the Miata's 2.0-liter engine still has it beat in horsepower (181 to the Fiat's 160). Opt for the Abarth trim level's sport exhaust, and you'll forget all about mechanical minutiae—not only does it give the Fiat's 1.4-liter engine a four-hp boost, but it adds a sweet burbly sound to the mix. As with the other vehicles on this list, the Fiat with its standard six-speed manual gearbox weighs less than the versions with an automatic—just saying.
2019 Mazda MX-5 Miata | Price: $26,650 | Weight: 2,339 lbs
The Mazda MX-5 Miata is a fun-to-drive, affordable, and a sexy little roadster. The 2.0-liter inline-four engine, updated last year, now delivers a substantial 181 horsepower and 151 lb-ft of torque. We say it's substantial because, well, past Miatas' output figures were conspicuously insubstantial, and the newfound power makes the current MX-5 the quickest ever by far. That the Miata is so peppy even with less than 200 horsepower is a testament to its feathery curb weight. It simply doesn't take much to chop time off of a car's zero-to-60-mph acceleration when it only weighs 2339 pounds. That the Miata is so light while still conforming to modern safety regulations is a miracle, and Mazda's engineers made sure you can feel all the difference that lack of unnecessary mass makes on the road.