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More often than not, sports cars with any level of panache can come with significantly hefty price tags. But if budget-friendly performance is what you crave, you’re in luck. There’s an industry critic list of the cheapest and best sports cars you can buy right now. At the top of that list sits the small but fierce 2021 Mazda MX-5 Miata.

Some of the best sports cars you can buy for less than $40,000

MotorTrend recently released its ranking of the best sports cars you can buy today for less than $40,000. And a few of these sporty rides might not surprise you, like the 2022 Volkswagen Golf GTI with its estimated MSRP of $31,000. The 2021 Subaru WRX also made the cut of performance-meets-thrifty with its MSRP of $28,420.

But not even the 2021 Hyundai Veloster N, with a $33,255 price tag, could undercut the super-budget 2021 Mazda MX-5 Miata. Drive home a Miata today for only $27,825 if you want. It’s hands-down the cheapest sports car you can buy.

MotorTrend says you can’t go wrong with a Mazda MX-5 Miata. This small, rear-wheel-drive roadster of fun channels 181 hp produced by the 2.0-liter I-4. It’s a lightweight vehicle, so with this engine, the Miata can still scoot from 0 to 60 mph in a mere 5.7-seconds.

It has all the stylish looks and performance feels of a personality-packed sports scar. And even juicing up the trim level extras with the Brembo/BBS Recaro package will only set you back $35,777 or so.

The pricier contenders on this list

Any sports scar under $40,000 is probably worth a look. And a few of the other favorites besides the Mazda MX-5 Miata on this best-of list include the 2021 Chevrolet Camaro LT1 costing $37,895, and the 2021 Honda Civic Type R starting at $38,890.

The most expensive performance rides are still affordable, like the 2021 Ford Mustang EcoBoost High Performance package with the EcoBoost Handling package for $39,085. And believe it or not, this year, you can even drive home a 2021 Tesla Model 3 Standard Range Plus for $39,690.

The Mazda MX-5 Miata’s pros 

The red Mazda MX-5 on display at the Brussels Motor Show
The Mazda MX-5 Miata | Didier Messens/Getty Images

The 2021 Mazda MX-5 Miata isn’t everyone’s cup of tea, especially if you’re not into having a manual transmission or small cars. But for many consumers, it’s the perfect combination of practical, sporty, affordable, and fun. Enjoy three trim levels of extras, the Sport, the Club, and the Grand Touring.

The Club offers a nine-speaker Bose audio system, and the Grand Touring adds must-haves like navigation, as confirms. Choose the soft-top convertible or the Retractable Fastback as well. 

The pitfalls you might not like with the Mazda MX-5 Miata

Car and Driver points out the highs and the lows of the 2021 Mazda MX-5 Miata. Some of the characteristics that you might not appreciate, include a choppier-feeling ride when compared to others in the segment. You’ll also have far less space for your favorite things and people. And some critics weren’t impressed with the cabin and road noise levels.

In the end, if a playful, sunny day cruiser for under $40,000 is what you need this summer, check out the Mazda MX-5 Miata. Sure, you might have to make a few concessions and compromises. But you’ll likely make up for it in cost savings and value. The brand of the “vroom-vroom” vehicle dominates yet another best-of list. And the MX-5 Miata is at least worth a test drive. 


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