The 2021 Tesla Model 3 Is the Best Cheap Sports Car Under $40,000

The Tesla Model 3 is one of the most popular EVs in America, and for good reason. After all, it’s the most affordable Tesla model, so it allows many more consumers to drive one. That said, the 2021 Model 3 is still a Tesla, meaning it’s a relatively affordable sports car too.

The most affordable sports cars on the market right now

A white 2021 Tesla Model 3 with a big red bow on its hood at a Tesla store in Shanghai in June 2021
2021 Tesla Model 3 | Costfoto/Barcroft Media via Getty Images

Sports cars are generally more expensive than the average daily driver. But that doesn’t mean no inexpensive sports cars exist. These cars are fast yet affordable because they’re not the quickest or most luxurious options. For example, MotorTrend created a list of the best sports cars for under $40,000, showing many familiar names.

The regular 2021 Ford Mustang with the High Performance package, for instance, gets 330 hp from its turbocharged 2.3-liter inline-four engine. Yet, it starts at only $39,000, reasonably affordable for many consumers.

Meanwhile, the 2021 Mazda MX-5 Miata, with its smaller and weaker engine than the Mustang, still packs a punch. On top of that, the Miata costs only about $28,000, MT reports. 

So, what’s great about the 2021 Tesla Model 3?

Though the above options are fast and cheap, the Tesla Model 3 also landed on MotorTrend’s list. It’s the only EV on MotorTrend’s list, so its price tag is also the heftiest. The Standard Range Plus is the Model 3’s base trim, starting at about $39,690. This price happens to be just below MotorTrend’s limit. However, because it’s an EV, it’s pretty sporty as is. 

That’s primarily due to the torque an EV generates. For example, the standard Model 3’s electric motors make about 221 hp and 302 lb-ft of torque. That’s about twice as much torque as the Miata. As such, the standard Model 3 can accelerate from 0 to 60 mph in just 5.1 seconds. Unsurprisingly, that’s faster than the Miata. 

The fact that the Tesla Model 3 is an EV lends it many other positive traits, too. For example, its fuel costs and maintenance costs are less than a regular gas-powered car. On top of that, owners in several states might be able to claim a rebate or tax credit for buying an EV.

Additionally, the Model 3 boasts a high-tech interior. Its 15-inch touchscreen is massive, and convenient amenities like dog mode make the car unique and user-friendly.

But the Tesla Model 3 isn’t flawless

The Tesla Model 3 gives consumers many reasons to love it, but its pricing is a significant impediment. Plus, Tesla vehicles aren’t eligible for the $7,500 federal tax credit. That credit is a huge incentive for potential EV buyers, but because Tesla EVs no longer qualify, the Model 3’s purchase price remains a drawback. Furthermore, it doesn’t help that customers have to pay more if they want better battery range.

The regular Model 3 has a decent range of about 262 miles. However, that might not be enough for many families. Tesla offers the Long Range trim, which extends the Model 3’s range to 353 miles. But this trim significantly bumps the Model 3’s price to about $50,000. And that’s out of most car buyers’ budgets.

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