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While there are certainly a lot of options for expensive and high-powered sports cars, there are also some good options for engaging sports cars that don’t necessarily light up the stat sheet. Take the three sports cars here, for example. With each, handling and engagement are higher on the priority list than outright power. Give up some time in a straight line and focus on fun through the corners instead. Choose any of these three affordable sports cars rather than a more-powerful option.

1. Subaru BRZ/Toyota GR86

This orange Toyota GR86 has a reputation for being an affordable sports car
Toyota GR86 | Toyota

These rear-drive Japanese twins are perennial favorites for affordable, rear-drive sports cars. Previously, the Subaru BRZ and Toyota GR86 were considered underpowered. However, the new version hits an excellent sweet spot. Now making 228 horsepower from the four-cylinder BOXER engine, they pack a satisfying punch. That said, handling is still a primary focus for both models. The BRZ and GR86 can be had with a six-speed manual gearbox for row-your-own engagement that ups the fun factor. And with a lauded handling platform, getting things right through the corners will never fail to bring a grin.

2. Mazda Miata: The ultimate affordable sports car

Mazda MX-5 Miata in red
Mazda MX-5 Miata | Mazda

The standard bearer for handling-focused affordable sports cars, the Mazda Miata has set a shining example for generations. It is the starting point for entry-level racing series’ for a reason. The Miata’s rear-drive layout and balanced handling make it an excellent choice for understanding how to drive through a corner quickly. It’s light and responsive enough to deliver great feedback through the seat and steering wheel. In other words, the Miata is the longstanding king of engaged driving experiences.

According to Car and Driver, new Miata models deliver 181 horsepower and 151 pound-feet of torque from a 2.0-liter non-turbo four-cylinder engine. You may not win many drag races with that package, but when it’s time to tackle Tail of the Dragon, it’ll be tough for your friends to keep you in their sights.

3. BMW 2 Series Coupe – an affordable luxury sports car

BMW 2 Series rear
2023 BMW 2 Series | Marc Wiley, MotorBiscuit

The 2023 BMW 2 Series Coupe may cost a bit more than the other two cars on this list, but it adds refinement for the extra cash. Well-engineered handling and a rear-wheel drive setup deliver an engaging drive with just the right amount of feedback when pushed to the limits. And it’s still an affordable sports car at just under $40,000 new. Unless, of course, you opt for the $60,000 M240i — but that six-cylinder turbo is in another league entirely.

It comes with a 2.0-liter turbocharged engine delivering 255 horsepower and 295 pound-feet of torque. Though the current generation is only offered with an eight-speed automatic, the previous BMW 2 Series coupes were available with a six-speed stick. They looked better as well, and can be found with respectable miles for under $30,000.

Enjoy an engaging, accessible experience with any of these 3 affordable sports cars

Let’s face it, for daily driving fun, power isn’t the only factor. Between traffic, road conditions, and highway patrol, it is all too easy to get into trouble with an overpowered car. Instead of driving a high-powered sports car at half its capacity, carving up the curves with a well-engineered sports car can make for more fun on weekend romps. Consider any of these three sports cars to experience a raw and engaging sports car that defies expectations.

Related 5 Advantages the 2023 Toyota GR86 Has Over the 2023 Subaru BRZ

5 Advantages the 2023 Toyota GR86 Has Over the 2023 Subaru BRZ