“Smiles per gallon” is a subjective, but essential metric to determine a car’s value to an individual. Typically, 2-seater sports cars provide the highest fun factor as they are designed for performance, but there are many other factors that determine which car suits each driver best. Per U.S. News & World Report, the five vehicles on this list are the best 2-seater sports cars and provide a vast spectrum that should cover most buyers’ needs when shopping for something thrilling.
It’s certainly true that the Porsche Boxster and Porsche Cayman are different cars meant to appeal to different drivers; they have near identical driving dynamics and the exact same powertrain options. Of the cars on this U.S. News & World Report list, these mid-engine fraternal twins have the widest array of powertrain options. Both base models come with a 300-horsepower 2.0L turbocharged boxer 4-cylinder. If you opt for the S, you get a 350 hp 2.5L boxer 4. That engine is particularly special given its use of the variable geometry turbo.
The main concern most folks would have with the Cayman/Boxster base, T, or S trim, is the sound. If you require that iconic Porsche flat 6 howl, you’ll have to opt for the GTS 4.0 or the Cayman GT4/Boxster Spyder. This not only bestows the glorious 4.0L flat 6, but it also ups the power to 414 hp.
Not including the GT4 RS, prices range from $61,850 for the base Cayman ($63,950 for the Boxster) all the way to $102,550 for the GT4 ($99,650 for the Spyder). It is also worth a mention that both models and all trims—with the exception of the GT4 RS—can be fitted with Porsche’s lightning-quick PDK or their beautifully crisp and engaging 6 speed manual.
The C8 Chevrolet Corvette exists in an entirely different world than the C7. 2020 introduced the long awaited mid-engine platform that puts the C8 in the same league as other mid-engine exotics. Something particularly nice about the C8, is its very American engine. The non-Z06 C8 is equipped with only one engine. The 490 hp—495 hp with performance exhaust—6.2L pushrod LT2. This not only makes for your classic V8 rumble, but allows the vehicle to propel itself to 60 mph in only 2.8 seconds, says Car and Driver.
The engine sends power to the rear wheels via an exceptionally quick 8-speed DCT. Amazingly, the Corvette starts at only $62,295 for the LT1 trim, though good luck finding one for MSRP. That said, for some extra cash, the optional magnetic selective ride control may be worth the $1,895. It turns the Corvette, which is already a performance machine, into an incredibly comfortable continent crusher.
Ford Mustang GT500
$80,795 is all it takes to get you the best-performing Mustang in history. Not only do you get the iconic Shelby name but opting for the Ford’s GT500 gets the 760 hp supercharged 5.2L “Predator” engine. Unfortunately, the GT500, like the Corvette, does not offer a manual transmission; its 7-speed DCT is reportedly an exceptional unit. This engine and transmission combo will rush to 60 mph in 3.4 seconds with its base tire setup.
Unlike the C8, the GT500 comes standard with “MagneRide” and can be quite a comfortable grand tourer despite its performance credentials. The only real downside of the Shelby is its 4,171 lb curb weight. However, if you want to mitigate that weight, one can opt for the $18,500 Carbon Fiber Track Package. This package can have the rear seats deleted, and get 20” carbon fiber wheels, and Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2 tires.
The collector market loves a “last of its kind” car. The 2022 Audi R8 is truly the last of its kind. What makes the R8 so special? Besides its beautiful styling, excellent tech, and intuitive interior layout, the piece that makes an R8 an R8 is its engine. The only engine option is the 5.2L naturally aspirated V10.
In 2022, this V10 is one of only two in production—the other being the similar 10 cylinder found in the Lamborghini Huracan. This V10 not only sounds incredible, but makes a whopping 602 hp. If you opt for the rear wheel drive version, that number drops to 562 hp.
Interestingly, the Audi is equipped with double wishbone suspension in the front and rear much like the 992 GT3. The full bore Quattro model will set drivers back $202,995, but if they are okay with RWD, they can find an R8 for only $151,895. This “daily driver supercar”, along with its V10, will be going out of production following the 2023 model year. Get one while you can.
Driving joy is subjective even with the best 2-seater sports cars
When we discuss “enthusiast vehicles”, there are a few main factors people consider: looks, sound, performance, and feel. This list boasts some incredible engines with some incredible noises along with a nice variety of transmissions and engine configurations to get you the experience you’re looking for. Not only that, but the Boxster, Corvette, and R8 all offer top down fun. These cars all offer objectively good performance, but should cover enough ground in the subjective categories to make just about anyone happy.