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Efficiency and fun aren’t often paired when talking about cars. And when discussing sports cars, fuel economy is usually low on the priority list. But if you want to mitigate rising fuel costs, these five affordable, fuel-efficient sports cars will keep you and your accountant happy.

The VW Golf GTI delivers efficiency and versatility for under $40k

A gray 2023 Volkswagen GTI on the right lane of a highway
The GTI is a jack-of-all-trades hot hatch | Volkswagen Newsroom

The automotive world’s favorite hot hatch is always on these lists, and for good reason. For 2023, the Golf GTI churns out 241 horsepower and 273 pound-feet of torque from its 2.0-liter turbocharged engine. It also gives you up to 34 mpg highway with the seven-speed dual-clutch transmission.

Sharp handling and eye-popping stopping power are also hallmarks of this hot hatch, making it inherently chuckable. That said, comfort gets a boost as well. The GTI packs bolstered and heated seats, space for five, and over 21 cubic feet of cargo space.

Not only is this one of the most affordable and fuel-efficient sports cars you can buy in 2023, but it’s perfect for just about everything else, too.

A BMW 230i is perfect when you want luxury and efficiency

BMW M240i and BMW 230i coupes
BMW M240i and 230i coupes

While not billed as a sports car, the inherent joy of driving a compact BMW coupe qualifies the new 230i for this list. It’s certainly not as razor-sharp as its M-powered siblings. But it still delivers engaged handling and a lighter feel than those V6-powered offerings.

For your 2.0-liter turbocharged compromise you get 255 horsepower and 295 pound-feet of torque. Power is sent through the rear wheels for that classic sports car cocktail. You can also equip your new 2 with a six-speed manual transmission for added engagement.

Fuel efficiency rates at up to 35 mpg highway, making it the second most-efficient car on this list. That said, you’ll give up some rear seat and cargo space versus the Si and GTI, compromising practicality. However, the friendly $39,000 price tag makes it an easy choice.

Choose a Mazda MX-5 is a legend in fuel-efficient sports cars

A 2023 Mazda MX-5 driving through the city
The MX-5 is a long-standing legend for affordable sports cars | Mazda

Following a similar formula, the 2023 Mazda MX-5 is the standard bearer for affordable, fuel-efficient sports cars. Much like the BMW, it offers a front-engine, rear-wheel drive setup that will give you an authentic sports car experience. However, it is the least powerful car on this list at 181 horsepower.

Miata diehards will tell you this doesn’t matter. For them, the handling and balance make it a joyous car to drive anywhere. Plus, 35 mpg highway and a sub-$30k starting price place it among the most affordable sports cars you can buy.

A Ford Mustang EcoBoost is a fuel-efficient take on the muscle car

Mustang V8 diehards may want to look away because the 2.3-liter EcoBoost Mustang is one of our favorite sports cars of 2023. The 310 horsepower makes it the most punchy car detailed here, and it gives you that classic rear-wheel drive setup that marks a genuine sports car. With the 10-speed automatic gearbox, it’s good for 32 mpg highway. And the starting price, just below $30,000, means you won’t have trouble fitting it into your budget.

A Honda Civic Si is one of our favorite fuel-efficient sports cars

The 2023 Honda Civic Si in orange
A 2023 Honda Civic Si delivers fun and efficiency for less than $30k | Honda

A bit underpowered at 201 horsepower, the 2023 Honda Civic Si more than makes up for it in supreme handling. The engineering of the Si keeps it perfectly balanced, even for a front-wheel drive car. It’s borrowed some suspension cues from its Type-R sibling, but keeps a more reasonable price tag, starting below $30,000.

Regarding efficiency, the Civic Si checks in at an EPA-estimated 37 mpg highway, making it the most affordable and fuel-efficient model you can buy in 2023.

Get the fun you want without breaking the bank

With any of these five affordable, fuel-efficient sports cars, you’ll enjoy an engaging experience that will easily fit your budget. Keep both monthly payments and fuel costs in check, and hit the road in a car that reminds you why you love to drive.


The Honda Civic Si Won’t Be Coming Back in 2021