All cars are getting heavier, including sports cars. These days a sports car that weighs less than 3,000 pounds is a rarity. You have to go back decades to find a sports car that weighs less than 2,000 pounds, and then there’s the horsepower to consider. A lightweight vehicle with just 50 horsepower, like an old Mini, may not be fast enough. That’s where these cars come in. These are some of the lightest sports cars ever made, and each one has more than 200 horsepower, which means they’re incredibly fast. Each of these also manages to be somewhat affordable.
Lotus Elise: the proven conventional sports car package
For the low, low price of about $55,000, you can find a Lotus Elise. It was a two-seater sports car that used a supercharged 1.8-liter Toyota engine to send 217 horsepower to the rear wheels, atop a 2,000-pound chassis, although various sources put it between 1,980 and 2,010 pounds. It sprinted to 60 mph in 4.6 seconds and completed a quarter-mile in 13.3. Lotus used to consult other car companies for suspension tuning, which gives you an idea of how great the Elise can be on track.
Caterham 7 420: the sports car you can build yourself
The Caterham 7 is a kit car that comes in three flavors. The cheapest is the 360 that comes with 180 horsepower and reaches 62 mph in 4.8 seconds, and costs $43,500. However, for just $5,400 more, you can get the 420 which comes with 210 horsepower from a 2-liter Ford engine and gets to 62 mph a second faster. The Caterham 7 weighs just 1,234 pounds and is by all accounts a track monster. The Caterham provides controllable oversteer that is an absolute riot to experience.
KTM X-Bow GT: an expensive and unruly toy
The KTM X-Bow GT is a trigger-happy little sports car that costs over $90,000. It comes with a 2-liter turbocharged engine from Audi, producing a whopping 300 horsepower, mated to a 6-speed manual transmission also from Audi. The car weighs about 1,870 pounds and has all sorts of goodies like 255mm rear tires and pushrod-actuated front suspension. The car fishtails like a shark and hits 60 mph in 3.6 seconds.
Ariel Atom 4: the rawest animalistic driving experience
The Ariel Atom 4 isn’t much cheaper but provides a much different experience to the KTM. For $80,000, customers can buy what looks like a skeleton frame go-kart with 320 horsepower from the same 2-liter turbocharged Honda Type R engine. It weighs in at 1,349 pounds and wails across the pavement with adjustable pushrod-actuated suspension and big brakes. The Atom allows the driver far more control than the KTM but delivers an experience closer to that of a Formula 1 car.
These are just a few of the lightest sports cars ever made with the most horsepower. They’re all about as fast as a supercar but lack the pomp and frills of things like air conditioning and plush seating. None of that is going to matter when you have the wind in your face at 150 mph.