Mid-Engine Cars You Can Actually Afford

The idea of a mid-engine car can be intimidating and fun to a lot of car owners who really love having an enjoyable driving experience. When a car has an engine placed between the axels, or more commonly behind the driver and passenger, it affects the car’s balance distribution and handling, usually in a positive way. It is something we see commonly in Ferraris and Lamborghinis as well as many other exotic cars, but you don’t have to pay a premium to buy a mid-engine experience.

Toyota MR2

The Toyota MR2 Spyder is also referred to as the ‘poor man’s Lotus Elise‘ and as someone who owns both, I can say the competition isn’t far off. The MR2 offers a great handling experience and corners like a true track car.

A silver 2004 Toyota is parked in a parking lot.
2004 Toyota MR2 Spyder | Gettyimages

There are some major downsides to the MR2 because it lacks any true storage and isn’t particularly practical. It also has an odd appearance that many consumers find unappealing, but you can find them on the market for under $10,000.

Mazda MX-5 Miata

I know what you’re thinking – the Mazda MX-5 Miata isn’t a mid-engine car. Alright, I get where you’re coming from, but hear me out because technically it is, even if it isn’t the way we’d hoped. The MX-5 makes it onto this list as a technicality, because the engine is behind the front axels making it a ‘front-mid-engine’ car. You can find older generations on the market for a steal.

A red Mazda MX-5 Miata on display at an auto show
A 2020 Mazda MX-5 Miata | Sjoerd van der Wal/Getty Images

The Pontiac Fiero and Toyota MR2 Rivalry

Another reason the MX-5 Miata is popular because they are inexpensive to maintain as well as cheap to modify and customize, making them a popular choice for anyone in the tuner car scene. The MX-5 has been in production for several generations and there are many different styles to chose from, all offering a great, lightweight handling experience.

Pontiac Fiero

Yes, the Pontiac Fiero has a reputation of being one of the most dangerous cars ever created, but it’s still a collectible car for reasons you probably didn’t think of. Because Fieros are affordable and common, they are often used as kit cars, sometimes for kit Ferraris and sometimes for others. There are still a lot of unmodified Fieros on the market, and with just a few changes they can be safe options as well as enjoyable ones.

Regardless of your choice, all of these cars are a low-cost option to get a great-handling mid-engine car, even if some of them aren’t as conventional options. Sure, there is a handful of classic mid-engine Porsche’s you can buy, but the maintenance on classic Porsches can be high, and repairs can be astronomical, so while they might seem like your typical pick, these mid-engine cars will stand out, and they won’t be hurting your wallet down the road.