What Makes a Car a Sports Car?

One of the most elusive arguments of the 21st century is what makes a car a sports car? Just kidding, that’s not exactly true. However, what attributes does a sports car have that a regular car does not? Is a Porsche a sports car, or is a Mazda Miata a sports car? Both of them count, depending on who you ask.

What qualifies a car as a sports car?

Is the BMW M4 a sports car
The BMW M4 CS vehicle on display | SeongJoon Cho/Bloomberg via Getty Images

J.D. Power offers a bit of insight as to why this question is so hard to answer. In recent years, sports cars and supercars have blurred the line between one another. Some sports cars can keep up with supercars. Sometimes, supercars are just driving around on the road like a regular car.

J.D. Power suggests that to define what makes a car a sports car, we have to look at the British influence. Brands such as Morris, the Triumph Motor Company, and MG started creating cars for two people in the 1920s.

These cars were smaller, lower to the ground, and frequently had convertible tops. By the nature of these differences, the cars were quicker and handled better than the larger counterparts.

It was all quickly uphill and around the race track after that. Automakers started working on lowering the center of gravity to make the cars more stable. Companies focused on better brakes and suspension to make the ride better.

Weight distribution improved while the weight of cars, in general, went down. Automakers replaced aluminum parts with steel parts for weight reduction. And the most obvious improvement was the engine. Engines became faster, stronger, and arguably more fun to drive.

What is the difference between a sports car and a normal car?

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This is where the line gets even more blurry. Cars like the BMW M4, Mercedes AMG GT, and the Porsche 911 GT3 are fast, loud, low, and expensive. All the makings of a sports car.

The M4 has 473 horsepower and gets 0-60 in 4.1 seconds. The M4 Competition Coupe, this car slides in at 503 horsepower. It got an impressive 3.8 seconds for the 0-60 time. Both come with the 3.0-liter BMW M TwinPower Turbo inline-6 engine. The M4 Competition Coupe starts at $74,700.

The 2021 Mercedes AMG GT Coupe is small, powerful, and fast. It has a hand-built twin-turbo V8 that gets 523 horsepower. The GT C gets 550 horsepower. The GT R gets 577 horsepower, and the GT R Pro Black Series gets about 720 horsepower. The price of this one starts at around $117,000.

The 911 GT3 gets 502 horsepower and 346 lb-ft of torque. The same Naturally aspirated boxer 6 engine has a 0-60 time of 3.2 seconds. It also has a top track speed of 197 miles per hour. The price? $161,100 to start.

These are cars with almost supercar numbers but are just driving on the road like any other car. By the old school definition, sports cars can only have two seats. The BMW has four, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t fast. These cars are sports cars because they outperform most of the other cars on the road.

Cars can be multipurpose

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Some cars are built for different things. Ford Mustangs are built to be loud while driven on regular streets. The 911 GT3 is fast enough to handle an actual race track but is also ready for city streets. Cars like a Mazda Miata work well on the roads and the tracks.

As modern cars keep getting better, the lines keep getting blurred. Your car doesn’t need to have one specific purpose in life. It can go on the track and go to the grocery store. However, most people want to have a dedicated car just in case something happens.

You don’t want to crash your Honda Civic Si at autocross one weekend and not be able to get to work the next week.

In conclusion, a sports car is just a regular car that has been improved upon. Some cars have the magic potion and can do both at the same time. Don’t get bogged down in the details of the definition, though. Just enjoy the ride.