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Affordable thrills: 3 sports cars under $70,000

By David Bonnici, 09 Jan 2018 Car Advice

Affordable thrills 3 sports cars under 70000

Sports cars are helping passenger cars stay in the race against SUVs, led by popular models at the more affordable end of the spectrum

While passenger car sales continue to drop in the shadow of the SUV boom during 2017, sports cars are enjoying a purple patch, with the segment up around 5.0 percent last year. Driving the sports car push are models priced under $80,000 that combine affordable thrills with head-turning looks.

Ford’s iconic Mustang has been a runaway success, with the Blue Oval selling 9165 last year, which accounts for almost half the sub-$80,000 sports car market.

While the Mustang trades on a combination of power and looks, there’s plenty to like at the less powerful end of the category too, from the charming (and Wheels COTY winning) Mazda MX-5 and ‘look at me’ Hyundai Veloster, to tight-handling track day favourites such at the Toyota 86, Subaru BRZ and Nissan 370Z.

Ford Mustang - $45,990 - $65,916

The Mustang isn’t the most sophisticated car on the block but that’s part of its appeal. The iconic American coupe/convertible is powered by a choice of a 5.0-litre V8 or a not so brutish 2.3-litre EcoBoost four-cylinder turbo engine.

PROS: Both the coupe and convertible GTs have standout looks and are plenty of fun to drive thanks to the powerful and acoustic 306kW V8 engine.

CONS: Some of the interior materials are cheap and, for a big car, it offers little by way of practicality. The V8 can also be extremely thirsty.

Nissan 370Z Nismo - $61,490 - $63,990

Nissan’s veteran sports coupe has a big-hearted V6 engine and nimble handling, both of which have been enhanced by the Japanese carmaker’s Nismo performance division. The result is an honest driving experience that feels like a modern classic.

PROS: Aggressive styling backed up by a more powerful version of Nissan’s excellent 3.7-litre V6 engine, fast responsive steering and superb cornering.

CONS: Stiff sports suspension results in a bone-jarring ride, excessive road noise on course surfaces and a dated interior void of wow factor beyond the red and black suede sports seats.

Mazda MX-5 - $33,340 - $43,890

Few cars are as universally adored as Mazda’s two-seat roadster. Offered with either a 1.5-litre or 2.0-litre engine and as an RF folding hard top version, the MX-5 provides pure, unadulterated driving dynamics with excellent steering and handling.

PROS: Goes exactly where you point it and boasts a comfortable ride despite being low to the ground. It’s a great daily driver as well as the perfect weekend tourer.

CONS: No steering reach adjustment which makes it difficult for taller drivers, small boot and no child anchor points so smaller occupants can’t come along for the ride.