If you can’t afford a high-performance sports car – or don’t want to lay out all the bucks – but still want a daily driver that affords maximum sporty driving dynamics, don’t fret. There are a number of sporty cars available for the 2011 model year that are not only affordable, but delliver just the right mix of excitement and style.
In this two-part series, we’ll look at the best of the 2011 sporty cars under $25,000. We begin with the least-expensive model on the list. Keep in mind that the models listed here are generally the base model. You can always go to higher trims and other models, but they’ll jack up the starting price – sometimes a little, often a lot.
The Scion tC, from parent automaker Toyota, is certainly priced right – with a starting manufacturer’s suggested retail price (MSRP) of $18,995 (manual) and $19,995 (automatic). No, the tC isn’t a muscle car, but it is an affordable and small sporty car. For 2011, the redesigned hatchback coupe delivers improvements in power, going from a 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine to a 180-hp 2.5-liter four-cylinder. A beefy, leather-wrapped steering wheel (fatter than a BMW steering wheel) is standard. A sunroof is also standard. The Scion tC is a sporty car for younger drivers who want to look good, have a lot of standard features for a low price, and lots of interior space – for a bargain price. The tC also has numerous options for ultimate customization. EPA-estimated fuel economy is great, too, at 23 mpg city/31 mpg highway.
2010 Mitsubishi Eclipse GT
While it may look aggressive, the 2011 Mitsubishi Eclipse – with a starting MSRP of $18,999 for GS and $19,999 for GS Sport – isn’t as powerful as some competitors. Still, for consumers who want to look like a serious driver, the Eclipse certainly does deliver. The suspension has been tuned to provide comfortable handling dynamics – perfect for a daily commute. The four-passenger Eclipse is powered by a 162-hp 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine, and five-speed manual or four-speed automatic transmission. EPA-estimated fuel economy is 20 mpg city/28 mpg highway for GS and GS Sport models. Six standard airbags, active stability control, and an anti-lock braking system are compelling safety features. And the 10-year/100,000-mile powertrain warranty is stellar.