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Best Sports Cars for Under $100k

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Did any of these beasts make my top ten list?

Did any of these beasts make my top ten list?


Have you ever wondered how much car you could get for $100,000? Are you planning what cars you'd buy if you won the lottery? This top ten list ranks and explains the best sports cars you can buy for $100K! All the pictures are mine, except for the Audi TT-RS (I haven't had a chance to see one yet), and I referenced online reviews and manufacturer websites as well as my personal knowledge to compile the list and provide information about the cars. Enjoy!

Top 10 Fastest and Best-Performing Supercars Under $100,000

RankCarPriceEngineHorsepowerTorqueCurb WeightAcceleration Time (0-60 mph)Top SpeedFuel Economy (City/Highway)


BMW Z4 sDrive 35is


3.0 L Turbocharged Straight-6

335 hp

332 lb-ft

3,549 lbs

4.8 sec

155 mph

17/24 mpg


Audi TT-RS


2.5 L Turbocharged Straight-5

360 hp

343 lb-ft

3,306 lbs

4.1 sec

174 mph

18/25 mpg


Jaguar XK-R


5.0 L Supercharged V8

510 hp

461 lb-ft

3,968 lbs

4.6 sec

155 mph

15/22 mpg


Porsche Cayman R


3.4 L Flat-6

330 hp

273 lb-ft

2,855 lbs

4.7 sec

175 mph

19/27 mpg


Lotus Evora S


Supercharged 3.5 L V6

345 hp

295 lb-ft

3,168 lbs

4.4 sec

178 mph

17/26 mpg


C63 AMG Coupe


6.3 L AMG V8

451 hp

443 lb-ft

3,935 lbs

3.8 sec

155 mph

12/19 mpg


Chevrolet Corvette Z06


7.0 L V8

505 hp

470 lb-ft

3,208 lbs

3.8 sec

198 mph

15/24 mpg




4.0 L V8

414 hp

295 lb-ft

3,704 lbs

4.7 sec

155 mph

14/20 mpg (estimated)


Porsche 911 Carrera S


3.8 L Flat-6

400 hp

325 lb-ft

3,075 lbs

4.3 sec

188 mph

18/26 mpg (estimated)


Nissan GT-R


3.8 L Twin-Turbo V6

545 hp

463 lb-ft

3,829 lbs

2.9 sec

196 mph

16/23 mpg (estimated)

10. BMW Z4 sDrive 35is—$64,200

  • 3.0 L turbocharged straight-6
  • 335 horsepower and 332 lb-ft of torque
  • Curb weight: 3,549 lbs
  • 0-60 mph acceleration time: 4.8 seconds
  • Top speed: 155 mph (electronically limited)
  • Fuel economy (city/highway): 17/24 mpg

Starting off this list is the first of two BMWs—the best version of the Z4. Gone are the convertible and coupe option—all Z4s from this generation have retractable hardtops. Despite the upped power from the 3.0L I6, the Z4 isn’t a purist driver’s car by any stretch of the imagination. The car has softer handling than some of its competitors, which makes it more of a weekend cruiser than a hardcore sports car. According to Car and Driver, the Z4 smoothly delivers its power and has a comfortable ride, but its steering and suspension don’t inspire confidence in the driver at the limit—which means it fails to achieve the mission of a true sports car. However, if you are looking for a quick roadster for Sunday afternoon cruises, it’ll deliver great acceleration, a comfortable ride, and a sporty exhaust note.

9. Audi TT-RS—$56,850

  • 2.5 L turbocharged straight-5
  • 360 horsepower and 343 lb-ft of torque
  • Curb weight: 3,306 lbs
  • 0-60 mph acceleration time: 4.1 seconds
  • Top speed: 174 mph
  • Fuel economy (city/highway): 18/25 mpg

The Audi TT-RS is coming to the United States in limited quantities, and it’s only available with a proper manual transmission. This sportier version of the TT has plenty of grip, with its wide tires and Audi’s Quattro AWD system. Add the 360 horsepower produced by the five turbocharged cylinders to these factors, and the acceleration from this car is absolutely brutal. Unlike most of the cars on this list, which have rear-wheel drive, the TT-RS can get more of its power to the road on hard launches. Despite the car’s sporty performance, it isn’t a stripped-out hardcore track monster. It’s got a decently sized trunk, rear seats that can fit a gym bag or small children, and a good-sized driver's seat—taller individuals who might not fit in something like a Porsche Boxster can comfortably drive the TT-RS. In summary, the TT-RS delivers plenty of performance to keep your inner Stig happy while maintaining some semblance of practicality.

8. Jaguar XK-R—$97,500

  • 5.0 L supercharged V8
  • 510 horsepower and 461 lb-ft of torque
  • Curb weight: 3,968 lbs
  • 0-60 mph acceleration time: 4.6 seconds
  • Top speed: 155 mph (electronically limited)
  • Fuel economy (city/highway): 15/22 mpg

The Jaguar XK-R is the second most powerful car on this list with over 500 raging horses under the hood; it looks fantastic and has a supercharger. So why is it so far down on this list? Weight. Despite having twice the engine displacement and 150 extra horsepower, the XK-R is 16 seconds behind the TT-RS, the next slowest car on the list, around the Nürburgring. Sixteen seconds! What this goes to show is that, like the Z4, the XK-R is probably more comfortable going on a spirited weekend drive around the countryside than it is on a racetrack. While this certainly isn’t a bad thing—there is definitely a market for GT cars such as this—the relaxed driving style of the XK-R isn’t going to be enough to get it higher on the list. Although it’s slower to 60 than others on this list, it’ll still plant you into the back of the leather seats when you put the automatic transmission into Dynamic Mode and floor it.

7. Porsche Cayman R—$66,300

  • 3.4 L flat-6
  • 330 horsepower and 273 lb-ft of torque
  • Curb weight: 2,855 lbs
  • 0-60 mph acceleration time: 4.7 seconds
  • Top speed: 175 mph
  • Fuel economy (city/highway): 19/27 mpg

In stark contrast to the Jaguar, we have the Porsche Cayman R. Porsche is synonymous with motorsports racetrack performance, and that is exactly what the Cayman R is built for. When building the R version of its popular Cayman sports car, Porsche decided to cut weight instead of adding lots of power to achieve the desired performance goals. The Cayman R is the only member of this list under 3,000 pounds and weighs in at more than 1,000 pounds lighter than the XK-R. The Cayman and the Jag are perfect foils for each other; the XK-R is everything that the Cayman is not, and vice versa. While the Jaguar is immensely powerful and luxurious (aka heavy) the Cayman is underwhelming on the spec sheet (more than 200hp fewer than our winner) but is extremely focused and lightweight. One has only to sit inside the cockpit to know that the R is all about performance. To save weight, Porsche replaced traditional door handles with fabric straps. The sport bucket seats hold the driver in place during hard cornering and save 26 pounds. Air-conditioning is an optional extra. On a $60,000 Porsche!

To summarize, the Cayman R is a purist’s dream when it comes to performance cars. Despite having the lowest horsepower of the 10 cars on this list, it laps the Nürburgring in 8:06, faster than the Ferrari 550 Maranello, the V10-powered BMW M6, and the Lamborghini Diablo SV. The R makes up for being a low-powered car by weighing as close to nothing as you’ll find in a modern car. That means excellent acceleration, braking, and handling. Add the PCCB (Porsche Ceramic Composite Brakes) and the Cayman R will be ready for the track right out of the box.

6. Lotus Evora S—$77,175

  • Supercharged 3.5 L V6
  • 345 horsepower and 295 lb-ft of torque
  • Curb weight: 3,168 lbs
  • 0-60 mph acceleration time: 4.4 seconds
  • Top speed: 178 mph
  • Fuel economy (city/highway): 17/26 mpg

Lotus has been building purists’ sports cars for a long time. Expanding upon their model lineup of the Elise and Exige, Lotus added the Evora as a slightly larger and more powerful sports car. Although it is bigger than the tiny Elise, the Evora has retained everything that has put Lotus on top of the wish lists of drivers worldwide. The chassis is well balanced, the steering and handling are incredibly precise, and the brakes are amazing. While the standard Evora makes do with 276 hp, the S includes a supercharger on top of the 3.5L Toyota V6, boosting power to 345 hp at 7,000 rpm. To stop all 345 of these horses, the Evora S has excellent brakes and tires. When Car and Driver tested the Evora S’s 70-0 braking distance, it landed within five feet of the best distance they had recorded—146 feet. This handling and grip of the Lotus can make average drivers look great and inspire confidence at the limit. The Evora maintains all of the downsides that are present in nearly all Lotus cars, namely the complete lack of practicality. The cabin is small and not particularly ergonomic, the footwell is very tight, and visibility is limited. While it’s not going to be a great daily driver, it’ll be sure to excite its lucky owners on track days and weekend drives.

5. C63 AMG Coupe—$61,430

  • 6.3L AMG V8
  • 451 horsepower and 443 lb-ft of torque
  • Curb weight: 3,935 lbs
  • 0-60 mph acceleration time: 3.8 seconds
  • Top speed: electronically limited to 155 mph (174 mph with the AMG Development Package)
  • Fuel economy (city/highway): 12/19 mpg

As with all AMG vehicles, the key to the Mercedes-Benz C63 AMG Coupe’s performance is its heart—the 6.2L AMG V8. While this AMG will still happily kick its rear end out if you lift off the throttle coming around a bend at the limit, it isn’t quite as insane as previous C63 AMGs due to chassis refinements that have somewhat neutralized the balance of the car, according to Car and Driver. AMG badging, colored brake calipers, a rear diffuser, and the voracious exhaust note will separate the AMG from other C-class coupes and sedans. The 2011 C63 AMG Coupe lapped the infamous Nürburgring in 8:01, putting it in the lap time ballpark of cars such as the 1992 Buggatti EB 110SS and ahead of sports cars such as the 2006 Lamborghini Gallardo Spyder, 2007 Aston Martin DBS, and the 2010 Porsche Cayman R. Because it's still a Mercedes, you'll get a relatively comfortable ride, nice leather interior, and state-of-the-art electronics and gadgets.

4. Chevrolet Corvette Z06—$75,600

  • 7.0 L V8
  • 505 horsepower and 470 lb-ft of torque
  • Curb weight: 3,208 lbs
  • 0-60 mph acceleration time: 3.8 seconds
  • Top speed: 198 mph
  • Fuel economy (city/highway): 15/24 mpg

In the fourth spot, we find the only American representative on this list, the Corvette Z06. The Corvette has long been the best value in horsepower per dollar on the market, and the C6 Z06 is no exception. The only cars with more power on this list cost over $20,000 more—for only five to 40 more horsepower. The Corvette is the best all-around American sports car, and it can hold its own with the best that Europe has to offer on the racetrack. Racing versions of this and the previous generation Z06 have claimed class victories at the 24 Hours of Le Mans (over Aston Martin) as well as taking class championships in the American Le Mans Series and other sports car racing series around the globe. To accomplish this, Chevrolet made the Z06 as light as is is powerful—the fourth-lightest on this list, it has by far the best power/weight ratio (6.35 lbs per hp; the next closest is 7.03). According to Car and Driver, the car behaves predictably at the limit but has somewhat uncommunicative steering. This car is going to give you the performance of vehicles that cost twice as much or more. And it is still somewhat practical. It’s got a big trunk, there is good visibility, and the ride isn’t unreasonable for a sports car that laps the Nürburgring faster than a 2002 Pagani Zonda C12 S and the even more recent Audi R8 V10.

3. BMW M3—$60,100

  • 4.0 L V8
  • 414 horsepower and 295 lb-ft of torque
  • Curb weight: 3,704 lbs
  • 0-60 mph acceleration time: 4.7 seconds
  • Top speed: 155 mph (electronically limited)
  • Fuel economy (city/highway): 14/20 mpg (estimated)

The BMW M3 was engineered for the track, and you’ll notice this from the start in the streetcar. From the V8 that revs to 8,400 rpm to the cross-drilled brake discs, this car is very serious about performance. The M3 looks fast even while standing still—all of the bodywork is aerodynamically functional or feeds air into the engine compartment. BMW’s M division used carbon fiber for the roof to lower the center of gravity, and achieved a 50/50 front/rear weight distribution through the use of lightweight materials. In fact, the V8 in this M3 is 33 pounds lighter than the inline-6 engine from the E46 generation. Because BMWs have gotten progressively heavier since the 80s, the M3 has the fourth worst power-to-weight ratio of the 10 cars on this list, despite BMW’s efforts to trim its weight. At least we know none of this weight is wasted; BMWs have gotten heavier because they have become safer and more technologically advanced. What this means for the buyer is that despite all of this track-bred performance, the M3 is still going to have a nice interior and the standard equipment that you'd expect from a more luxury-oriented car. The E92 M3 can be driven in comfort Monday through Friday and taken to the track on the weekends, no problem. As the second cheapest car on the list, the M3 represents great value as a vehicle that functions both as a commuter and race car.

When it first came out in 2007, the M3 lapped the Nürburgring in 8:05, equal to the Ferrari 575 Maranello and faster than the ’06 Mercedes SL55 AMG and 1997 Lamborghini Diablo SV.

2. Porsche 911 Carrera S—$96,400

  • 3.8 L Flat-6
  • 400 horsepower and 325 lb-ft of torque
  • Curb weight: 3,075 lbs
  • 0-60 mph acceleration speed: 4.3 seconds
  • Top speed: 188 mph
  • Fuel economy (city/highway): 18/26 mpg (estimated)

This latest iteration of Porsche’s classic sports car has more power and less weight than the 997 generation, with updated styling and a brand new manual transmission. The 911 (known internally as the 991) generation keeps with the Porsche tradition of placing the flat-6 at the rear of the car, but Porsche has improved upon the balance of the last generation by redistributing a bit more of the weight from the rear. When equipped with PDK (Porsche’s paddle-shifting system), the Carrera S has a fantastic launch control system that allowed Road and Track testers to hit 60 mph in only 3.5 seconds, about as good as the 997 GT3 RS. Braking is handled by aluminum calipers and cast-iron rotors, although for about $8,500 you can get PCCB (Porsche ceramic-composite brakes), which will perform better and resist fade as well as any street car brakes on the market.