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The Best Sports Cars Under $50k

by Carmen PickelJune 10, 2022
The Best Sports Cars

Any car enthusiast will tell you that finding the car of your dreams in the classified section of a newspaper can be one of the most rewarding experiences of our lives. This is especially true when it is being offered for pennies on the dollar. There is no doubt that some form of a bargain will take place, but a $50K budget isn't going to limit you to just rusted-out barn finds or fortuitous estate sales. Unless, of course, you are on the lookout for something truly exceptional.

Undoubtedly, older cars have a better chance of producing more diamonds in the rough per capita than most cars released in recent years. Our objective is that this list serves more as a guide for buyers than an encyclopedia. 

Below you'll find the best used sports cars under 50k in the United States you can buy today for less than $50,000.

2013-2020 Alfa Romeo 4C ($35K – $50K) 

In some ways, the Alfa Romeo 4C is perhaps the marque's most important model in decades and represents a fine amalgamation of the company's values, aiming to build affordable and stylish cars with a unique philosophy and outspoken spirit. The Alfa Romeo 4C has been engineered to deliver uncompromising performance while priced at a level many people can afford, so Alfa Romeo has bridged the gap between performance and price. For those who aren't overly concerned about sophistication, but feel that performance is what you're looking for, the Alfa Romeo 4C is a wonderful weekend warrior.

The Alfa Romeo 6C Spider is one of the unique cars on this list and is available in both coupe and spider configurations. It is also available for less than $50K, making it an even more appealing proposition. You will have to look at base models from early in the year to get into this price range because the "Lunch Edition" models and other special models are likely to cost more.

2014+ Audi TT ($30K – $50K) 

Okay, so technically, you could purchase an Audi TT brand new for just a little over $50K on a new car market today, but that's before options, or even tax, freight, and other fees that will cost much more than that. For these reasons, finding a well-optioned, well-maintained used car is worth the time and consideration. It is still one of the cheapest cars in the category of luxury sports cars, whether it is new or used, and it needs to stand out for its price.

As a result, its 228 horsepower 2.0L TFSI engine is the best in its class, and Audi's craftsmanship and interior quality have always been second to none. As much as it might be tempting to consider the new Audi TT as "dull," "numb," and "soft" as compared to the usual luxury sports car, the TT is anything but that. With its sharp, agile handling characteristics, the car has much better handling than much more expensive cars and a much better driving experience. 

2016 Audi S7 ($47K – $49K)

There is no doubt that Audi makes some fantastic cars and has a reputation for doing so. No exception can be made when it comes to the 2016 S7, which comes equipped with every feature one would expect in a perfect sports car. Performance-wise, the 2016 Audi S7 is well poised to deliver when it comes to performance, as evidenced by the metrics. The presence of an engine that boasts twin-turbocharged V8 power and 450 horsepower is rare in high-end automobiles. It is also worth mentioning that the interior quality of the vehicle is excellent.

It has a 4.0L V8 engine with 450hp horsepower and can go from 0-60 mph in 3.9 seconds with a top speed of 155 mph.

2013-2015 Audi RS 5 4.2 ($40K – $50K)

Audi RS 5 has historically been the most performance-oriented, technologically advanced, and stylish model in the Audi 5 range. Considering that the RS 5 4.2 comes with a naturally-aspirated 4.2-liter V8 and not an overtly turbocharged V6, the RS 5 4.2 figures to be an impressive value proposition for those looking for something other than a turbocharged V6.

With its proven and quintessential Quattro all-wheel-drive system, the Audi RS 5 4.2 also has impressive handling qualities due to its impressive turning ability. Though its intimidating looks and track-ready hardware lend the amazing Audi coupe a look of dominance, it is a very comfortable daily driver. This car makes for a great daily executive vehicle with enough power to keep enthusiast drivers happy. Nevertheless, we are well aware of the fact that Audi created this car to showcase its amazing NA engine.

2014-2016 BMW M3/M4 ($30K – $50K)

Although there is no doubt that the addition of the new BMW M3/M4 models doesn't detract from the appeal of the previous generation vehicles, some might say that the G80's polarizing design worked in favor of the now-retired F80 models.

Your options will always be limited when finding a used BMW F80 M3 (sedan) or M4 (coupé) for less than $50,000. But being able to afford a higher budget will allow you to pursue the more well-maintained and lower-mileage examples out there (or maybe the special editions as well). With either option, you're getting a powerful turbocharged 3.0L engine capable of producing 431 horsepower and 406 lb-ft of torque. These impressive figures make the car an excellent choice for daily driving and the occasional track outing.

2019-2020 BMW Z4 ($40K – $45K)

Putting Supra jokes aside, the current BMW Z4 is a great car in every respect and is an unsung hero in the current automobile sector. Having been absent from the BMW lineup for the past four years, the BMW Z4 was completely redesigned for 2019. The new BMW Z4 was unaltered for 2021 and remains as good as ever, and with its exceptional performance, it gives truly incredible value. There was a new M240i trim offered with the 2022 model year that was powered by a more powerful 3.0L inline-6 engine.

This 2.0-liter inline four-powered car starts at a substantially lower price than the Porsche Boxster and is supposed to compete with but still delivers the same thrills. In the United States, you can get one of these for under $50K brand new, and in the UK, you can get one for even less by buying a used one almost as good as a new one. This car is our pick for the best roadster on the market if you're looking for a capable roadster. You're getting a car whose warranty is still valid.

2019-2020 Cadillac CT5-V ($40K – $50K)

Rather than being an uninspiring point-A-to-B car, the CT5 V-series turns the CT5 into a muscular American saloon that transforms it from an uninteresting point-A-to-B machine. This evolution is led by a 360 hp twin-turbocharged 3.0L V6 engine that is mated to a 10-speed automatic transmission to create an impressive performance. Aside from the grippy Michelin Pilot Sport 4S tires, the V has magneto-rheological dampers as standard equipment. This combination allows for the driver of the CT5 V to have an engaging experience centered around improved handling dynamics.

By being a much newer and much better car overall, this CT5-V beats out the second-gen CTS-V (2009-2014) by a wide margin. Although the CT5-V does not share its platform with the Corvette ZR1 as the CTS-V does, it is a great modernization of the CTS-V and undeniably a better competitor in today's hotly contested performance sedan segment. The CT5-V offers excellent value for money and costs significantly less than its direct competition, predominantly comprised of German luxury brands.

2013-2015 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 ($40K – $50K)

One of the most underrated cars on our list is Chevrolet's Camaro model, the range-topping model in the Camaro lineup. If you're looking to buy a 2014 or 2015 ZL1, you can likely find plenty of examples at under $50K, powered by 6.2L supercharged V8 engines that produce 580 hp and 556 lb-ft of torque. As a result, the car can drive from 0 to 60 mph in 3 seconds flat, making it one of the fastest fast cars on the market. Aside from those upgrades, it has improved its chassis and aerodynamics, which help it perform better on all fronts.

Nevertheless, the Camaro ZL1, with its intense performance, does offer some excellent value. The car is available in both coupe and convertible configurations and does provide a phenomenal amount of value. Regardless of your chosen platform, the ZL1 also features more aggressive styling than trims of similar functionality. Drivers can choose between a responsive manual transmission or a lightning-quick automatic transmission.

2014-2016 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray ($40K – $50K)

It is a little-known fact that the C7 Corvette is the last production model of this model to be manufactured with a front-mounted engine. This was before the current generation of Corvettes, the C8 generation, reversed the paragraph from vintage American sensationalism into new-age European fanaticism, completely rewriting the book on Corvette design language. Therefore, this is a ripe opportunity if you can get your hands on such a classic-and-yet-modern Corvette for less than $50,000.

In the midst of this, you will most likely be restricted to the non-Z06 trim levels, but you don't have to worry about not getting the 6.2L naturally-aspirated V8 engine that produces at least 455 horsepower and 460 pounds-feet of torque. You can choose either a manual 7-speed transmission with the Stingray or a dual-clutch, 8-speed manual transmission with the Stingray—a feature usually reserved for one of the more expensive models.

2015 Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat ($47K – $50K)

There is no question that the 2015 Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat is one of the most powerful sedans ever made. You can talk about its massive engine, along with the ridiculous horsepower numbers that come with it. However, the Hellcat also boasts a suspension setup specifically designed for street use instead of on the track. 

We would describe it as a cross-over vehicle of sorts - as it incorporates the characteristics of a race car with the sensitivities of everyday transportation. All the while, it is a truly great vehicle to ride in. With a 6.2L V8 engine, a horsepower of 707 hp, and a top speed of 204 mph, this car can go from 0-60 mph in 3.4 seconds.

2016 Ford Shelby GT350 ($35K – $50K)

Although the Ford Mustang Shelby GT350 might be more powerful, the Ford Mustang Shelby GT500 could be the car for the purists. Mustang's Shelby GT350 is the latest version of the car that is both powerful and subtle, one that is equally at home on the street as it is on track. As one of its most eye-catching characteristics, this vehicle boasts a 5.2L naturally-aspirated V8 engine that redlines at an astonishing 8,250 rpm and exhibits more European flair than American sensibility.

Ford Shelby GT350 was also included in our list of 50K-100K-per-year cars, and it's such a cool offering that we've decided to add it to this one. Although you might be resigned to higher mileage and base-model 2016 models (so no GT350R), there are still plenty of reasons to consider such cars. You can get quality track cars for a reasonable price, and they are certainly a good choice for people seeking a capable track car without going bankrupt.

2017+ Honda Civic Type R ($30K – $40K)

Performance and affordability go hand in hand with the Honda Civic Type R, and owners of this vehicle have the opportunity to experience this regularly on the race track both as a driver and observer.

With Honda's most advanced K series engine, the turbocharged K20C1, the CTR continues to be the most power-packed vehicle Honda produces. It delivers 306 horsepower and 295-pound feet of torque to the front wheels at 6,500rpm. Despite the current market conditions, it is unlikely that you will be able to obtain one for less than $50,000 (good luck trying to find one), and you shouldn't expect used examples to go for less than their original MSRP.

2015-2017 Mercedes-AMG C 63 ($30K – $50K) 

By the time you start up the engine of the 2018 Mercedes-AMG C 63 and C 63 S, any concerns you might have had about the car losing much of its personality have been put to rest. Its closest competitor is the BMW F80 M3 and M4 models. However, the trademark V8 sound that comes from the AMG car is what attracts the gaze.

Certainly, the 6.2-liter naturally-aspirated V8 from the previous-gen Mercedes-AMG C 63 Coupé was an enthusiast's dream. However, the W205's bi-turbo unit can deliver performance that is all-around better than its predecessor offered; the W205 is far from a watered-down version of itself. In terms of its inside quality stands out from its aging rivals, and its driving experience is exceptionally rewarding at any speed.

2014 Mercedes CLS63 AMG ($47K – $50K)

Mercedes-Benz's normal model is significantly larger in this version. Its powerful exterior can be equated to its powerful performance traits thanks to the strong material used in the frame. When accelerating at optimum speeds, the 2014 CLS63 AMG maintains its smoothness on the road as it reaches its maximum. It's not uncommon to be hurtling down the road without even noticing the changes in pace along the way. The vehicle would most likely cost more than $100,000 at its peak.

With a 5.5L V8 engine, a horsepower of 550 hp, and a top speed of 155 mph, this car can go from 0-60 mph in 3.9 seconds.

2014 Mercedes E63 AMG ($46K – $50K)

There is no doubt that the Mercedes E63 AMG 2014 is a beast. No other road-legal car on the market can reach 60 mph in as little as 3.4 seconds. Those living on the edge will appreciate the superb suspension on the E63. The vehicle's ability to bomb around sharp turns and sudden curves makes it an ideal vehicle for bombing around sudden turns.

With a 6.2L V8 engine, a horsepower of 707 hp, and a top speed of 204 mph, this car can go from 0-60 mph in 3.4 seconds.

2010 Nissan GT-R ($48K – $50K)

It might not be the fastest acceleration, but there is no doubt in our mind that the Nissan GT-R offers the fastest time from zero to sixty miles per hour. There can be quite a few expenses associated with maintaining a car of this caliber every year. However, despite this modest price tag, $50,000 is a good price. This vehicle operates in a way comparable to an Olympic-level athlete's performance. Despite its speed, handling, suspension, aesthetics, and affordability, this car has everything - from speed and handling to an affordable price.

With a top speed of 192 mph, the Nissan GT-R can go from 0 to 60 mph in 3.2 seconds. It has a 3.8L V6 engine and horsepower of 485 hp.

2012-2015 Porsche 911 Carrera ($45K – $50K)

In such a way that it's similar to the Porsche Cayman/Boxsters in this list, the Porsche 911 Carrera examples that meet the criteria on a budget (and model years) are more than likely to be the base or 'S' 991.1 models with rear-wheel drive. There is no doubt that these cars are wonderful machines that typically serve as stepping-stones to more expensive trims like the GTS or GT3. However, they are also objectively capable on their own merits.

Remember, a $50K 911 is a car you should drive every day, and that's how the appeal of buying a car like this on a budget of this magnitude comes into play. A perfect blend of the latest technology and exhilarating performance makes for the perfect grand tourer for any occasion, providing a comfortable and refined ride for everyday use. This car era is also partly responsible for the fact that many people, especially Porschephiles, prefer naturally aspirated cars.

2017+ Tesla Model 3 Performance ($35K – $40K)

Tesla Model 3 is a pretty amazing EV and car, providing a combination of performance, utility, range, and price that's currently unmatched by any other EV on the market today. Today, the Performance model will pay back $58,990 for the new car before options. For those with a $50K budget, picking one up on the used market is a logical option, and that's hardly a bad thing. Since you'll be getting a nearly-new car, the price was slightly higher than a Model S, so you should consider this deal over a Model S at a higher price.

The Rear-Wheel Drive model (which utilizes a single electric motor) and the Long Range model are also included within this price range. However, the Performance model would be our top choice in the lot, as it accelerates from 0-60 mph in an impressive 3.1 seconds with its 450 horsepower and standard all-wheel drive. Besides its sportier suspension and better brakes, it also comes with stickier tires and a track mode selection option.

Are you interested in learning more about cars and their maintenance? Head over to the KeepDriving website and check out our blog post about the oil warning lights in your Subaru Forester.

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