Sports cars are quicker, sexier, and more high-tech than they have ever been. The best one you can buy new is the 2020 Toyota Supra. It lives up to its heritage-laced name by offering strong performance, a well-built cabin with useful tech features, and reasonably spacious trunk, which is difficult to find in this corner of the market.
The Supra has its downsides. It’s not available with a manual transmission, and it’s relatively expensive. But given everything else on the market right now, the Toyota is the sports car to beat. That’s where our expertise comes in. At Digital Trends, we’ve traveled all over the world to drive every performance car available on the road and on the track. If you want something more spacious, we’ve selected the best sport sedan. If you’re after a more affordable sports car, we have you covered, too.
At a glance
|Toyota Supra||Best sports car overall||Not yet rated|
|Ford Mustang Shelby GT350||Best muscle car||Not yet rated|
|Aston Martin DB11||Best grand tourer||Not yet rated|
|Lamborghini Huracán Evo||Best exotic car||4 out of 5|
|Toyota 86 and Subaru BRZ||Best affordable performance cars||Not yet rated|
|BMW M5||Best sports sedan||4 out of 5|
Why should you buy this: It’s a fun, daily-drivable coupe that doesn’t skimp on performance.
Who’s it for: Those who want a fun sports car they can drive daily.
How much will it cost: $49,990+
Why we picked the Toyota Supra:
We spent years waiting for Toyota to resurrect the Supra nameplate, and the wait was well worth it. Introduced at the 2019 Detroit auto show, the fifth iteration of this hallowed coupe stands out with a well-balanced chassis, and head-turning looks. The Toyota emblem is a little misleading, however. It shares its underpinnings and many parts with the BMW Z4.
That means power for the Supra comes from BMW’s 3.0-liter straight-six, an engine turbocharged to develop 335 horsepower and 365 pound-feet of torque. The cavalry travels to the rear wheels via an eight-speed automatic transmission that also wears a BMW parts number. Toyota hasn’t announced plans to make a manual gearbox available yet.
While the Supra is down on power compared to the Z4, it still performs the benchmark zero-to-60-mph sprint in 4.1 seconds, which is plenty quick. Toyota claims a 50/50 front-rear weight distribution, which makes the Supra fun to drive on the road and on the track. This is exactly what a sports car should feel like.
Tech is part of the equation, of course. Toyota breaks the Supra lineup down into two trim levels named 3.0 and 3.0 Premium, respectively. The list of standard features includes a 6.5-inch touchscreen with Bluetooth connectivity, Alcantara upholstery, an adaptive suspension, forward collision warning, launch control, and shift paddles. 3.0 Premium models benefit from an 8.8-inch touchscreen, navigation, wireless Apple CarPlay (but no Android Auto), a 12-speaker sound system, wireless phone charging, and a color head-up display. It also gets heated, leather-upholstered seats.
Ford Mustang Shelby GT350
The best muscle car
Why should you buy this: It’s a major performance bargain.
Who’s it for: Track-day enthusiasts
How much will it cost: $60,440+
Why we picked the Ford Mustang Shelby GT350:
In many ways, automotive enthusiasts have the never-ending rivalry between Mustang and Camaro to thank for the ultra high performance muscle cars we see today. What once was a horsepower war has now become a battle for faster lap times. It’s a freaky world we live in where a Camaro (in Z/28 guise) can match a Porsche 911 GT3. The Mustang is on the sports car front lines, too, thanks to the formidable Shelby GT350 model.
While its true that Shelbys of years past owe their performance to their engines, the GT350 is only partly defined by its powertrain, which is more impressive considering this is one of the best motors Ford has ever built. Engineers wrung 526 hp and 429 lb-ft of torque roar from a purpose-designed 5.2-liter flat-plane crank V8 motor. No forced induction or electrification, just the most powerful naturally aspirated motor Ford has ever produced – one that boasts a redline of 8,250 rpm. If you crave more power, Ford also makes the 760-hp Shelby GT500.
Beyond its engine, the GT350 stands out from the standard Mustang with a lowered suspension, Ford’s MagneRide magnetic dampers, Brembo brakes, and a model-specific lightweight six-speed manual transmission. It also receives a full body kit that improves cooling and downforce, ensuring it’s ready and willing to hit the track lap after lap.
The fact that about $60,000 grants you performance to rival some of the fastest sports cars in the world is confounding. Comparing the Shelby GT350 to any preceding Mustang is like contrasting a Cheetah with a Dachshund. Sure, they can both run, but that’s where their similarities end.
Aston Martin DB11
The best grand tourer
Why should you buy this: It’s a sports car that won’t leave you exhausted at the end of a long drive.
Who’s it for: James Bond wannabes
How much will it cost: $198,000+
Why we picked the Aston Martin DB11:
The DB11 is Aston’s first clean-sheet design in over a decade, and it shows. While it still looks like an Aston Martin, and has the performance to back up those looks, this is a distinctly 21st century automobile.
Whether you choose Aston’s own 5.2-liter twin-turbocharged V12 or the Mercedes-AMG-sourced 4.0-liter twin-turbo V8, the DB11 has plenty of muscle. The “entry-level” V8 model has 503 hp and 513 lb-ft. Aston says it will do 0 to 60 mph in 4.0 seconds, and reach a top speed of 187 mph. Upgrade to the V12, and you get 600 hp and 516 lb-ft, shaving 0.1 second off the 0 to 60 mph sprint, and allowing for a top speed of 200 mph.
The bodywork is gorgeous and doesn’t compromise on aerodynamic performance. Aerodynamic downforce is important for generating tire grip, but Aston didn’t want to mess up the DB11’s clean lines with protruding spoilers and splitters. So designers created channels in the bodywork to direct airflow around the car in the most advantageous way possible.
The DB11 is also a true grand tourer, capable of covering long distances at high speeds without wearing its driver out. Contrasting the Spartan interiors of some sports cars, the DB11’s cabin is genuinely luxurious. The car is set up for spirited driving, but the ride is still fairly comfortable.
Read our Aston Martin DB11 first drive
Lamborghini Huracán Evo
The best exotic car
Why should you buy this: For its mix of intelligence and insanity.
Who’s it for: Trendsetters
How much will it cost: $261,274+
Why we picked the Lamborghini Huracán Evo:
Lamborghini may be the stuff of childhood dreams, but for decades its cars were more style than substance. That’s no longer the case.
The Lamborghini Huracán Evo combines bedroom poster looks with serious tech. It’s an updated version of Lambo’s entry-level Huracán (hence the name “Evo”) with added tech. Lamborghini Dinamica Veicolo Integrata (LDVI) uses data from an array of sensors to predict the driver’s next move and set up the car accordingly. LDVI monitors everything from acceleration and lateral G-force to how quickly the driver’s foot jumps between the pedals. If the driver goes abruptly from the accelerator to the brake, LDVI assumes the car is on a track and about to enter a corner. The system uses this information to adjust things like the suspension and torque distribution to keep the driver from crashing. That means you can enjoy serious speed without sweaty palms.
The Huracán Evo is still a serious supercar. A 5.2-liter V10 produces 640 hp and 443 lb-ft of torque in all-wheel drive models, allowing for zero to 62 mph in 2.9 seconds, and a top speed north of 200 mph, according to Lambo. For 2020, the automaker also released a rear-wheel drive model. It makes less power than the all-wheel drive version (610 hp and 413 lb-ft), but will let you indulge your inner drifter.
Infotainment systems are often an afterthought in supercars, but that’s not the case in the Huracán Evo. A central touchscreen is easy to reach and features sharp graphics. The system can also record video and data traces from lap times so you can find ways to improve your driving (or just show off to your friends). Apple CarPlay is included, with Android Auto expected to be added at a future date. Amazon Alexa compatibility was added for 2020.
Read our Lamborghini Huracán Evo review
Toyota 86 and Subaru BRZ
The best affordable performance car
Why should you buy this: Because power isn’t everything in a sports car.
Who’s it for: Those who want to master the basics.
How much will it cost: $28,845+ (BRZ); $27,060 (86)
Though they wear different names, the Toyota 86 and the Subaru BRZ are essentially the same vehicle. Both illustrate the fact that sports cars aren’t all about straight-line speed and neck-snapping performance. Handling is also part of the experience. If you want a picture-perfect idea of how a proper, rear-wheel drive sports coupe should handle, look no further than this Japanese duo.
They’re light, compact, rear-wheel drive, and offer a six-speed manual transmission. The result is sharp and balanced handling you can’t quite get on this side of $30,000. They use the same flat-four engine, which Subaru designed and tuned to 205 hp and 156 lb-ft of torque. You won’t win many drag races but the four-cylinder is eager to rev and it contributes greatly to the driving experience.
There are compromises. If you often drive long distances, you’ll likely find the bucket seats cause your back to ache. Look elsewhere if you need space; this is a 2+2, not a true four-seater, meaning the rear seats are for occasional use only. Sports cars aren’t meant to be practical, though. Grab a passenger, load up a weekend’s worth of gear, and head off to your favorite mountain spot.
The best sports sedan
Why should you buy this: You want power without compromising space or luxury.
Who’s it for: Those who want to fly under the radar
How much will it cost: $102,700+
Why we picked the BMW M5:
Who said a sports car needs to have two doors? Certainly not us. The layout generally makes more sense because two-door cars are often nimbler and lighter than four-door models, but there are fantastic sedans on the market that can embarrass many coupes. The latest BMW M5 stands out as the best of the lot.
Purists howled when they first heard rumors of the M5 ditching rear-wheel drive in favor of all-wheel drive; say it ain’t so! They quieted down when they learned what BMW had in store. The M5’s twin-turbocharged, 4.4-liter V8 engine sends 600 horsepower to the four wheels in its standard configuration. There’s no manual transmission option so your only choice is eight-speed automatic. From there, you have the option of selecting a mode called 4WD Sport that channels more power to the rear wheels or simply disengage the front axle entirely to send all 600 horses out back. In other words, the M5 gives you the best of both worlds and it doesn’t resort to a gimmicky drift mode.
The M5 overcomes its not-insignificant weight and hits 60 mph from a stop in merely 3.2 seconds. It doesn’t look the part, though; designers intentionally gave it restrained styling. And it’s still a BMW, meaning the interior is made with top-notch materials and it offers a long list of tech and convenience features. Drive it conservatively and your passengers will think they’re in a high-end luxury sedan, not in a high-performance machine capable of keeping up with a Ferrari Portofino.
Read our BMW M5 review
How we test
The Digital Trends automotive team scrutinizes vehicles on the road through a comprehensive testing process. We examine the qualities of the exterior and interior and judge them based on our expertise and experience in the context of the vehicle’s category and price range. Entertainment technology is thoroughly tested, as well as most safety features that can be tested in controlled environments.
Test drivers spend extensive time behind the wheel of the vehicles, conducting real-world testing, driving them on highways, back roads, as well as off-road and race tracks when applicable.
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