autoevolution
 

5 Popular Sports Cars To Avoid in 2024 and What To Buy Instead

What are your expectations from a sports car in today’s automotive landscape? We’re a little over a month into 2024 and our perception of performance keeps shifting as carmakers keep moving the goalposts. Is it about adrenaline? Bragging rights? Let’s explore.
Popular sports cars to avoid in 2024 7 photos
Photo: WheelsAge/autoevolution
Porsche 718 Cayman & C8 Corvette StingrayJaguar F-Type & Toyota GR SupraToyota GR SupraNissan Z & Ford Mustang GTBMW Z4 M40i & Porsche 718 BoxsterLexus RC & BMW M240i xDrive Coupe
At the core of every sports car lies its performance capabilities. No matter what, that thing needs to perform, at least on some level. Usually, we know to expect blistering acceleration, razor-sharp handling and a symphony of exhaust notes – things that you wouldn’t otherwise get from your family saloon or crossover.

Yet, a common misconception about sports cars is that they need to perform well on a race track, which isn’t true at all. These aren’t track weapons. Not even all supercars can be considered as such. Instead, your run-of-the-mill sports car should seamlessly blend performance with practicality, delivering a driving experience that transcends the mundane without kicking your butt in the process.

As such, a modern-day sports car is also expected to feature the latest driver-assistance systems, cutting edge infotainment technology, various connectivity features, and maybe even an adaptive suspension system – I mean, it can’t hurt, can it?

Of course, not all these machines are created equal. For a sports car to truly resonate with a buyer, it needs to deliver on its promises without compromise. There’s also the question of where we’re heading, and as consumer expectations continue to evolve, the best sports cars will undoubtedly be those that continue to evolve as well, embracing change (electrification) while staying true to their roots.

Now, we’re not there yet. We’re probably 5-10 years away from big-name sports car models adopting battery electric drivetrains, if not more. Until then, the good old fashioned internal combustion engine will do just fine. This begs the question: which sports cars are truly worth buying in 2024? Well, we’ve put together a shortlist that you should find quite satisfactory. We’ll start by presenting you with the models you might want to avoid, before offering up the perfect alternative.

The following are in no particular order.

Jaguar F-Type

Jaguar F\-Type & Toyota GR Supra
Photo: WheelsAge
The F-Type is a nice car, don’t get me wrong. Even the entry-level R-Dynamic trim packs a punch, featuring a supercharged 5.0-liter V8 engine, good for 444 horsepower. It only needs 4.6 seconds to hit 60 mph, and if you let it, it’ll max out at 176 mph (284 kph).

This is a rear-wheel drive car with adaptive dynamics, active exhaust, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, heated steering wheel, keyless entry – it's really nice.

The problem is, it costs upwards of $77,900, which wouldn’t have been a problem to begin with if you didn’t have considerably cheaper alternatives out there. Granted, they wouldn’t be as nice inside, but they’d be better sports cars – quicker and more fun to drive, to some extent.

So, here’s what you do. Instead of spending damn-near $80k on that Jag, get yourself a new Toyota GR Supra from $55,400. Yes, it’s got less power, but it’s actually quicker. Much cheaper, and much quicker. A tough combo to overcome.

The flagship spec GR Supra comes with a BMW-sourced turbocharged 3.0-liter inline-six unit, producing 382 horsepower and 360 lb-ft of torque. It can get you to 60 mph in just 3.9 seconds, which is enough to shame that Jaguar.

I realize these are to somewhat different cars, but from the standpoint of a driving enthusiast, you’re really getting your money’s worth with the Supra, whereas the F-Type might seem a bit lackluster for that kind of money (people often complain about their stiff ride and significant road noise). You can also do better in terms of handling – you can easily get a Cayman too, but more on the Porsche later.

Buy instead: Toyota GR Supra

Nissan Z

Nissan Z & Ford Mustang GT
Photo: WheelsAge
The Nissan Z, also known as the Fairlady Z (in Japan), is the carmaker’s seventh-generation Z-car and stands as a direct successor to the 370Z, despite featuring the same platform, manual gearbox and architecture as the latter.

On paper, this is one clever offering, with Nissan being more than happy with this type of carryover from one generation to the next.

Performance-wise, the Nissan Z is powered by the same 3.0-liter twin turbocharged V6 found in Infiniti’s Red Sport 400 models, meaning you get 400 horsepower and 350 lb-ft of torque. There’s a choice to be made between a six-speed manual gearbox and a nine-speed automatic, so there’s a little something there for everybody.

In terms of 0-60 times, this is a quick car, no doubt about it. You can hit that mark from a standstill in just 4.5 seconds, and it’ll only cost you upwards of $42,310.

So then, what’s wrong with it? Well, nothing. It’s a great little car. Fast, fun to drive, you name it. Yet, I can’t help but feel as though you can do even better from a performance standpoint, not to mention comfort and even prestige, dare I say. Nissan’s Z cars have always been about fun, but they never garnered as much respect as say, a Supra.

That’s where something like the 2024 Ford Mustang GT comes into play. It costs roughly the same as this Nissan ($42,710), and you get a Gen IV 5.0-liter Coyote V8 engine with 480 horsepower and 415 lb-ft of torque. It might not be as chuckable of a car as the Nissan Z, but it’s an overall superior product. Plus, on paper, it’s even quicker to 60 mph, needing 4.3 seconds.

Buy instead: Ford Mustang GT

Lexus RC 350

Lexus RC & BMW M240i xDrive Coupe
Photo: WheelsAge
The Lexus RC is a compact executive two-door coupe, usually considered a direct rival to the likes of the BMW 4 Series Coupe and the Audi A5 Coupe. It’s a premium product, albeit an aging one. It’s been in production since 2014 and it last received a facelift back in 2018.

In the United States, sales have been on the decline, and it’s no wonder. This thing has gotten to be a little long in the tooth. It’s also not quick enough for the $48,850 Lexus would like to charge you in exchange for the RC 350 variant, which is the only conventional spec worth getting from a driving enthusiast’s standpoint.

It’s got a naturally aspirated V6 engine, good for 311 horsepower – going to either the rear wheels or all four, resulting in a 0-60 mph time of 5.8 seconds for the former configuration. That’s right, 5.8 seconds. That’s painfully slow for a $50k V6-powered coupe by 2024 standards.

If you want something a little more unconventional, you can also get the RC F, which has a V8 and 472 horsepower, but that’s going to cost you a heck of a lot more. For the purposes of this exercise, we’re going to stick with the RC 350, seeing as how we just found the perfect alternative at very little extra cost.

I’m talking about the 2024 BMW M240i xDrive Coupe. A different type of coupe, yes (smaller, less comfy), but a much better sports car.

The M240i xDrive Coupe costs upwards of $49,700 and offers up a turbocharged inline-six unit worth 382 horsepower. Why is this a much better proposition? Well, because it’s silly-fast. It’ll hit 60 mph in 4.1 seconds thanks to its all-wheel drive system, leaving a lot more expensive cars in its dust with relative ease. Personally, I think the M240i is one of the smartest purchases one can make in 2024, with regards to sporty cars.

Make a note to get the xDrive variant (not the one with rear-wheel drive), otherwise it won’t accelerate as quickly off the line.

Buy instead: BMW M240i xDrive Coupe

BMW Z4 M40i

BMW Z4 M40i & Porsche 718 Boxster
Photo: WheelsAge
With some cars, it’s not just about the engine, but the entire experience as a whole. Yes, that M240i we just talked about deserves your consideration, as does this Z4 M40i, seeing as how it’s got the exact same inline-six turbo unit, with the exact same amount of horsepower (382 hp).

The thing is, that M240i xDrive Coupe can be had for less than $50k, while the Z4 M40i is a $66,300 affair, at the very least. That makes this a horse of a different color, because you need to consider alternatives at around that price point, and that’s where you might run into some “trouble” as a BMW enthusiast.

Before we talk about said alternative, let me just say that the third-generation Z4 is a fine automobile. It’s also one of those rare Bimmers that actually looks good from all angles. It’s got a super speedy roof (you can raise and lower it in just 10 seconds), more trunk space compared to its predecessor, and it’s a heck of a lot of fun to drive.

Do I wish BMW stuck more to the Z4 Concept in terms of design? Yes, because that concept (unveiled the year before) looked absolutely incredible. But there’s still time for the carmaker to make good on it – maybe via an all-electric Z4 sometime in the future.

Now, the alternative. Seeing as how $70,400 will land you a 2024 Porsche 718 Boxster, I cannot in good conscience recommend the Z4 M40i over its German rival, even though the Bimmer is the quicker car, and not by a little.

The entry-level 718 Boxster is powered by a lowly 2.0-liter turbocharged flat-four unit, producing just 300 horsepower and 280 lb-ft of torque. But this is a Porsche, meaning the drivetrain is perfectly balanced for performance. It’s not as quick as that flagship-spec Z4, but it’ll still get you to 60 mph in a maximum of 4.9 seconds.

You can lower that number by opting for the PDK variant with the Sport Chrono Package, resulting in a 4.5-second 0-60 sprint time.

But like I said, this comparison isn’t about acceleration, but the driving experience, and a 718 Boxster will destroy any BMW Z4 in that department. Push them hard and the Porsche will still feel super planted thanks to its mid-engine weight distribution, while the BMW might lack some composure, at least by comparison.

Buy instead: Porsche 718 Boxster

Porsche 718 Cayman

Porsche 718 Cayman & C8 Corvette Stingray
Photo: WheelsAge
I swear I’m not doing this on purpose. Praising one 718 and then bringing the other one down isn’t my style, but I’m dropping the Cayman’s name in here because of one car that does a lot of things right for the same amount of money.

I’ve driven multiple iterations of the 718 Cayman, including the one from before it even wore the moniker ‘718’. These are just exceptional sports cars, even the entry-level ones are still worthy of being called a Porsche. That said, for nearly $70k, the entry-level Cayman could struggle against a certain competitor that comes out of left field.

People don’t usually consider the C8 Corvette to be a Porsche 718 rival, but I do, because they cost the same, and they’re both sports cars – with the Vette walking that thin line between sports car and super car.

This is all to say that I’m not denigrating the Cayman here, but rather building up the Corvette, which for $68,300 will get you to 60 mph in just 2.9 seconds, before maxing out at 194 mph. The entry-level 718 can’t get anywhere near those figures. No sir.

The way the C8 Stingray can achieve such heights is through the use of a naturally aspirated 6.2-liter V8 engine, producing 490 horsepower and 465 lb-ft of torque. It also comes standard with an 8-speed dual clutch automatic (with paddle shifters), while the optional Z51 package gives you a performance exhaust which pushes output by an extra 5 horsepower and 5 lb-ft of torque.

If you recall, the C8 Corvette Stingray was featured in our 8 Best-Value-for-Money Supercars article from a few weeks ago, where it got ranked no. 6 out of 8, ahead of the Nissan GT-R or the Maserati MC20.

You have to admit, GM knocked one out of the park with the C8, and even more so with the Z06, but that’s a completely different animal. I also can’t wait for them to reveal the ZR1, which should put down anywhere from 800 to 900 horsepower. It’s going to be insane.

Buy instead: Corvette Stingray
If you liked the article, please follow us:  Google News icon Google News Youtube Instagram X (Twitter)
About the author: Sergiu Tudose
Sergiu Tudose profile photo

Sergiu got to experience both American and European car "scenes" at an early age (his father drove a Ford Fiesta XR2 supermini in the 80s). After spending over 15 years at local and international auto publications, he's starting to appreciate comfort behind the wheel more than raw power and acceleration.
Full profile

 

Would you like AUTOEVOLUTION to send you notifications?

You will only receive our top stories