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Unfortunately for enthusiasts, the current auto market offers few sports car options compared to generic crossovers and SUVs. The battle for dominating performance figures and fun factor is now eclipsed by cars designed by bean counters focusing on generating profit and little else. Thankfully, most manufacturers still see value in producing at least a small handful of options to represent the spirit of driving and to show off their engineering capabilities. But with limited sports car options and an evolving industry of ever-changing priorities, it's more important than ever to pull the trigger on the right vehicle for you.
Like it or not, the sports car market isn't what it used to be. Once considered sinful attributes for sports cars such as four doors, front wheel-drive, and weight-adding NVH materials are now commonplace. Mass consumer cars also made leaps in performance over the years, pushing the OEs to search for ways to separate their sports cars from the rest. This resulted in more tech and more performance, usually at the cost of purchase price, reliability, or both. Over time, manufacturers moved toward cutting corners and letting the boardroom turn passion-driven design into money-led cardboard cutouts. In your search for a diamond in the rough, it's important to know what you're looking for and especially what you should avoid. So here are five sports cars available for purchase today, which you should probably pass on. Some of them may be bad or simply mediocre, and some may even be great in their own right, but there are better alternatives out there.
Tesla Model 3 Performance
The Tesla Model 3 is about as boring as it comes when talking looks, but its performance makes up for it. Especially if you spring for the Performance trim. It dances on the line dividing sporty practical cars and practical sports cars, offering insane acceleration that rivals many supercars with its 3.1-second 0-60 time. It puts down 450 horsepower and almost 500 lb-ft of torque, a big brake package, and a low center of gravity with its low battery placement. Pressing the scales at over 4,000 pounds, it's heavy but not significantly heavier than a BMW M-series or Nissan GT-R. So why is the Model 3 Performance on this list? First, its reliability is subpar. The Tesla powertrain still sits among the best that EVs offer today, the problem is everything else. Sensors, cameras, body fitments, interior features, and other factors regularly bring down the car's reliability ratings among publications and surveys. Second, the EV powertrain is the Model 3 Performance's greatest strength and at the same time its biggest drawback. Like it or not, daily life with an EV is improving in terms of charging and range. The Model 3 provides plenty of range for most users, and Tesla's Supercharger network continues to expand. However, EVs still don't enjoy driving hard for extended periods of time. If you're buying the Performance trim, you're buying it because you want to flex its capabilities. But when it comes to tracking the car or toying around canyon curves, you only have about 20 minutes before sweating over options for the nearest charging station. When it comes to performance EVs, the Tesla 3 Model Performance is the only real option to consider. Unless you absolutely have to have one right now, you're better off giving it a few years to see what better options come to the market.
Lexus RC F
Aside from front grills that imitate your electric shaver, Lexus produces some of the best looking cars on the road today. The RC F model in particular projects elegance, class, and muscle inside and out. It utilizes a 5.0-liter V8 that outputs 467 horsepower, and sends the car to 60 MPH in almost just four seconds. Unfortunately, the RC F is very much a numbers car. The specifications look great, it makes power, and it's decently fast. It's fairly heavy at about 4,000 pounds, but it's not far off the competition. It's great for cruising, date nights, and road trips, but the problem is when you attempt to put those numbers to use. Somehow, the RC F lacks a lot of character when put through its paces. The steering feels numb, the suspension is plush but doesn't provide great feedback, and it somehow made four seconds to 60 MPH feel somewhat boring. Luckily for consumers, the RC F is not the only luxury sports car on the market. You can find better bang for the buck with much more enjoyable daily and track driving experiences with BMW, Cadillac, and a handful of others.
Toyota GR Supra 2.0
Don't get the wrong idea, the GR Supra is a great car. It looks gorgeous (though likely to look dated in ten years), it offers precise feeling handling, and brings just enough luxury to not feel embarrassed to drive friends around in it. But the Supra comes in multiple trim levels, and in this case we're suggesting the 2.0-liter version for this list of cars to avoid. The reason being that the 3.0-liter variants fit comfortably in their positions in the market. For a price in the mid-fifty thousand dollar range, you get an inline turbocharged six-cylinder engine capable of nearly 400 horsepower and torque, paired with either a manual or automatic transmission and short gearing for extra fun. Combine this with a curb weight in the low 3,000-lb range with very smart suspension, and you have a car that excels at double duty between street and track. The 2.0-liter variant, however, strips away the fun and exciting power delivery in order to leave you an extra ten thousand dollars in your pocket. The power output of this turbocharged four-cylinder version comes down to 255 horsepower and 295 lb-ft of torque. These aren't necessarily weak figures, but they do slip the car into a less outstanding category. Making matters worse, the GR Supra 2.0 only comes with an automatic transmission. Again, this new automatic isn't bad by any means, but a 2.0-liter turbo tied to an automatic transmission doesn't shout greatness, either. When considering the price for performance, you may want to look at a lighter, nimbler, and significantly more affordable GR86. Or you can still save a few bucks and gain 150 horsepower by driving home the Nissan 400Z instead. Otherwise, save up the extra cash for the six-cylinder Supra and you won't regret it.
What was once the greatest threat to the modern supercar has now become one of the most tired out, overplayed sports cars you can find on the road today. Since Nissan gave up on updating the R35 GT-R years ago, it's been up to the aftermarket to keep it alive. Giving credit to the GT-R, aftermarket support for this platform is outstanding. Nissan developed a strong engine in the form of the VR38 and a dual-clutch transmission to match. The car eats up upgrades and spits out gobs of horsepower in exchange. The R35 GT-R was a fantastic machine when it first appeared... 16 years ago. Since then, Nissan repeatedly updated different aspects of the car year over year. But you can only make so many facelifts before you might as well start over with a clean slate. Despite the GT-R putting down great power to all four wheels, masked underneath an aggressive looking body, the car leaves a lot to be desired when you get behind the wheel. It's almost too easy to drive, as you can simply throw it into a corner and stomp on the throttle to let the car handle the rest. Otherwise, the track and canyon driving experience just feels lackluster. Thanks to the state of its aftermarket support, you can make the GT-R excel at almost anything you want it to. But it'll take a lot of money. If your heart lies with Japanese turbocharged performance, and you grew up praying to Vin Diesel and Paul Walker, the GT-R was made just for you. If you want more fun and performance for the dollar, you may want to window-shop some Porsche models, or just give into your midlife crisis and opt for a Corvette.
If you want a car that wakes up your primal brain cells and makes big noises when you step on the gas, then the Dodge Challenger is for you. If you want a car that is capable of anything else, you have much better options available. Dodge offers the Challenger in way too many variants, from six cylinders and 300 horsepower at $32,000 up to a supercharged V8 that screams with 800 horsepower for more than $100,000. At well over 4,000 lbs, even its four-wheel independent suspension can't save the Challenger's boring and sometimes frustrating driving characteristics. Especially if you end up with any trim below the SRT Hellcat. The Scat Pack serves as the middle-ground option that most customers opt for, starting in the mid-forty thousand dollar range for its 485 horsepower and 475 lb-ft of torque 6.4-liter V8. It's not slow, as it reaches 60 MPH in 4.2 seconds and can top out at 176 MPH. The problem is that the car is a tank. It's big, it's heavy, it plows into corners, and pushing it hard around corners often gets frustrating. If you want to relive American Graffiti and cruise downtown with the windows down, you'll enjoy the charm of any of the V8 Challengers. But if you don't have a soft spot for the Challenger in particular, don't start with this one. You have plenty of options against each of the 10+ Challenger trim levels that will outdo the Challenger in nearly every way.