Okay, before we get started, yes the Ferrari 458, Lamborghini Aventador, and McLaren 570S are top rated sports cars. They are also outrageously expensive, exceptionally rare, and unless you’re seriously minting Benjamins (and we do mean big Benjamins), you’re looking for something a bit more down to earth. Thus, this list of the top rated sports cars is a list of the top rated mainstream sports on the market today. Yes, one or two of these fall on the seriously pricey side too, but they also have a modicum of practicality, which is how they wound up represented here.
Alfa Romeo 4C Spider
The Alfa Romeo 4C Spider was introduced late in 2015 as a model year 2016 companion to the highly regarded Alfa Romeo 4C Coupe. Whether you go Coupe or Spider (Convertible), the Alfa is essentially a thinly-disguised racing car for the street. In fact, the Alfa 4C is about as elemental as you can get among the top rated sports cars and still be street legal. Built like an exotic (because truthfully, it is one), the 4C uses a carbon fiber tub, aluminum suspension pieces, and a high-output turbocharged mid-mounted engine. Further, sound deadening materials, carpeting, and other creature comforts are kept to a minimum to ensure the Alfa’s curb weight comes in under 2,500 pounds (this includes the omission of power steering). Power comes from a 1750 cc (1.75-liter) turbocharged inline four good for 237 horsepower and 258 ft-lbs of torque. A six-speed dual-clutch automated manual transmission feeds the rear wheels. Pricing starts at $63,900.
The handsome second generation Audi R8 bows for the 2016 model year. Even with its exotic car good looks and exceptionally capable engines, the Audi R8 has always felt more like a mainstream car concerning comfort and convenience when you’re at its controls. One of the best of the top rated sports cars for 2016, the new Audi R8 is some 100 pounds lighter than its predecessor—and more powerful. The V8 engine has been dropped in favor of the V10. The base configuration makes 532 horsepower, while the more aggressively tuned version is good for 602. All-wheel drive and a seven-speed automated manual transmission complete the powertrains. Pricing for 2016 has yet to be announced, but the 2015 model started at $115,900.
In addition to being one of the top rated sports cars for 2016, the BMW Z4 is also two cars in one. With its folding hardtop, the BMW Z4 presents itself as both a coupe and a convertible. Classic long nose, short rear deck styling, exceptionally refined engine choices, and rear wheel drive make the BMW Z4 a true sports car in every sense. Meanwhile, the BMW roadster also delivers a supple ride quality, a relatively spacious interior environment, and outstanding attention to detail. Engines range in output from 240 horsepower to 335. Transmissions for the rear-drive powertrain include a six-speed manual, an eight-speed automatic, and a seven-speed automated manual. Pricing starts at $49,700.
Of course the 2016 Chevrolet Corvette is on this list of the top rated sports cars. Offered in both coupe and convertible configurations, the 2016 Chevrolet Corvette is easily one of the best sports cars you can buy for 2016. Stunning good looks and a sumptuous interior treatment mate nicely to V8 engines—with power ranging from 455 horsepower to 650. All Corvette models use rear-wheel drive and a choice of a seven-speed manual transmission, or an eight-speed automatic. Further, the Corvette can be a demure sophisticate when you need it to be or a raucous provocateur when you want it to be—at the turn of a dial. Pricing starts at $55,400.
Ferocity and civility in the same package succinctly defines Jaguar’s F-Type sports car. For the 2016 model year, Jaguar has further broadened its capabilities with the addition of all-wheel drive and manual transmission offerings, which helps keep it firmly numbered among the market’s top-rated sports cars. Meanwhile, the F-Type’s passenger compartment is exceptionally comfortable, there’s more than enough space for two people, and even with its high cornering limits, the Jaguar exhibits exceptional grace in both coupe and convertible forms. Engines range in output from 340 horsepower to 550, ensuring more than enough pace to satisfy even the most ardent sports car fans. Transmission choices are a six-speed manual and an eight-speed automatic. Pricing starts at $65,000.
Mazda MX-5 Miata
While the Miata has always been a favorite among sports car fans, the original came up short in terms of being a car you could live with every day. The all-new 2016 Mazda MX-5 rectifies this, while still remaining one of the top rated sports cars. The agile little roadster has just enough room in the cabin and enough trunk space to make commuting bearable, especially if you choose to take the long way home a few times a week—which, you most assuredly will want to do as often as possible. Power comes from a 2.0-liter, 155-horsepower inline four-cylinder with 148 ft-lbs of torque. A six-speed manual transmission and rear-drive are standard; a six-speed automatic with paddle shifters is optional. Pricing starts at $24,915.
It is very possible to spend well into the six-figure range acquiring a Mercedes-Benz SL. However, you don’t really have to do so to get a nice one. Yes, it’s still a costly proposition. Further, the 2016 Mercedes-Benz SL is the most well-rounded car on the market today. You’ll find more than enough power regardless of your engine choice, along with outstanding comfort, engaging handling, and every luxury feature imaginable. For two people, the 2016 Mercedes-Benz SL does anything you ask of it—and a whole lot more. Even better, while the SL is a convertible, its folding hardtop also makes it a coupe. Engine choices range from a 340-horsepower, turbocharged V6, to a turbocharged V12 with 738 ft-lbs of torque. The rear drive SL runs a seven-speed automatic transmission. Pricing starts at $85,050.
The 2016 Mercedes-Benz SLK offers many of the attributes of its larger Mercedes-Benz SL sibling, at a relatively more affordable price point. In a new development for the 2016 model year, Mercedes is now offering the SLK-Class roadster with a new 241-horsepower turbocharged 2.0-liter inline four-cylinder engine in the States. The manual transmission option has been dropped however, so all SLK roadsters now come with a nine-speed automatic transmission and rear-wheel drive. For more power, the SLK can also be had with a 302-horsepower 3.5-liter V6, as well as a 5.5-liter V8 good for 415 horsepower. Pricing starts at $47,000.
The 2016 Nissan 370Z enjoys a slice of the sports car market all to itself. Shop around, and you’ll find any other two-seat sports car with similar power costs considerably more. On the other hand though, this current version of the Z has been with us for going on seven years now and an erosion of its perceived refinement has occurred. To help counter this, Nissan has fitted the 370Z with noise cancelling and sound enhancement for 2016. Power comes from a 3.7-liter V6 with 332 horsepower and 270 ft-lbs of torque. The rear drive powertrain can be had with either a six-speed manual transmission, or a seven-speed automatic. Pricing starts at $29,990.
When you start talking top rated sports cars, it’s important to note the Porsche Boxster is universally considered the best sports car you can buy today. Ditto its hardtop counterpart—the Porsche Cayman. Yes, there are faster cars in the price range—but nothing at a similar price point returns the sophisticated feel of the Boxster and Cayman. And, when it comes to sports cars, precision is an extremely desirable attribute. Each of the mid-engine rear-drive Porsche sports cars is offered with a choice of a six-speed manual transmission, or a seven-speed automated manual. The wonderfully sonorous engines range in output from 265 horsepower to 375. Pricing starts at $52,100.
Porsche 911 Carrera
The evergreen 911 is new once again, even if its looks still say otherwise. The significantly revised 2016 Carrera is in fact referred to as the “New” 911 Carrera by Porsche. By the way, with artificial aspiration applied across the entire range—going forward, all Porsche 911 models will be Turbos. For 2016, the six horizontally opposed cylinders displace 3.0-liters and deliver 370 horsepower—along with 331 ft-lbs of torque for the base Carrera. Carrera S output is 420 horsepower and 368 ft-lbs of torque—from the same displacement. Pricing starts at $89,400.
Scion FR-S/Subaru BRZ
Among affordable sports cars, the Scion/Subaru twins are roomy, offer good cargo capacity, remarkable comfort, sleek styling, outstanding agility, affordable pricing, and, of course, a rorty engine. These features alone number the co-developed rear-drive duo among the top rated sports cars. Further, the 2.0-liter flat four they share makes 200 horsepower and 151 ft-lbs of torque. A six-speed manual transmission comes standard, and six-speed automatic with paddle shifters is the optional transmission offering. Pricing for the Scion starts at $25,305, while the Subaru opens at $25,395.