Used Car of the Year Awards 2023: Sports cars

With living costs on the rise, getting a good deal on your next car is more important than ever. That's where our Used Car Awards come in. These are our favourite sports cars...

Used Sports Car of the Year

Audi TT

What Car? Used Car of the Year Awards 2023 logo

Price from £10,000 Our pick 2.0 TFSI Sport

A sports car should be like your TV in that entertainment is but an ‘on’ button’s press away. It must be able to put a childish grin on your face every time you go for a spin, and a used Audi TT will do exactly that.

There’s a great range of engines to suit all budgets and tastes. Even the least powerful petrol and diesel offer satisfyingly brisk acceleration. For us, the sweet spot is the more powerful, 227bhp version of the 2.0-litre petrol, although speed freaks can opt for a hotter TTS or TT RS for even more thrilling performance.

Whether you choose a front or four-wheel-drive TT (the latter offering extra traction in slippery conditions), it has loads of grip and eager handling, being more fun on twisty roads than the rival Mercedes C-Class Coupé. The TT can also double as a refined cruiser, being far more civilised and comfortable than the more focused Toyota GT86.

2019 Audi TT Coupé 45 TFSI Quattro dash

The TT’s cool and capable demeanour carries through to its interior, which features premium materials, a minimalist design and an intuitive infotainment system that’s built into the digital instrument panel and operated via a rotary controller between the seats. It’s also more practical than most other sports cars, because it has rear seats (admittedly cramped ones) and an easily accessed hatchback boot. It can work as a daily driver, aided by confidence-inspiring reliability. In our latest survey, it ranked second out of 15 models in its class with a 98% rating.

The clincher is that the TT is far more affordable on the used market than pricey alternatives such as the Porsche 718 Cayman and Jaguar F-Type. Prices start at around £10,000 for an early car with a 2.0-litre diesel engine and in entry-level Sport trim. If you’d prefer our recommended 2.0 TFSI Sport, a 2015-2016 car will cost you a very reasonable £18,000.

Also consider...

Best for tight budgets

Ford Fiesta ST (2013-2017) 

Used Ford Fiesta ST 13-17

Price from £7000 Our pick 1.6 Ecoboost ST-3

The Ford Fiesta ST hits the hot-hatch bullseye. When it comes to driver engagement, it’s on a different level from rivals such as the Vauxhall Corsa VXR and Volkswagen Polo GTI, thanks to its razor-sharp steering and playful handling.

The 1.6-litre turbo engine of this previous generation ST packs 180bhp and offers up serious performance, sprinting from 0-62mph in just 6.9sec.If that isn’t impressive enough, there’s also a more powerful ST200 model.

Available as a three-door or a five-door, the ST is barely any less practical than a regular Fiesta. The main caveat when it comes to usability is that its ride is very jiggly, making it more trying to live with than an Audi TT. The interior feels rather low-rent, too. If you opt for an early example in desirable top-spec ST-3 trim, expect to spend around £10,000. But even if you up that to £14,000 for a 2017 car in great condition, you’re still getting a steal.

2018 Mazda MX-5 cornering

Price from £12,000 Our pick 1.5 Sport Nav

Some buyers’ idea of a true sports car involves two seats, low weight and a folding roof. If you don’t need something as well rounded as the Audi TT, the Mazda MX-5 is a breath of fresh air, literally.

With a small four-cylinder engine, rear-wheel drive and a manual gearbox, Mazda’s roadster is a simple recipe for fun. A low weight means it doesn’t need stiff suspension to tame its body movements in corners. In other words, you get a really nimble car that’s also comfortable – more so than a Mini Convertible JCW.

This old-school entertainment is met with modern luxuries. Our preferred Sport Nav trim comes with leather seats and a Bose audio sound system. Opt for it with the rev-happy 1.5-litre engine (there’s also a more powerful 2.0-litre option) and it’ll cost you around £14,000 for an early car. Premium alternatives such as the Porsche 718 Boxster demand more than twice that.

Read our full used Mazda MX-5 review >>

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Best for driving pleasure

Renault Mégane RS (2018-2020) 

LT Renault Megane RS front

Price from £21,000 Our pick 280 Cup

The Renault Mégane RS must have taken inspiration from Harry Potter, because its four-wheel steering performs wizardry. It grants this family-sized hot hatch the agility of a smaller car, and this combines with amazing grip and balance to create a memorable driving experience.

The Mégane beats the rival Volkswagen Golf GTI for thrills and engagement, but in doing so it hasn’t become too impractical. The ride is firm but not overly so, and interior space is competitive, although the Mégane isn’t as comfortable or as smart inside as the cheaper Audi TT.

There are two versions, but we’d opt for the less powerful 280 in Cup form, which brings lower, firmer suspension and a traction-enhancing limited-slip differential. It’ll set you back around £21,500 – less than rivals such as the Honda Civic Type R and Hyundai i30 N.

Read our full used Renault Mégane RS review >>

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