I absolutely love sports cars and motorsport and look forward to sharing my knowledge and passion!
Have you ever wondered how much car you could get for 100k? Are you planning what cars you'd buy if you won the lottery? This top ten list ranks and explains the best sports cars you can buy for 100 grand! All the pictures are mine, except for the Audi TT-RS (I haven't had a chance to see one yet), and I referenced online reviews and manufacturer websites as well as my personal knowledge to compile the list and provide information about the cars. Enjoy!
Top 10 Fastest and Best-Performing Supercars Under $100,000
|Rank||Car||Price||Engine||Horsepower||Torque||Curb Weight||Acceleration Time (0-60 mph)||Top Speed||Fuel Economy (City/Highway)|
BMW Z4 sDrive 35is
3.0 L Turbocharged Straight-6
2.5 L Turbocharged Straight-5
5.0 L Supercharged V8
Porsche Cayman R
3.4 L Flat-6
Lotus Evora S
Supercharged 3.5 L V6
C63 AMG Coupe
6.3 L AMG V8
Chevrolet Corvette Z06
7.0 L V8
4.0 L V8
14/20 mpg (estimated)
Porsche 911 Carrera S
3.8 L Flat-6
18/26 mpg (estimated)
3.8 L Twin-Turbo V6
16/23 mpg (estimated)
10. BMW Z4 sDrive 35is—$64,200
- 3.0 L turbocharged straight-6
- 335 horsepower and 332 lb-ft of torque
- Curb weight: 3,549 lbs
- 0-60 mph acceleration time: 4.8 seconds
- Top speed: 155 mph (electronically limited)
- Fuel economy (city/highway): 17/24 mpg
Starting off this list is the first of two BMWs—the best version of the Z4. Gone is the convertible and coupe option—all Z4s from this generation have retractable hardtops. Despite the upped power from the 3.0L I6, the Z4 isn’t a purist driver’s car by any stretch of the imagination. The car has softer handling than some of its competitors, which makes it more of a weekend cruiser than a hardcore sports car. According to Car and Driver, the Z4 smoothly delivers its power and has a comfortable ride, but its steering and suspension don’t inspire confidence in the driver at the limit—which means it fails to achieve the mission of a true sports car. However, if you are looking for a quick roadster for Sunday afternoon cruises, it’ll deliver great acceleration, a comfortable ride, and a sporty exhaust note.
9. Audi TT-RS—$56,850
- 2.5 L turbocharged straight-5
- 360 horsepower and 343 lb-ft of torque
- Curb weight: 3,306 lbs
- 0-60 mph acceleration time: 4.1 seconds
- Top speed: 174 mph
- Fuel economy (city/highway): 18/25 mpg
The Audi TT-RS is coming to the United States in limited quantities, and it’s only available with a proper manual transmission. This sportier version of the TT has plenty of grip, with its wide tires and Audi’s Quattro AWD system. Add the 360 horsepower produced by the five turbocharged cylinders to these factors, and the acceleration from this car is absolutely brutal. Unlike most of the cars on this list, which have rear-wheel drive, the TT-RS can get more of its power to the road on hard launches. Despite the car’s sporty performance, it isn’t a stripped-out hardcore track monster. It’s got a decently sized trunk, rear seats that can fit a gym bag or small children, and a good-sized driver's seat—taller individuals who might not fit in something like a Porsche Boxster can comfortably drive the TT-RS. In summary, the TT-RS delivers plenty of performance to keep your inner Stig happy while maintaining some semblance of practicality.
8. Jaguar XK-R—$97,500
- 5.0 L supercharged V8
- 510 horsepower and 461 lb-ft of torque
- Curb weight: 3,968 lbs
- 0-60 mph acceleration time: 4.6 seconds
- Top speed: 155 mph (electronically limited)
- Fuel economy (city/highway): 15/22 mpg
The Jaguar XK-R is the second most powerful car on this list with over 500 raging horses under the hood; it looks fantastic and has a supercharger. So why is it so far down on this list? Weight. Despite having twice the engine displacement and 150 extra horsepower, the XK-R is 16 seconds behind the TT-RS, the next slowest car on the list, around the Nürburgring. Sixteen seconds! What this goes to show is that, like the Z4, the XK-R is probably more comfortable going on a spirited weekend drive around the countryside than it is on a racetrack. While this certainly isn’t a bad thing—there is definitely a market for GT cars such as this—the relaxed driving style of the XK-R isn’t going to be enough to get it higher on the list. Although it’s slower to 60 than others on this list, it’ll still plant you into the back of the leather seats when you put the automatic transmission into Dynamic Mode and floor it.
7. Porsche Cayman R—$66,300
- 3.4 L flat-6
- 330 horsepower and 273 lb-ft of torque
- Curb weight: 2,855 lbs
- 0-60 mph acceleration time: 4.7 seconds
- Top speed: 175 mph
- Fuel economy (city/highway): 19/27 mpg
In stark contrast to the Jaguar, we have the Porsche Cayman R. Porsche is synonymous with motorsports racetrack performance, and that is exactly what the Cayman R is built for. When building the R version of its popular Cayman sports car, Porsche decided to cut weight instead of adding lots of power to achieve the desired performance goals. The Cayman R is the only member of this list under 3,000 pounds and weighs in at more than 1,000 pounds lighter than the XK-R. The Cayman and the Jag are perfect foils for each other; the XK-R is everything that the Cayman is not, and vice versa. While the Jaguar is immensely powerful and luxurious (aka heavy) the Cayman is underwhelming on the spec sheet (more than 200hp fewer than our winner) but is extremely focused and lightweight. One has only to sit inside the cockpit to know that the R is all about performance. To save weight, Porsche replaced traditional door handles with fabric straps. The sport bucket seats hold the driver in place during hard cornering and save 26 pounds. Air-conditioning is an optional extra. On a $60,000 Porsche!
To summarize, the Cayman R is a purist’s dream when it comes to performance cars. Despite having the lowest horsepower of the 10 cars on this list, it laps the Nürburgring in 8:06, faster than the Ferrari 550 Maranello, the V10-powered BMW M6, and the Lamborghini Diablo SV. The R makes up for being a low-powered car by weighing as close to nothing as you’ll find in a modern car. That means excellent acceleration, braking, and handling. Add the PCCB (Porsche Ceramic Composite Brakes) and the Cayman R will be ready for the track right out of the box.
6. Lotus Evora S—$77,175
- Supercharged 3.5 L V6
- 345 horsepower and 295 lb-ft of torque
- Curb weight: 3,168 lbs
- 0-60 mph acceleration time: 4.4 seconds
- Top speed: 178 mph
- Fuel economy (city/highway): 17/26 mpg
Lotus has been building purists’ sports cars for a long time. Expanding upon their model lineup of the Elise and Exige, Lotus added the Evora as a slightly larger and more powerful sports car. Although it is bigger than the tiny Elise, the Evora has retained everything that has put Lotus on top of the wish lists of drivers worldwide. The chassis is well balanced, the steering and handling are incredibly precise, and the brakes are amazing. While the standard Evora makes do with 276 hp, the S includes a supercharger on top of the 3.5L Toyota V6, boosting power to 345 hp at 7,000 rpm. To stop all 345 of these horses, the Evora S has excellent brakes and tires. When Car and Driver tested the Evora S’s 70-0 braking distance, it landed within five feet of the best distance they had recorded—146 feet. This handling and grip of the Lotus can make average drivers look great and inspire confidence at the limit. The Evora maintains all of the downsides that are present in nearly all Lotus cars, namely the complete lack of practicality. The cabin is small and not particularly ergonomic, the footwell is very tight, and visibility is limited. While it’s not going to be a great daily driver, it’ll be sure to excite its lucky owners on track days and weekend drives.
5. C63 AMG Coupe—$61,430
- 6.3L AMG V8
- 451 horsepower and 443 lb-ft of torque
- Curb weight: 3,935 lbs
- 0-60 mph acceleration time: 3.8 seconds
- Top speed: electronically limited to 155 mph (174 mph with the AMG Development Package)
- Fuel economy (city/highway): 12/19 mpg
As with all AMG vehicles, the key to the Mercedes-Benz C63 AMG Coupe’s performance is its heart—the 6.2L AMG V8. While this AMG will still happily kick its rear end out if you lift off the throttle coming around a bend at the limit, it isn’t quite as insane as previous C63 AMGs due to chassis refinements that have somewhat neutralized the balance of the car, according to Car and Driver. AMG badging, colored brake calipers, a rear diffuser, and the voracious exhaust note will separate the AMG from other C-class coupes and sedans. The 2011 C63 AMG Coupe lapped the infamous Nürburgring in 8:01, putting it in the lap time ballpark of cars such as the 1992 Buggatti EB 110SS and ahead of sports cars such as the 2006 Lamborghini Gallardo Spyder, 2007 Aston Martin DBS, and the 2010 Porsche Cayman R. Because it's still a Mercedes, you'll get a relatively comfortable ride, nice leather interior, and state-of-the-art electronics and gadgets.
4. Chevrolet Corvette Z06—$75,600
- 7.0 L V8
- 505 horsepower and 470 lb-ft of torque
- Curb weight: 3,208 lbs
- 0-60 mph acceleration time: 3.8 seconds
- Top speed: 198 mph
- Fuel economy (city/highway): 15/24 mpg
In the fourth spot, we find the only American representative on this list, the Corvette Z06. The Corvette has long been the best value in horsepower per dollar on the market, and the C6 Z06 is no exception. The only cars with more power on this list cost over $20,000 more—for only five to 40 more horsepower. The Corvette is the best all-around American sports car, and it can hold its own with the best that Europe has to offer on the racetrack. Racing versions of this and the previous generation Z06 have claimed class victories at the 24 Hours of Le Mans (over Aston Martin) as well as taking class championships in the American Le Mans Series and other sports car racing series around the globe. To accomplish this, Chevrolet made the Z06 as light as is is powerful—the fourth-lightest on this list, it has by far the best power/weight ratio (6.35 lbs per hp; the next closest is 7.03). According to Car and Driver, the car behaves predictably at the limit but has somewhat uncommunicative steering. This car is going to give you the performance of vehicles that cost twice as much or more. And it is still somewhat practical. It’s got a big trunk, there is good visibility, and the ride isn’t unreasonable for a sports car that laps the Nürburgring faster than a 2002 Pagani Zonda C12 S and the even more recent Audi R8 V10.
3. BMW M3—$60,100
- 4.0 L V8
- 414 horsepower and 295 lb-ft of torque
- Curb weight: 3,704 lbs
- 0-60 mph acceleration time: 4.7 seconds
- Top speed: 155 mph (electronically limited)
- Fuel economy (city/highway): 14/20 mpg (estimated)
The BMW M3 was engineered for the track, and you’ll notice this from the start in the streetcar. From the V8 that revs to 8,400 rpm to the cross-drilled brake discs, this car is very serious about performance. The M3 looks fast even while standing still—all of the bodywork is aerodynamically functional or feeds air into the engine compartment. BMW’s M division used carbon fiber for the roof to lower the center of gravity, and achieved a 50/50 front/rear weight distribution through the use of lightweight materials. In fact, the V8 in this M3 is 33 pounds lighter than the inline-6 engine from the E46 generation. Because BMWs have gotten progressively heavier since the 80s, the M3 has the fourth worst power-to-weight ratio of the 10 cars on this list, despite BMW’s efforts to trim its weight. At least we know none of this weight is wasted; BMWs have gotten heavier because they have become safer and more technologically advanced. What this means for the buyer is that despite all of this track-bred performance, the M3 is still going to have a nice interior and the standard equipment that you'd expect from a more luxury-oriented car. The E92 M3 can be driven in comfort Monday through Friday and taken to the track on the weekends, no problem. As the second cheapest car on the list, the M3 represents great value as a vehicle that functions both as a commuter and race car.
When it first came out in 2007, the M3 lapped the Nürburgring in 8:05, equal to the Ferrari 575 Maranello and faster than the ’06 Mercedes SL55 AMG and 1997 Lamborghini Diablo SV.
2. Porsche 911 Carrera S—$96,400
- 3.8 L Flat-6
- 400 horsepower and 325 lb-ft of torque
- Curb weight: 3,075 lbs
- 0-60 mph acceleration speed: 4.3 seconds
- Top speed: 188 mph
- Fuel economy (city/highway): 18/26 mpg (estimated)
This latest iteration of Porsche’s classic sports car has more power and less weight than the 997 generation, with updated styling and a brand new manual transmission. The 911 (known internally as the 991) generation keeps with the Porsche tradition of placing the flat-6 at the rear of the car, but Porsche has improved upon the balance of the last generation by redistributing a bit more of the weight from the rear. When equipped with PDK (Porsche’s paddle-shifting system), the Carrera S has a fantastic launch control system that allowed Road and Track testers to hit 60 mph in only 3.5 seconds, about as good as the 997 GT3 RS. Braking is handled by aluminum calipers and cast-iron rotors, although for about $8,500 you can get PCCB (Porsche ceramic-composite brakes), which will perform better and resist fade as well as any street car brakes on the market.
The Carrera S lapped the Nürburgring in 7:40, in the ballpark of the Ferrari 430 Scuderia and McLaren SLR and two seconds ahead of the Lamborghini Murcielago SV, which packs 670 horsepower. With a smaller engine than its competitors, the Porsche 911 squeezes in more speed for its power plus a ton of performance. The 911 is one of the most track-focused cars on this list, while still maintaining its everyday practicality. For those who prefer to work both of their feet while driving, this Porsche marks a commitment to the continued development and implementation of the manual transmission.
1. Nissan GT-R—$96,820
- 3.8 L twin-turbo V6
- 545 horsepower and 463 lb-ft of torque
- Curb weight: 3,829 lbs
- 0-60 mph acceleration time: 2.9 seconds
- Top speed: 196 mph
- Fuel economy (city/highway): 16/23 mpg (estimated)
Yes, your eyes are working, and there is no typo. The R35 Nissan GT-R hits 60 mph from a standstill in 2.9 seconds. This is faster than hardcore racers like the Gumpert Apollo Sport (roughly $400,000) and high-speed legends such as the Koenigsegg Agera (over $1 million, with a top speed of 270 mph). Engage launch control, and any driver can pull off this unbelievable 0-60. This generation of GT-R is famous for being as fast around a track as supercars that cost twice as much or more, and the reputation is well earned. Its Nürburgring lap time of 7:21 was faster than the Ferrari 458 Italia, Porsche Carrera GT, and even the Pagani Zonda F.
While the GT-R is very fast and is sure to turn quick lap times, it has been criticized for being passionless. The styling is functional, but no one will mistake it for an Italian supercar, or even consider it beautiful. The sound from the V6 can’t compare with the offerings from Aston Martin, Ferrari, or Porsche, and it only comes in a paddle-shifting automatic. And last, but not necessarily least, every time someone asks you what you drive you have to say “It’s a Nissan—hmmm—well, it’s a really fast Nissan called the GT-R,” whereas someone with a much slower and older Porsche 944 only has to say “Porsche” to get someone’s attention. True car fans will recognize the GT-R as an engineering masterpiece, but it certainly won’t garner the attention that some others on this list will.
All that being said, the whole point of the Nissan R35 GT-R is to be as fast as million-dollar supercars for a (relatively) low price, so it comes in at number one on this list.
A Few GT-R Track Toys for Your Viewing Pleasure
mahima on April 21, 2020:
mustang GT 500
Danny Stink on October 11, 2019:
Save your money and buy yourself the refreshed 2019+ MX5 with 181hp. If you absolutely have to flaunt your money with an exotic badge, a gently used earlier Porsche Boxster/Cayman with the naturally aspirated engine. Going turbo ruined the Boxster/Cayman charm. Climbing through the revs of a silky smooth boxer engine was a joy.
Memes on October 01, 2019:
I think supra should be one
Michael Hutcheson on May 13, 2019:
Tesla Model 3 Performance is faster on a racetrack and the dragstrip than all but the GT-R, and $25K cheaper than the GT-R, and:
- Less emissions.
- Lower overall fueling cost.
- Longer lifetime.
- Lower lifetime cost.
- Over the air updating.
- Best driver assistance and possible FSD.
AnonymousCarLover on September 26, 2015:
Even though the GT-R is the quickest in the bunch, I would say that the Arera RS is the best. Plus the GT-R does not have a faster acceleration than the Agera R as it has a 2.7 second to 60 time. Get your facts right!
Pkittock (author) from Minnesota on October 10, 2014:
Thanks for looking. I'd go with a 911 as well, but probably a 996 turbo for much less than a new C2 or C2S!
mattdigiulio from Los Angeles on September 12, 2014:
I'd take the Carrera, but the Cayman is gorgeous. Great write-up, thank you.
Pkittock (author) from Minnesota on June 11, 2014:
I'm really not a mustang guy, so I left the Shelby off the list. Sure, you can get a lot of power for pretty cheap, but my preference is for a more European style car with a nicer interior and more well-rounded performance.
roy on June 10, 2014:
What about the shalby?
Pkittock (author) from Minnesota on February 01, 2014:
I don't think SRT/Dodge had announced it and definitely hadn't started building them when I wrote this. It'd definitely be on it if it had been around.
justin on February 01, 2014:
The viper isn't on here.
Pkittock (author) from Minnesota on January 03, 2014:
@avineshP thanks for checking the list out! Glad you enjoy.
The main reason I left the ISF off is that it's a sedan. Certainly not a bad car by any stretch, but it's not in the same category as the cars on this list. As far as sedans go, I'd probably situate it right behind the M5, RS6, Rapide, CTS-V and C63. There's a lot of competition within the sports sedan sector too!
Guest on January 03, 2014:
The GTR is a nightmare when it comes down to the tranny...take it elsewhere.
You list is conspicuously missing one of the best performance cars in the world--the Lexus ISF.
Avinesh Prahladi from Chandigarh on January 02, 2014:
The list contains some of the desired beauties. These are indeed some of the best sports cars and I am sure that everybody wants to own one of these beauties.
Pkittock (author) from Minnesota on December 14, 2013:
*the top of a wagon list, to clarify. Just too much competition in the sports car market!
Pkittock (author) from Minnesota on December 14, 2013:
the Caddy doesn't really do much for me. It's got a corvette V8 but quite a bit more weight. A CTS-V wagon on the other hand would be right up near the top, I just wouldn't put the coupe in this group.
bimogaribaldi on December 13, 2013:
Pkittock (author) from Minnesota on October 31, 2013:
The V8S with the supercharged V8, just under 500hp starts at $92k. If it had been around when I made this list it definitely would have been on there, probably in the 7/8 spot. Thanks for reading!
StuartJ from Christchurch, New Zealand on October 31, 2013:
What is the cost of the F-type Jag?
Muhammad Abdullah on October 01, 2013:
awesome adorable i'm happy to see it
Pkittock (author) from Minnesota on September 27, 2013:
Thanks! It is certainly quite the machine.. They sound fantastic as well.
Pkittock (author) from Minnesota on August 16, 2013:
@Jim, not really a fan of muscle cars (Other than the AMGs) so I left the gt500 and camaro SS off the list.
Jim on August 15, 2013:
Pkittock (author) from Minnesota on July 12, 2013:
@kathryn, a 4.0 V8 at 8,000rpm might change your mind!
@rolyretro thanks! can't argue with that, I'd definitely go for a 2nd hand car every time.. skip the first couple years of depreciation!
@daveyboy I believe at the time of writing the Viper was out of production, and well before the new SRT came out. definitely an epic car!
@carnut I left it and the caterham 7 off because they are in a whole 'nuther class IMO (track day toys). Maybe another article to come..
@Joe I love the A/S/RS7 but as a sports sedan, it didn't qualify for the list.. yet another possible future article!
@Hezekiah interesting.. I'd rather have an R34 myself, if only they were legal in the US... I've only seen a handful in my life that were grey marketed in.
Anonymous on July 04, 2013:
The Evora is a very underrated car, and though it may not be nearly the fastest one on this great list, it's still my favorite in looks alone, not to mention its iconic handling.
jc on July 01, 2013:
Porsche Boxster S
Hezekiah from Japan on June 25, 2013:
GTR is a beast, but funny enough you hardly see the newer ones here in Japan, but loads of the older models. The US military guys here love the GT-R's.
Joe on June 15, 2013:
Audi S7 or the new RS7 onnits way needs to be added to this list
CarNut on June 10, 2013:
Hands down Ariel Atom 3. Was the fastest car from 0-60 and from 0-100-0.
David W. Braddock from Lake Villa, Illinois on March 21, 2013:
put the original viper on the list for me. None of these are vehicles I personally would buy with my 100k since the service work would eat up another 30k over 5 years and the fact that road salt means you can't enjoy them almost half the year here in the Midwest. And for value of the vehicle after the 5 year trade in period that is the final deal killer for me. LOL
pacecharging from New England on February 18, 2013:
German automotive tech, the Porsche 911 is still by far the best.
RolyRetro from Brentwood, Essex, UK on February 02, 2013:
I would go for a second hand Porsche 997 (911) but upgrade to the Turbo! I own a Carrera 2S and its the best car I have ever driven.
newusedcarssacram from Sacramento, CA, U.S.A on January 24, 2013:
I think I’ll go for the Porsche Cayman. No, I’m sure I’ll go for the Porsche Cayman (steel).
Kathryn from Windsor, Connecticut on January 21, 2013:
I like all but the second BMW and the Mercedes. Both are ok, but they don't appeal to me any more than a Camry does. Compared to the other cars, they seem boring. But then again, I have never driven either of them... The Lotus and the Nissan are gorgeous! Good selection of cars. It's fun to dream of what kind of car I would buy if I had that much money.
Michael Williams from Illinois, USA on November 24, 2012:
I love all of these cars, but there is something about the aggressive styling of the C63 Merc that makes it my favorite. Very nice list!