2. Fiat 124 Spider Classica
Italian marque Fiat returned to the USA after almost three decades away with the cute and retro Fiat 500, which is a weapon in disguise in the Abarth trim. Now, it has brought the Fiat 124 which is an altogether more serious sports car.
Under the skin, the Fiat shares the legendary Mazda MX-5’s platform with a Fiat drivetrain, suspension, and bodywork. The end result is a 2,359 lb, rear-wheel-drive sports car that makes the most of its 160 bhp, 1.4-liter turbocharged engine.
The Fiat packs in 184 lb-ft of torque, but this isn’t a big power car. It’s designed for tight, winding roads where the razor-sharp handling comes into its own. Narrow tires mean it will lose grip at sensible speeds and this two-seater is a laugh riot at legal speeds. You don’t have to risk your license, then, to have fun.
Now the Fiat isn’t the most practical car here. There isn’t much room in the trunk, you only get two seats and this is only a second car unless you’re fully committed to the sports car experience. It is a visceral, stunning experience on the open road, though, and with the rag-top down there is almost nothing to touch this fantastic little car. At this price, that’s about the highest praise you can get.
3. Ford Focus RS
The Ford Focus RS was a European legend that the American audience could only admire from afar. The Blue Oval finally fixed that and brought this compact hatchback sports car to these shores in 2016.
The Focus is officially dead in America as of now, but if you can snap up a current model then you have a legend on your hands and you could well have a future classic.
It’s a four-wheel-drive 350 bhp monster that grew from Europe’s obsession with the front-wheel-drive Focus and the company’s World Rally Championship effort. It’s the modern-day Subaru Impreza rally special and it’s one of those cars that wins quiet respect from ‘car guys’ everywhere.
The Focus RS is an absolute performance bargain. The 0-60 mph time of 4.6s and a top speed of 165 mph don’t sound like much, but it’s the cornering speed and attitude of this 2.3-liter turbocharged beast that we’ll remember long after this car is consigned to the history books.
With ‘Drift Mode’ engaged, you can lay black lines everywhere and, even with four-wheel-drive, the Focus RS will slide sideways without crashing helplessly off the road. Most the time… Finished in Nitrous Blue, this car finds itself right at home amongst the other cool sports cars on this list.