The S2000 was designed and sold by Honda at the start of the new millennium. It’s no slouch on the track and gives the Nissan Z a serious run for its money. The roadster is precision designed to conform around the driver. The engine is bulletproof, and its reliability is in line with what you’d expect from a Honda model (via Motoring Research).
The later models were scarce, and there was a refreshed design. The S2000 isn’t as expensive as you’d expect a Honda from this generation to be. Its build quality is top-notch, and the parts are cheap to replace. On the heels of a new Acura Integra hitting the market, there has never been a better time to check out the S2000.
With a little bit of ingenuity, the Miata can destroy a Nissan Z fairly easily. The Miata is a lightweight roadster, but you already knew that. But did you know that pricing on the Miata is cheaper than it has ever been? The Miata is built for the driver, and this tiny roadster hugs corners like you wouldn’t believe. Mazda designed the Miata from the ground up decades ago, and it has held the test of time (via Auto Evolution).
You can find a late 1990s early 2000s example of the Miata for a fantastic price. The build quality is top-notch, especially when you compare it to other roadsters from this era. The Miata is an excellent overall value for the price. There are very few sports cars that you can get for the price of a Miata that will perform as well as it does.
The E36 M3 is the forgotten member of the BMW family. The 1990s model is not the high-tech gem that the 2000s car was. But for the price, you can’t go wrong with the signature BMW performance. The E36 is fairly common when it comes to finding replacement parts for it. The interior is impeccable with high-quality leather and comfortable seating (via Top Speed).
The four-door model is practical for a modern family, while it still performs well. The M3 is a hallmark of BMW design and engineering. The E36 stands out from the crowd for its timeless design. No matter what year of the M3 you get, the car has a lot of potential. A stock M3 can definitely give a Nissan Z a run for its money.
The next generation and more advanced of the M3 still offers bang for the buck. The E46 is the next generation of the M3 sports car. Also fairly affordable in price, you can find the E46 M3 on the used market easily. Depending on the year and model you want, the price will fluctuate. The E46 BMW was one of the most popular models. There was a pleasant mixture of modern technology and comfort in the E46 (via Spanner Rash).
You can drive one of these today and not feel like you are driving something out of date. The M3 E46 is different than other sport sedans from this era. The naturally aspirated engine has stood the test of time. The E46 M3 had a unique blend of luxury and performance that still holds true today.
The Mazda RX-8 was a sports car Mazda sold during the mid-2000s. It was released as the unofficial successor to the RX-7. There was a lot to like about the RX-8, most notably the unique styling and rotary engine. The RX-8 is the only sports car you can get with a rotary engine for an affordable price (via Car & Driver).
If you can’t afford an original RX-7, the RX-8 is an outstanding alternative. The hidden third passenger door makes access to the rear seating a breeze. Cargo space is also a lot better in the RX-8 than many other sports cars. There are few sports cars that can perform at the level that the RX-8 does.
If you can’t afford a new Porsche 911, why not go for an older model? The 2000 model is exactly as classy and fun to drive as a new one. The blistering performance of the 996 will put most cars, including a Nissan Z, to shame. You can find a Porsche 911 from this generation for a fairly cheap price tag (via New Car Test Drive).
Generally speaking, these Porsche models have been well maintained over their life. You can find one with low mileage, and you still won’t break the bank. The timeless styling is quintessential Porsche, and it has aged well. The 911 was one of the best Porsche models ever to grace the roadways.
The Mitsubishi Eclipse is one of the best compact sports cars you can get. For next to nothing, you can get an Eclipse with a turbocharged engine. The Eclipse competes with the Nissan Z nicely and offers a tremendous amount of bang for the buck. There were multiple models of the Eclipse that were sold, which included the Plymouth Laser (via Car Gurus).
With an all-wheel drive and a turbocharged engine, the Eclipse is a stellar deal. You can find a used Eclipse for far less than $5,000, and it will compete with the Nissan Z. There is also an enthusiast community behind the Mitsubishi Eclipse. With plenty of pep for the price and a modern style, the Eclipse is an excellent bargain for the price.