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35 Hyped Sports Cars Ruined By Crucial Mistakes

Cameron EittreimJune 5, 2020

Driving a sports car invokes many of a driver’s best memories. The exhilarating experience of driving a twisty road with tons of horsepower beneath you is indeed a memorable one. With that in mind, the last couple of decades have experienced a resurgence in sports cars. Many models reinvigorated a dying marketplace.

Then you had the 2008 recession, where buyers flocked to lightweight vehicles. But automakers have also made many mistakes. Sports cars just aren’t the beefed-up powerhouses of yesteryear, and many would argue some cars fell one (or in some cases, more) mistake short of greatness. Several were lacking some of the features that make cars coveted by stars. Read on as we take a look at 35 sports cars that almost got it right.

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35: Lancia Delta HF Integrale

Turbocharged out of the gate and sporting an attractive exterior style, the Delta HF Integrale was a promising car. Unfortunately, the package that hit the market was not what most enthusiasts were expecting. The car had a lot of shortcomings, such as the 2.0-liter “Lampredi” twin-cam, four-cylinder engine. This powerplant was notorious for having maintenance issues, many of which were expensive to repair.

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Few cars have been as polarizing as the Lancia Delta HF Integrale was on the rally circuit. But when it came to being a production sports car, this particular model simply fell short. With the critical mistakes that were in the built quality of the car and the high price tag, this is an avoidable model altogether.

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34: 1984-96 Chevrolet Corvette

It’s not so much that the Corvette has always been overhyped, but that there is a big amount of enthusiasm behind the car. The 1984 models were extremely overhyped and one of the reasons for this was the redesigned instrument cluster and interior. While it was a major step forward, the Corvette was still lethargic compared to other sports cars on the market.

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The C4 Corvette did a lot to bolster the brand’s image with more upmarket consumers. But the shortcomings and the boxy styling of early models just blew all the hype out the window. It didn’t matter how great the Corvette was on paper because the real-world aspects of the car fell short.

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33: Chevrolet Cobalt SS

GM just could never manage to find a footing in the compact car market. Although the Cavalier sold millions of models it was never a big, unforgettable hit. Honda’s Civic and the Toyota Corolla always managed to steal the thunder away from GM. The Cobalt was a fresh chance for the automaker to try something new. GM was trying to eliminate the reputation of cheap substandard transportation, and the Cobalt was going to do it.

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There were high hopes for the Cobalt SS as the tuner fad was in full swing. However, the car that we got was nothing more than a dressed-up Saturn Ion. Both cars had a less-than-satisfactory reputation and reliability. Abysmal safety ratings didn’t add to the letdown that was the new generation of GM compacts.

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32: Ford Thunderbird

For the longest time, the Thunderbird was the cornerstone of the Ford passenger car lineup. The swooping lines and the performance-oriented engine made it a blast to drive. The final generation, however, grew boring and bloated in size. The unimaginative design just didn’t resonate very well with consumers and thus the death knell was rung. When Ford went to reintroduce the model in 2003, the design was retro-themed but that was about it.

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Performance was nothing more than a rebadged Lincoln LS, which itself had quite a bit of issues. Reliability and a high price tag sent many shoppers flocking to other showrooms. Not to mention the convertible top was limiting and the lack of passenger seating further narrowed the marketplace.

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31: DeLorean DMC-12

Perhaps the most hyped sports car in history was the DMC-12. You’ve seen it in “Back to The Future” like the rest of us, but its real-world performance was not that great. The DMC-12 was a mixture of exciting design and some aspects that were still new to the automotive industry. The gullwing doors were a nice touch but the dashboard wasn’t intuitive and the reliability of the car was questionable at best.

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Given the limited constraints of the DeLorean, there was not much that a new buyer could do to modernize the car. The company then went bankrupt shortly after and these things have become quite the item of prestige. There is now a company that manufactures new models, but the DMC-12 didn’t live up to the hype.

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30: Saturn Sky

When Saturn was originally planned and introduced, the brand was supposed to be “different” than the average automaker. While the brand started with a lot of steam, things were not so pretty by the new millennium. Saturn was looking to invigorate the brand and the Sky was the roadster to do it.

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Sadly, the real-world performance and quality of the Sky didn’t elevate it above the immensely popular Miata. While the styling was a departure from the rest of the lineup, and rest of the roadster was covered in cheap plastic. Saturn didn’t advertise the Sky very heavily and the brand was discontinued shortly after its release. The 2008 recession also had a lot to do with the failure of the Sky.

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29: Nissan 370Z

Nissan has a habit of carrying cars well into the next generation with no real updates, such as the Frontier. But the 370Z left many in the automotive industry scratching their heads, as an updated version of the 350Z didn’t bring anything new to the table. Aside from some sharp lines, the 370Z was a letdown to the coveted “Z” line. The performance left a lot to be desired and getting behind the wheel feels a lot like 2003.

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Nissan is planning to redesign the 370Z but the company has recently fallen on hard times. Nevertheless, the current generation model had a lot of hype behind it, and the finished product just didn’t add up to the great expectations for the car.

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28: 1976 Porsche 924

When Porsche was trying to reinvent its brand image, the classic 911 sports cars were the same old design. While that design had propelled Porsche to many victories on the racing circuit, consumers were ready for something new. The 924 was a much-hyped update of the Porsche lineup with a design that was quite modern for the period. Sadly, things didn’t pan out quite that way and the 1976 Porsche 924 didn’t fare well with consumers.

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Once again, reliability was the main problem with the car, and repairs were expensive at the time. There was a recession going on and the V8 engine was not known for being the most fuel-efficient option. Design-wise, the signature Porsche quality just wasn’t there anymore.

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27: 1982 Ferrari Mondial

Most sports car brands go through some sort of transitional period and Ferrari was doing just that in the early ’80s. The company was trying to market to a new generation of baby boomers who were doing quite well. Sports cars were beginning to sell and Ferrari needed an entry-level model to market to young professionals. The 1982 Ferrari Mondial hit the market with too much fanfare and had a stylish design with a lot going for it.

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Performance, however, was lackluster at best, which was surprising considering that this was indeed a Ferrari automobile. The compact proportions of the car were not suitable for larger drivers and there were a lot of maintenance issues with the car. Particularly, overheating seemed to be the main issue that drivers had a gripe with.

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26: 2004 Pontiac GTO

Although GM had axed their F-Body cars just two years prior, there was consumer demand for a rear-wheel-drive sports car. Since the Pontiac division didn’t have anything going for it at the time GM figured it would be the perfect scapegoat for a Holden import. The 2004 Pontiac GTO was based on a car that was sold overseas, and consumers weren’t too enthusiastic when the GTO was unveiled.

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The overall design of the car was not very imaginative, and at the same time, it didn’t offer a lot for the price. The hefty weight of the car made it perform less than adequately on the track, although GM did offer a powerful engine with a boatload of horsepower. The GTO was also featured in a lot of media including video games but never caught on.

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25: Plymouth Prowler

Some argue the Prowler is a piece of auto history. This unique modern roadster was the last hurrah for the Plymouth brand. However, there were definitely a few things where it went wrong. First off was its lackluster 3.7-liter V6; the same engine that powered your mom’s Intrepid. Chrysler, for whatever reason, declined to put a V8 engine in the Prowler.

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This was a sore spot for the automotive community. Had the Prowler graced the road with a V8 powerplant, it may have been a hit. Instead, a plethora of recycled parts and a flimsy engine were all drivers got.

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24: Chrysler Crossfire

This isn’t a Chrysler bashing article. But come on. The Crossfire was a lackluster attempt to created a sophisticated sports car. The first r problem here was the fact the Crossfire was based on the aged SLK platform. Then, for whatever reason, the designers decided to shape the car like a jelly bean.

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The Crossfire did have a tempting SRT model, but it was sold in low volumes. Chrysler also declined to pack a V8 into it. The Crossfire had a lot to offer buyers in terms of comfort. But its lack of power and weird-looking design didn’t hit with consumers.

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23: Dodge Stealth

Chrysler was one of the biggest importers of foreign vehicles during the ’80s and ’90s. These cars were sold at a discount with an American badge. One such import was the Dodge Stealth, a vehicle based on the Mitsubishi 3000GT. The Stealth had a lot going for it, but there were shortcomings as well.

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The car was notoriously unreliable and failed to incite excitement. You’ll still see a good amount of these cars on the road. The twin-turbo is one of the most affordable setups you can get. Yet a lot of reliability issues deter most mainstream buyers.

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22: Eagle Talon

The Eagle Talon was a last-ditch effort to extract some excitement out of the younger automotive market. Up to that point, Chrysler was having a tough time connecting with younger buyers. The Eagle Talon is a badge-engineered Mitsubishi Eclipse. There was one major shortcoming on the Talon. The “beak” on the car is downright hideous.

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When compared to the Eclipse, it’s easy to see why one outsold the other. Then you have its notable AWD system. While a good setup, in theory, it was difficult to maintain. There was no Talon without AWD so drivers were stuck with it. The Eclipse didn’t have the burden of AWD.

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21: BMW Z3

The diminutive Z3 is a bargain when you compare it to other sports cars on the market. You get the German engineering of BMW complete with the styling of a more expensive car. But the Z3 had shortcomings as well. The engine and drivetrain had a lot of reliability issues.

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Perhaps the Z3’s biggest mistake was that it also had a flimsy interior. Owners often complain about the build quality later in the car’s life. If you were willing to put some elbow grease into it, the Z3 was not a bad deal. The Z3 still had a lot going for it and for the price you couldn’t go wrong, but it could have been better.

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20: Fiat 500 Abarth

The Fiat brand is renowned for its vehicle quality. The Fiat 500 was a fun car that came onto the scene during a slew of high gas prices. The standard 500 is not what you’d call a performance car, but about as fun and cheap as you can get. The most prominent shortcoming is the clutch.

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The 500 is known to have a faulty clutch plate, which can be costly to repair. Aside from that problem, there was also a lot of interior road noise, which tends to get annoying when commuting or on a long drive. Fiat is never going to be a purist race car, but for the price, the Abarth isn’t horrible.

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19: Lotus Elise

Lotus managed to create a timeless style that just kept looking great with the Elise. But the Elise had a problem with keeping transmissions. Servicing on it can be astronomical, and not everyone is equipped to work on a Lotus.

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Fortunately, there are plenty of support groups and fan clubs. The Elise has quite a loyal following around most of the world. Still, if you want one of the best handling sports cars of the last decade you should check out the Elise. Just be ready to pay a price when it comes time to get work done.

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18: Ford Mustang GT

In the last couple of decades, the Mustang GT has had its fair share of problems. That begins with the V8 engine developing a ping. This ping is derived from a problem with the timing chain, and it can be pricey to fix. If you can live with a little extra noise, then the Mustang GT is a fun car to beat up.

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Very few affordable sports cars can rival the sheer power a Mustang GT brings to the table. But for a lot of folks that reliability issue comes into play. A lot of us don’t want to deal with the headache that comes from having to replace a timing chain. The Mustang brand in general has recently experienced a resurgence with the advent of the Mach-E.

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17: Subaru BRZ

The BRZ was a departure for Subaru. It has the bones of a Toyota, which, for the most part, is a good thing. The BRZ had a couple of shortcomings though. Its styling is almost identical to its Toyota counterpart. So if you wanted something unique, you aren’t going to get it with this.

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Secondly, the BRZ is AWD instead of RWD, so there’s that to consider as well. You also don’t get a lot of the Toyota prestige. Either way, the BRZ is a big departure from Subaru’s last attempt at a sports car. The mainstream styling and stellar warranty are two positives if you can look past the few negatives this car has.

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16: Porsche Cayman (987)

Porsche has been on an upswing for the last couple of decades. Their SUV models are selling like crazy, but the sports car market has remained stagnant. The Cayman is perhaps one of the most beautiful and underrated models to hit the market. With that being said, the Cayman has experienced some of the worst depreciation.

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Therefore the Cayman has been fairly neglected compared to other models. The main problem with the Cayman was the dated styling. You’d almost mistake it for a 2003 model. Aside from that, the powerplant was one of the best that Porsche has used to date.

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15: Honda Civic Si Hatchback

Honda has never necessarily been known as a performance car company. One of its most notable models of the last 30 years has been the Civic SI, a cheap-to-own and fun-to-drive performance version of the Civic. The SI Hatchback was a limited production model and you’ve probably seen one. Although the car had some shortcomings such as a cramped interior, its drivability more the made up for it.

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The SI also had limited choices in terms of colors. A lot of consumers were disappointed during this period because Honda didn’t offer the SI in a coupe version. But if you wanted a fun hatchback, the SI was it.

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14: Porsche 911 (996)

The 911 is another car that has grown long in the tooth. The 911 has the classic styling that made Porsche famous. But that design has also become stale. Consumers are tired of the same old styling that Porsche has been offering. While the company innovates in the SUV segment, its sports cars have stayed the same.

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That’s not to say the 911 doesn’t offer blistering performance, because you’ll have a blast driving this thing. Drawbacks tend to eat at enthusiasm. If you get too caught up in the drawbacks of the 911, you might be better off going for another sports car.

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13: Acura Integra Type R

The Integra is one of the greatest compact sports cars ever made. The positives of the Type R far outweigh the negatives, but there were a few annoying aspects nonetheless. For starters, there was only a two-door model. That was fine for most, but a four-door would have been a serious BMW 3-Series fighter.

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Then you had that loud yellow paint job, and the paint choices were few and far between. There have been talks of Acura reviving the Integra line. We’d have to say the next-generation model would be a serious contender in the sports car world. You can’t go wrong with the proven Honda performance of a V-Tech engine.

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12: Honda S2000

Honda has a knack for creating interesting vehicles. While most of the lineup is reliable and pretty mainstream, the S2000 was different. Honda wanted to create a halo car, and with the S2000 it did just that. Taking a look at the outside of the S2000 will lead you into believing that it’s something else. The S2000 had a couple of drawbacks though, first of which was the interior.

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Honda went the cheap route and most of the S2000 was recycled. Aside from this, the performance was more than adequate for what it could do. The sportscar had the admirable performance of other Honda models. Think the Type R or something in that ballpark, and you’ll be satisfied with the S2000.

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11: Neon SRT-4

The Dodge Neon was one of the most popular economy cars of the late 1990s. But as time went on, the car was lauded for its performance. The SRT-4 was notable for its bright paint scheme and spunky motor. The SRT-4 was popular with the tuner community because of its low price tag and exceptional performance. However, Dodge went a little cheap on a lot of the aspects of the SRT-4.

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The trunk was barebones and the backseat was also fairly basic. The SRT-4 could have been perfect had it featured a more detailed interior. Chrysler was known for skimping when it came to quality. But still, for the price, you got an adequate amount of performance that got you where you needed to go.

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10: BMW M3 E46

The M3 is one of the most lauded sports coupes in the world. If you’ve ever driven one then you’ll know why it has such a stellar rep. The sheer design of the thing is top-notch with top-of-the-line materials that match. But, there were a few corners BMW decided to cut. The E46 was notable for having a bigger engine and interior. For the price tag, the car was very close to the stock BMW 3-Series.

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This didn’t sit very well with the general public. However, the 3-Series has managed to keep a solid foothold in the used car market. The M3 has a costly resale value and that hasn’t deteriorated over the years. If you want an exciting sports car, the E46 is well worth it.

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9: Hyundai Scoupe

The Hyundai Scoupe wasn’t such a bad sports car. Early versions of the coupe were affordable and stylish, which helped bolster Hyundai with consumer opinion. While many other sports cars that have come and gone were also affordable, the Scoupe was far more affordable and offered a good amount of standard features.

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Unfortunately, Hyundai could have done a lot more with the Scoupe and the model faded into oblivion. Used sports cars tend to be fun projects for anyone who likes to go fast. The Scoupe can be had for a very inexpensive price although these models are becoming very hard to come by. If you want a Scoupe you might have to look far and wide.

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8: Hyundai Genesis 2.0T

The Genesis was from a new generation of sports cars. Hyundai was trying to step out of just being an affordable car maker and create something more. The standard 2.0T was an exciting engine in a lot of ways. But the Genesis would have been a lot better if Hyundai included the V8 powerplant sold in its sedan.

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The V8 was perhaps one of the most notable engines of the last decade and it would have given Hyundai a real chance. Although there have been several popular incarnations of the Genesis since then. The 2.0T was one of the resounding successes for the brand. We just wish Hyundai would have offered the V8 option in the Genesis Coupe.

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7: Honda Civic Type R

When Honda introduced the Type R to the American market, there was a lot of excitement. The SI was already a popular model, but the Type R took it a step further. The Type R nameplate is familiar to the foreign market but most of America hasn’t seen it. The Type R would have been great as a sports coupe. We can’t understand why Honda decided to go with a hatchback design.

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Honda Civic SI via Motor JunkieThe car is not only bulkier than the outgoing Civic but also too extreme. Sometimes automakers have gone too far when it comes to design. The Type R is one such instance where the automaker went too far to try and please. The Type R is a great car but a coupe version would have been a lot better.

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6: Kia Stinger GT

The Kia Stinger GT was a new concept for Kia when it hit the market. The sedan is more of a sports car than anything else on the market. But we have to wonder why Kia didn’t go for a two-door model. Hyundai has experienced mixed results in creating a comparable sports car.

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The Veloster is a unique-looking addition to the lineup and it has managed to attract some fans. Kia however has maintained a more relaxed approach. The Stinger GT is a good attempt at creating a sports car. The one-of-a-kind exterior dimensions and a powerful V6 engine are enough to create a standout sports car. But a two-door model would have been a great addition as well.

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5: Mazda Miata

The Mazda Miata was one of the first lightweight roadsters on the market. Mazda was going for something fun and lightweight. There have been quite a few Mazda Miata models over the last few decades. The overall design of the Miata is iconic for being lightweight and nimble.

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Mazda hasn’t swayed far from this formula in a few decades, but there also hasn’t been a lot of innovation. The Miata could have been much more with a few enhancements. Mazda has stuck to the same formula for a good reason. However, with a little bit of design and innovation, the Miata could have been a more landmark sports car.

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4: Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution

The early 2000s were a time famous for compact sports cars. The “Fast and the Furious” franchise introduced a new generation to modifications. The Lancer Evolution came from the factory ready to race. The car could handle just about anything you could throw at it. But Mitsubishi skimped on a lot of options. The Lancer was well-designed from the gate yet if the interior had been a little more upscale, it would have been even better.

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The Lancer is a car that could attract any number of potential enthusiasts. The basic design of the car was timeless. Most sports car enthusiasts have lauded the Lancer for its easy-to-work-on platform and quick-tuning engine.

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3: Subaru WRX

Subaru has a long history of success in the rally car business. The WRX is a well-known car popular for over two decades. Sadly, Subaru tends to cut a lot of corners when it comes to the WRX. The car is often notable for its cheaply put together interior and dated materials that take away from its design. For the most part, Subaru has been notable for keeping the WRX in a dated design.

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We have to wonder what the future will hold for the WRX. The next generation of the car could be great. If Subaru decides to add another level of design to the WRX, the car could be a stellar choice for the consumer who wants some fun.

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2: Mazda RX-8

Mazda has created quite a few notable compact sports cars in the last 30 years. The RX-8 came onto the scene a long time after the RX-7 had been discontinued. The RX-8 had a notable design that featured suicide rear doors. The overall design of the car wasn’t something that you’d usually see in a sports car. We liked everything that the RX-8 had to offer and it amounted to a pretty unique ride.

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But Mazda skimped when it came to engine design and the RX-8 is notorious for blowing its powerplant early on. Rebuilding the engine is quite costly because the Rotary design is different than most common motors. Without that unfortunate truth, it would have obviously been a better sports car.

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1: BMW M2

Perhaps one of the least well-known cars on this list is the M2. Released during the economic depression, this was a way for BMW to release an entry-level car. The M2 had a lot going for it, from its compact size to its fun design. But BMW left out several crucial features that many luxury car buyers have come to expect. The M2 was missing many interior functions.

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With a few more features to boast, it would have done a lot better in terms of sales. There was also a convertible version of the M2, which also boasted a good amount of performance and functionality. Overall, the M2 is a car that can still provide you with a good amount of enjoyment.

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