Our picks for the best sports cars for the money

We can't all afford to drive a McLaren or a Ferrari, but that doesn't mean we should drive something boring. There are plenty of cars out on the market today that are fun behind the wheel and easy (-ish) on the pocketbook. Here are nine of our editors' favorites.

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Tim Stevens' pick: Chevy Corvette Grand Sport

The C7 Corvette already has exotic lines that make it look far pricier than it is, but the Grand Sport adds enough handling bits to make it easily able to embarrass far more expensive, and more exotic, machines. 

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Tim Stevens' pick: Chevy Corvette Grand Sport

460 horsepower delivered to the rear wheels through a proper manual transmission, for a starting price of $65,495.

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Tim Stevens' pick: Chevy Corvette Grand Sport

The Grand Sport seats two beneath a removable roof, which sounds like a recipe for an amazing drive. Sure, it adds $4,000 to the bottom line, but there's nothing like cruising in a 'Vette with the wind in your hair.

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Antuan Goodwin's pick: Nissan 370Z

It's a bit long in the tooth, but the beefy 332-horsepower V6 engine still feels very potent and puts its power to the rear wheels via a manual gearbox, just like God intended. And it starts under $30,000.

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Antuan Goodwin's pick: Nissan 370Z

This generation Z-car has been around forever, so its architecture is fairly simple and the aftermarket for modification is very mature. Want a supercharger? Twin-turbos? Race-ready suspension and brakes? The sky is the limit.

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Antuan Goodwin's pick: Nissan 370Z

The SynchroRev Match transmission makes every shift a perfectly timed one, but the feature is easily disabled if you prefer to blip your own throttle when shifting.

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Jake Holmes' pick: Ford Mustang EcoBoost

It's one of the most affordable ways to get over 300 horsepower from a sports car. A 2018 EcoBoost fastback starts at a mere $25,680, while a convertible starts at $31,180.

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Jake Holmes' pick: Ford Mustang EcoBoost

The EcoBoost comes standard with a six-speed manual gearbox. An available performance pack includes a limited-slip rear differential, a larger radiator and rear sway bar, as well as beefier front springs. 

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Jake Holmes' pick: Ford Mustang EcoBoost

The Mustang coupe is still very usable as a daily driver -- certainly more so than a Subaru BRZ or even a Chevy Camaro. Plus, lots of new tech including available Sync3 for MY18 makes it appealing to a wider range of shoppers

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Kyle Hyatt's pick: Porsche 911 Carrera T

Roadshow never specified a cost ceiling, so I'm going with the 911. It's the most iconic and beloved sports car ever. The Carrera T starts at $102,100, although a base 911 will set you back $91,100.

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Kyle Hyatt's pick: Porsche 911 Carrera T

The T has all the stuff you want in a driver-focused 911 and nothing you don't. With just a couple options, it becomes perfect.

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Kyle Hyatt's pick: Porsche 911 Carrera T

With the standard seven-speed manual trans and rear-wheel steering and a modicum of talent, you'd be hard-pressed to find something more fun on a winding road.

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Chris Paukert's pick: Mazda MX-5 Miata

Starting at under $30,000, if there's more fun available per dollar in a new car, I haven't found it. Relatively modest power combined with a willing chassis and shifter mean that you can have huge fun at sane speeds, even while commuting. 

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Chris Paukert's pick: Mazda MX-5 Miata

Hold out for the 2019 model and you'll net a solid horsepower boost and a higher redline, plus more equipment.

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Chris Paukert's pick: Mazda MX-5 Miata

New for 2018 are optional Recaro seats. The Mazda Connect system with a 7-inch screen controls the 9-speaker Bose audio setup, navigation, satellite radio and Bluetooth. Unfortunately, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto aren't available.

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Emme Hall's pick: Dodge Charger Hellcat

Sure, the Hellcat costs north of $67,000, but when I do the math, each of the 707 available horsepower only costs $96.17. Compare that to the $275.94 per horsepower for the Porsche 911 Carrera T or even the $171.90 per horsepower for the Mazda Miata, the the Hellcat is an indisputable bargain.

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Emme Hall's pick: Dodge Charger Hellcat

The current generation has been around for awhile, and we'll see performance upgrades for the 2019 model. But don't let that stop you from looking at the current model year. 

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Emme Hall's pick: Dodge Charger Hellcat

The four-door Charger Hellcat means it's easy to load up passengers for high-spirited runs to the soccer field. A gorgeous red Alcantara interior is optional. 

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Steven Ewing's pick: Honda Civic Type R

Honda's Civic Type R has the power and poise to hang with much more expensive sports cars, yet it starts at under $35,000. I never get tired of chasing down 911s on canyon roads in this hot hatch.

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Steven Ewing's pick: Honda Civic Type R

You get a full smattering of tech and comfort features standard, for a lower MSRP than many of its key competitors.

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Steven Ewing's pick: Honda Civic Type R

Honda quality interior and functional hatchback shape means this is a car you can daily drive with ease. It's useful and comfortable.

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Jon Wong's pick: Subaru BRZ

Like the Mazda MX-5, the BRZ offers one of the purest and most fun driving experiences available in a new car today, all for a starting price of $25,595. The 205-horsepower boxer four-cylinder, slick manual gearbox and eager chassis even makes regular drives around town quite entertaining without having to reach speeds that will draw unwanted attention. 

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Jon Wong's pick: Subaru BRZ

It's been around for a bit now, but the BRZ is still a sharp-looking coupe with clean, flowing lines and subtle rear shoulders. 

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Jon Wong's pick: Subaru BRZ

If you want tighter handling dynamics, the BRZ is available with Performance Package that adds upgraded Sachs dampers and Brembo brakes. Or you can spring for a tS model, at $33,495, which is the most capable BRZ from the factory you can buy to date. 

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Andrew Krok's pick: Dodge Challenger R/T Scat Pack

485 horsepower for $40,000. 'Nuff said.

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Andrew Krok's pick: Dodge Challenger R/T Scat Pack

If you like tech, it's not light on that either, thanks to a standard 8.4-inch Uconnect infotainment system with Apple CarPlay, Android Auto and a whole lot o' capability.

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Andrew Krok's pick: Dodge Challenger R/T Scat Pack

If you want to spend more, even though you don't have to, you can kit the car out with a wild Shaker hood scoop that acts like a paint mixer gone awry. And if you're willing to wait, Scat Packs for 2019 will get an aluminum hood, launch control, line lock and an available widebody kit. 

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