2008 Mazda MX-5 Miata

Got spring fever?  A little zoom zoom might be just what you need. Mazda's 2008 MX-5 Miata is U.S. News' the top-ranked affordable sports car. It's loved for its get-up-and-go, precise handling and smartly engineered retractable top in either the soft or hard version

The sports cars, generally priced under $35,000, were ranked based on an in-depth analysis by U.S. News editors of published auto ratings, reviews and test drives.

This is a group with ample power, nimble handling and eye-catching looks. Common complaints are about interior room -- not a surprise -- and lack of options.

What about U.S.?

The top five picks are all Japanese models, two from Mazda, two from Nissan and one from Honda.  Ford's 2008 Mustang comes in at No. 6. It's middle of the pack for performance, although reviewers do like the muscular V-8 engine. It's also middle of the pack for its interior, dinged for a nearly useless backseat. The Mustang does get praise for its iconic exterior looks. The other Americans in this group are the 2008 Pontiac Solstice and Saturn Sky, both tied at No. 7 with the 2008 Mitsubishi Eclipse, another Japanese model.

2008 Pontiac Solstice

Beauty Can Be Only Skin Deep

The 2008 Pontiac Solstice was top-rated among the 10 affordable sports cars for its exterior looks and bottom-rated for its interior space. Reviewers found the outside eye-catching, well proportioned and just plain sexy. But inside, they find the cabin tight for anyone sized above average. They also complain that air-conditioning is optional, and the cargo and storage space is severely limited.

View From the Top

2008 Nissan 350z

Nissan has both its 350z coupe and roadster in this class.  With its fixed roof, the coupe just nudges out the soft top in performance, exterior looks and interior ambiance. Meanwhile, Mazda's top-ranked 2008 MX-5 Miata comes with either a hard or soft convertible top. Both are praised for easy retraction and for not taking storage space from the trunk.

With temperatures heating up, a new sports car might just be the thing to blow winter's last chill away. For more detail on any of these affordable sports cars, including in-depth reviews, check out our full affordable sports cars ranking list.

 

RankModelMSRPMPGHighsLows
1Mazda MX-5 Miata$20,58522/27Great handling, nice convertible hard or soft topCramped, no frills interior space
2Honda S2000$34,30018/25Race car performanceUncomfortable for daily driving
3Nissan 350z$28,12018/25Powerful performanceCheap-looking interior
4 (tie)Mazda RX-8$26,43516/23Usable back seatRoatary engine has reliability concerns
4 (tie)Nissan 350z Roadster$35,63017/24Sporty handlingPoor visibility
6Ford Mustang$19,49017/26Great design, optional V8Unrefined interior
7 (tie)Mitsubishi Eclipse$19,99920/28Great styling, gas mileageUnderwhelming performance
7 (tie)Pontiac Solstice$22,16519/25Sexy exteriorFew standard features
7 (tie)Saturn Sky$25,52519/25Eye-catching looksBase model's performance uncompetative
10Hyundai Tiburon$17,02520/28Good valueInterior is lacking