You've always wanted a sports car. A hardened, driver-oriented vehicle that is a joy to throw at laughable speeds into corners, and still have it facing the right way up after.
Now that you're more fiscally responsible, (your housing loans have been accounted for perhaps), you finally have some spare cash. That used economy car you've daily driven for years needs to go. It could be sold on to someone else that needs it more, or scrapped if its condition warrants it.
Either way, it's selling your old and dreary car to reward your inner petrol head with some horse-powers and grip. You can experience the joys of performance car ownership, sans the strain on your pockets by considering any of these five "affordable" sports cars!
To be fair, we are aware that there are many compelling, and more practical, buys in this price bracket. When we say these sports cars are "affordable", we mean when compared to bigger budget performance vehicles!
5. Honda Civic Type-R - From $217,000, P.I.
The FK8 Honda Civic Type-R is a truly capable hot hatch that is really entertaining to drive. It perhaps also marks the start of the countdown to an era where Honda shifts its focus to EV drivetrain development, as it winds down internal combustion engine development and production.
It is also the last car to be built in Honda's Swindon plant in the UK. As swan songs go, this is a good one. A 2.0 litre turbocharged inline-4 lives under the bonnet, producing 316hp and 400Nm of torque. This is then put to the ground via the front wheels through a six-speed manual gearbox.
As with most modern cars, the Type R has a split personality of sorts. A sportier setting will yield a harder, more aggressive car, but it can be dialled back to being a comfortable daily driver if you so wish!
4. Mini John Cooper Works (JCW) - From $210,888, A.D.
Minis old and new have always had a chassis with more than a whiff of karts in the way it conducts itself through the twisties. But go isn't all the Mini has; as a retro-styled icon, it has plenty of show to back it up.
A normal Mini would be sufficient for Singapore use, but the JCW just has the edge car enthusiasts are after. The recipe is simple - 231bhp from a 2.0-litre engine that is happy to sit high up the rev range, an expansive amount of torque across a wide rev range, and an exhaust that pops and crackles when downshifting. What's not to like?
When you've completed your honing, simply pop the car back into normal mode, and it becomes much tamer for daily use!
3. Volkswagen Golf GTI - From $209,900, A.D.
The GTI is a nameplate steeped in history. It has become the yardstick for other manufacturers to compare their hot hatches to, offering performance and practicality in a sensible hatchback shell.
To build a Golf GTI, Volkswagen first takes a regular Golf, and exaggerates the body lines to create a more aggressive looking vehicle. This has to be done with delicacy, as it has to appeal to both your present age, and also to the 20-year-old boy racer in your head.
It then puts in the EA888 engine, famed for being easily tune-able to stratospheric power levels, for that additional oomph. The suspension and brakes have also been breathed upon for better overall grip and stopping power.
Equipment included, and material quality, has always been excellent in the GTI variants, and it's no different in the Mk8. It now has a new Digital Cockpit with a display unique to the GTI, and also a new 10-inch Discover Pro Infotainment system!
2. Mazda MX-5 RF - $189,888, A.D.
The 4th generation MX-5, codenamed the ND, is perhaps one of the last 'pure' driver's cars. Launched as a soft top in 2015, Mazda added a hard top variant in 2017 dubbed the 'RF', which is short for 'Retractable Fastback'.
Compared to the soft top, with the roof up, the RF is more refined and stiffer, and the metal roof does a better job of keeping road noises out. Its 2.0-litre 4 banger is naturally aspirated, which translate into a more linear power curve and has better response overall.
156bhp isn't a stout figure by today's standards, but the light weight nature of the vehicle and the characteristics of its engine means that the car can really shift if needed, and can also break traction if you so wish!
1. Daihatsu Copen GR Sport - $120,000, P.I.
The cheapest brand-new sports car that money can buy today in Singapore is…the latest iteration of the Daihatsu Copen. Do not be fooled by its diminutive size and its 660cc engine, Copens are very engaging cars to drive.
It may have skinny tyres, and only 63bhp, but its lightweight body means the car feels very capable regardless. This lack of power also means that you can have plenty of driving fun, being able to push the car really hard into corners but knowing that you'll never run out of grip.
Daihatsu's kei car engines have always been effervescent to drive. Always willing to rev, the car remains reliable even if driven hard for prolonged periods. The GR Copen adds a touch of refinement to this Kei car's arsenal!
This article was first published in Motorist.