5 Mercedes-Benz SLK-Class
The SLK has a purpose – to be a quick, well-to-do roadster, yet offer the driver luxury and comfort of a Benz. The SLK is a nice car for those who want something they can use a daily cruiser, but when the time calls for power and speed, they can show off its wild side to impress. Once you drop the dollar to put the AMG engine under the hood, the SLK gets 355-hp which can get you 0-60 in 4.9 seconds. While it might not match the handling of a similar class Porsche, its feels quite close… at least for most drivers.
4 Mazda MX-5 Miata
The MX-5 makes our list because of the amount of car your get for the price. It’s probably one of the cheapest sports cars on any of our top sports car lists, but that doesn’t mean it’s an underperforming turtle by any means. The MX-5 is light weight, has a great ability to handle turns, and along with its 2.0 liter engine that kicks out 167-hp (remember, this thing is light! Less than 2,600 lbs), you have a Miata that is super fun to drive, but also nimble and quick. The MX-5 Miata is a polarizing machine when it comes to opinions, so some will cheer to see this on our list while others will scoff. Still, you can’t deny price, speed, and fun compared to cost with this roadster.
3 Lotus Elise
The Lotus Elise is surprisingly well priced, and this is another car which gets some major changes in 2011. The major difference is the change to a 1.6 liter engine from the 1.8 liter engines present in earlier models. It may be a smaller engine, but it’s a smaller engine that puts out just as much power. But while the Lotus comes close to being a Boxster or Z4 in performance, its body aesthetics stand out much more — even in cities where expensive sports cars are common on the road (Los Angeles, I’m looking at you). The Lotus comes at a good price because it is truly designed for cheap performance at the track, and offers little comfort compared to the Z4 or Boxster.
2 Ford Shelby GT500
Something feels much different about the 2011 GT500 than previous years. It keeps the same tough muscle car look and sounds like a Mustang should, but overall it seems like a much more nimble machine. That’s due to the new addition of a 5.4-liter aluminum engine which weighs about 100 pounds less than the previous GT500 engines. Ford didn’t stop with overhauling engine weight though – they lowered the car by 11 mm in the front and 8 mm in the back, along with improving the overall handling and steering. The GT500 has redeemed itself in 2011 and makes for some serious competition.
1 Subaru Impreza WRX STI
2011 is a good year for the WRX STI. Due to re-engineering and some tweaks on body design, the Impreza WRX becomes a car that seems to be able to tackle just about any corner. Steering has improved greatly in 2011 from the older models, and suspension is a whole new monster. The STI looks nice and feels good. The newer, lower, body design is supposed to help in aerodynamics, but the real gem is the continued power of the 305-hp turbocharged engine, flat-four. Even better is the cost of this car which is quite low for what you get. The overall improvements to the Impreza in 2011 impressed us enough to put it number one on our list for the year.
2011 brings in some nice re-designs of older models, turning them into potent competitors on the track. If you’re looking into buying a balanced sports car, look into these five machines first!