Frugal Fun: 10 Mid-Engine Sports Cars that Won’t Break the Bank

Some cheap mid-engine cars that you should consider include the Pontiac Fiero, Fiat X1/9, and the Porsche Boxster.
Written by Patrick Price
Reviewed by Kathleen Flear
Looking for a nimble new car? Mid-engine cars like the Pontiac Fiero, Fiat X1/9, and the Porsche Boxster are available for less than you might think.
Mid-engine cars are designed with the engine behind the driver’s seat and usually have improved handling and balance. Sadly, many mid-engine cars are quite expensive, making the dream of owning one of these sleek and sporty machines seem out of reach.
Fortunately, there are a number of affordable options that boast a mid-engine design—you just need to know which model to look for.
Of course, the most reasonably priced sports car in the world doesn’t help your budget if you are breaking the bank to get
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Here, we’re breaking down the most affordable mid-engine cars available today.
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1. Porsche Cayman

Used price: $20,000
Porsche is not a brand name you would normally associate with affordability. The
Porsche Cayman
, however, is not only one of the most inexpensive Porsches on the market but also one of the cheapest mid-engine cars you’re likely to find.
This is a great car for those who are new to the world of sports cars. Apart from its reasonable price tag, the Cayman is well known for being a great teacher car. Unlike a lot of high-end sports cars that require a bit of know-how to properly drive, this well-balanced model is very forgiving of user errors. It almost drives itself!
Of course, it’s for a reason. The low-price tag comes with equally low horsepower. The somewhat-stiff suspension has also been known to cause jittery handling from time to time.
Still, the Porsche Cayman is a great value for the price. Plus, for only about 20 grand you get to tell your friends you drive a Porsche!

2. Lotus Europa

Used price: $14,000
If the Cayman is still too rich for your blood, consider the Lotus Europa. Small and speedy, the Europa weighs barely over fifteen hundred pounds. That’s less than half the weight of a
Toyota Camry
Its exceptionally lightweight build combined with its low center of gravity gives this pocket-sized speedster excellent handling. That is as long as the weather is good and the roads are dry. 
Once the rain starts falling, this model can become unresponsive and unreliable. If you live somewhere wet and rainy, you may want to keep scrolling.

3. Honda Beat

Used price: $12,000
If comfort is just as important to you as cost, then look no further than the Honda Beat! This car has a reputation for having comfortable interior seating and ample legroom. Plus, its well-balanced build and superb handling make it a pleasure to drive.
Note that this
does not have a powerhouse engine—its built-in electric speed limit will automatically prevent you from going fast than 83 mph. With such a comfortable ride, though, what’s the rush? After all, “It’s not the destination, it’s the journey.”
The Beat was exclusively sold in Japan for years but since they’re now being imported into the United States, you should start seeing them on the road more often!
MORE: 7 things to look for when buying a used car

4. Porsche Boxster

Used price: $14,000 
Another Porsche—and this one is even cheaper than the first! The
Porsche Boxster
may be the absolute lowest-priced Porsche you will ever find, with used models often selling for as little as $14,000.
Be prepared to pay for those savings in the long run though. While the initial purchase may be a bargain, this model is notorious for needing frequent and costly repairs.

5. Vauxhall VX220 Turbo

Used price: $16,000
Next up is the Vauxhall Vx220 Turbo. First released in 2003, this model is rapidly approaching the status of “classic.” Despite its lack of power-assisted steering, the Turbo is known for having excellent handling and a tight turn radius.
No doubt about it, the Turbo offers one smooth ride. It has exceptionally responsive breaks—which is good, considering it doesn’t handle damage well. Repairs tend to be costly and only a few mechanics have the specialized knowledge to properly care for them.
Look closely at any used models you consider buying. If there is any damage at all—even if it has been repaired—the car probably isn’t worth buying.

6. Fiat X1/9

Used price: $10,000
First released in 1972, the Fiat X1/9 was the first car to make mid-engine design available and affordable. This is the quintessential working-class mid-engine car. A trendsetter. An icon. 
Reasonably powerful and a whole lot of fun to drive, this
is still one of the cheapest cars in its class.
The downside? A general lack of reliability shortens the lifespan of these classic sportsters. Given they date back to the 70s, this means there aren’t many still on the road today.
Despite their growing rarity, they still usually sell for 10 grand or less. If you’re lucky enough to find one for sale, don’t pass up the bargain! 

7. Mazda Autozam AZ-1 / Suzuki Cara

Used price: $15,000
The Mazda Autozam AZ-1 is a bit of an anomaly in the automotive world. Most cars begin losing their value as soon as you drive them—but that isn’t the case with the AZ-1.
This collaboration between
only recently became eligible for import into the U.S., so it’s still pretty hard to find. But they are steadily growing in number and popularity. And as the demand continues to increase, so does their value.

8. Toyota MR2

Used price: $15,000
Like everything that
makes, the MR2 is cheap, reliable, and low maintenance. In the long run, this is probably the cheapest option on this list since it’s unlikely to need many repairs.
It’s a fast car, though, and that kind of speed can be dangerous for inexperienced drivers—especially when paired with a lack of safety features
If you’re an experienced driver and want a mid-engine car for a great price that will keep running for a long time, this is a great pick!

9. Pontiac Fiero

Used price: $10,000
The Pontiac Fiero is one of the more available cars on our list. They seem to be for sale everywhere you look. What’s more, they are almost always very reasonably priced.
There is a reason why this model is such a bargain, though. This
has some known issues, including frequent electrical system failures. There have also been instances of the car bursting into flames—so have a mechanic check out the car before you finalize the purchase.

10. Rover MG F

Used price: $10,000
Perhaps the most practical option of all is the Rover MG F. Comfortable and affordable, the MG F is a bargain, usually selling for around $10,000 or less.
While the MG F is fairly reliable, it does have one or two common maintenance issues to watch out for. These models will sometimes have issues with the head gasket failing or the suspension leaking.
Even so, the MG F is still a great value.

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