There is an argument to be had that sports cars are making up a larger percentage of the public car ownership chart than ever before. Carmakers are required to be more niche than ever, given the constantly evolving competition and the ever-expanding range of models.
And in a world where electricity and emissions are dominating the headlines and touted as the future, it feels like there’s almost an overabundance of sports cars right now that are being offered to us, given the changes that loom over the automotive industry in the coming years. It’s also the reason why there are so many multipurpose sports cars that are excellent daily drivers right now, too.
But as we head closer to the electric future, many people will look to take one more plunge into the sports car market for a vehicle that could be their pride and joy for many years to come. Could we see any futuristic Vision cars from Gran Turismo 7 appear in real life? Perhaps. In any case, which 10 are the most reliable cars, and likely to outlast any mileage limit?
10 Mercedes-Benz SL-Class (R232)
Mercedes-Benz’s current range of cars is upholding a seriously high reputation for reliability right now, and given that the brand’s SL range has long been praised for its myriad of speed and trustworthiness, expect nothing less from the next generation. You can now even place your orders for the new entry-level Mercedes-AMG SL 43.
It’s very telling that, regardless of whether you choose the turbocharged inline-four or the meatier BiTurbo V8 SL 63, you’re guaranteed to receive a two-door roadster that offers a smooth power delivery and velvety ride; both of which are held together by a string of components that will rarely let you down. No wonder the SL has reclaimed its title from the competition.
9 Porsche 718 Cayman
Engineers of the finest sports car in history by way of the 911, the Porsche 718 Cayman is a toned down version of its big brother, and looks to forge a separate path as a reputable sports car in it own right. The 2023 Porsche 718 Cayman has done a stellar job of it, not only acting as a great mid-priced two-seat premium roadster, but achieving a 4.8 reliability score from Kelley Blue Book.
That is music to the ears of enthusiasts and potential buyers, because it means the 718 is built to withstand hard, fast driving without a regular threat of mechanical issues. It doesn’t really come as a surprise, though, does it? Porsche is making the best cars in the world right now, and that’s exactly why the 718 won HotCars’ Best 2022 European Sports Car award.
8 Nissan 350Z
One of the easiest cars to find and purchase on this list, since the 2003-2008 Nissan 350Z is practically known as a popular way of embracing the JDM lifestyle without breaking the bank. The key word here is JDM, because that means it will likely be both cheap to maintain and free from significant troubles, given those are two of the strongest pillars in a JDM car’s castle.
It’s also a great first drift car, thanks to a fistful of power from its 3.5-liter V6 and rear-wheel drive layout. So, while this list does contain a fair number of ‘premium’ or slightly more expensive cars, the 350Z really does standout as a car for anybody and everybody, but somehow retains the ‘cool’ factor that most cars with said qualities would struggle to.
7 Toyota GR86
There are many that have already waxed lyrical about the driving dynamics on tap with the Toyota GR86, and while that is indeed the main selling point for arguably the best sub $30k beginner sports car you can buy right now, there’s more to love than just that. We’re talking about its reliability: something that comes almost unanimously with Toyota’s sports cars.
At the start of this article, we also mentioned how manufacturers are needing to be competitive to secure sales, and Toyota’s 10-year warranty acts as a great second layer of protection for an already reliable car. It means you can drive one of the world’s most affordable but fun sports cars in the 2023 Toyota GR86 without having too much to worry about.
6 Chevrolet Corvette (C5)
We believe every list should have an unusual entrant that defies stereotypes, and in this list, the 2001-2004 C5 Chevrolet Corvette Z06 is just that. It’s gained a reputation for being not just the most reliable of the eight Corvette generations made so far, but since so many examples entered circulation, it’s also very much attainable.
The most significant part of the car, its LS1 V8 engine, is also pretty common – much like the rest of the car. That means when something does go wrong, it’s very easy (and cheap) to find and install replacement parts. But we thoroughly expect that to be a rarity, since the C5 Corvette is the epitome of a no-headache American sports car.
5 BMW Z4 (G29)
It’s small wonder that Toyota used the BMW Z4 as the bare bones for its A90 Supra design. It’s a great driver’s car and maintains a strong reliability record of 4.7 from Kelley Blue Book. It’s so good that we believe the Z4 has elevated the convertible sports car game, led by its fabulous three-liter turbocharged straight-six block and equally inviting looks.
BMW hasn’t historically been the most reliable manufacturer, but its newer generation of cars seem to be redefining those terms entirely. The 2023 BMW Z4 has even received a five-star consumer rating, and that makes it one of the few sports cars that has. The durability, alongside its joyous driving experience, is the main reasons why.
4 Honda S2000
A sporty Honda that’s reliable? No surprises there. Much like the 350Z earlier, the S2000 is a rare slice of JDM heritage that can still be had for respectable prices, and remains one of the best head-turners money can buy. In return, you’re getting a screaming inline-four VTEC unit that’s known for screaming all day, resting all night, and then doing it all over again until pretty much the end of time.
Aside from a regular oil change every 6,000 miles, many S2000s have been known to run for well over 350,000 miles without fault. Imagine driving 10,000 miles every year for 35 years in a sports car that continues to run like clockwork. Its reliability is sublime, and remains one of the many reasons we believe Honda needs to revive the S2000 JDM legend as soon as possible.
3 Audi TT (MK3)
Audi has been plugging away at perfecting the TT since 1998, and It’s fair to say, the four ring brand has achieved that with the third-gen. Known for its bulletproof reliability and long-lasting nature, the MK3 TT now even has an Iconic Edition that’s limited to just 100 units to celebrate 25 years since the TT’s story began.
Kelley Blue Book has even given the 2023 Audi TT a reliability score of 4.9 – the highest on this list. That, alongside the fact that there are plenty of examples known to have run for well over 250,000 miles without any issues, prove its credibility as the perfect sports car for driving enthusiasts.
2 Ford Mustang (Sixth Generation)
This one is a bit of a hit-and-miss depending on the specific generation you go for, but the 2023 Ford Mustang’s have continued to be well received where reliability is concerned. Combine that with the heritage the badge bears, as well as the genuinely fast all-round performance, and you can see why the current herd of Mustangs is held in such high regard.
A 4.7 out of 5 reliability rating for the 2023 Ford Mustang exemplifies the blue collar nature of this hardworking, characterful sports car. Even if you got the four-cylinder EcoBoost version – which we still believe is a real muscle car – you’re arguably getting an even more reliable version of the Mustang, given the notorious strength of the EcoBoost engine.
1 Mazda MX-5 (Fourth Generation)
With over a million examples sold since 1989 and across four generations, the MX-5 is the go-to reliable sports car that is not only affordable and easy to maintain, but also bags of fun. Over the lineage’s 34-year story so far, it’s forged a reputation as a lightweight, back to basics roadster that’s also one of the most practical cars on the used market.
This is also backed by data, since the MX-5 Miata received a 4.7/5.0 rating from Kelley Blue Brook. The average owner also only takes their car in for unscheduled repairs around 0.3 times per year, while the average subcompact car goes in an average of 0.4 times. So, the MX-5 really is a jolly little car that can outlast any mileage limit – what are you waiting for?