The Tesla Roadster is credited with ushering in a new era in the automotive industry but it was received rather badly when it debuted in 2006. The Roadster is not alone. There are far too many great sports cars that have been overlooked, ignored, or even discarded over the years.
While some of these cars were either short on specs or more expensive than rival vehicles, most couldn't (and cannot) receive their fair share of the spotlight for trivial and oftentimes silly reasons. Here are some of the most underrated sports cars that deserve more appreciation than they get.
Dodge Challenger GT AWD
The Challenger is a staple car from Dodge, with many regarding it as the most iconic muscle car ever made. But despite the brand's massive and passionate fanbase, the GT AWD couldn't receive as much recognition as it deserved when it was released in 2017.
With its primary target audience being the northern states, the GT AWD, as the name hints, was an all-wheel-drive version of the SXT Plus and the only 2-door muscle car to have an AWD. Though it could effortlessly tear up any snowy road, it was a bit short on power than its elder siblings, which turned out to be intolerable for many muscle enthusiasts.
Audi TT RS
The TT has always been a fun sports car ever since its launch in the late 90s. But it was consistently overlooked despite a stellar evolution over the next two decades. The German automaker released the last generation in 2014 and took things to a drastic new level with a maniacal RS version in 2016.
Featuring a 2.5-L turbo 5-cylinder from the Audi RS3 and Audi's ingenious Quattro 4WD delivering 400 horses on the tarmac, the TT RS was a sports beast that did 0-60 in just 3.6 seconds. But sadly, buyers found its $75,000 tag a bit too steep.
Fiat 124 Spider
Unveiled in 2017, the Fiat 124 Spider is a modern version of the iconic 124 Sport Spider car that Fiat sold from 1966 to 1985. However, unlike the original 124 Spider that was manufactured at the Italian Pininfarina factory, the modern iteration was built in Japan on a Mazda MX-5 Miata platform.
Though not a very powerful sports car, the 124 Spider features a stunning retro design by adding an Italian touch to the Miata. Despite being a cool daily driver with a stellar interior and remarkable fuel economy, it's a car almost no one discusses.
Morgan Plus Six
No, it's not a vintage sports car from the 50s, it was unveiled in 2019 by Morgan Motor Company, the British automaker known for deviating from all norms of the industry. The Plus Six, like other cars from Morgan, trades vintage styling for modern looks and even the tech used today.
Featuring a B58 turbo 30-L straight-six working with an 8-speed auto gearbox, the Plus Six generates 335 hp and 369 lb-ft of torque, enabling a 0-60 time of just 4 seconds. But despite being a really cool car, most enthusiasts wouldn't even know about its existence.
Developed alongside the BMW Z4 roadster, the Supra features seductive styling, elegant interior, and ferocious performance. While the turbo flat-four base trim manages a good 225 hp, the turbo 3.0-L BMW inline-six makes a whopping 382 hp, enough to rocket it from a standstill to 60 mph in 3.8 seconds.
Being Toyota's halo sports car, the Supra has a starting price of $45,000 which rapidly climbs another $20,000 for higher trims. Unfortunately, this adorable sport coupe is up against some pretty big names at comparable tags, which considerably shrinks its share in the spotlight.
Alfa Romeo Giulia Quadrofoglio
Sharing the chassis and sharp handling of the standard Giulia, the Alfa Romeo Giulia Quadrifoglio takes things up a notch in the sports sedan segment with its Ferrari-sourced 2.9-L twin-turbo V6 that generates a massive output of 505 horses and 443 lb-ft of torque
The Giulia Quadrifoglio is capable of doing a 0-60 stunt in just 3.6 seconds, which is quite something when you factor in its super-competitive price tag of $80,000. Sadly, it gets shadowed by the established big names it rivals.
Marking the rebirth of the classic French brand that gave us some really great cars from 1955 to 1995, the Alpine 110 drew a lot of attention when it was launched in 2017, with a number of influential people including McLaren F1 designer Gordon Murray taking one home.
But even though Murray branded the A110 as "the best car he has ever driven for ride and handling," its hype ended way too soon. So much so that the company chose not to launch the car in the US.
Ford Mustang Ecoboost
The Mustang is not just Ford's staple car, it's also one of the most iconic nameplates ever, with an endless base of loyal gearheads. However, not all variants of the Mustang could get the appreciation they rightly deserved.
The Mustang EcoBoost was introduced in 2015 as an entry-level model. Though it had a 2.3-L turbo inline-4 engine, it was more powerful than the V6 variant. The 2020 EcoBoost, which topped out at 332 hp, had more power than all V8 Mustangs of the past. But despite its remarkably impressive performance and super-affordable tag, it just doesn't get enough attention due to it being an 'entry-level' offering.
Dodge Viper (5th Generation)
The Dodge Viper has been a massive hit ever since its debut in 1992 but the 5th generation of this iconic car never got its fair share of the spotlight. Featuring an ungodly all-aluminum 8.4-L V10 that produced 640 horses and an incredible 600 lb-ft of torque, its top speed was north of 200 mph and its 0-60 sprint time was just 3.5 seconds.
But, unfortunately, it was less safe and more expensive than the Corvette, and with the arrival of the Hellcats, it was no longer able to make a case for itself. Dodge finally axed this great sports car in 2017, citing dwindling sales as the reason.
Unveiled in 2010, the Honda CR-Z was a small, nimble, and fun sport hybrid coupe. Though it lacked impressive power specs, its sporty looks, decent interior, and superb handling made it a real champ back in the day.
The CR-Z was awarded numerous accolades, particularly in the green category, but its measly 120-hp powertrain was too underwhelming for most fans. The Japanese automaker eventually pulled the plug on this adorable, quirky hybrid in 2016.
Acura NSX (2nd Generation)
Unveiled in 2016, the 2nd-generation Acura NSX had a hybrid powertrain, with a 3.5-L twin-turbo hand-built V6 working in sync with three electric motors, and a 9-speed dual-clutch transmission. It delivered an impressive output of 573 hp and featured torque vectoring in its fullest capacity possible.
However, it failed to gain its fair share of the limelight, mainly because it was up against rivals like Porsche and Aston Martin. After half a decade of waning sales, Acura finally decided to pull the plug on the NSX in 2021.
Jaguar XK (2nd Generation)
A grand tourer body with the soul of a sports car, the second-generation Jaguar XK was endlessly hyped upon its launch in 2007. It had amazing looks, a top-notch interior, and a remarkable V8 powertrain ranging from a standard 380 to up to 542 hp.
But despite so many things going for it, the British sports car failed to get the appreciation it deserved and was finally axed in 2014. Jaguar turned the XK into the more sporty F-Type, which turned out a massive hit.
Mercedes-Benz SL Class
Though the Mercedes-Benz SL-Class has been around as a grand touring sports car since 1954, the nameplate received major updates in 2012. The lineup ranged from a low-end 302-hp V6 SL350 to a monstrous 621-hp V12 BiTurbo SL 65 AMG.
The SL-Class ticked every box except affordability, with prices starting from $91,000 and rapidly jumping for nicer trims. The sales numbers dropped every year to reach just 462 units in 2021, for the entire lineup in the US.
Manufactured between 2002 and 2012, the RX-8 was the successor to the popular RX-7. Like its elder sibling, this four-door sports coupe was powered by Mazda's notoriously unreliable but super-thrilling rotary engine.
It featured a 1.3-L Wankel engine mated with a manual transmission in rear wheel drive to extract the maximum ponies possible. But despite an impressive 212-hp output, nimble handling, and sensational styling, the unreliability factor didn't let the RX-8 enjoy its fair share of the spotlight.
Audi's halo car, the R8 boasts a range of powertrains, including a 5.2-L V10 from the Huracan that maxes out at 602 hp, giving the R8 a top speed over 200 mph and enabling it to do 0-60 in just 3.5 seconds.
The R8 is also famous for being the personal vehicle of Tony Stark throughout all his Marvel movies. But it is still far from being a hot seller. This sports car is grossly underrated, mainly due to a 6-figure tag that touches $216,000 for the top trim. With sales declining over successive years, just 648 units could sell in the US in 2021.
Tesla Roadster (1st Generation)
Unveiled in 2006 when Tesla was still a nascent automaker, the Roadster was well ahead of its time. Based on a Lotus shell, this 288-hp rear-wheel sports car was fast, nimble, and good-looking.
Even though it sparked a revolution in the auto industry, the Roadster wasn't well-received back in the day. Tesla sold just 2,400 units as consumers were pretty reluctant to pay $110,000 for a two-door Lotus roadster retrofitted with an electric powertrain.
Abarth 124 Spider
This flamboyant little car was initially an ND Miata that got exterior modifications to become the Fiat 124 Spider before finally being tuned by Italian racing genius Abarth into the sports icon it is.
But despite its seductive handling and sensational looks, it gets overlooked due to its teensy 1.4-L turbo four-cylinder that can manage just 170 hp. It means the Abarth 124 Spider has less power but more cost than the car it impersonates.
The Nissan 350Z was marketed as a GT car when it was released in 2003. It was not just capable, but also stylish, comfortable, and affordable. Powered by a 3.5-L V6, the engine output varied over the years, with the maximum being 309 hp.
The 350Z checked all boxes a cool sports car should tick and got a good response from the auto world. But as a sports icon by soul, it deserved more attention than it got. Nissan discontinued the 350Z in 2009.
Powered by a 2.0-L four-cylinder inline engine, a 7-speed auto transmission, and Audi's Quattro AWD system, the 2022 S3 maxes out at 306 hp, does 0-60 in 4.3 seconds, and handles like dream.
It is the hot-rodded version of the new A3 sedan and has the potential to give Mercedes-AMG CLA35 and Cadillac CT4-V a run for their money. But despite all this, it's considered one of the most underrated cars in the entire Audi lineup. Not just this model year, the older S3s are often sold for extremely depreciated tags on the used market.
BMW Z4 M40i
Thanks to a roaring B58 turbocharged 3.0-L inline-six engine that produces 382 horsepower and 369 lb-ft of torque, the Z4 M40i is not short on power like the previous Z4s. It's also a rear while drive, which is quite rare for the M series.
But despite all its capable performance and sensational styling, it gets overlooked mainly due to its $65,000 tag. Turns out, buyers don’t want to pay more than what a Supra costs for what most enthusiasts believe is a Supra!
Widely hailed as the forgotten Lambo, the Jalpa was released in 1981 as an "affordable" alternative to the brand's flagship Countach. It was the last Lamborghini to use a V8 engine and was more practical and much easier to drive than its deranged big brother.
Sadly, the Jalpa's 255-hp powertrain could not convince consumers back in the day, and the Italian automaker axed it after making just 410 models. As of today, Jalpas are counted among the cheapest Lamborghinis on the market.
A rebranded version of the Toyota 86, the 2022 GR86 features a 228-hp 2.4-L inline-4 working in an RWD configuration with a standard 6-speed manual transmission. With an ex-factory tag below $30,000, it delivers a stellar value for money, considering its stylish exterior, decent interior, and remarkable performance.
But despite all that value, the GR86 doesn't get the attention it deserves. As a matter of fact, it has remained an underrated model throughout its production, with Toyota selling just 1044 units in the US in 2021.
Combining a sporty performance with a luxury interior, the 928 was the first production V8 from the German automaker. Porsche unveiled it in 1978 with the intention to replace the 911, but the 928 failed to do so and was instead brutally overshadowed by the iconic elder sibling.
Though this sports car-cum-luxury grand tourer remained the company's top-of-the-line production car for more than a decade, it could never gain the recognition it truly deserved.
While not strictly a sports car, it fulfills almost all parameters of one, thanks to a magnificent LS3 V8 with 415-hp as standard. The Chevy SS was built in Australia as a VF generation Commodore before being sent to the States for rebadging.
Despite its remarkable performance specs, the SS could not garner its true share of the limelight, mainly because it looked like any other Chevy sedan on the outside, and was finally axed in 2017 after a production run of four years.
Branded as a spiritual successor to the legendary LFA, the LC500 features a 5.0-L V8 that produces 471 hp and just around 400 lb-ft of torque. It's better equipped than the Nissan GT-R and rivals the likes of the Porsche 911 and the BMW 8-Series.
The only reason it gets overlooked, despite a competitive price tag, is its massive 4,300-lb body that drags its 0-60 sprint time to 4.5 seconds, which is good but not so good as the iconic cars it competes with.
Porsche Cayman R
The Porsche Cayman R was an ultra-lightweight version of the Cayman S, which itself was a lightweight sports car. The Cayman R had no A/C, stereo, or even the door handles and weighed just 2,849 pounds.
Powered by a 330-hp 3.4-L straight-six, it had a 0-60 time of just 4.7 seconds for the base trim. The Cayman R was available in 2012 for just one model year but despite being produced in rare numbers, it sells for a lower price than it deserves.
This 2-door Italian sports coupe was made by Fiat from 1993 to 2000 across a single generation. It had a 2.0-L four-cylinder engine inherited from the iconic Lancia Delta Integrale rally car and was designed by famed auto designer Chris Bangle.
Though the Fiat Coupe was well-received when it was launched, its popularity declined over the next few years. Largely forgotten by enthusiasts, it's a shame that this incredible car sells for just a few grands today.
Alfa Romeo Giulia GTAm
The Alfa Romeo Giulia GTAm is a fresh breeze for old-school saloon car lovers. Powered by a twin-turbo 2.9-L V6 developed in collaboration with Ferrari, the GTAm produces an incredible 533 hp and handles like dream.
Alfa unveiled this car in 2021, announcing to make just 500 examples with each priced at $210,000. But despite its million-dollar looks, incredible performance numbers, and limited production run, the GTAm failed to stir the auto world the way it should have.
Lexus IS 500 F Sport
Powered by a sweet-sounding 472-hp V8 sending all power to the rear wheels in an auto transmission, the IS 500 F Sport is another sports sedan from Lexus that gets overlooked most of the time, particularly due to rivals like the BMW M340i.
The IS 500 F Sport has an affordable tag, a decent interior, and impeccable performance. This naturally-aspirated sports car feels old-school to drive and unarguably deserves a better share of the spotlight.
Saturn Sky Redline
Saturn was a marque that ran for around three decades under the GM umbrella before closing down in 2010. The brand focused on compact, efficient cars and released a surprisingly good car sports car, the Saturn Sky Redline, in 2007.
The Redline featured a 2.0-L turbocharged inline-4, good for 260 hp, available with both auto and manual transmissions in a rear-wheel configuration. Despite being a fun and nimble sports car, the Redline was criminally ignored as the brand came to its end.
Pontiac Firebird Trans Am WS6
The Pontiac Firebird Trans Am WS6 was a beautiful sports beast with a powerful 5.7-L LS1 V8 under the hood. It was easily recognizable thanks to its iconic split front grille that looked like a dragon's nostrils.
The Trans Am WS6 had incredible amenities that were well ahead of its time. Despite an impressive 325-hp output, impeccable handling, and stunning looks, it went ignored most of the time and sells for a tragically shameful price today.
Hyundai Genesis Coupe
The Hyundai Genesis Coupe was launched in 2009 as the sports version of the namesake luxury sedan. It turned out more impressive than many had speculated, with the highest V6 trim topping out at 306 hp.
Featuring an RWD with an available manual transmission, the Genesis Coupe only got better with time, with the 2013 model maxing at 348 hp. But it remained under-appreciated, and the South Korean automaker had to discontinue it in 2016.
Porsche Panamera Turbo S
The Porsche Panamera Turbo S features a roaring twin-turbo 4.0-L V8 that works with an 8-speed auto transmission in an all-wheel-drive configuration to spit an incredible 620 horses, catapulting this executive sports beauty to 60 mph in just under 3 seconds.
But despite its awe-inspiring performance and a domineering road presence, buyers tend to overlook this great car, mainly because they can get rival cars and even the iconic 911 at half of what it costs.
Kia Stinger GT
Equipped with a raspy 3.3-L twin-turbo V6 in an AWD configuration, the Kia Stinger GT is not short on power. It springs to 60 mph from a standstill in a mere 4.6 seconds and looks really good while it's at it.
But unfortunately, the presence of rivals like the BMW 3-Series and the Mercedes-Benz C-class in the highly competitive sports sedan segment and the 'shameful' Kia badge mean this South Korean car would hardly get the appreciation it deserves.
Ever since Honda launched the S2000 at the turn of the 21st century, this small and fun open-top sports car was in the headlines almost every year. But despite being an enthralling vehicle with an exciting yet fuel-efficient powertrain, the sales figures simply didn't match the hype of the car.
The presence of the Miata further made things difficult. With sales declining steadily, the Japanese automaker was forced to pull the plug on the S2000 in 2009.
Chrysler 300 SRT8
The Chrysler 300 has been one of the most popular cars, but not all variants of the nameplate have gotten the recognition they deserved. The SRT8 badge, which was unveiled in 2005 and discontinued a decade later, is one example.
The first Street and Racing Technology vehicle to feature a 6.1-L Hemi V8, the 300 SRT8 was faster than it looked. With an output of more than 470 hp, it needed just 4.3 seconds to catapult to 60 mph from a standstill position.
Mercedes-Benz CLS55 AMG
Unveiled in 2004 at the Paris Motor Show, the Mercedes-Benz CLS55 AMG was an almost sports-like high-performance version of the CLS-Class with a thundering supercharged 5.4-L V8 producing 469 wild stallions at the crank.
Featuring super-elongated dimensions and an ultra-luxurious interior, the CLS55 AMG needed just 4.2 seconds to hit 60 mph from a standstill, despite weighing a whopping two tonnes. Despite such a feat, this marvelous car that once had an ex-factory tag of $250k sells for as low as $30k today, which is such a shame.
Alfa Romeo 4C
Known for its nimbleness, reliability, and fuel efficiency, the 4C remains one of the best cars to ever come from the Italian automaker. But, sadly, it's also one of the most overlooked sports cars, mainly due to its small engine size.
Powered by a 1.75-liter turbo 4-cylinder good for just 237 hp, the teensy engine overshadowed all the incredible features the 4C offered, including its super-light 1,937-lb carbon fiber build, taking away the spotlight it deserved.
Launched in 2019 as a road-legal supercar, the Akula entailed Ginetta's decades of racing experience. It featured an ultra-light carbon-fiber tub and in-house naturally aspirated 6.0-L V8, good for 612 horsepower.
Priced at $400,000 a unit, this shark-like car boasted impressive performance stats and a top speed lying just below the 200-mph mark. However, much like other British sports cars on this list, it too failed to receive the credit it deserved.
Even though the BMW i8 is the world's top-selling plug-in electric sports car and also the winner of the 2015 World Green Car Award, most fans were not excited about it.
This Bavarian sports car used a boosted 1.5-L 3-cylinder Mini Cooper engine working alongside an electric motor to generate an output of 362 hp. It had stellar looks and a formidable road presence, but many believed that its performance stats were not at par with the $140,000 starting tag.