If you’re after a used sports car, but still have a family to carry around and look after or need some extra space, there are plenty of inexpensive choices out there. Sports sedans are just performance cars with four doors, so it’s far from impossible to find a car that goes fast and also has a back seat. All of these cars have proven performance records, are rear-wheel-drive and can come with a manual transmission. Some may be a little on the older side, but they are all reliable enough to last a long time.
2007 BMW 335i: turbocharged horsepower
At this point it’s fairly old, but the 2007 E90 335i is still an excellent sports sedan. At the time it used a twin-turbocharged 3.0-liter inline-six that made 300 horsepower. It could be paired with a manual transmission, and though it didn’t have a mechanical limited-slip differential, it used computers to regulate traction much like an LSD would, which BMW called an electronic differential. While many trivial things on the car might break, like the little arms that deliver the seatbelts, the engine and transmission are solid.
2018 Honda Civic Si: the complete package
Honda’s Civic Si has it all. It’s got a manual transmission, 205 horsepower, and weighs less than 3,000 pounds. It’s front-wheel-drive, but for all intents and purposes the car handles beautifully and is well balanced. The interior is borderline luxurious, with smooth leather and a snug cockpit for the driver. Passengers have plenty of room to stretch out, even in the back seat, and the trunk is big enough for a long trip, which is more than possible considering the car’s excellent gas mileage.
2014 Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution GSR: agile and modern
Although it’s a slight departure from its ancestors, the Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution X is nevertheless a proper sports sedan. The GSR uses a 2.0-liter turbocharged inline-four only mounted to a 5-speed manual transmission, and sends 291 horsepower to all four wheels. This car hits the limit of $30,000, but is worth every penny. Its big discrepancy comes from its all-aluminum engine, which contradicts the iron-block 4G63T from previous Evo generations. The old block could hold a lot of boost and could go all day, but the new engine is no slouch. Without mods the Evo X will last a while.
2008 Infiniti G37: affordable luxury
A distant relative to the Nissan GTR, the Infiniti G37 slots into the luxury sports sedan category. It uses a 3.5-liter V6 pushing 305 horsepower to the rear wheels, via a six-speed manual transmission, all this to move 3,628 pounds. It’s not light, but it handles well enough and has serious getup-and-go. Opting for the Sport package nets a limited-slip differential and 19-inch wheels.
While these are some of the best options, there are plenty more available on various online marketplaces. Comparatively, $30,000 is a sizable budget as long as used cars aren’t off the table. Prospective owners could even get away with much less money for a sports sedan.