What Makes a Car a Sports Car?


It could be argued that a true sports car is anything that rides low, drives fast, seats only two people and makes you feel younger. ConsumerReports.org agrees these cars are packed with fun as opposed to practicality. However, a common misconception, according to MSN Autos, is that all sports cars are high-powered and cost a fortune. While this is true for most, it is not true for all. The fact is, sports cars can vary widely in terms of horsepower, body style, size and price.

Speed Guidelines

  • How fast a car can accelerate is one of the biggest "wow" factors in determining whether you've got a sports car on your hands. Nocafta.org, a dedicated Ferrari website, says the fastest sports car currently (as of April 2010) is the 2002 Ferrari Enzo. The Enzo can accelerate from 0 to 60 mph in a mere 2.6 seconds. Aiding the speed of sports cars is their streamlined design, which is not just there for looks. Features like a low body contribute to the performance and help jack up the speed. The aerodynamics of the styling (rounded or curved lines) make it easier to handle at high speeds, in tight turns as well. A sports car is also lightweight, enabling it to go faster.


  • Consumerreports.org lists the powertrain as another important consideration of a sports car. This is the part of the car that combines the engine with the transmission. According to Gary Godwin of Godwin Motors, the manual transmission or stick shift used to be the preference because the driver felt more in control. Today's sports car enthusiasts can also choose from automatic or sequential gearboxes. Sequential gearboxes require no clutching, just the shifting. Power is not compromised.

Engine Types

  • Sports cars can also feature V-6 or V-8 engines. The large volume of the six cylinder enables the maker to inject them with more horsepower and torque. The largest sports cars are equipped with V-8s, which make acceleration effortless, contributing to extremely quick standing starts and ability to reach top speeds. The drawbacks of a V-8 is the heaviness of the car, which affects handling and also equates to lower gas mileage.

Price Points

  • A sports car can cost as little as $20,000 for a 170-horsepower engine like the little two-seater Mazda MX-5, or you can blow up your wallet and the freeway with an $85,000 2008 SRT-10 Dodge Viper, which features a 600-plus-horsepower motor. The differences in affordability and the speed of these two cars is obvious, but both are still classified as sports cars.

Safety Features

  • According to ConsumerReports.org, all new sports cars have standard left and right front air bags, lap and shoulder belts, anti-lock brakes and electronic stability control. Keep in mind the level of overall safety of any sports car is directly proportional to its size.

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  • Photo Credit the black sports car. image by Yuri Bizgaimer from Fotolia.com Sport car silhouette image by Catabu from Fotolia.com truck stick shift image by Aditia Patria Warman from Fotolia.com New car petrol engines image by Christopher Dodge from Fotolia.com Isolated red sports car on a white background with reflex image by Joel Calheiros from Fotolia.com nissan 300zx interior image by MichMac from Fotolia.com
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