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These Mid-Engined Cars Are Surprisingly Affordable – HotCars

by Nov 5, 2022Blog0 comments

Some mid-engine cars are quite affordable and can be owned by the average sports car enthusiast without breaking the bank
Most traditional automobiles have their engines placed upfront. But in the pursuit of achieving the most speed and handling, manufacturers try out several layouts when designing sports cars. Some position the powerplant above the rear axle like in the Porsche 911, while others place it at the middle with varying benefits. The target is better weight distribution and a well-placed center of gravity.
A mid-engine set-up has the least compromise for performance, has excellent weight distribution, and comes with exotic looks. The only downside is limited cabin space and harder access for maintenance or servicing than the front or rear engine placement. Most exotic and high-end performance cars employ a centered engine, usually right behind the river. This configuration results in extra traction and better acceleration than when the engine is placed on the rear wheels. However, not all mid-engine sports cars come with exotic status, since some are quite affordable and can be owned by the average sports car enthusiast without breaking the bank.
Toyota produced the two-seater, mid-engine and rear-wheel drive Toyota MR2 between 1984 and 2007. The car built a reputation as a sports car icon across the 80s and 90s, making for an affordable and fun ride. Also, the turbo trim had a sizable horsepower advantage over the Miata.
The MR2 was a compact, reliable, affordable, and capable sports car for the time. Today, years after its retirement, the MR2 is still loved by fans. While there is a rumored revival of the car with help from Porsche, used ones in good condition fetch less than $10k. You will also get Toyota's reliability, so you won't have to break the bank to keep it on the road.
RELATED: This 850 Hp V6 Turbo MR2 Will Crush Any Hill Climb
If you are looking to get into classic Porsche ownership, then the Boxster 986 is one of the more affordable avenues. It is considered the car that saved Porsche when they faced financial woes. It shared headlights, front fenders, and interiors with the first water-cooled 911 and was consequently slandered as 'the car you'd buy if you couldn't afford a 911." However, it is worth it today because it offers a pure driving experience at a fraction of modern Porsche cars.
You can purchase a used Boxster 986 with a budget under ten grand. Also, with a Ministry of Transport rating of 78%, the Boxster 986 has above-average reliability for cars its age.
The Cayman 987 and 987 S are some of the most beautiful and fun used sports cars you can buy with a budget under $25k. At least today, since when they hit the market in 2006, they cost over $70,000. Porsche touted the Cayman as a baby 911. Thanks to the mid-sized engine layout and short wheelbase, the Cayman's impressively balanced chassis and precise steering made it one of the best handling sports cars.
Today, used Cayman 987cars cost less than a brand-new Honda Civic and you are guaranteed a more engaging driving experience.
Lotus may not share the brand recognition enjoyed by Porsche or Ferrari, but the British carmaker has produced some iconic sports cars for decades. The Esprit is one good example, and even though it doesn't have the looks that inspire kids to want to own one, it is still a great car that began as an exotically styled sports car. It is as tiny as a Porsche Boxster and is covered in a fiberglass body.
Base models of the mid-engined car were underpowered, but the V8 in the Esprit Turbo and Esprit V8 were quick enough to rival Porsche 911s, Acura NSX and V-8 powered Ferraris. Also, with three decades of production, there are plenty of versions to choose from.
RELATED: 10 Reasons Why We'll Miss The Lotus Elise And Exige
The Lotus Elise is a mid-engined, two-seater roadster that is one of the most iconic British made sports cars. The Lotus proved a success for 25 years in production. It was popular with sports car fans, as it remained relevant and fresh across every model year. A survey by Car and Buyer found that 88% of people would recommend it to a friend, which shows how revered it is.
Used Lotus Elise cars tend to fetch around $30k regardless of mileage, without getting cheaper or more expensive. This shows that you will more or less get back your investment if you buy one and take good care of it.
In 1972, Fiat replaced the rear-engine Fiat 850 with this mid-engine Fiat X1/9, and it was one of the first affordable mid-engine sports cars in a market shared by the expensive Porsche 914. It came with a removable Targa-style roof panel and enough cargo space to make it a practical weekend car.
The X1/9 wasn't the fastest around, but people loved it because of its handling, heritage, and exotic car-esque styling. It is getting rare by the day, but they are still affordable and can be got for as little as $10k.
Forget the reported oil leakage and fire problems that plagued the Pontiac Fiero at some point; this car is a true American classic, featuring a sleek body design made of lightweight body. Today, it is a good choice for a fixer-upper vintage car.
The Fiero's chassis and engine were seemingly over-engineered and could withstand a lot of abuse, and for this, they last for a very long time if taken good care of. Also, it is probably the cheapest mid-engine car you will find on the market.
RELATED: Auction Dilemma: Pontiac Fiero GT Vs Toyota MR2
The Honda Beat will always be remembered as the last car Soichiro Honda sanctioned before his death in 1991. It is a fun tiny convertible with a robust façade and is a capable and excellent cruiser. The car's three-cylinder engine producing just 63hp was perfectly crafted and can reach the maximum speed permitted for a Kei car.
The Honda Beat is a legit hidden gem, and for all the driving pleasure it provides, they are very affordable to import now that it is old enough to import to the US.
Together with the Elise and Exige, the Evora formed a trio that contributed to almost half of Lotus's production volume ever. Auto Express once claimed that the Evora car had one of the best chassis of any car on the planet. This claim is backed by the car's confident handling and great performance. It is also surprisingly comfortable and good for long-distance trips.
Going for around $40k for the early models, the Evora is among the pricier cars on this list. However, you get four seats and a robust Toyota-made V6 motor that will serve you right.
RELATED: Here’s Why We Love The Mid-Engine Corvette C8 As A Daily Driver (1 Reason We Hate It)
Chevy has been toying with the idea of reconfiguring their iconic Corvette, but in the six decades plus of production, the car came in a front-engine layout. That has changed with the eighth-generation iteration that now features a mid-engine layout. According to tests, this change in the C8 Corvette makes it better than the previous C7, more so on the racetrack where it gets in and out of corners faster and cut corners more cleanly than the front-engined car.
The C8 Corvette isn't by a distance cheap, but it is a more attainable option compared to cars in its class, since you'd have to spend double its $60k price tag on other brands to get anything close to its numbers.
Bryan is a content marketer who works as a staff writer for where he covers a variety of topics, from the first Motorwagen to the latest Electric vehicles. A writer by day and a programmer by night. When he is not writing about cars, catch him tinkering with his old motorcycle.