When in the market for your next vehicle, the first consideration is whether to buy new or used. Buying a brand-new sports car certainly has its benefits. Most notably, new vehicles can have the very latest safety gear and engineering improvements. Plus, with a new car you know what you're getting, and it is backed by a comprehensive factory warranty. You don't have to worry about potential service problems, concealed collision damage, or unknown history of abuse, a particular concern with sports cars. Further, you can have your choice of color, trim line, and option level. And financing rates are typically lower than for a used vehicle.
The key drawback with buying a new car is rapid depreciation. A new car can shed half its value in its first two or three years on the road, likely just off lease. If you have financed the new car with a low down payment, you can easily find yourself "upside down" on the loan, where you owe more than the car is worth.
Used cars can be a welcome alternative. The used-car market is about three times the size of the new-car market, so there's certainly plenty of choice out there. One of the best strategies is to find a car you like that's only two to three years old. It's has already taken its biggest depreciation hit, which works to your advantage, but it should still have most of its useful life ahead of it. Modern cars, if soundly maintained, can stay on the road 200,000 miles or longer. Rust, for instance, isn't nearly the problem it was years ago. Solid-state electronics have eliminated the need for a lot of regular servicing that used to be necessary.
The key to selecting a good used car is to focus on reliability, even when a prospective automobile is still covered by its original factory warranty. Look for one that has done well in our Reliability judgments. The sports car reliability stars include models from Honda, Hyundai, Nissan, Scion, Subaru, and Toyota.
CR's reliability scores are no guarantee, of course, but they do carry the weight of probability. If you shop for a sports car with top-notch reliability scores, the odds are on your side.
Whether buying new or used, it is important to do a little homework to choose a good model, and to follow that up with effective negotiation. Remember, don't fall in love and blind yourself to otherwise obvious defects.
Learn more in our new and used car buying guides.
See upcoming sporty cars in our New Car Preview.