Although the driving public now considers $3 gasoline to be normal, another "gas crisis" is inevitable. To help you avoid a knee-jerk beige-buying reaction, we've assembled this list of fun and fuel-frugal sports cars you can buy now.
Nobody really wants to drive a hybrid. Well, some people do, but these people are masochists and not to be trusted, the kind of folks who collect garden gnomes and drive around at fifteen miles per hour below the speed limit. Normal people want something fast, fun, and sexy. Just because fuel prices might fluctuate wildly in the future doesn't mean that you should be caught driving something boring.
There are plenty of great cars out there that get darn respectable fuel economy. To prove it, we've put together a selection of sports cars that span the price spectrum and sip gasoline. Peak oil consumption will eventually strangle you out from behind the wheel, but you may as well have fun while you still can.
Sports Car: 2010 Audi TT
Fuel Economy: 21/29 mpg city/highway
Starting Price: $37,800
What's to Love: The Audi TT is a handsome if cramped sports car with all-wheel-drive and the taut, predictable handling the Germans have become known for. The 2.0-liter TSI four-cylinder engine and S-Tronic automatic transmission delivers your best fuel-economy bang for your buck.
Sports Car: 2010 Chevy Camaro
Fuel Economy: 18/29 mpg city/highway
Starting Price $22,680
What's to Love: Those who love the Camaro do so in large part because of its styling — GM's retro pony car strikes a mean pose that many people go nuts for. The V-6 is the fuel-economy winner, and truth be told, when it's fitted with a manual transmission and sport suspension, it's more fun than the optional 422-hp V-8.
Sports Car: 2010 BMW Z4 3.0i
Fuel Economy: 18/28 mpg city/highway
Starting Price $46,000
What's to Love: What? A BMW Z4? Yessir — when fitted with the base 3.0-liter straight six, the Z4 returns 18/28 mpg. It also looks like sex on wheels, though it certainly leans toward the phallic end of the spectrum.
Sports Car: Volkswagen Golf GTI
Fuel Economy: 24/32 mpg city/highway
Starting Price: $22,664
What's to Love: It's a Golf GTI, probably the most lovable hatchback on the market. A nimble chassis, a strong 2.0-liter engine, and excellent transmissions — both manual and automatic — make the GTI a rousing canyon-carver. As an added bonus, the hatchback form means you can toss all your junk in the back.
Sports Car: 2010 Morgan Aero 8
Fuel Economy: 14.4/28 mpg city/highway
Starting Price $129,000
What's to Love: This is the car we were supremely happy to include in this grouping. The Morgan Aero is nothing less than the last bastion of old-world British automobile manufacturing. It's quirky, it's fast, and it's parts are made by craftsman rather than robots. Yes, it's expensive, but it returns 28 mpg on the highway. Sure, you only get 14.4 mpg in the city, but with a 4.4-liter, 362-hp BMW V-8 under the hood, who can resist?
Sports Car: 2010 Hyundai Genesis Coupe 2.0T
Fuel Economy: 21/30 mpg city/highway
Starting Price $22,000
What's to Love: One of the true sports-car values out there, the Hyundai Genesis 2.0T is a fun offering which delivers a solid bang for your buck. The turbocharged, 2.0-liter four and six-speed manual provide enough grunt to chirp the tires in second gear, and if you manage to keep the tach needle up, the car will deliver surprising thrust. The light engine — a 306-hp V-6 is also available — offers low nose weight and crisp turn-in, and it cranks out 21 mpg in the city. Not too shabby for a company that's never built a sports car before.
Sports Car: 2010 Lotus Elise
Fuel Economy: 21/27 mpg city/highway
Starting Price $47,250
What's to Love: The quintessential sports car, the mid-engine Lotus Elise takes the standard fast-car model, carves off all the fat, and leaves only toned muscle behind. Operating on the philosophy that lighter is better (which it is), the Elise is widely considered to be the finest-handling two-seater in the world. It's also one of the most frugal. The 1.8-liter Toyota four under the back deck helps the Elise achieve 21 mpg in the city and 27 mpg on the highway. It's a pocket-sized car and not for the faint of heart, but whoo-wee it's fun!
Sports Car: 2010 Infiniti G37 Coupe
Fuel Economy: 19/27 mpg city/highway
Starting Price: $36,050
What's to Love: The recently restyled Infiniti G37 coupe is a beautiful Japanese machine with a surprisingly brooding character. It also delivers fuel economy that even we were surprised by. When equipped with Nissan's lauded 3.7-liter V-6 and a 6-speed transmission, it'll putter around town and equal Toyota Camry mileage numbers.
Sports Car: 2010 Mazda MX-5/Miata
Fuel Economy: 22 MPG city / 28 MPG highway
Starting Price: $23,710
What's to Love: Everything. People with self-confidence problems will tell you it's a hairdresser's car, but it's also one of the most balanced, rewarding, and enjoyable cars on the road. The MX-5's 2009 redesign pushed its size up a bit, but weight changed little, and it simply got more brilliant. Sure, you have to pay attention to the amount of cargo you want to bring, and you basically wear the Mazda like a pair of pants, but that's a good thing. That it gets 28 mpg on the highway (and more if you're gentle) only sweetens the pot.
Sports Car: Tesla Roadster
Fuel Economy: Infinite
Starting Price: $109,000
What's to Love: The first mass-marketed sports car that consumes absolutely no gasoline in operation, the Tesla Roadster is an all-electric wunderkind that proves you can have your cake and eat it too — provided you're cool with a $109,000 cake you can only drive about 100 miles before recharging. (The car shown is actually a Roadster Sport, which clocks in at $128,500. Yikes.)
Sports Car: 2011 Ford Mustang V6
Fuel Economy: 19 MPG city/31 MPG highway - Auto, 19 MPG city/29 MPG highway - Manual
Starting Price: $22,145
What's to Love: For 2011, Ford is dropping a brand-spankin'-new 3.7-liter aluminum V-6 into the Mustang's nose, matching the new styling and excellent interior with a rousing 305 hp and stellar fuel economy. When equipped with the optional Track Pack, the Ford will run with the outgoing V-8 'Stang. Hard to believe the pony car's pony car gets 31 mpg, isn't it?