What is Considered a Sports Car?

We all know the scene...a handsome, middle-aged man wearing sunglasses, cruising around in his red ‘sports car’. But if you stop to think about it, what exactly is the difference between sports cars and normal cars? In the most direct terms, the difference between the two stems from the diametrically opposed needs that these two types of vehicles were designed to fill. 

At their core, sports cars are built for speed, stability, enhanced maneuverability and agility, and top-tier handling. These types of vehicles serve a very specific need; a necessity for speed and performance. In light of this need, they typically find themselves lacking in many other aspects - such as passenger capacity, fuel economy, and even maintenance costs. While sports cars may have their faults in certain areas as it pertains to a car’s tangible value, it’s perfectly ok. Sports cars weren’t built to suit all the needs of the everyday consumer. In fact, in many cases, quite the opposite. Sports cars were designed to excel in specific areas and were never created to be all-purpose vehicles.

So What Exactly is a Sports Car?

The most simplified definition of a sports car is "a small low car with a high-powered engine, and generally seats two people". While this description lacks certain details that differentiate a sports car from other cars, it’s a general "textbook" definition that paints a picture of what the general public perceives as being a sports car.

A more thorough definition can be found in The Houghton Mifflin dictionary, which defines a sports car as: "An automobile equipped for racing, especially an aerodynamically shaped one-passenger or two-passenger vehicle having a low center of gravity and steering and suspension designed for precise control at high speeds." 

Many automobile enthusiasts often refer to high-performance muscle cars and other larger, aggressive vehicle models as sports cars. Yet certain individuals will claim that a car may be a "sporting car", or simply be "sporty" though it still falls far short of being a true sports car. This is true in the case of “standard” cars that come equipped with a "sports package" and/or are equipped with add-on accessories that are designed to make the car more sporty. But these vehicles do not fit the strict definition of a true sports car.

What Is a Grand Tourer?

There are sports cars, and then there’s Gran Turismos. A Gran Turismo, or tourer/touring car, is a luxury performance automobile. In the most simple terms, it's a blend of both luxury and speed. Gran Turismo is an Italian term, so it’s not difficult to imagine the various Italian sports cars that fit the description of ‘luxury performance’. What do you see? Probably a fleet of cars with sleek designs, high-performance capabilities, premium materials, and remarkable craftsmanship. But all of those things also describe sports cars, don’t they? Well, kind of, but not exactly. 

You see, during the height of the muscle car era, it was sufficient to deem your car a ‘sports car’ simply because your vehicle supplied enough to have the power. But you probably weren’t going to take the car to the race track anytime soon. On the flip side, a touring car is a vehicle that’s specifically designed for on-road use, regardless of whether its design is considered ‘sporty’ or not. 

At this point, you’re probably thinking, ‘how is that different from any other car?’ It’s a fair question, but think about it like this; let’s say you are watching NASCAR. When you look at those vehicles, do they look like they were designed to drive down Main Street or Rodeo Drive? Of course, they don’t. In some ways, you can view this as the main distinction, which we will touch on below.

How are Sports Cars and GT’s Different?

As we touched on earlier, a GT car or a Grand Tourer car is classified as a high-performance luxury car designed to travel over long distances. GT cars are available in two or four-door configurations, typically seating 4–5 people. They are notable for not only their long-distance driving, but also their everyday practicality that doesn’t compromise performance. Additionally, GT cars are often homologated (heavily tuned) in order to make them effective for events and races.

Sports cars are usually two-door, two seater cars that are designed to offer drivers a spirited performance and agile handling while remaining lightweight. Contrary to popular belief, many sports cars are not fear-inducingly fast. In fact, some of them have less than 100 horsepower. It’s their performance due to their light weight and well-tuned handling setups that allow them to offer drivers a pleasurable driving experience.

Popular Examples of Sports Cars in 2020

Sports cars come in all shapes, sizes, and prices. Regardless of your personal tastes, no matter what you’re looking for, there is likely something on this list of best sports cars of 2020 that will satiate your desire for speed and thrills. Here are some great examples of sports cars.

In Closing

The popularity of sports cars is centered around their all-around performance, stylish design, and invigorating driving experience. Sports cars are designed to bring out the joy of the open road, providing the control and the thrill of driving that simply can’t be found in regular cars. Many sports cars offer a wide array of body styles and engine specs, including colorful coupes, cool convertibles, and classic roadsters. There’s a sports car out there to suit anyone’s taste, no matter the flavor.