Consumers looking for a sporty ride – or just to spice up the daily commute – can find a lot to like in our top picks for Best Used Sports Cars Under $15,000. Of course, don’t forget to do your due diligence: get a professional inspection inside and out (including all mechanicals), obtain a vehicle history report, and shop your best deal.

How did we choose these makes/models? We first search what Consumer Reports has on its list of “Best Used Vehicles for Under $20,000.” All of our choices appear on the CR list. Then, we see what Edmunds lists on its “2010 Used Car Best Bets.” And, for good measure, we throw in some auto experts’ comments, as appropriate. For pricing, we show Edmunds True Market Value (TMV).

  • 2003-2004 BMW Z4Think sports car and you have to consider the BMW Z4, the only two-seat sports car from BMW. Consumer Reports lists 2003 Z4 in the $12,000-$14,000 price range, while the 2004 model is in the $14,000-$16,000 range. Edmunds comments: “Even in its basic trim, the first-generation BMW Z4 rewarded drivers with an engaging driving experience. In reviews, editors praised the car’s sharp reflexes and quick acceleration, though the ride could be a bit rough and the steering wasn’t as communicative as some competitors.” Edmunds TMV ranges from $12,273 (2003) to $15,908 (2004).
  • 2004-2006 Mazda MX-5 MiataTop-down fun and exhilarating driving has always been synonymous with the Mazda MX-5 Miata. Edmunds TMV for 2004-2006 MX-5 Miata ranges from $10,057 (2004) to $15,619 (2006). Note: you may be able to find a 2007 that’s priced right. TMV for the 2007 Base is $14,484 and Sport comes in at $15,167. Edmunds hails 2003-2008 MX-5 Miata in its 2010 Used Car Best Bets, saying: “Anyone who wonders how car enthusiasts can be so passionate about driving need only take a spin in a Miata.”
  • 2007 Mitsubishi EclipseWith its sleek styling, powerful engines, comfort that’s decent, and affordable prices, the Mitsubishi Eclipse has proven popular with consumers for the past two decades. The 2007 Eclipse has an Edmunds TMV of $11,747-$14,412. You may even be able to get a 2008 for a low TMV in the area of $13,347. Road & Track, commenting on the 2007 Eclipse, said: “…if you don’t want your car to feel old in a couple of years, Mitsubishi’s futuristically retro, sporty-sounding Eclipse will keep both of you feeling young.”
  • 2001 Porsche BoxsterWith Edmunds TMV of $11,869-$14,535, a 2001 Porsche Boxster just might be the ticket. Dan Jedlicka, reviewing the 2003 Boxster (not that much different from the 2001), said in MSN Autos: “The Boxster is a blast to drive. Its steering is quick and precise, and it has race car-style handling…The Boxster continues as one of the top sports cars and doesn’t really feel like an entry-level trim.”
  • 2000-2001 Mercedes-Benz SLOkay, so you need to go back a decade or so to get a deal on the Mercedes-Benz SL luxury roadster – but that’s okay if the car passes muster. And it certainly should, since it was known for “spirited performance, decent handling and plenty of luxury,” according to Edmunds, which notes that SL was overpriced at the time, “though depreciation has largely negated this potential drawback.” Edmunds TMV for the 2000 SL goes from $13,710-$17,758, while 2001 model ranges from $14,616-$19,908.

One other contender for Best Used Sports Car Under $15,000 is the 2004 Mustang V8, which Consumer Reports lists in the $10,000-$12,000 price range.

See a list of all currently available used cars under $15,000.

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