Three Mid-Engined Roadsters For Miniscule Money

Ready for summer: bag a sweet mid-engined roadster for sub-£1500


Mid-engined cars: perfect weight balance, often soft-tops, always low seating position, and invariably in possession of the petrolhead holy grail: rear-wheel drive. Good enough for a Ferrari 458, but here’s how to bag exactly the same setup for one hundredth of the price.

MG TF: £900


A British mid-engined roadster for under a grand? It’s the MG TF. And not just the early ones with squidgy Hydragas suspension: you can get sharper-styled facelifted TFs with a harder ride for less than £1k. Most common is the 1.8-litre petrol version, good for 158bhp, 0-60mph in 6.9sec and 137mph flat out. That’s the good news. The bad news is the cabin is lower rent than an Iranian Premier Inn, and at 1180kg, it’s a bit porky for a proper sportscar – a Lotus Elise is 400kg lighter.

Toyota MR2: £500-£1500

There are two ways of going about this one. Either...


Go for bargain and pick the second-gen MR2 - tt’s not the sharpest handler by all accounts, but it does have pop-up headlamps, so swings and roundabouts - or...


Go for the third-gen car from 1999 onwards. Power from the mid-mounted 1.8-litre variable valve timed motor stands at 138bhp, it weighs 1000kg, and hits 60mph in a Toyota GT86-beating 7.5sec.

Our tip? Buy a tatty but honest example for a grand, pop it on Le Shuttle, and go for a road trip through Europe.

Smart Roadster

smart roadster

The priciest car here (starting from £1500) is the only automatic, and the slowest, but the Smart is still worth a look. It’s a complete featherweight at just 790kg, boasts a classic ‘broken 911’ three-pot engine note, and will score 55mpg thanks to its tiny 690cc engine. At only 10.6sec to 60mph and 108mph flat out it’s barely fast enough to get you where you’re going, yet alone into trouble, but it’s probably the purest sports car here, as JC will tell you...

Top Gear reviews Smart Roadster from JtypeR on Vimeo.


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