Never has the choice of sports cars at the affordable end of the spectrum been greater, each offering thrills to match and in some cases exceed those of more expensive peers.
It's not all about brake horsepower at this end of the market: most of the cars in our top 10 list put driver entertainment ahead of raw, straight-line performance. But we guarantee each will put a huge smile on your face on way or another.
1. Alpine A110
Every significant consituent part of the Alpine A110 driving experience – from the rasping turbocharged torque of its engine to the immersive poise and panache of its handling – is all about the F word: fun. It brings to life journeys and roads that rivals wouldn’t, and possesses dynamics for which your affection can only grow as you explore them more closely.
Anatomise the car and you'll find an all-aluminium body and double-wishbones for the suspension at each end. Both are generally the preserve of supercars, and lay the foundations for the four-cylinder Alpine to feel much more than the sum of its parts. The later arrival of the A110 S saw power rise from 252 to 288bhp and firmer suspension and bigger brakes fitted, but it's the basic A110 which remains the sweeter, more involving machine for road driving. Various special editions, including the plush Legende GT, have also arrived of late, but again, it's the basic A110 that most enchants us.
Rarely does a car come along so devoted to driver involvement, and so singularly effective at it, even among affordable sports cars; the last time was probably the Toyota GT86 in 2012, a car to which we also gave a five-star recommendation for its supreme fitness to the purpose of sucking the marrow out of every mile. The A110 is quicker, more agile, more effusive and ultimately even more fun. It deserves no less of an ovation.