10 Cheapest Sports Cars of 2012

Tickers in this article: F NSANY GM
NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- A good summer sports car will blow other cars off the line. A great one will do it without blowing away your bottom line.

That summer sun gives drivers an urge to cruise and a need for speed. Unless you're planning on driving the Grand Prix circuit at Monaco with the rest of the world's high-priced playthings, though, there's no need to drop six figures on a Maserati GranTurismo or the price of a three-bedroom house in the 'burbs on a Ferrari.

The folks at auto pricing site TrueCar see a whole lot of value in low-priced sports cars and came up with a list of the 10 least costly speedsters on the market. They may not be quite as powerful as their high-priced supercar contemporaries, but they won't burn up your savings or your gas budget quite as quickly:

10. 2012 Nissan 370Z  
MSRP: $32,690 
Average paid: $31,959

This Nissan(NSANY)   is the most costly car on the list, but it's also one of the brawniest. The 3.7-liter V6 puts out 332 horsepower and can accelerate from zero to 60 miles per hour in 4.5 seconds. The folks at TrueCar think it looks like a Porsche from the outside, but add-ons such as aluminum pedals and a Bose audio system make it feel like a luxury vehicle on the inside as well.

9. 2012 Dodge Challenger
MSRP: $25,920
Average paid: $24,310

This is the first of the trio of American road-friendly sports cars that are driving Detroit's muscle car renaissance. The Challenger was rereleased in 2008 after a 25-year hiatus, but already keeps up with rivals such as the Ford(F)   Mustang and Chevy(GM)   Camaro. Its base V6 engine produces an impressive 305 horsepower, but its beastly 6.4-liter hemi V8 cranks out 470 horsepower. Even with all that power, it still has enough room to fit a family of four comfortably with a load of groceries in the trunk. Think about that the next time you snicker at a stick-figure family sticker in a Challenger's rear window.  

8. 2012 Mitsubishi Eclipse  
MSRP: $25,723 
Average paid: $25,232

It looks fast and furious, but don't let those lean lines and tints fool you. If a base-model Eclipse pulls up next to you at a streetlight, its 2.4-liter, 162-horsepower engine isn't going to do much besides wait politely for the light to change and ease through the intersection at a reasonable rate of speed. The 265-horsepower six-cylinder is much more suited to a car this sleek and provides plenty of kick for such a lightweight cruiser.

7. 2012 Volkswagen GTI  
MSRP: $24,765 
Average paid: $24,024

There are more powerful hatchbacks out there than the GTI, but its 2.0-liter engine still puts up 200 horsepower and gets a decent zero-to-60 time at 5.5 seconds. Its perks, including a tilt-and-slide sunroof, leather-trimmed steering wheel and touchscreen stereo system with in-dash CD changer, really set the GTI apart. They kind of have to, considering this small car's paltry 31 miles per gallon highway mileage. That's roughly the same fuel efficiency as a Challenger, Camaro or Mustang.