Commuting to work and back may be a relatively boring daily event – although it doesn’t have to be. For most people, their daily driver is some generic sedan – or some diesel hatchback for those living in Europe – which easily gets lost in the river of highway traffic.
Daily drivers do not need to just be hunks of metal to get from point A to point B. They can be exciting and engaging also. The 2000s offered quite a few great sports cars which could achieve this and spice up your routine travels – all for a relatively low budget. The fancier sports cars have some great gadgets to play with while stuck in traffic, while the even sportier ones can be driven on backroads to inject some adrenaline into the morning routine.
Regardless of the commute – whether via a highway or a twisty road – daily drivers need to be comfortable, easy to drive, relatively fuel-efficient, and reliable, to not hurt the wallet. Here are 10 sports cars from the 2000s which would make for the best daily drivers.
10 BMW M3 E46
The BMW E46 M3 is considered to be the best of the M3 generations and one of the best BMW M-Cars ever made. It is also relatively easy to drive and has an awesome naturally aspirated straight-6 engine. BMW offered a choice of manual or automated-manual transmissions.
In terms of practicality, the E46 M3 is a coupe only, however, it has a large trunk and ample space inside the cabin to move about. The E46 was also available as a convertible, but it was not as popular as the coupe. The BMW E46 M3 is one of the most perfect ways to inject some excitement into the daily commute.
9 Mercedes-Benz E55 AMG
The Mercedes-Benz E55 AMG might not be the most economical sports car, but it is definitely one of the more luxurious offerings from the 2000s. It was the last AMG to feature the 5.4-liter supercharged V8 producing 470 hp and 515 lb-ft of torque. The engine is one of the greatest and most reliable German V8s ever made, with lots of tuning potential.
The E55 AMG also features lots of gadgets along with its luxurious leather interior, a comfortable ride, and great driving dynamics. The car also sounds amazing thanks to the sports exhaust and with a top speed of 155 mph, it can easily keep up with modern sports cars.
8 Honda S2000
The Honda S2000 is an awesome sports roadster built by one of the most reliable manufacturers on the planet. It was built to compete with the Mazda MX-5 and Porsche Boxster, a task it fulfilled quite well. The S2000 was initially offered with a 2.0-liter naturally aspirated inline-4, which was upgraded to a 2.2-liter when the model was refreshed.
The S2000 is a great and comfortable daily driver, with a brilliant engine and handling to rival supercars. Whether driving on the highway or blasting down a backroad on the way to work, the Honda S2000 will put a smile on one’s face.
7 Porsche Boxster
The Porsche Boxster is the car that saved the German marque from bankruptcy and helped them get to where they are now. The Boxster has been considered the ‘cheap’ Porsche – the model bought if the 911 was too expensive. This could not have been further from the truth.
The Boxster was considered to be the smaller 911, featuring great driving dynamics and punchy flat-6 engines. Thanks to depreciation, the first-generation Boxster has now entered the realm of the average petrolhead, as shown by the UK’s CarThrottle.
6 Pontiac Solstice
The Pontiac Solstice was a car that is not necessarily known by many people outside the US. It was GM’s answer to the Porsche Boxter, Honda S2000 and Audi TT. The Solstice followed the recipe of small and punchy engines, manual transmissions, and lightness. The Solstice was fitted with a 2.0-liter turbo-4, producing 260 hp and 260 lb-ft of torque, all while weighing in at just 2,800 lbs.
The Solstice is a relatively cheap and sporty car, available as a roadster and a coupe. The engine has the added practicality of being quite fuel-efficient, adding to the everyday livability and daily drivability. If one gets tired of the standard drivetrain, the engine bay is large enough to fit an LS3 V8.
5 Audi TT 3.2
The Audi TT has the reputation of being a hairdresser’s car, along with the BMW Z3. While this stereotype may have some weight to it, the TT is still a great car. Available as either a coupe or convertible, with a manual or automatic transmission and can be fitted with a rather large 3.2-liter VR6, the original TT was quite configurable.
Along with the aforementioned options, the TT 3.2 was fitted with leather seats as standard, climate control and had a (then) new DSG transmission as an option. Because the TT was based on the A3 platform, which in turn was based on the Golf, the TT’s ride was smooth and comfortable – perfect for the daily commute.
4 Chevrolet Cobalt SS
The Chevrolet Cobalt was a relatively boring and generic coupe and sedan, which was offered beneath the Malibu. It was in the same class as the Dodge Avenger, itself a boring and generic sedan. However, unlike the Avenger, the Cobalt had a truly sporty version in the form of the Cobalt SS.
The SS was fitted with a 2.0-liter inline-4 engine, which initially offered a supercharger, but this was later changed to a turbocharger when the engine could no longer pass emissions tests. The supercharged SS produced 205 hp, but Chevy dealerships offered three tuning Stages for the car. The most powerful stage pushed power up to 260 hp when using 100 octane fuel, with the option of nitrous injection. This level of performance made the Cobalt SS a relatively understated sleeper car from the factory, perfect for embarrassing other commuters on their way to work.
3 Audi S5
The Audi S5 may not be the top-of-the-line RS5 model, but it was still a good car. When Audi first introduced the S5, it had the same 4.2-liter V8 as in the RS5, albeit detuned. Audi later changed the S5’s engine to a 3.0-liter supercharged V6, which produced less power and the same amount of torque.
The V8 S5 produced 350 hp and 325 lb-ft of torque, with power going to all four wheels via a choice of either a 6-speed manual or a 6-speed automatic. It was a great car that had much the same styling as the normal A5, leaving passersby none-the-wiser that there is an awesome German V8 under the hood. The V8 S5 also sounds amazing when driven hard.
2 Porsche 911
The Porsche 911 is the ultimate sports car. This is a title it has held for a number of years due to the fact that it is immaculately engineered and built. It can make almost anything in its class shudder with fear, whether on a track or just a twisty road.
But while the 911 is a magnificent sports car, it is also a fantastic daily driver. Old 911s were a bit of a handful, but the more modern ones have conquered the daily aspect of motoring and improved upon it to such an extent, that even the current 911 Turbo S is easily driven every day. A car that can easily embarrass Lamborghinis and Ferraris.
1 Mazda MX-5
The Mazda MX-5 is probably the most sensible daily driver sports car option due to its size, fuel economy, ease of driving, and comfort. The MX-5 redefined what it meant to build a sports car, and showed that they didn’t have to be expensive, unreliable, and only drivable on the weekends. They could even be driven to work every morning.
The MX-5, in any generation, is a good choice for a daily driver, but it is always good to check for rust and make sure everything was well looked after. The Mazda MX-5 continues this trend of effortless and reliable sports car ownership today, although we are yet to see how long it will last with the current trend of hybridization and electrification. Will the next MX-5 be a hybrid or electric? Hopefully, we’ll soon find out.
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About The Author
Michael De Kock (85 Articles Published)
Michael De Kock is passionate about cars and everything from avocados to particle accelerators. He has studied psychology and knows a little bit about fixing cars (old Land Rovers mostly). He also blogs and has a book, 125 Creative Writing Prompts for Petrolheads, available on Amazon. His philosophy in life: Stop the hate – Adopt a V8.