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Sports Car vs Luxury Car

A white sports car and black luxury car in one photo.

Both sports cars and luxury cars are considered high-end vehicles. On the surface, there are a lot of similarities between them. However, the differences between these two are truly what make them great. 

In the simplest terms, sports cars are focused on speed and handling. Luxury cars are designed to offer a smooth and comfortable ride, and all the latest technology and comfort features. 

What is a Sports Car? 

You know a sports car when you see one, but have you ever considered what makes a sports car a sports car? It’s surprisingly difficult to define. 

Neither car manufacturers or insurance companies have an agreed-upon set of criteria for what makes a sports car a sports car, as opposed to another type of car. 

To make matters more confusing, other types of cars often include a sports model. Are these sports cars as well? 

The easiest way to understand what a sports car is, at least in modern terms, is to look at a few features that they should have. 

Related: Sports Car vs Supercar | Sports Car vs Sedan

Traditional Definition 

On a lovely summer day, a black sports automobile is seen in front of a landscape in northern Germany.

We have to get this out of the way first. Technically, sports cars have two seats. This is part of the original agreed-upon definition of a sports car. By this definition, your Mustang or Camero is not a sports car. 

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These days, these criteria isn’t used by consumers or vehicle manufacturers. It’s safe to assume that you aren’t strictly referring to two-seater cars when using the term. Let’s look at what a sports car really means today. 

Performance 

A sports car is designed for performance. This means you can expect it to accelerate faster than most cars, at least your average compact car or sedan. 

In addition to acceleration, it should be able to reach high speeds. Yes, legally, you are unlikely to need a vehicle that goes over 120 miles an hour. However, in my mind, a vehicle that doesn’t exceed this speed can’t be considered a sports car. 

Handling 

A couple in a vintage sports car traveling on a country road.

Handling is another area where sports cars should excel. There was a time when sports cars were always rear-wheel drive.

Today’s sports cars can be either rear-wheel drive, front-wheel drive, or all-wheel drive. What matters is that they handle well, particularly at higher speeds.  Transmission and Braking 

Gone are the days when you could only find a sports car in a manual transmission. These days, many sports cars are available in automatic. However, generally speaking, there will be a difference between a sports car transmission and other types. 

Sports cars are geared differently in many cases, which enables them to reach faster speeds. They may also have more gears than other types, although this has begun to change in recent years. 

Many automatic sports cars have a paddle shifter. This allows you to shift gears yourself, without a clutch, or let the car do it for you. 

Sports cars often have high-performance brakes as well. Since they are designed to reach higher speeds and accelerate quickly, high-performance brakes make sense. 

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What Makes a Luxury Car? 

A representation of the airport's business class services and the business class airport shuttle.

Sports cars are ambiguous, but luxury cars are clearly defined, right?

Luxury cars were once confined to certain luxury brands, like BMW and Mercedes. These days, cars from many manufacturers can be classified as luxury vehicles. 

Comfort and Amenities

One thing you can expect from any luxury car is a higher level of comfort than the average vehicle. Both the front and rear seats should be designed with comfort in mind. 

Most luxury cars go beyond heated seats and include massage functions as well. 

There’s more to comfort than the interior, however. Luxury cars have a suspension that’s designed to provide a smooth ride while still handling well. 

They are much quieter than other vehicles as well, placing a premium on soundproofing. They block more noise from the outside, offering a quieter ride. 

Speaking of sound, luxury cars are equipped with high-quality sound systems as well. 

Tech and Safety Features 

Cropped image of a woman driving a new automobile and turning on the hazards.

A luxury car will also offer the latest technology and safety features. Today’s vehicles offer an amazing array of features. However, you can expect luxury cars to offer features that aren’t available on other vehicles.

Luxury Sports Cars 

Luxury sports cars blur the lines between sports cars and luxury cars. They are more expensive than most sports cars and offer many of the benefits of both sports and luxury cars. 

The Chevrolet Corvette and the Porsche Cayman are a few examples of this type of car. If you want the speed and handling of a sports car with the comfort features of a luxury car, this is the best option.  

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Features of Sports Cars vs Luxury Cars 

3d illustration of Chevrolet Corvette driving on the road.

It’s easy to see many of the features and differences between sports cars and luxury cars by understanding what they consist of, but there’s a lot more to learn. 

Sports Car vs. Luxury Car Cost 

Surprisingly, there’s not a lot of difference in cost between sports cars and luxury cars.

Luxury cars generally have a higher price tag, but the difference is often smaller than you may expect. They typically fall into the same price ballpark. Both have affordable options, as well as very expensive options. 

You can find a low-end sports car for around $25,000 to $30,000. The 2022 Camero, for example, starts at just under $26,000. Of course, the higher trims have a higher price tag and higher performance. 

The 2022 ZL1 is the highest Camero trim available. It certainly qualifies as a sports car. The starting price for it is $64,000. 

Luxury cars usually start out at $40,000. Flagship vehicles from luxury brands are typically about $100,000. 

The Mercedes A-Class, for example, starts at $37,000. This is the same price as a mid-range sports car. Mercedes flagship S Class begins at $111,000. 

To sum it up, luxury cars are typically more expensive than sports cars. However, if you can afford a mid-level sports car, an entry-level luxury car isn’t out of reach. 

Cost of Operation 

Side view shot of a luxury car, driving on the road.

Luxury cars are usually more expensive to purchase. They are also more expensive to maintain. Sports cars will typically cost a bit more to operate day to day because they sacrifice some gas mileage for performance. 

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However, when it comes to repairs, a luxury vehicle is much more expensive to maintain. 

Reliability

Luxury cars used to be the epitome of reliability. You purchased a sports car with the understanding that it would require repairs in time. Today, they are fairly evenly matched. Luxury cars still beat out sports cars in reliability, but not by a wide margin. 

The most reliable vehicle brand today is Lexus, with Mazda and Toyota coming close behind. Infiniti and Buick get the next highest reliability ratings. 

Resale Value 

A generic concept automobile in 3D rendering in a studio setting.

Any vehicle will depreciate over time, except for rare or antique vehicles. However, resale values can vary greatly between vehicles.

Technically, luxury vehicles will have a higher resale value in most cases. However, they also have a higher sticker price. In percentage terms, most sports cars will have a higher resale than luxury cars. 

Size and Passengers

In general, sports cars are smaller than luxury cars. There are exceptions to this rule, but most sports cars are two-door vehicles. Most luxury cars are four-door vehicles. 

Sports cars are designed to be comfortable for a driver and one passenger. Luxury cars are designed to be comfortable for a driver and at least 3 passengers. 

Spend some time in the back of a Mustang, and then a BMW. You’ll notice a huge difference in terms of room as well as comfort. 

Personality Statement 

A sleek, futuristic black automobile with illumination.

Have you ever considered what your car says about you? Luxury cars reflect a stately personality. Their drivers are typically well educated, have a high income, and are driven to succeed. 

Sports car drivers, on the other hand, are drawn to adventure. They are risk takers and crave excitement. They aren’t afraid of taking chances.

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Statistically, the majority of sports car owners have a college degree. However, they have a lower income than luxury car owners. Both are symbols of status and power. Luxury cars represent classy understated power.

Sports cars are flashier, and more obviously powerful. In addition to considering which of these categories you fall into, consider the image you want to project.  

Do you want to be seen as classy and refined?  A luxury car will convey this. Do you want to be seen as confident and passionate? Perhaps a sports car will represent you better. 

Benefits of Sports Cars 

Front view of a red sports automobile at a beach at dusk.

There are plenty of benefits to owning a sports car. One of the biggest benefits is the fun of driving the car. Not only are they fast, but they handle great as well. 

Even if your morning commute consists of crawling through red lights, a sports car can make it more fun. If you can’t go fast, you’ll at least know that you could go fast if given the opportunity. 

Sports cars look good. It doesn’t matter if it’s rolling down the highway or parked, it will look great.  

They also offer you customization options that aren’t available in other cars. These include engines, transmissions, and body options that can make your vehicle more unique. 

Another benefit of driving a sports car is that it gets you noticed. Sports cars are head turners. If you enjoy a little attention when you are on the road, a sports car will be a joy. 

Benefits of Luxury Cars 

A photo of Audi RS7 Sportback cars at the international auto show highlighted.

Luxury cars offer plenty of space and a comfortable, refined ride. They also have lots of curb appeal. 

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If you have passengers, they will appreciate your vehicle. Luxury cars typically offer comfort for all passengers. 

They have great handling as well. You can’t expect them to handle like a sports car. Instead, a luxury car should provide a smooth ride that allows you to feel the road.  

Like a sports car, a luxury car will get you noticed. However, you’ll be thought of as stately, rather than aggressive or flashy. 

They offer the latest in technology. If you love tech features, you’ll find features on luxury vehicles that aren’t yet available on other vehicles. 

Luxury cars are generally safer than sports cars as well.  This is partly because they offer safety features like driver assistance. They are also larger than most sports cars, which makes them safer in the event of a crash. 

In fact, according to the NHTSA, luxury cars have some of the highest safety ratings.  

Which is Better? 

Which is better for you will depend on your priorities. If a comfortable ride is your number one concern, a luxury car is the right choice. If you value performance, you should choose a sports car. 

Personally, I love sports cars. They offer plenty of luxury along with excellent performance. They make driving more fun and exciting, and that’s worth the sacrifices that come along with them.