Great British Sports Cars | Our Top 5 of the Modern Era

18th Jul 2023

By Kenny Longdon

Sports Cars

For those who love driving, a sports car is a fine way to make sure every drive is a proper event, rather than just a mundane task.

A car may be a form of getting from A to B, but for some, it is how you get from A to B that really matters, and a sports car is a great way to make sure it is as fun as possible when getting behind the wheel.

Ever since manufacturers started offering sports cars, Great British versions have always been popular. Therefore, we thought it made sense to put together a list of Great British Sports cars from the modern era. In no particular order, we take a look at notable models below.

Jaguar F-TYPE

Jaguar F-TYPE

As the spiritual successor to the iconic Jaguar e-type; arguably one of the greatest classic sports car of all time, the Jaguar F-TYPE had its work cut out. As a modern day e-type, the F-TYPE is a superb showcase of classic sports car ingredients, with modern technology, power, and presentation that pays perfect homage to iconic Jaguar sports cars of yesteryear.

Unveiled as a 2-seater sports car in 2012, it was joined by a coupé version in 2013. Engines were typically brutish with V6 and V8 lumps, giving the F-TYPE a terrific orchestral sound and epic performance, with 0 to 62mph coming up in as low as 3.5 seconds.

Versions are available with a driver-focused manual gearbox or a lightning quick automatic (with paddle-shift), whilst purist rear-wheel drive is also available, along with all-wheel drive in some models for added usability and grip.

With a silhouette encompassing gorgeous lines with proportions that hit perfectly, the F-TYPE still delivers the wow factor more than a decade after its initial launch. With sleek looks, a choice of exciting engines, epic performance and the luxury Jaguar is known for, the F-TYPE ticks all the boxes and is a fine example of a Great British sports car.

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Lotus Emira

Lotus Emira

'Simplify, then add lightness'. As quotes go, this one from Lotus founder Colin Chapman is perhaps one of the best descriptions of a sports car, so it was only right we included a Lotus or two in our list. And with the Lotus back catalogue of sports cars, lightness, and simplicity is key. The Emira though, is a little different.

It started a new chapter in the Lotus history, and looked to redefine the brand. It is not the lightest Lotus by quite a margin, but it now offers many essentials drivers are looking for.

Cars like the Elise and Exige were pretty spartan, especially in older models, whilst the Emira comes with digital screens for the infotainment and instrument cluster, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. The seats are much more supportive and the general interior vibe and build quality is much more impressive.

It was made to give cars like the Porsche Cayman something to think about. It may well have put on a couple of pounds compared to past Lotus models, but it delivers one of the best sports car experiences available.

Choose between a 3.5-litre supercharged V6, or a 2.0-litre 4-cylinder Mercedes-AMG derived engine, both ensuring 0 to 62mph occurs in a smudge over 4 seconds.

Aston Martin Vantage

Aston Martin Vantage

Like Jaguar, Aston Martin have a glorious history of stunning sports cars.

But perhaps the pick of the bunch is the Vantage. It acts as an the entry-level point to the Aston Martin range, but it is anything but entry-level.

Here we will focus on the model which ran from 2005 to 2018, which was available with a characterful V8 or with an encapsulating V12. The reason being it was more of a classic recipe in terms of a Great British sports car, whilst the new Vantage is arguably still a sports car, but rubs shoulders in the supercar league.

Sporting a long bonnet, with a sculptured rear end with thick hips, the Vantage has a fine silhouette and is similar in execution than the F-TYPE mentioned previously. It comes available with an automatic, however the manual box is the more sought-after transmission and gives the Vantage a proper sense of sports car drama.

GT8 and GT12 versions take the sports car experience to visceral levels, but if you want a sports car that can also be a great GT, the Vantage is a perfect choice. It also adds in typical Aston Martin luxury and a unique sense of occasion which other manufacturers simply cannot compete with.

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Lotus Elise/Exige

Lotus Trio

Produced from 1996 to 2021 (Elise) and 2000 to 2021 (Exige), the Elise and Exige are the textbook answer for many when they think of a Great British sports car.

Essentially, the Elise was the pure sports car of the pair, whilst the Exige was effectively a more hardcore and track-inspired version.

Unlike the Aston Martin and Jaguar, Elise and Exige use more modest engines. There are no V8s or V12s here. Usually sporting a 1.8-litre borrowed from a Toyota, the Exige got a V6 engine later in its production.

Put an Elise/Exige next to an Emira and you can see just how different the cars are, whilst still seeing the DNA. Like any car, the Elise and Exige evolved over time with greater comfort, features and performance, yet were still more stripped back than an Aston Martin, Jaguar, Porsche or BMW.

All in the quest for lightness, staying true to Colin Chapman's words, those who appreciate a Lotus do so for the joy of driving, and taking driving back to a simpler format.

The Elise and Exige are very much a car perfect for a Sunday cars and coffee run, or to make light work of a track day.


TVR Sagaris

Unlike the other manufacturers in our list, TVR is very different, and therefore we cannot just pick one car. This is because since 2013 the brand has been properly uncertain, with no new models being launched despite the company still existing under a consortium led by Les Edgar.

Despite being founded by Trevor Wilkinson in 1946 (TVR stemming from Trevor's name) the company has changed hands multiple times in its history.

Perhaps its most notable period of the 'modern' era was the 'Wheeler Era' from 1981 to 2004 which saw many of the brand's most iconic sports cars created, with the birth of the Griffith, Chimaera, Cerbera, Tuscan and T350.

Again, cars like the Griffith, or 'Griff' to enthusiasts, featured a long bonnet and a sculptured rear end, a trend seen with multiple cars on our list. It also had a V8 Rover engine for pure grunt. Again, staying true to sports car etiquette, the Griffith was rear-wheel drive.

Later cars followed suit whilst cars like the Tuscan and T350 got even more curvaceous and unique with 'flip paint', large 6-cylinder engines and general head turning looks, whilst offering a properly driver-focused and eventful driving experience.

The halo car of TVR however is perhaps the wild Sagaris (pictured), which came along in 2005, after Nicolai Smolenski bought TVR in 2004.

TVR is set to return in 2024, but after over a decade of not building sports cars, anything could happen.

Find your Great British sports car with Stratstone

As an official retailer for Aston Martin and Jaguar, we can offer the latest sports cars the brands have to offer, along with a superb choice of used examples too.

As for Lotus, we do have some in our used stock, so it may be worth keeping an eye out, whilst TVR are a very specialist car these days, and it is unlikely used versions come into our portfolio.

We have plenty of other sports cars available brand new, and used from other manufacturers too, via our multiple retailers.