Never Buy These Four-Cylinder Sports Cars Used

Never Buy These Four-Cylinder Sports Cars Used

Usually, when it comes to sports cars, enthusiasts tend to ignore anything smaller than a V6. Many still share the belief that the bigger the engine, the better the car is, even though there are several 4-cylinder cars that could leave a V8 in the dust. One thing going for the four-cylinder is that it’s a lot cheaper than a fancier sports car and for those who want the performance without the price they can be a great bargain.



The used market is seeing an uptick in interest for four-cylinder sports cars that still offer great performance and style without hitting the wallet too hard. However, one thing some four-cylinder sports cars share with their larger-displacement counterparts is the number of problems they can experience. From bad performance to over-the-hill to more serious issues, these are some four-cylinder sports cars to avoid buying used and a reminder of the shortcomings of the smaller engines.

8 2001 Toyota MR2 Spyder

The Toyota MR2 is something of a legend in JDM circles. Amazingly, models from the 1990s hold up today as great rides that can still work well. However, the 2001 version was rougher as the 1.8-liter four-cylinder gained 138 hp, which could be boosted to 200 with some cheap bolt-ons. It was a wild ride, capable of sending drivers out at terrific speeds.

The problem was that it was too wild with a major oversteering issue that soon led to its reputation as one of the most dangerous cars in the world. This model was one of the worst in that regard, with little in safety features as well as high oil consumption and a rattle in the engine. Some drivers just can’t handle this car, making it an outright dangerous buy.

Related: 10 Used Sports Cars Of The 2000s That Are Bad (And 11 We’d Buy Right Now)

7 2007 Honda S2000

Becoming more popular in the used markets in recent years, the Honda S2000 offers some terrific V6-level performance on the 2.4-liter VTEC four-cylinder with 240 hp—one of the best four-cylinder engines of its time. Being a Honda, its reliability is usually great, yet there can be problems with rust growing in if not properly maintained.

The 2007 model is probably the worst with issues of engines and the clutch firing into the wrong gear. There was also a recall over the brakes and transmission that affected several models. Combine this with the soaring price tags of these models, and despite being a great sports car, the S2000 is far from a greatvalue.

6 2007 Saturn Sky

The Saturn Sky was one of the unfortunate victims of the economic crunch of 2008 that hit the auto industry hard. It’s too bad as it could be great when new, a naturally-aspirated 2.4-liter 177-hp inline-4 combined with fine handling and good performance. The problems with the 2007 Sky can be tricky depending on the model as there were complaints about the airbags not working right and the cooling system being faulty.

It was also part of several recalls about airbags and the ignition switches and the frame not holding up. It goes to show why the Sky has never been revived.

5 1997 Honda Prelude

Like many cars of the late-90s, the Honda Prelude suffers from the fact so many of its parts are outdated that replacement/maintenance can be costly. Yet even without that, the Prelude can be a tricky buy. It was a good ride when new, the 2.2-liter 4-cylinder offering 217 hp and a 140-mph top speed.

However, issues popped up from the transmission to the clutch that robbed it of the fun. There were also five recalls involving the ignition switch and ball joints, which can be costly replacements. It was a fun ride but hasn’t held up over time.

Related: 8 Super-Fast Cars You Probably Didn’t Realize Had 4-Cylinder Engines

4 2005 Chevy Cobalt SS

If there’s a sports car that deserves the label “avoid like the plague,” it’s the 2005 Chevy Cobalt SS. It should have worked with the 2.0-liter L4 offering up to 205 hp for a good ride. But that can’t overcome the scores of problems going against it.

It has over a thousand complaints regarding its poor output, handling, cheap interiors, bad transmission, and practically anything that makes a sports car worthwhile. Bigger are the six recalls ranging from the power steering malfunctioning to ignition failure, and it’s amazing the Cobalt managed to make it more than a single model year.


3 1992 Geo Storm

The issue with the Geo Storm wasn’t that it was a bad car; it’s that it barely qualifies as a “sports” one despite its coupe design and GM’s marketing of the time. The 1.6-liter L4 could get a pitiful 95 hp and a top speed of 108 mph. SUVs of the time could have outrun this thing.

The design also seemed lacking, and while the handling was good, the suspension itself was awful. There wasn’t even an option for a turbocharger to boost it. The shame is some later models got better horsepower and handling, but the damage was done and the 1992 Geo Storm became a “sports” car that feels more like a ’90s sedan.

Related: 10 New Sports Cars With The Worst Fuel Economy

2 2007 Pontiac Solstice

The Pontiac Solstice is an underrated convertible that offers some terrific performance for those wanting a nice country ride. The 2.4-liter Ecotec four-cylinder engine can push 177 hp in the base version but is slow to rev up although zero to 60 in 5.5 seconds isn’t bad.

Yet, 2007 was a bad year for the Pontiac Solstice with numerous issues of the passenger airbags being disabled and the check lights flashing on and off for no reason. The model was part of the massive 2014 recall for ignition switch failures. The emissions control system also has problems with downgraded fluids, which can be an issue. Those were fixed in later models, but a circa-2007 Solstice isn’t worth the hassle.


1 2019 Fiat 124 Spider

The Fiat Spider never took off the way the company hoped for. It wasn’t a bad car and was actually pretty spiffy for a 4-cylinder ride. The 1.4-liter multiair L4 could produce about 160 hp, which pitted this convertible against the Miata.

However, the frame based on a Miata seemed lacking, and the 2019 model was hit by issues like electrical problems, rough suspension, and poor visibility. More important was a recall on the automatic transmission downshifting without warning and a later recall for the fuel pump. It’s sad these issues marred an otherwise pretty fun ride.

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