Sticking the engine in the middle of a car is considered to be the ideal packaging solution if sharp handling is your topmost priority. If interior or boot space is a concern, then you are better off with a traditional front-engined setup. Unsurprisingly, such an impractical and expensive layout has made the mid-engined car an expensive rarity, reserved for uncompromising sports cars that only care about one thing, speed.
Some more attainable mid-engined offerings have also popped up in recent years too, while they may not have mega-horsepower V8 and V12 engines, the beauty of a mid-engined car is its ability to deliver a great driving experience without having to resort merely to crushing straight-line acceleration.
Here we cover some of the best midship machines out there from those pricey exotics to more reasonably priced sports cars and finally a handful of offerings that can be found for not much more than a family hatchback.
Money is no object
For the man or woman about town who is simply after the best mid-engined sports car regardless of the cost, we have some great options for you.
At this rarefied level prices are sometimes dictated more by rarity and the badge on the bonnet than actual ability, so spending more isn’t always the answer.
Lamborghini Huracán Evo
The Huracan is one of the last naturally aspirated supercars out there, in 630 bhp Evo form it has become a multi-layered machine which offers the kind of driving experience that is hard to beat.
That is a good thing, considering that prices start at over £200,000, which puts it up against some serious rivals.
Ferrari 488 GTB
The benchmark in the mid-engined supercar segment has generally been a V8 Ferrari and the 661 bhp 488 GTB is still at the top of its game despite some stiff competition from rivals such as the McLaren 720S and that Huracan.
Yet thanks to its superlative engine and special editions like the 711 bhp Pista, it is still the one to beat. Prices range from £200,000 to £250,000.
The Senna is a track-honed race car that happens to be road legal. It is not the prettiest car out there but it sure is one of the very quickest.
Acceleration off the line is suitably ferocious thanks to its 789 bhp twin-turbo V8, but it is the highly advanced aerodynamics and suspension setup that define this car.
You will need to find a used one though as all 500 cars have been sold out despite each costing a hefty £750,000. Prepare to pay a lot more than that for a second-hand car though.
Does the Senna seem a bit low-rent? Will your friends laugh at you in your budget-priced 488 GTB?
Well fear not, the Bugatti Divo is here to solve all your problems. For the princely sum of £5,000,000 you can be one of only 40 people to own this Chiron-based 1,479 bhp missile.
Of course, as it goes with these things, if you are only considering buying one now, you are already too late.
Money is somewhat of an object
We can’t all be hedge fund managers, some of us have to be content with merely a high-paid banking job in the city. Never mind, there are a few cut-price sports cars and supercars still available to you.
The end of year bonus was not quite as big as you were expecting and now all thoughts of that 911 have gone out the window.
How about something for half the price that is even better to drive? The Alpine A110 may only have a 248 bhp 1.8-litre turbocharged engine but it weights next to nothing and at £52,000 is a veritable bargain amongst mid-engined sports cars.
Well not quite, a Cayman or Boxster is even cheaper, but the A110 is arguably even more exciting to drive.
Saving the environment and going fast are two tasks the i8 excels at, although not at the same time.
It is capable of all-electric driving for short distances which is great for sneaking home really late, it can also combine its petrol and electric power to provide a combined 362 bhp.
At just over £100,000 it competes against some very capable petrol-powered competition, but none offer quite the same combination of abilities as the i8.
The second-generation R8 has evolved into a proper junior-supercar.
Gone is the base V8 to be replaced by a 5.2-litre V10 that is essentially a detuned motor from the Huracan.
It may not be able to match its Lamborghini cousin in outright performance but with prices starting at £120,000 and the V10 Plus offering up 602 bhp, you are getting a whole lot more value for money.
The ‘entry-level’ 540C may be around £20,000 cheaper than the 570S but that sort of sum can easily be made up with a few basic options at this level.
The 562 bhp 570S also offers an additional 30 bhp over the cheaper car, which means it tops out at 204 mph instead of a shame-inducing 199 mph.
Money is a pretty big object
With Brexit looming, you may want to look at a few options that will leave some cash in the bank, just in case.
These next few mid-engined sportsters offer a lot for the money and you can always go the second-hand route for even greater savings.
Alfa Romeo 4C
The 240bhp Alfa 4C is all about the compromise. It is noisy, hard-riding and totally impractical for long trips.
What it does offer is the kind of exhilarating driving experience reserved for cars costing more than twice as much.
It may cost the same new as the Alpine A110 but they have been around for a while now and low-mileage used examples can be found for around £37,000.
The latest 718 Boxster and Cayman models are the best driving and handling ever. Even the base 290 bhp Cayman is a rapid car and at £43,000 is a veritable bargain too.
If you miss the sonorous flat-six soundtrack of the older cars then take a look at the earlier 275 bhp 2.7-litre 2016 models which can be found from £29,000.
Fancy something even more affordable, then the 987 generation models are a great buy and good ones can be found for as little as £10,000.
Lotus is all about lightweight sports cars, they have never built anything else.
The Elise is a masterclass example of how to do a small mid-engined sports car, it weighs less than a VW Up! but has 217 bhp at its disposal instead of 75.
At just under £50,000 it isn’t exactly cheap, but there are plenty of older Elise’s out there starting from £15,000 for the good ones.
The VX220 was actually based on a second-generation Elise and offered much the same experience at a lower price.
The Turbo variants tend to be the most sought-after but any good-condition VX220 is worth a look. They were built between 2000 and 2004 so these cars aren’t exactly new, but most tend to have been looked after and can be found from £8,500.
Values are unlikely to go much lower so these can be a savvy investment if you buy right.