The most personal of automobiles, a coupe says you’re young (or young at heart), carefree, and probably childless. After all, anyone with children who’s dealing with a folding seat to get them in and out of the car on a regular basis is probably someone who enjoys considerable inconvenience, or hasn’t gotten around to trading their two-door for a minivan—yet. Seriously though, nothing lends itself better to the single lifestyle than a coupe. The good news is you don’t have to spend mega-money to get into one. Here’s a list of the 10 best compact coupes available today.
10 Best Compact Coupes: BMW 2 Series
Thanks to the recent realignment of nomenclatures within BMW’s model portfolio, the automobile formerly known as the BMW 1 Series coupe is now known as the BMW 2 Series coupe. Huge fun to drive—as every BMW should be—power comes from a choice of two engines; a 2.0-liter turbocharged inline four making 240 horsepower and 255 ft-lbs of torque, or a 3.0-liter inline six with 320 horsepower and 330 ft-lbs of torque. While both engines ship with an eight-speed automatic transmission, a six-speed manual is a no additional cost option for the rear-drive coupe. Pricing starts at $32,100.
10 Best Compact Coupes: Fiat 500
Technically a hatchback, albeit a two-door one, the feisty little Fiat 500 certainly qualifies as a coupe as well. Its youthful Italian attitude—complete with a mustachioed face —just screams carefree fun. The 500 is both economical (up to 31-city/40-hwy) and fun to drive; with a variety of engine configurations producing up to 160 horsepower for the 2,350-pound front-wheel driver. Transmission choices include a six-speed automatic and a five-speed manual. There’s an electric one too. Further, the Fiat 500 can be quite nicely equipped with upscale features like navigation, Bluetooth, and an upgraded audio system. Pricing starts at $16,445.
10 Best Compact Coupes: Honda Civic
Those two words carry so many implications; strong engineering, excellent reliability, good fit and finish, respectable fuel economy, high style, and broad versatility. If you’re more comfort and/or luxury oriented, the LX and EX Civic coupes will nicely fill the bill. If you love to drive, and enjoy the feel of a responsive car, the Civic Si coupe is likely what you’re looking for. With fuel economy as high 39 miles per gallon on the highway on the economy front, and up to 205 horsepower on the performance side, the Civic coupe enjoys wide appeal. Pricing starts at $18,190.
10 Best Compact Coupes: Honda Accord
Comfort, value, solid, dependable, desirable, and handsome are apt descriptors for Honda’s flagship coupe. Larger than its Civic sister, yet still reasonably categorized in the compact coupe range, the Honda Accord coupe is one exceptionally well-rounded automobile. In addition to reasonably entertaining performance, the Accord Coupe is capable of returning up to 34 miles per gallon on the highway. Offered with both four-cylinder and six-cylinder engines, the Accord Coupe can be a powerful driver’s oriented car if you want it to be, or a good-looking economical ride with style if you need it to be. Pricing starts at $23,625.
10 Best Compact Coupes: Hyundai Elantra Coupe
Hyundai’s Elantra set the economy car universe on its ear when the current generation model debuted with its graceful styling. Named to our list of the most beautiful cars of 2015, the Hyundai Elantra coupe beautifully combines style with economy to produce something rather unique in the marketplace—an exceptionally good-looking car that also happens to be affordable. The front-driver’s power comes from a 173-horsepower, 2.0-liter inline four-cylinder engine producing 154 ft-lbs of torque. A six-speed automatic transmission conducts thrust to the drive wheels. Standard equipment includes foglights, heated mirrors, heated front seats, and Bluetooth. Pricing starts at $19,600.
10 Best Compact Coupes: Hyundai Genesis Coupe
Looking for a righteous rear-drive sports coupe with a powerful engine, strong handling, and distinctive styling—but not too spendy? Time was, we’d have had to tell you good luck and send you on your way. The Hyundai Genesis Coupe changed that with its power output of up to 348 horsepower. Granted, fitting that V6 engine will push you mildly into the “spendy” category, but Hyundai’s 274-horsepower, 2.0-liter turbocharged four delivers lots of punch without snatching your wallet and playing Frisbee with it. A wealth of desirable standard features is also part of the deal. Pricing starts at $26,350.
10 Best Compact Coupes: Kia Forte Koup
With lines penned by the former lead designer at Audi, Kia’s Forte Koup looks considerably more expensive than it actually is. Further, it’s a Kia, so you can bet a wealth of standard features reside inside those tightly drawn lines to live up to the promise of the appearance of the car. Power comes from either a 173-horsepower, 2.0-liter four, or a 201-horsepower, turbocharged 1.6-liter four. You can choose between a six-speed manual and a six-speed automatic transmission for the front-wheel drive Kia. Standard features include keyless entry, foglights, a cooling glovebox, and cruise control. Pricing starts at $18,590.
10 Best Compact Coupes: MINI Cooper Hardtop
With its bulldog face and go-kart handling, the MINI Cooper Hardtop also revolutionized the economy car segment. An inexpensive car with the cachet of a premium model, nobody looks at a MINI and thinks “affordable”. People look at a MINI and think style. Granted, it is possible to option one into the “pricey” category, but if you’re judicious, you can get a nice MINI and a low payment too. The base Cooper Hardtop offers a 134-horsepower turbocharged three-cylinder engine with 162 ft-lbs of torque. A six-speed manual transmission is standard, a six-speed automatic is optional. Pricing starts at $20,450.
Photo Credit: Benjamin Hunting
10 Best Compact Coupes: Scion FRS/Subaru BRZ
All the models on this list are front-wheel drive, with the exception of three. OK, technically two, as the Scion and the Subaru are mechanically the same car. Co-developed by Toyota and Subaru, Scion’s FR-S and Subaru’s BRZ are the two most affordable rear-drive coupes you can buy. Period. Further, they are huge fun to drive—true sports cars actually—and they are arguably pretty good looking rides too. Power comes from Subaru’s 200-horsepower, 2.0-liter horizontally opposed four-cylinder engine producing 151 ft-lbs of torque. Pricing starts at $25,470 for the Scion and $25,695 for the slightly more luxurious Subaru.
Photo Credit: Benjamin Hunting
10 Best Compact Coupes: Scion iQ
Rounding out our list of compact coupes is a somewhat controversial pick—the Scion iQ. Here it should be noted, yes, since we’re being this generous, the Smart For Two would also qualify—but too many people complain about its transmission to number it among “the best”. With that said, the smallest of the 10 best compact coupes is Scion’s iQ. A feat of intelligent packaging, the Scion hosts all sorts of engineering innovations to get it down to size. That it can realistically transport three adults is quite remarkable. Scion claims four—but nope. Pricing starts at $16,435.