Two-door cars are interesting vehicles. Often seen as little more than fast, sports cars, many people overlook the surprising value that many of these coupes offer to go along with their impressive performance. The fun thing about coupes is that they all come in different shapes and sizes ranging from the Smart fortwo up to the Nissan GT-R, and like these two examples, there is also quite a broad range when it comes to their pricing. Taking styling and performance into consideration, we compiled a list of our Top 10 Sporty Coupes for 2010, but to add more of a challenge, we decided to target only models that have a starting MSRP that is less than $23,000. With the average price of a new car in 2009 hovering just over $28,000, this would leave the opportunity to add many optional features and equipment and stay under this presumable threshold of affordability. To be fair, and to make the rating easier, the cars are listed by their base MSRP and do not include applicable destination and handling charges.
10) 2010 Mazda MX-5 Miata | Starting MSRP: $22,810
Regarded as one of the top enthusiast cars currently on the market, the Mazda Miata has made a name for itself as small and sporty car with loads of value. As if the suspension tuning, rear-wheel drive layout and go-kart-like size aren't enough to make it a surprisingly fun car, the 2010 Mazda MX-5 Miata has a starting MSRP of $22,810. Although the Mazda MX-5 Miata just barely sneaks under the $23,000 mark, it does stand as the second least expensive convertible on the market with only the Smart fortwo cabriolet having a lower starting price.
9) 2010 Dodge Challenger | Starting MSRP: $22,735
Dodge took retro designs to an all-new level when it launched the Dodge Challenger back in 2008. With styling reminiscent of classic muscle cars, the Dodge Challenger is the largest coupe on this list, but it still offers notable performance and handling. While its main rivals, the Mustang and Camaro, are both four-passenger coupes, the bigger Challenger fits an extra seat into the rear bench seat. From a design standpoint, the styling of the 2010 Dodge Challenger changes little between the SE and SRT8 trim levels, but the base model is definitely more affordable with a starting MSRP of $22,735.
8) 2010 Chevrolet Camaro | Starting MSRP: $22,680
After what seemed like an eternity of waiting for the revival of the Chevy Camaro, the muscle car has finally re-entered production following its cancellation back in 2002. Even though the new Camaro delivers surprising performance out of its $22,680 starting price, it still runs almost $2,000 more than a base model of its main rival, the Ford Mustang. Despite this disparity in prices, the Chevy Camaro managed to edge out the Mustang (and the Challenger) in terms of sales due in large part to its starring role in the box office success of Transformers 2: Revenge of the Fallen.
7) 2010 Nissan Altima Coupe | Starting MSRP: $22,440
The Nissan Altima is often regarded as an economy-minded small family sedan, but in coupe form, the Altima brings out some of Nissan's sporty heritage that is displayed in cars such as the Maxima, 370Z and GT-R. The Nissan Altima has been a proven sedan since it was introduced in 1993, but the Altima Coupe joined the lineup in 2008. In its base form, the Nissan Altima Coupe 2.5 S comes with an inline four-cylinder engine that balances performance and fuel economy, and it has a starting MSRP of $22,440.
6) 2010 Honda Civic Coupe Si | Starting MSRP: $22,055
Technically speaking, the Honda Civic Coupe is the lowest price coupe among this list of contenders with its base price of $15,455, but when it comes to sport coupes, the Si model is an obvious choice. Introduced originally as a hatchback in 1987, the Civic Si has grown from a hot hatch to a coupe and in its recent body style is also available as a sedan. Not only does the 2010 Honda Civic Si Coupe look the part of a sports coupe, but its 197-horsepower engine and sport-tuned suspension back up its flashy looks while the $22,055 starting price puts the Si Coupe around the middle part of this pack.
5) 2010 Hyundai Genesis Coupe | Starting MSRP: $22,000
Hyundai used the Genesis nameplate to go toe-to-toe with some of the most established luxury sedans on the market last year and in 2010 used the same name to take on the wide variety of sport coupes. As a new model for 2010, the rear-wheel drive Hyundai Genesis Coupe comes standard with an impressive sport-tuned suspension and a turbocharged 2.0-liter inline-4 that produces a generous 210 horsepower. The 2010 Hyundai Genesis Coupe easily competes with sports coupes in the $30,000 range, but the base model coupe has a starting price of just $22,000.
4) 2010 Ford Mustang | Starting MSRP: $20,995
To keep up with the all-new Camaro and Challenger, the Ford Mustang was redesigned for 2010 with even more muscle car styling. Although the Mustang is available in high-performance models all the way up to the Shelby GT500 lineup, the 2010 Ford Mustang packs plenty of value and performance in its base model with a decent-performing V-6 and an affordable price tag of $20,995. Adding to the lure of the Ford Mustang, the 2011 model will be adding even more performance and fuel economy thanks to the use of Ford's 3.7-liter V-6 and probably won't differ too much in terms of starting price.
3) 2010 MINI Cooper | Starting MSRP: $18,800
The MINI Cooper may be bending the rules a little bit for what defines a coupe, but the retro-designed car is among the best on this list when it comes to the fun-to-drive factor. Now owned by BMW, the MINI Cooper features the sporty engineering of its parent company to include peppy acceleration, nimble handling and surprising fuel economy. With its classic styling reminiscent of the iconic British subcompact, the 2010 MINI Cooper has a starting price of $18,800, but stepping up to the 172-horsepowr MINI Cooper S adds even more performance while remaining below the $23,000 threshold with a starting price of $22,300.
2) 2010 Scion tC | Starting MSRP: $17,000
Toyota's Scion division may be best known for the boxy xB hatchback, but it also offers our second most affordable sports coupe for 2010, the Scion tC. Even though the Scion tC may be one of the more underpowered coupes of this bunch, it does offer one of the most well-equipped interiors of the group thanks to Scion's monospec trim level packaging. With a host of standard features and equipment that include a panorama moonroof, Pioneer audio system and cruise control, the 2010 Scion tC has a base price of just $17,000.
1) 2010 Kia Forte Koup | Starting MSRP: $16,595
As a testament to the true sporty nature of the all-new Kia Forte Koup, Kia recently debuted a race version of its first-ever coupe at the 2010 Grand-Am KONI Challenge Series at the Daytona International Speedway. Topping our list for affordable sports coupes, the 2010 Kia Forte Koup has a starting price of $16,595 in base form, but without breaking the bank too much more, and staying well below $23,000, the Kia Forte Koup SX offers a more powerful engine, a sport-tuned suspension and a more aggressive styling for $17,695.
Just missed the cut:
5) 2010 Nissan 370Z | Starting MSRP: $29,990
While the Altima Coupe is a sporty coupe with an affordable price, Nissan also offers one of the most iconic coupes on the market in the 2010 Nissan 370Z. Though the latest Z car is hands down one of the best sports coupes on the market, the peppy two-seater has a much steeper base price of $29,990.
4) 2010 BMW 128i | Starting MSRP: $29,000
When it comes to BMW's broad range of cars, it is instantly obvious that the company offers a multitude of fun and sporty coupes, although most of them are a little too rich for our blood. The 2010 BMW 128i is a fun and sporty coupe with a $29,000 starting price, while stepping up to the turbocharged 335i model or the convertible results in starting MSRPs that quickly approach $40,000.
3) 2010 Mazda RX-8 | Starting MSRP: $26,495
Before the term 'four-door coupe' became a popular design language for Volkswagen, Porsche and Mercedes-Benz, the Mazda RX-8 technically offered four doors in a coupe design although the rear doors are just to help make the rear seats more accessible. Between the lightweight rotary engine and the sporty looks, the 2010 Mazda RX-8 is an excellent sports coupe, but its $26,495 starting price may put it outside of most shoppers' budgets.
2) 2010 Chevrolet Cobalt SS | Starting MSRP: $24,535
The Chevrolet Cobalt Coupe is generally seen as an economy car, but the Cobalt SS is a genuine sports coupe with its turbocharged 260 horsepower inline-4. While the base Cobalt Coupe has a starting price well below the $23,000 threshold, the sport-tuned 2010 Chevrolet Cobalt SS has a higher starting price of $24,535.
1) 2010 Volvo C30 | Starting MSRP: $24,100
Like the MINI Cooper, the Volvo C30 is definitely considered a hatchback rather than a true coupe, but its sporty looks and two-door layout made it an easy pick for this list. Unfortunately, with a starting price of $24,100, the 2010 Volvo C30 is just a little too pricey for us.