The Autobytel 2013 Sports Car of the Year is another category that saw more than a few surprise entries from brands not typically associated with building models in the traditional mold of a sports car. Surging excitement surrounding a pair of Japanese twins and the introduction of a high performance hatchback with a European background nearly saw the Sports Car of the Year award go the same direction as our nod for 2013's best Compact/Coupe, but a strong latecomer from Germany swooped in to carry the day when the final votes were tallied.
Read on to learn about the four finalists for Autobytel 2013 Sports Car of the Year.
The 2013 Porsche Boxster S addresses almost everything that was lacking about the previous-generation of the roadster (which frankly, wasn't all that much), while simultaneously dialing its chassis and power plant up to 11. The Porsche Boxster S offers the ultimate in compact open-top performance and finally comes with the kind of styling and interior refinement that will satisfy longtime Porsche fans. The most sporting version of the two-seat convertible, the Boxster S features a 3.4-liter, 315 horsepower six-cylinder engine and the choice between either a six-speed manual transmission or Porsche's PDK seven-speed dual-clutch automated manual gearbox.
The Japanese twins who won our Compact/Coupe hardware, the 2013 Subaru BRZ and the 2013 Scion FR-S, were also heavy favorites in the Sports Car segment as well. The BRZ and the FR-S can claim a pure and unfettered driving experience, driven home by a high-revving 200 horsepower four-cylinder engine and a lightweight design that prizes responsiveness and road feedback. Not designed for straight-line speed, both the Subaru the Scion are best described as driver's cars in an era where horsepower and tire-smoking antics have increasingly become the norm, and their rear-wheel drive layout and affordable price points are further anomalies amongst the other models on this list.
Bringing over a European-tuned compact performance icon was a gamble for Ford, but it's one that appears to have paid off given the ability of the 2013 Ford Focus ST to place not just as a finalist in the Sports Car category, but also in the Compact/Coupe category. Although its front-wheel drive, hatchback design might have some doubting its sporty character, the vehicle's 252 horsepower, 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine (which also generates 270 lb-ft of torque), trick electronic nannies, and blazing acceleration make it a credible, fun-to-drive entry. 32-mpg on the highway also gives the Focus ST status as the most frugal member of our group of Sports Car finalists.
The editorial team of Autobytel has chosen the previous vehicles as the best of what we have seen in the category for 2013, and while there are many others in this class that probably deserve some kudos as well, we'd love to hear which you would choose for yourself. Let us know on the Autobytel Twitter or the Autobytel Facebook page.
2013 Scion FR-S and Subaru BRZ
2013 Volkswagen Beetle Convertible
2013 Ford Fusion
2013 Cadillac ATS
2013 Jeep Wrangler
2013 Mercedes-Benz GL-Class
2013 Hyundai Santa Fe Sport
2013 Porsche Boxster S
2013 Ford C-Max Hybrid
2013 RAM 1500
2013 Mazda MAZDA5