What are our favorite sporty coupes and what are their ratings? Check it out.
The sports coupe tradeoff is simple and well known: Give up some utility, and in return get some style and, hopefully, performance. To go along with the style, you usually get a better handling, more powerful, and sportier ride than a sedan. Throw sports cars into the mix and you have a long list of fun-to-drive cars that are also fun to be seen in. Which ones should you look at first? We've compiled our list of all coupes costing less than $50,000 (with a little fudging) that rank 4 stars or more in our ratings. In other words, these are the ones you should definitely have on your list.
By Keith Buglewicz Photo credit: Oliver Bentley, Ron Perry, Manufacturers
It's been said so many times that it's a cliché, but here it goes again: The Chevrolet Corvette is the best bang-for-the-buck value out there. Starting at less than $50,000, you get all the important things in your Corvette: 430 horsepower, six speeds, rear drive, sexy looks and enough power goodies to keep you busy. The price can add up quickly, but even the base model Chevrolet Corvette is a heck of a bargain.
Colin Chapman founded Lotus many years ago with the guiding principle that sports cars should be lightweight. "Add lightness," he said, and Lotus engineers continue to listen with cars like the 2008 Lotus Exige. Virtually devoid of creature comforts, the Lotus Exige is also devoid of weight, coming in at just more than 2,000 pounds. With plenty of power, stellar handling and eye-grabbing good looks, the Lotus Exige is a giant killer on the track.
We really, really like Audi's new A5 coupe. Essentially a two-door version of the Audi A4 sedan, it's been too long coming, but now that it's here...hoo boy. Excellent handling, mouth-watering looks, an elegant and classy interior and all-wheel drive make the 2008 Audi A5 a tough act to follow. We wish it had a little more power, and that the handling was a little sharper. What's that? The Audi S5 has both and costs just a little more than $50,000? Sign us up.
The Audi TT shares its underpinnings with the likes of the Volkswagen Rabbit. Yet despite the strange bedfellows approach, the Audi TT is a unique vehicle, one with distinctive looks, a fun-to-drive nature, and panache that the VW Rabbit can't hope to match. We love the detailing inside the Audi TT almost as much as we love just driving the car.
Despite holding the bottom rung on the BMW ladder, it's possible that the BMW 1 Series is as close to the classic BMW principle of sport coupes than anything else in the BMW lineup. Even the base 128i enthralled us with its power, poise, handling and overall feel, which reminded us in all the right ways of older generations of the BMW 3 Series. You don't pay as much for a BMW 128i, but the car you'll park in your driveway is as much a BMW as anything else the company has to offer.
While the BMW 1 Series makes us appreciate the company's past, the 3 Series Coupe is still one of the finest driver's cars on the road today. From 328i to 335i all the way to the M3 – which of course is well out of our price range – the BMW 3 Series delivers. It looks great, it handles incredibly well, and we're even willing to overlook the annoyance of BMW's iDrive system because the rest of the car is so enjoyable.
It's not just Dodge fans who have a reason to rejoice now that the Challenger is here. Anybody who loves good-looking, powerful and fun-to-drive cars should be excited. From the surprisingly good $22,000 base Dodge Challenger SE all the way up to the 425-horsepower Challenger SRT8, every Dodge Challenger has an offering for everyone, all of them come in less than $50,000, and there's not a clinker in the bunch.
Name a Japanese coupe with 271 horsepower, a slick six-speed manual transmission, excellent handling, good looks, a decent back seat, impeccable reliability and a price under $30,000. There's only one: The Honda Accord Coupe. Over the years, the Accord Coupe has evolved farther away from the Honda Accord sedan, and the current generation is the best expression of this yet. The Honda Accord Coupe shares only a design philosophy with the sedan, and is surprisingly fun to drive thanks to its powerful V-6 engine and sharp responses.
Look above: Note that we didn't just say "Honda Civic Si Coupe." While that car is certainly in the mix, the rest of the 2-doors in the Honda Civic Coupe line are just as noteworthy. With prices starting in the mid teens, there's a Civic coupe within reach of just about everybody. Don't worry about not getting the Si, as the standard DX, LX and EX models offer plenty of driving fun for those seeking it.
Infiniti has positioned itself as the sportier of the two top-tier Japanese luxury makes since its inception in 1989, a Japanese BMW compared to the more Mercedes-Benz-like Lexus. The Infiniti G37 coupe comes closest to BMW's fabled 3 Series coupes, with handling, features and arguably styling that meets or beats the Germans. The Infiniti G37 also costs considerably less, making it a compelling package all around.