There was once a time when the definition of a sports car was fairly narrow: typically two doors at the very most, with some even claiming that anything with a fixed roof wasn’t a true ‘sports car’ in the traditional sense of the term. In our modern age, there are so many competent performance vehicles out there that it’s possible to apply the sports car label to a much wider range of body styles, drivetrain layouts, and design philosophies. Technology – and a more open mind when it comes to shopping for a new car – has set the modern vehicle buyer free.
We’ve put together a list of some of the most intriguing performance vehicles available for the current model year. Let’s take a quick look at our list of sports cars for 2013.
The 2013 Scion FR-S is a refreshing return to the idea that a fun-to-drive sports car doesn’t have to offer overwhelming horsepower in order to deliver thrills on both the street and the track. The Scion FR-S leverages a lightweight chassis in order to make the most of its 200 horsepower, 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine. Also capable of generating 151 lb-ft of torque, this unit’s boxer design allows it to be placed down low to further improve weight balance. A six-speed automatic transmission is available as an option, but the rear-wheel drive compact Scion coupe is best enjoyed with its standard six-speed manual gearbox.
The 2013 Subaru Impreza WRX STi is the quickest version of the rally-inspired compact car available. Don’t let the fact that the Subaru Impreza WRX STi is available in both hatchback and sedan editions fool you – the number of doors offered by this turbocharged tarmac terror has nothing to do with the level of performance it has to offer. The WRX STi maintains the brand’s trademark all-wheel drive system, but it also installs a stiff suspension, a more aggressive body kit, and perhaps most importantly, a forced-induction 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine. This motor produces an appreciable 305 horsepower and 290 lb-ft of torque, managed by a six-speed manual transmission, and the Impreza WRX STi can hit 60-mph from a standing start in just 4.5 seconds.
The 2013 Chevrolet Corvette has long been the ‘working person’s’ sports car, and that title has evolved into the ‘working person’s world-beater’ thanks to the introduction of trim levels like the Z06 which remain affordable while offering exotic levels of speed and power. With 430 horses on tap in the base model (which is available as either a coupe or a convertible) from 6.2-liter V-8, the Chevrolet Corvette’s available coupe-only Z06 edition might seem like a bit of overkill with its 7.0-liter, 505 horsepower eight-cylinder mill. Six-speed automatic and manual transmissions are available with the Corvette, as are 0-60-mph times of less than four seconds.
The 2013 Ford Focus ST illustrates just how far the sports car market has come. Based on a front-wheel drive economy hatchback, the Ford Focus ST has been gifted with a slew of high tech systems designed to allow it to overcome the handling deficit associated with applying too much power to the forward wheels. The Focus ST impresses with 252 ponies and 270 lb-ft of torque available from its turbocharged, 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine, and its six-speed manual transmission works together with an anti-torque steer system and the vehicle’s stability and traction control to make it a veritable rocket in a straight line. Handling-wise, the Focus ST is no slouch thanks to the careful attentions of Ford’s engineers.
The 2013 BMW Z4 is a two-seat roadster with a retractable hard top and it represents one of the more traditional sports cars on our list. The BMW Z4 starts out with a turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine that is good for 240 horsepower, but stepping up to the sDrive35i model nets buyers a 3.0-liter, turbocharged six-cylinder that delivers 300 horsepower and 300 lb-ft of torque. More fun is available via the sDrive35is model, which cranks out an additional 35 ponies and 32 lb-ft of twist from the same turbocharged six. A variety of transmissions – including a six-speed manual, an eight-speed automatic, and a seven-speed dual-clutch automated manual – are offered with the convertible.
The 2013 Porsche Boxster is another Euro roadster that has turned heads thanks to its complete redesign for the current model year. With a mid-engine layout it offers unique driving dynamics that some liken to the Porsche 911 but on a reduced scale. The Porsche Boxster comes with a standard 2.7-liter six-cylinder engine that generates 265 horsepower and 206 lb-ft of torque, while the Boxster S upgrades to a 3.4-liter six-cylinder that provides 315 horses and 266 lb-ft of torque. The latter model can hit 60-mph in less than five seconds, and each can be outfitted with either a six-speed manual transmission or the brand's PDK seven-speed dual-clutch automated manual unit (for even quicker gear changes).
The 2013 Cadillac CTS-V Coupe proves that it's possible to take a vehicle that is heavier than what one might expect for a sport car and still deliver startling performance. Thanks to the confluence of a well-designed chassis and GM's magnetic suspension system (which can automatically vary its response depending on road conditions and driving situations), the Cadillac CTS-V Coupe handles much better than its weight would suggest. The Coupe is aided and abetted in its sport car quest by a 6.2-liter supercharged V-8 engine that has been tapped to produce an astonishing 556 horsepower and 551 lb-ft of twist. The V is a veritable land rocket, sprinting to 60-mph in 4.2 seconds, and a six-speed manual and six-speed automatic transmission are available with the two-door luxury car.
The 2013 Hyundai Genesis Coupe looks new and drives new thanks to a re-engineering effort from the Korean brand that alters its styling and gives it a considerable boost in engine output. Both the vehicle's turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder mill and available 3.8-liter V-6 gain direct injection, with the former jumping to 274 horsepower and 275 lb-ft of torque and the latter offering 348 horsepower and 295 lb-ft of torque. A six-speed manual or eight-speed automatic transmission is offered with the rear-wheel drive compact coupe, and it can also be had in a stripped-down, track-ready version. Expect a 0-60-mph time in the low five second range with the V-6 model.
The 2013 Nissan 370Z can be thought of as the class-leading sports car that vehicles like the Genesis Coupe are attempting to ape in terms of their general layout and design. The Nissan 370Z carries on the proud Z car lineage that has helped Nissan carve out a reputation as a performance-oriented automaker. A 3.7-liter, 332 horsepower V-6 is at the heart of the two-seat coupe, and the 370Z's engine also generates 270 lb-ft of torque. A six-speed manual transmission comes with the car free of charge, while a seven-speed automatic can be had as an option. Both of these gearboxes can be paired with an auto rev-matching feature that blips the throttle when downshifting for extra smoothness. The Nissan can reach 60-mph in roughly 5.1 seconds.
The 2013 Mazda MX-5 Miata is one of the most successful roadsters ever built, and it represents a design philosophy that is guided by the desire to reduce mass wherever possible. Less of a tire-lighter and more of a momentum car, the Mazda MX-5 Miata (which can be had with either a soft or retractable hard top) is motivated by a 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine that puts down 167 horsepower and 140 lb-ft of torque. Although a six-speed automatic transmission is available, the five and six-speed manual gearboxes that are also featured with the car are a much better bet for extracting maximum fun from the rear-wheel drive platform.