Hyundai Genesis Coupe 2.0T R-Spec
Its no M3, Camaro, ‘Vette or Mustang. But this Korean coupe costs almost half as much. Yet that doesn’t mean it’s not worthy of a test-drive from enthusiasts. Yes. There’s a more powerful six-cylinder version, but drivers will want to stick with the Genesis Coupe 2.0T’s blown-four motor in the $28,799 R-Spec model.
The Hyundai’s 274 hp and 275 lbs.-ft. 2.0 L turbo-four and six-speed manual won’t blow you away in a straight-line. Zero to 100 km/h is a relatively leisurely 6.5 seconds. However, R-Spec add-ons like Brembo brakes, firmer suspension, limited-slip differential, and 19-inch wheels with summer performance rubber, creates a blank piece of paper that’s crying out for some aftermarket attention.
Mazda MX-5 SV
Lightweight British roadsters from the early 1960s may have inspired it, but over a half-century later, the Mazda two-seater is the closest thing to bottled happiness on four wheels. And the driver-oriented $33,995 SV version is my pick for purists.
A six-speed manual gearbox mated to the naturally aspirated 2.0 L straight-four with 167 hp and 140 lbs.-ft. can scoot the roadster to 100 km/h in only 7.5 seconds. But the MX-5 SV’s relatively light weight (1,182 kg) means it leaps into corners. Its chassis is stiff and wonderfully balanced. Even with low-profile rubber, its ride quality is decent. Plus the Mazda’s surgical precision from its steering and communication from its chassis make it a joy to drive, even if just around the block.
Nissan 370Z Coupe
Enthusiasts don’t have to spend big bucks to get world-class performance with Nissan’s latest Z sports car. It’s a pure sports car, closely mimicking the 1969 original’s spirit. Even with the $4,000 Sport Package (upgraded brakes, wheels and tires; SynchroRev Match manual transmission; aero body kit) a properly-equipped 370 Coupe is only $44,978.
The Zed’s naturally aspirated 3.7 L V6 makes 332 hp and 270 lbs.-ft. 0-100 km/h takes only 5.3 seconds. Inside, the Nissan you sit suitably low. The view forward is all bulging hood. And Nissan has upgraded this version with more leather, soft-touch plastics and better fit and finish. On the road, the Z’s steering offers excellent on-centre feel and feedback; turn-in is crisp and responsive, while its handling always feels nicely balanced.
Porsche Boxster S
If enthusiasts conveniently forget about the SUVs and sedans in Porsche’s lineup, we’re left with the type of vehicles that made the brand: sports cars. And the $69,500 Boxster S is the first of three such vehicles to make my list.
Like the Cayman R and 911 Carrera below, the new-this-year Boxster S roadster utilizes a naturally aspirated 3.4 L flat-six. Here it makes 315 hp and 265 lbs.-ft. Matched to a six-speed manual, it goes from rest to 100 km/h in 5.1 seconds. The mid-chassis placement of the Boxster’s engine defines its overwhelming handling characteristic — balanced. With a near-ideal 46:54 front-to-rear weight distribution, there are less centrifugal actions tugging on your intentions when connecting apexes.