For spirited drives or cruising, these reliable coupes, sedans, and roadsters are good choices!
Ready to change your ride for a cool Sports or a Convertible? Spring is almost here, and you can buy from starting at $10,00.
These cars also come in convertibles, perfect for the upcoming Spring weather in the Bay Area. Here’s best ideas from ‘Consumer Reports’.
$10,000 to $15,000
Mazda MX-5 Miata 2012
Scion FR-S 2013
With the FR-S, Toyota hit the sweet spot for driving enthusiasts. Originally launched under the Scion brand, this exhilarating-to-drive sports coupe also happens to be affordable and economical at the pump. Developed with Subaru, the main differences between the FR-S and BRZ are nuances in design, exhaust notes, and suspension tuning. The rear-wheel-drive coup features a 205-hp, 2.0-liter four-cylinder teamed with a choice of a six-speed manual or six-speed automatic transmission. Its mere 2,800-pound curb weight and optimal weight distribution give it agile handling and balance at its limits. In corners, the car turns in promptly with almost no body lean. The steering is well-weighted, with decent feedback.
Subaru BRZ 2013
Subaru’s first rear-wheel-drive sports car was developed with Toyota. (The Scion FR-S is essentially the same car.) It features a 200-hp, 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine, with a choice of six-speed manual or automatic transmissions. Handling is super responsive, with impressive agility. In corners, the BRZ turns in promptly, with almost no body lean. The steering is quick and well-weighted, with decent feedback. Inside, the cabin is relatively plain, with well-bolstered front sport seats. But the stiff ride and elevated noise can be taxing. The vestigial rear seats are best suited for cargo.
$15,000 to $20,000
Audi A5 2014-2015
The exceptionally handsome Audi A5 coupes and convertibles have quiet and luxurious cabins with accommodations for four. Although the rear seat is snug, it’s one of the best in any convertible. The A5 has agile handling and a taut but compliant suspension. The A5 of this era offered a turbocharged four-cylinder that delivers ample power but sounds raspy. It’s paired with a super-smooth eight-speed automatic. The convertible has a shudder-free body structure and is almost devoid of wind buffeting. What’s more, the well-insulated soft top can be operated while driving at low speeds. The S5 high-performance version uses a supercharged V6 with a seven-speed automated manual transmission.
Mazda MX-5 Miata 2015-2016
In this price range, you can get the first year of the fourth-generation Miata or the final year of the third-generation. Either way, you’ll be driving a highly enjoyable, lightweight, rear-wheel-drive roadster. The 2016 Miata gets the most from its 155-hp, 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine, quickly scooting along while returning a thrifty 34 mpg overall. The delightfully accurate six-speed manual shifter is a joy; we’d skip the optional automatic, though it works fine. Quick and precise steering delivers sublime back-road handling, even though some body roll is noticeable. High levels of noise, thin and unsupportive seats, and a stiff ride all grow fatiguing during highway travel.
The 2015 model is nearly as quick and handles just as well. It’s a bit more refined than its successor, scoring a few points better in CR’s ride, noise, comfort, and driving position evaluations. It’s easier to get in and out of, and its controls are easier to use. One big difference is fuel economy: It got 28 mpg overall, partly because it weighs 275 pounds more than the 2016 model.
Both model years get stellar marks for reliability and owner satisfaction.
Another to Consider
$20,000 to $25,000
BMW 2 Series 2016
The small 2 Series coupe and convertible has the razor-sharp handling and sense of immediacy that BMWs are known for. The 228i comes with a 240-hp 2.0-liter four-cylinder while the uplevel M235i we tested has a terrific 320-hp, 3.0-liter turbo six-cylinder. Transmission choices are a six-speed manual or eight-speed automatic. The excellent front seats are surrounded with ample space, but the rear seats are cramped. Interior appointments are first-rate, but the iDrive unified control system remains a bit of a pain to learn and use. A sportier, more powerful M2 version arrived in 2016.
BMW 4 Series 2015-2016
The 4 Series coupe and convertible pack in the style, luxury, and exclusivity. This plush and comfortable line sits lower and is wider than its 3 Series sedan brethren. Like its four-door sibling, it’s agile, steady, and well-balanced, even when pushed hard. And it delivers a very satisfying and balanced overall driving experience. Look for one with the Driver Assistance package, which includes a backup camera. Driving enthusiasts might prefer to keep things simple, going with a 240-hp, 2.0-liter turbo four-cylinder with the manual transmission and the Sports package.