Coupes with the Best Performance

US News

While coupes generally don’t have the most interior space or versatility, they do tend to offer a great driving experience. If you’re in the market for a new coupe and don’t want to skimp on performance, here’s what you need to know.

Acceleration

Zero-to-60 time is one of the most common measures that people use to judge a vehicle’s power and speed. It’s a good gauge, especially if you imagine a quick merge onto a busy highway. Hyundai says that its Genesis Coupe is capable of hitting 60 mph from a standstill in about 5.18 seconds, while Chevrolet says the base Corvette can hit the same speed in about 4.2 seconds.

Automotive test drivers also frequently mention quarter mile times when conducting performance tests. The quarter mile is the most common length of a drag strip and gives reviewers a good gauge as to how a vehicle would fare against others in a head-to-head drag race.

When you evaluate coupes, 0-to-60 and quarter mile times will give you an excellent idea of how models compare in terms of acceleration. However, a coupe’s ability to accelerate isn’t the sole measure of performance. A coupe that exhibits good, well-rounded performance should be able to stop and handle effectively as well.

Handling

While enthusiasts love coupes that can accelerate quickly, overwhelming power can get you into trouble if the car’s suspension can’t handle what the engine is putting down. Manufacturers and the automotive press often test handling ability in g’s (gravitational force) by using a skidpad.

Skidpad tests are conducted on a large area of flat pavement where the car can be driven in a circle with a specific radius. While driven, the car’s speed is slowly increased until the outside tires start to slip, at which point going faster would cause the car to leave the path of the circle.

The faster the vehicle can go without losing grip, the higher the g rating. It implies a degree of safety since vehicles with higher skidpad ratings are less likely to careen out of control from a sudden change in direction.

Braking

If you’re looking for a coupe that has impressive acceleration and can handle twisty, winding roads, good brakes are just as important as how well it accelerates. Performance-oriented coupes that pile on speed also need strong brakes.

Muscle cars, which are getting increasingly more powerful (and at the same time more fuel-efficient) need bigger and better brakes to help them slow down and stop. The Ford Mustang GT, for example, is available with larger performance brakes that increase stopping power.

Safety

If you’re on the prowl for a coupe that offers stellar performance, make sure to consider safety. Check for crash test ratings to see how the coupes you’re shopping for fared in crash tests performed by the federal government and the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS).

The federal government’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) provides five-star safety ratings, with the maximum of five stars being indicative of the best score. Vehicles are scored in frontal and side crash tests, as well as rollover risk tests, and then given an overall rating.

The IIHS rates vehicles on a scale from Poor to Good in front- and side-impact crash tests, roof strength tests and rear crash tests. Additionally, the IIHS awards a vehicle with Top Safety Pick status if it achieves a top score of Good in all categories.

The odds of finding a coupe with safety ratings can be slim since the IIHS and NHSTA test high-volume vehicles more often than coupe or convertible models. If you can’t find safety ratings for coupe models you’re researching, compare safety scores of the sedan models that interest you if the coupe you’re considering is based on a sedan. Also be on the lookout for coupes equipped with safety equipment like anti-lock brakes and traction control. These features, along with electronic stability control, help you regain control of your vehicle if you enter a skid, which is great not only when you’re rocketing around a track, but also when you encounter less-than-perfect road conditions.

Make / Model

Price

Engine / Drivetrain

Horsepower / Torque

Hyundai Genesis Coupe 3.8 R-Spec

$28,750

3.8L V6/RWD

348/295

Ford Mustang GT

$30,750

5.0L V8/RWD

420/390

Nissan 370Z

$33,120

3.7L V6/RWD

332/270

Chevrolet Corvette

$49,600

6.2L V8/RWD

430/424

Audi S5

$50,900

Turbocharged 3.0L V6/AWD

333/325

Porsche 911 Carrera

$84,300

3.8L Flat-6/RWD

350/287

Nissan GT-R

$96,820

3.8L Twin-Turbo V6/AWD

545/463

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