Diverse and eclectic, our favourite coupes hit all sorts of different notes
The performance coupe genre is more diverse than ever, which makes bringing together a concise top ten a controversial exercise. With wildly different forms and experiences on offer, they’re near impossible to compare, and so the team have chosen the best coupes not on the purity of the driving experience or the explosiveness of their 0-62mph times, but simply on how well the cars achieve a complete and desirable package.
Our cross section of the coupe market represents a spread of different types of coupe. You’ll find cars with four-, six- and eight-cylinder engines, turbocharged, supercharged and naturally aspirated, front-mounted, mid-mounted and rear-mounted, plus a myriad of different characters.
Above all, these choices are great to drive, but in wonderfully different ways. From the tyre-shredding hooligans of Ford and BMW to the scalpel-sharp Alpine, with just about everything else in between, we should be in no doubt that we really are spoilt for choice when it comes to 2022’s crop of coupes.
Top ten best coupes to buy in 2022
Below is our pick of the ten best coupes on the market right now. Scroll down for our verdict on each car or click the links for the full reviews…
- BMW M2 CS
- Alpine A110
- Ford Mustang Mach 1
- Aston Martin Vantage
- Lexus LC 500
- Nissan GT-R
- BMW M4 Competition
- Porsche Cayman GTS 4.0
- Porsche 911 Turbo S
- Bentley Continental GT V8
Best coupes 2022
BMW M2 CS
Some observers – probably those with a few more miles on the clock – might see the M2 as a two-door saloon, but for everyone else there’s no doubt BMW’s latest M2 CS is quite simply one of the best coupes money can buy. It comes at a time when BMW, and more specifically its M division, has been under quite a bit of pressure from the media and enthusiasts over recent model launches. The M2 CS is not just a fantastic car, but a statement of intent that shows BMW hasn’t totally lost its way.
The M2 CS’s strong $100k price point might raise a few eyebrows, especially given its origins date back to the 2-series launched in 2014 (and by extension the original 1-series from 2004), yet the M2 doesn’t feel even a bit dated. Instead it combines the best bits of BMW M into one small, playful and, above all, deeply entertaining package. That it looks like a small German hot-rod and can happily be used daily thanks to some rear seats and a reasonable boot only enhances the appeal of the package. Long live the coupe (or two-door saloon).
There can scarcely have been a car that garnered so much attention from enthusiasts in the years leading up to its launch as the Alpine A110. The basics sounded too good to be true – a bespoke lightweight aluminium chassis, 1100kg weight, zesty turbocharged engine and styling that’s nostalgic without being a retro pastiche. Add to this the fact that it’s set up by Renault Sport’s suspension boffins and the only potential chink that stands out in its armour is the dual-clutch transmission.
In reality, things were even better than they appeared on paper, as what really sets the A110 apart from so many of its contemporaries is its quite astonishing ability to float down a road with unmatched levels of compliance and sophistication. This, combined with the intensity of its powertrain, steering and brakes makes it one of the best coupes in recent memory. A testament to the A110’s chassis brilliance is the fact that the quicker and supposedly harder A110S – a model we should theoretically prefer – only diminishes the brilliance of the original. Alpine got it right the first time.
Ford Mustang Mach 1
The Ford Mustang is an entertaining machine in standard 5-litre form, with plenty of power and a glorious sound coming from its naturally aspirated ‘Coyote’ V8. Like many of its predecessors though, it lacks dynamic finesse on Britain’s more challenging B-roads, with its ten-speed automatic transmission also far from ideal. The Mach 1, however, received some changes designed to tackle its downfalls.
Granted, you pay an additional $14,600 for what seems like a handful of minor tweaks, but they combine to create a machine far superior to the standard car. Power from the 5-litre Coyote is the same at 454bhp, although you do get a modified air intake and manifold and revised exhaust valving system. However, it’s the chassis updates that make the real difference.
Subframes are new front and rear, with a stiffer anti-roll bar, subframe bushes and springs providing more precision. Toe-links are uprated too, with the MagneRide dampers and electric power steering rack retuned to suit the new components. The result is a more sophisticated performance coupe, with more polish and precision than the standard 5.0.
Aston Martin Vantage
It’s been a long time in the making, but 11 years after the previous Vantage made its debut we have an all-new version to enjoy. It features a revised version of the DB11’s structure, and while most agreed its predecessor was stunningly beautiful, the new Vantage has a more challenging look.
There’s nothing wrong with the powertrain though – an Aston tweaked version of Mercedes-AMG’s 4-litre twin-turbo V8 that kicks out 503bhp and 505lb ft of torque and is good enough to claim a 3.6sec 0-62mph time. On smooth, dry roads the Vantage can use the power to its advantage, but on anything other than perfect surfaces or in damp or wet conditions it can struggle to put the power down.
On the whole the Vantage handles well, but when you really up the pace on less than perfect roads it can become a little ragged as you approach the limit. The car’s size can also count against it and with a relatively small glasshouse it can be hard to place the car on tighter roads. As it stands, the Vantage is an entertaining steer with a delicious soundtrack and a practical cabin. With a few chassis tweaks it could be an absolute belter.
Lexus LC 500
If a single car on sale today could be considered the most overlooked and underappreciated, it might well be the Lexus LC 500. Even with stunning looks, a healthy 470bhp and a chassis full of advanced tech, it just doesn’t seem to find the spotlight.
Lexus developed the LC Coupe to a set of metrics that most brands could no longer justify, with a bundle of bespoke engineering sending the cost-per-unit skywards. The front suspension, for instance, was designed from scratch purely to allow for the sinewy bodywork to slip only just above the 20-inch wheels. The engine is Toyota’s superb 2UE-GZR V8, but there’s no turbos, no hybrid drive, only a quite spectacular bark created by induction in front of you and exhaust behind. Its playful chassis, charismatic drivetrain, superb quality and concept car looks combine to create a car that drives even better than it looks. We just wish more people would take notice.
There’s a common misconception that the GT-R driving experience is similar to that of a computer game or simulator: easy, clinical and with no real talent required. Anyone who holds that view, quite clearly, has never driven a GT-R. Within the first few metres, after you hear the diffs chunter away, you know that driving a GT-R is going to be a very hands-on experience. And once you’ve applied full throttle on the exit of a corner, felt the tyres try to rip up the tarmac and the back end squirm, you know you’re going to need to be at the top of your game to get the best out of it.
The latest version of the base car has become slightly softer and quieter compared to the 2008 original as Nismos and Track Editions have started to occupy the more aggressive quarters of the GT-R range. But that brutal character is still apparent in every iteration of the big Japanese coupe.
BMW M4 Competition
Look beyond its design and the BMW M4 Competition is one of the best performance coupes money can buy. Its 1725kg weight figure is quite an increase over the F82’s 1570kg, but its new 3-litre S58 straight-six has plenty of power to make up for it. In rear-drive form, 503bhp and 479lb ft of torque help it reach 62mph from standstill in just 3.9sec.
Unlike early S55-equipped F82s, power is delivered in a manageable, linear fashion, making it a much more exploitable machine. The DCT of its predecessor was dropped in favour of an eight-speed torque-converter automatic, and although shifts will never be as swift, they’re more than quick enough for the job.
Despite its heft, the M4 Competition offers more precision and response than ever, with its impressive chassis stiffness immediately apparent. Grip is also monumental, making it confidence-inspiring and even more useable than its predecessor. At almost $102,500, it’s far from cheap, but the performance for the money makes it one of the best in its class.
Porsche 718 Cayman GTS 4.0
It’s tricky not to sound cynical when talking about the 718 Cayman GTS 4.0, as ostensibly, it appears to be simply the Cayman that everyone has been asking for since the 718’s controversial introduction. The package is certainly uncomplicated, Porsche fitting the same 4-litre flat-six to the updated GTS as found in the GT4, but with a subtle detune pegging power back to 394bhp. The same could be said of the chassis, with a standard Sports PASM damper package lowering the ride by 20mm, active engine mounts and a torque-vectoring limited-slip differential representing the beginning and end of the dynamic package.
So how does it drive, you ask? In short, superbly. Its succinct ability to flow with challenging road surfaces like the Alpine A110 does, yet support its body under lateral load is unmatched in anything for similar cash. The powertrain’s response, flexibility and character are magnificent, the brakes strong and reassuring. Then it’s all underpinned with a balance so cleanly communicated and trustworthy one wonders how they instilled the character of a dedicated old sheepdog into an inanimate machine.
Porsche 911 Turbo S
Ah, coupe or supercar, you ask? Well, the 911 Turbo has been answering that question since its origin, and so it still applies now. One difference this time around is that behind the supercar-beating performance, the new 992-generation 911 Turbo S has an extra layer of nuance to its package, almost as if Porsche’s GT Division got involved in the development (spoiler alert, it did).
It’s also by a large margin the most convincing 992 yet, one that seems to immediately improve on its predecessor in a subjective, and not just objective fashion.
Bentley Continental GT V8
OK, so this is the only ‘true’ GT in this little collection (the Lexus is way too good to be thrown in with that lot) but the Bentley Continental GT in its V8 form really does feel like the Continental we’ve yearned for since the model line appeared in 2003. The reason for this is, ironically, in its somewhat Germanic foundations, the GT sharing a platform and V8 engine with the Porsche Panamera.
While this sounds like a compromise, it’s worth remembering that the original Conti GT actually shared more with the Volkswagen Phaeton, and by extension a VW Touareg, than Bentley might care to admit, which makes the new GT’s proper front-engined, rear-drive base more suited to the notion of a Bentley GT than what’s gone before. The V8 is muted, yes, but it’s also more charismatic than the flagship W12 and contributes to the car’s new-found handling prowess. The GT does more than ever to engage its driver, all without losing the opulent (some might say over the top) ambiance inside and out.
This article originally appeared at evo.co.uk
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