While this category is called best cheap coupes, the models comprising it—while certainly affordable —are not cheap. In other words, when you’re going about your day to day in one these cars, the quality of their fit and finish, as well as the driving experience they impart, will strongly suggest their price of entry was considerably more lofty than the actuality of the situation. Or, said differently, nab yourself one of these best cheap coupes and you won’t feel like you cheaped out. For the purposes of this exercise, we are classifying the best “cheap” coupes as a superior two-door model with a starting price of less than $25,000.
Many people are surprised to learn the MSRP of Chevrolet’s handsome pony car starts below $25,000, but it absolutely does. What’s more, you still get a very capable performance car for that money. Yes, you’ll do without one of the Camaro’s earth scorching V8 engines, but the Camaro’s 3.6-liter V6 makes a very robust 323 horsepower and 278 ft-lbs of torque. You also get to choose between a six-speed automatic, or a six-sped manual transmission for the rear drive sport Coupe. You’ll also get 18-inch alloy wheels, automatic headlights, and keyless entry. Pricing starts at $23,705.
The spunky little FIAT 500, has over the past few years grown into a product line unto itself. In fact, visit a Fiat dealer these days and you’ll find it stocked with a 500 Wagon, an electric 500, and even a crossover sport utility 500. Still, the one that brought the delightful little model back to the US a few years ago—the hatchback 500 coupe—remains a feisty little piece. What’s more, you can get the spicy little Fiat 500 Abarth high performance version and still come in under $25,000. The Fiat’s 1.4-liter four-cylinder engine feeds a front drive powertrain while ranging in output from 101 horsepower and 97 ft-lbs of torque to 160 horsepower and 170 ft-lbs of torque. Pricing starts at $16,845.
The sleek new Ford Mustang is another surprisingly affordable coupe. The first of America’s pony car lineup to come to market with a four-cylinder engine (way back in 1984) the all-new rear-drive Mustang once again packs a pressure cooker of an inline four-cylinder engine. Displacing 2.3-liters and supplemented by turbocharging, the powerplant delivers 310 horsepower and 320 ft-lbs of torque. Sadly, as noteworthy as it is, the engine pushes the price of the Mustang past our $25,000 best cheap coupes price cap just a bit. If it’s way too much, you can still always console yourself with the Mustang’s 300 horsepower 3.7-liter V6 with 280 ft-lbs. We think you’ll find it desirable too. Pricing starts at $23,800.
Honda Accord Coupe
The Honda Accord Coupe’s driving experience is considerably more exciting than its appearance would lead you to believe. Rather than some staid, boring coupe aimed at empty nesters with fond recollections of carting their progeny around in a Pilot, this Honda is a genuine wolf in sheep’s clothing, and arguably the stealthiest of the best cheap coupes available today. Two engines are offered; a 189-horsepower, 2.4-liter inline four with 182 ft-lbs of torque and a 278-horsepower 3.5-liter V6 with 252 ft-lbs. Crisp handling and brisk acceleration are the front-drive Honda’s stock in trade. Pricing starts at $30,775.
Honda Civic Coupe
Easily one of the most desirable of the best cheap coupes on the market, in typical Honda fashion, the Civic Coupe boasts a broad array of configurations—along with outstanding engineering and entertaining dynamics. For power, the standard Civic Coupe is offered with a 1.8-liter inline four-cylinder producing 143 horsepower and 129 ft-lbs of torque. The higher performance Civic Si Coupe gets a 205-horsepower, 2.0-liter four. Front-wheel drive and a five-speed manual transmission are standard, but a continuously variable transmission is also offered as an option for standard models. The Si is a six-speed manual proposition only. Pricing starts at $18,290.
Its good looks notwithstanding, Honda’s CR-Z is also the product of a company well known for technologically advanced, lightweight, fuel-efficient, fun-to-drive cars. When the CR-Z was introduced back in 2011, the little Honda was the first truly sporty hybrid two-seater. A taut suspension system, quick steering, and the first six-speed manual transmission ever fitted to a hybrid automobile defined the package. BTW, the CR-Z also gets 39 miles per gallon on the highway. Pricing starts at $20,145.
The sophistication, thoughtfulness and just plain goodness of the Hyundai Veloster is only hinted at by its fluidly graceful exterior treatment. Inside, the Hyundai offers a raft of standard features including comfort and convenience tech typically found only in cars costing thousands more. That the Veloster also delivers a nicely crafted and handsome interior treatment only serves to make it even more desirable. The front-wheel drive Hyundai Veloster offers two engines ranging from a 138-horsepower, 1.6-liter four-cylinder developing 123 ft.-lbs. of torque to a turbocharged version of the 1.6 with 201 horsepower and 195 ft-lbs.. Pricing starts at $18,000.
Kia Forte Koup
Kia’s Forte Koup has the benefit of looking considerably more expensive than it actually is. Further, the style leader of the best cheap coupes is fitted with an exceptionally generous array of standard features. These include touches like heated exterior mirrors, Bluetooth audio streaming and telephony, as well as full power accessories. Two engines are offered, ranging in power from 173 horsepower to 201. Transmission choices to complete the front-drive powertrain are a six-speed manual and a six-speed automatic. Pricing starts at $18,590.
MINI Cooper Coupe
Currently in its last year of production, no replacement is planned for the two-seat hardtop MINI Cooper Coupe. If you want one, this is definitely your last shot at getting a new one. Nicely equipped, features like automatic climate control, and smart windshield wipers are standard. LED foglights and daytime running lights are optional on base models but standard on upper trim levels. Power comes from a choice of engines ranging in output from 121 horsepower to 208. The front drive powertrain offers a six-speed manual as standard equipment—or a six-speed automatic as an option. Pricing starts at $22,000.
MINI Cooper Paceman
The super-sized two-door MINI Paceman delivers the highly vaunted road manners of a MINI along with optional all-wheel drive, crossover-ish ride height, and a bit more space than the standard MINI Copper hardtop hatchback coupe provides. It should be noted; the Paceman is one of the current MINI models yet to be updated to the latest generation platform upon which the 2015 Cooper Hardtop and Hardtop 4 Door currently ride. Power comes from engines ranging in output from 121 horsepower and 118 ft-lbs of torque to 208 horsepower and 192 ft-lbs of torque. Pricing starts at $23,550.
The smallest of the best cheap coupes; let’s say you want to be able to park easily, run as economically as possible, and bring two other people along from time to time in the smallest package possible. If this describes your scenario, then the cleverly packaged Scion iQ might well be the car for you. Trust us, coupes really don’t get too much smaller. Power comes from a 1.3-liter four-cylinder with 94 horsepower and 89 ft-lbs of torque routed to the front wheels through a continuously variable transmission. Pricing starts at $16,435.
Once Scion’s only coupe offering, the tC offers a lot of value for the money. Standard features include 18-inch alloy wheels, air-conditioning, cruise control, a full set of power accessories, and a panoramic sunroof. For 2015, a special edition tC Release 9.0 is offered with suspension enhancements and an orange and black paint scheme. Power comes from a 179-horsepower, 2.5-liter inline four-cylinder engine good for 172 ft-lbs of torque. A six-speed manual transmission feeding the front wheels is standard; a six-speed automatic is offered as an option. Pricing starts at $19,980.
Smart For Two
If the majority of your driving is done in a large metropolitan area, you might well be hard pressed to find a more suitable car than the Smart For Two. Designed specifically for this application, you can park the small coupe anywhere, squeeze through even the smallest holes in traffic, and limit your visits to gas stations considerably (completely if you go with the electric one). Power for the standard model comes from a 70-horsepower, 1.0-liter three-cylinder engine. A five-speed automated manual transmission feeds the rear wheels. Pricing starts at $13,270.
For 2015, the economical Volkswagen Beetle TDI's turbocharged diesel engine got a 10 horsepower bump. Further, a rearview camera was made standard on all except the base model. Available in a variety of trims, each configured to emphasize a different aspect of the Beetle’s nature, power comes from a choice of three turbocharged engines—a 170-horsepower 1.8-liter four, a 210-horsepower 2.0-liter four, or a 150-horsepower 2.0-liter diesel with 236 ft-lbs of torque. The 1.8T gets a five-speed manual or a six-speed automatic; the other two get a six-speed manual or a six-speed automated manual. Pricing starts at $20,695.