There’s a certain allure to a car with two doors. It says I’m free of encumbrances, my responsibilities are few, I can afford to have something just for me, and most of all I love to have fun. Why? Because when it comes to practicality, coupes have a tendency to come up short. On the other hand, most of the best coupes under $30,000 handle brilliantly, many have more power than they really need, and they are attractively styled. While a Coupe may imply you have yet to grow up, it makes you very glad you have.
If the 2016 Chevrolet Camaro were human, it’d be a grandparent, because the sporty coupe can trace its roots back to the very beginnings of the pony car era. Developed specifically as a response to the extraordinary success of the Ford Mustang, the Camaro is one of the most recognizable American cars ever made—so, of course, it’s also one of the best coupes under $30,000. The all-new 2016 model gets a revised suspension system to improve its ride quality while still delivering razor-sharp handling. And, for the first time ever, the Camaro can be had with a four-cylinder engine. Pricing starts at $25,700.
A genuine legend, the Challenger, is one of America’s most iconic models, thanks to a little movie called Vanishing Point. While its primary rivals have both been treated to makeovers recently, Challenger stands in good stead nonetheless. You see, while it costs considerably more than our $30,000 ceiling, Dodge's 707-horsepower Challenger Hellcat halo is a definite advantage in the marketing wars. Ultimate bragging rights duly secured, the Dodge coupe can then flaunt the other models in its lineup—all of which are remarkably powerful and blessed with a tremendous amount of agility. Pricing starts at $26,995.
One of the best selling brands in Europe disappeared from American shores for some 29 years. When it returned, the marque bet its fortunes on the spunky little Fiat 500 hatchback coupe. Small in size, but huge in its own eyes, the Fiat 500 offers a great deal of style, strong fuel economy, remarkable agility, and is an outstanding city car. If performance is your thing, the screaming little Fiat 500 Abarth is a loose interpretation of its Ferrari cousins. Seriously. The statement is not as far-fetched as it sounds. Check one out, few cars offer as much fun for so little money. Easily ranked among the best coupes under $30,000, 2016 FIAT 500 pricing starts at $16,945.
Here’s a car so iconic, an entire segment of the automotive market was named for it. Yes, in case you didn’t know, the pony car genre owes its existence to the Ford Mustang, which is also one of the best two-door coupes under $30,000. An all-new Mustang bowed for the 2015 model year with the long-awaited independent rear suspension system, as well as a new 2.3-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine. The 310-horsepower turbocharged powerplant firmly points the way to the future of America’s favorite pony car. For 2016, Mustang pricing starts at $23,895.
Honda Accord Coupe
OK, that whole spiel we gave earlier about practicality being somewhat absent in this category? Yeah, well, there are exceptions to every circumstance, and the Honda Accord Coupe is one of the exceptions in this case. While still delivering an outsized driving experience, the Accord Coupe also brings reliability, economical operation, and the strong resale value we’ve come to expect from Honda’s flagship model. For 2016, Honda has refreshed the styling of its top two-door, as well as infused it with a generous fitting of the latest electronic driver assistance technologies. For 2016, Honda Accord Coupe pricing starts at $23,775.
Honda Civic Coupe
Honda introduced an all-new Civic for the 2016 model year. In addition to sleek new exterior styling, the interior has been redone, eschewing the controversial two-tier dash design of the previous model. Meanwhile, everything else we liked about the Civic coupe is still in place. It’s tons of fun to drive, exceptionally efficient, and offers a Honda first. The 2016 Honda Civic gets a turbocharged 1.5-liter engine, marking the first time artificial aspiration has been applied to the model. And yes, the greatly beloved Civic Si is back for a return engagement. An all-star among the best coupes under $30,000, 2016 Civic Coupe pricing should start around $18,000.
Good looks notwithstanding, the hybrid Honda CR-Z is found on this list of the best coupes under $30,000 because it is technologically advanced, lightweight, fuel-efficient, and exceptionally fun to drive. When the CR-Z was introduced back in 2011, the little Honda was the first truly sporty hybrid two-seater coupe. A taut suspension system, quick steering, and the first six-speed manual transmission ever fitted to a hybrid automobile further defined the package as a strongly desirable proposition. Honda CR-Z pricing starts at $20,145.
Kia Forte Koup
Thanks to the tasteful eye of former Audi designer Peter Schreyer, Kia’s lineup is the nicest looking in its class, as well as one of the most handsome in the industry. Perhaps the most vivid example of how an inexpensive small car can look considerably more expensive than it actually is, the stylish little Kia Forte Koup is a true standout. The goodness shows up inside the car too, with a striking interior treatment, a strong feature set, and good ergonomics. A true head turner among the best coupes under $30,000, the Kia Forte Koup also delivers outstanding quality and an excellent array of standard equipment. Pricing starts at $18,590.
MINI Cooper Hardtop
Let’s see, where to start? OK, how about the obvious? Cute, fun to drive, well built, and delightfully quirky, the MINI Cooper Hardtop is easily one of the best coupes under $30,000 on offer today. Through a sleight of hand, of which even Lance Burton would be awed, while the MINI Cooper Hardtop’s base price is remarkably low, the little bulldog of a car comes across as a premium product. And yes, this is because when all is said and done, the MINI benefits tremendously from the standards established by its parent company—BMW. In fact, if you look closely, you’ll see a lot of BMW in the English hatchback coupe. (A version of its base turbocharged three-cylinder engine can even be found in the exotic BMW i8 sports car.) With willing powerplants, sharp handling, and well-appointed interior treatments, the MINI Cooper makes you completely forget you’re driving what is ostensibly an economy car. For 2016, MINI Cooper Hardtop pricing starts at $20,700.
One of but two (OK, technically three) genuine sports cars to make this list of the best coupes under $30,000, the 2016 Nissan 370Z is the contemporary iteration of a long line of highly desirable (and yes a few utterly forgettable) two-seat coupes. In fact, the 2016 Nissan 370Z is one of the most competent affordable sports cars you can buy. Wonderful balance, a powerful V6 engine with a thrilling exhaust note, sharp steering, and strong braking make the 370Z a very gratifying car to drive. Even better, given its price point, power output, and positioning as a focused two-seat sports car, nothing on the market really competes directly against it. Pricing starts at $29,990.
Scion FR-S/Subaru BRZ
We said technically three because while they are marketed under two different brand names, the Scion/Subaru duo are essentially the same car. And yes, their driving experience is nearly identical as well. The primary differentiator is the Subaru has a more upscale interior treatment. As entries on this roster of the best coupes under $30,000, both deliver a highly enjoyable driving experience. The horizontally opposed four-cylinder engine affords a very low center of gravity. This, combined with rear-wheel drive, returns exceptional agility, and a high degree of pleasure. Pricing starts at $25,305 for the Scion FR-S and $25,395 for the Subaru BRZ.
The Scion tC has been only mildly changed since its glory days back in 2005. With the delightful new FR-S in the lineup, Scion’s OG coupe has been somewhat overlooked of late. This is unfortunate, because the original Scion two-door coupe is a pretty nice ride—and an exceptional value. Consider this; standard features include 18-inch alloy wheels, air-conditioning, cruise control, a full set of power accessories, and a panoramic sunroof. When you consider the 2016 Scion tC’s price —which starts at $19,385—it becomes obvious why it’s one of the best coupes under $30,000.
Any list of the best coupes under $30,000 without a mention of the iconic Volkswagen Beetle is patently incomplete. Among its virtues are a distinctive style, admirable performance, great fuel economy, and a solid roster of standard features. Offered in a variety of trims, each configured to emphasize a different aspect of the Beetle’s nature; Volkswagen’s Beetle is blessed with style, a beautifully finished interior treatment, an admirable array of standard equipment, and something few other models on this list can offer; a heritage dating back to the earliest days of the modern automobile. For 2016, Volkswagen Beetle pricing starts at $19,795.