Last year’s picks for the coupe of the year raged a war between the Chevrolet Camaro and the Ford Mustang , but this year things are a bit different. In fact, neither one of these muscle cars made the list, simply because the new Camaro ZL1 isn’t available for purchase just yet.
With the two major muscle cars out of the running, we were still left with a ton of vehicles worthy of some time in the spotlight. Our choices for the top coupes of 2011 are kind of all over the place. From the Audi TT-RS’ return to the States to the Lotus Exige S and its road-going capabilities on the other side of the pond, there’s pretty much a flavor for anybody.
In fact, if we’ve missed one of your favorites, make sure to hit us up.
Hit the jump for our picks for the 2011 Coupe of the Year, in alphabetical order.
Audi finally brought the RS name back to the States with theTT-RS , even though it was only in a limited run of 1,000 units of the vehicle. That left many a little peeved considering 11,500 people showed interest when the vehicle debuted at the 2011 Chicago Auto Show. Nonetheless, the vehicle went on sale at the end of Summer 2011 at a starting price of $56,850 (excluding destination charges, taxes, title, options and dealer charges).
The Audi TT-RS is powered by a turbocharged 2.5-liter five-cylinder engine that will deliver an extra 20 HP compared to the European model. With a total of 360 HP, the engine will only be offered with a conventional six-speed manual transmission and will sprint the car from 0 to 60 mph in just 4.6 seconds.
gallery: Audi TT-RS American model
Months before the 2012 BMW 1-Series M Coupe officially showed its face at the 2011 Detroit Auto Show, enthusiasts everywhere were wiping the drool from their chins in anticipation of the much-awaited sports coupe.
And there’s much to salivate over. Under the hood, BMW has placed a new twin-turbocharged, all-aluminum, 3.0-liter inline-6 engine that delivers an impressive 335 HP at 5,900 rpm and 332 lb-ft of torque from 1,500 rpm to 4,500 rpm. The engine is mated to a close ratio 6-speed manual transmission.
BMW announced a sprint time from 0 to 60 mph in 4.7 seconds, and yes, top speed is still electronically limited to 155 mph. The standing quarter-mile mark comes up in 13.2 seconds. However, many have already surpassed these numbers, proving that this is a kickass coupe.
gallery: BMW 1-Series M Coupe
Hyundai added another notch to its belt in 2010 when they announced the new Coupe 3.8 R-Spec and the changes made for their 2012 model just made it better. The Hyundai Genesis Coupe was the first model to adopt Hyundai ’s new design language and for 2012, the company has made it even sportier thanks to a new front grille, air intakes, and a modified rear.
The 2012 Genesis Coupe is powered by a new 5.0 liter Tau engine that is a bored-out, direct-injection version of the 4.6-liter V-8 currently found in the Genesis sedan. The bore goes up to 96 mm, an increase of 4, while the stroke stays the same at 87 mm. The result is an estimated output of 429 hp at 6500 rpm and 376 lb-ft at 5000 rpm with an 11.5:1 compression ratio. The new engine will be mated to an eight-speed automatic designed and manufactured by Hyundai.
gallery: Hyundai Genesis Coupe
We may not be able to drive our version of the Exige S on the streets of our neighborhoods, but the fact that it is available as a road car in Europe is enough to earn it a spot on our list. The look of the 2012 Lotus Exige S still claims it as an Exige, but the add-ons provided smooth out the sports car’s look, while still adding a certain degree of aggression to the design. The Exige S carries a new front splitter that reveals a cleaner line across the front of the car and a smaller rear spoiler, both of which still improve the vehicle’s aerodynamics.
As for power, the Exige S is now working with a mid-mounted, transverse 3.5 liter DOHC V6 VVI-i engine that delivers a total of 345 HP, a far cry from the previously used 257 HP 1.8L Toyota supercharged I4. The reason for this massive upgrade is clear when the car’s weight gets introduced into the equation. The previous model claimed 2,077 lbs, while the new Exige S plumps up at 2,380 lbs. Once the added weight gets brought in, the Exige S’ 0-60 mph time is still better, coming in at 3.8 seconds (from a previous time of 4.0 seconds) and its top speed hikes up to 170 mph (up from a previous 145 mph).
gallery: Lotus Exige S
It has not been an easy life for the smallest Mercedes in the United States. The road to success for the C-Class has been paved with hardship and tough competition, including the BMW 3-Series and the Audi A4 . Mercedes hasn’t really offered anything to beat out these vehicles in coupe form, until the C-Class Coupe came along.
For the US market, customers have a choice between two different models: the C250 and the C350. The European market gets another three models to choose from. The smallest version is powered by a 1.8 liter four-cylinder engine that delivers a total of 201 HP and a peak torque of 229 lbs-ft. Top speed for this version is 130 mph, while the sprint from 0 to 60 mph will be made in 7.1 seconds. All of this is delivered with a combined fuel consumption of 24 mpg.
The C350 gets a 3.5 liter V6 engine with an output of 302 HP and 273 lbs-ft, while top speed is also limited to 130 mph. However, this model is a little bit faster as it sprints from 0 to 60 mph in 5.9 seconds, while fuel consumption sits at 22 mpg.
Both models are equipped with a more fuel efficient 7-speed automatic transmission.