Thursday Throwdown: 2014 Sports Cars and Convertibles

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In today’s Thursday Throwdown, we’re looking at sports cars and convertibles. We’re keeping them affordable (under $30,000 base price) and leaving off luxury and premium branded vehicles. Some of these are “2+2” coupes with a small back seat, but many only seat two. Our top picks are chosen for their price, efficiency, and safety. These 2014 models are beginning to appear as used car and dealer demonstration vehicles now, so be sure to check the CARFAX report for one you might purchase. Additionally, our Used Car Listings will help you find one for yourself.

Side-by-Side Comparison Chart of Top Picks

2014 Model New $ MPG
Dodge Challenger $26,495 18/27
Hyundai Genesis Coupe $26,350 17/27
Mazda MX-5 Miata $23,720 22/28
MINI Cooper Coupe $21,450 29/37
Nissan 370Z $29,990 18/26
Scion FR-S $24,700 28/36
Subaru BRZ $25,595 22/30
Volkswagen Beetle $20,295 24/33

2014 Top Picks

Lowest Entry Price: Volkswagen BeetleBest Fuel Economy: Mini Cooper Coupe, Scion FR-SQuietest Ride: Hyundai Genesis CoupeMost Refined Overall: Dodge Challenger, Hyundai Genesis CoupeMost Refined Interior: Dodge Challenger, Nissan 370ZMost Fun To Drive: Mazda MX-5 Miata, Subaru BRZ

2014 Chevrolet Camaro


The Chevrolet Camaro is one of the most recognized names in American muscle cars and sports coupes. With a rich history as an affordable sports car, the Chevrolet Camaro enjoys a reputation for offering excellent power and handling with a low cost of entry. Sadly, the Camaro also suffers from a low-rent interior and poor visibility. With several engines to choose from, however, the Camaro offers a variety of performance metrics for the buyer, with the base model beginning with a nicely-tuned V6 and six-speed manual transmission. 2014 Chevrolet Camaro Base price new: $23,555 EPA MPG (city/highway): 17/28 Crash Test Rating: IIHS – N/A, NHTSA – 5-Stars

2014 Dodge Challenger

2015 Dodge Challenger RT - 5 - AOA1200px

The Dodge Challenger is an iconic American muscle car re-invented for the 21st century with a well-wrought interior and powerful engine options. Although the Challenger is not as agile as some competitors, its large engine configurations can often put others behind smoke on the drag strip. An excellent interior and composed highway cruising dynamics make the Challenger a popular daily driver, though the polarizing exterior may exclude some buyers. 2014 Dodge Challenger Base price new: $26,495 EPA MPG (city/highway): 18/27 Crash Test Rating: IIHS – N/A, NHTSA – 5-Stars [Thursday Throwdown: 2014 Affordable Full-Size Sedans]

2014 Ford Mustang


Rounding out our Detroit makes in this category is the Ford Mustang, which is one of the longest-lived sports cars on the road today. The phrase “pony car” was literally coined for the Mustang, which carries forward that rich history as an affordable sports coupe. The 2014 Mustang could offer a more upscale interior and a more powerful base engine. However, it offers muscular power and controlled handling as V8 engine options are added. The Mustang remains one of the lowest-cost performance coupes on the market, even with options. 2014 Ford Mustang Base price new: $22,510 EPA MPG (city/highway): 19/29 Crash Test Rating: IIHS – G/-/A/G/-, NHTSA – 4-Stars

2014 Hyundai Genesis Coupe


The Hyundai Genesis Coupe carries all the appeal of its sedan brethren, but in a two-door coupe body style. It has a powerful engine lineup and an attractive interior for the price point and segment. The Genesis Coupe has not been rated in crash tests, but it offers one of the quietest and most refined overall driving experiences in the group. While some rivals may handle better on the track, few buyers will argue with the everyday poise of the Genesis. 2014 Hyundai Genesis Coupe Base price new: $26,350 EPA MPG (city/highway): 17/27 Crash Test Rating: IIHS – N/A, NHTSA – N/A [Thursday Throwdown: Best Minivans of 2014]

2014 Mazda MX-5 Miata

2014 Mazda MX-5 Miata - Trails 10 - AOA1200px

One of the most popular cars on the road today, the Mazda MX-5 Miata is the world’s best-selling roadster and enjoys legions of fans globally. With an excellent road presence and smart handling, the 2014 Miata may not be the fastest car on the road, but it’s surely one of the most fun to drive. 2014 Mazda MX-5 Miata Base price new: $23,720 EPA MPG (city/highway): 22/28 Crash Test Rating: IIHS – N/A, NHTSA – N/A

2014 Mini Cooper Coupe / Roadster


With the Mini line, it’s all about style and physique. The Mini Cooper Coupe has a cramped interior, but it’s festooned with attractive styling and idiosyncrasies. The Mini Coupe offers nimble handling, but without the turbocharged four-cylinder engine of the Cooper S and John Cooper Works models, the Coupe could use more power. If you prefer a convertible, the Mini Cooper Roadster offers many of the same attributes. 2014 MINI Cooper Coupe / Roadster Base price new: $21,450 EPA MPG (city/highway): $29/37 Crash Test Rating: IIHS – N/A, NHTSA – N/A [Thursday Throwdown: 2014 Compact Crossovers]

2014 Nissan 370Z


Continuing the Fairlady tradition of Z-car fun, the Nissan 370Z is the most expensive vehicle on our list here, but the base model boasts an impressive list of standard equipment. A 3.7-liter V6 and six-speed manual transmission are standard. Of the cars on our list, the 370Z may also be the most track-ready. Base price new: $29,990 EPA MPG (city/highway): 18/26 Crash Test Rating: IIHS – N/A, NHTSA – N/A

2014 Scion FR-S

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Nimble, well-designed, and cost-effective were the goals with the design collaboration between Subaru and Toyota. The results were the Scion FR-S and the Subaru BRZ (below). Although mechanically similar, the two cars are very different in other respects. The FR-S touts a low cost of entry, a great engine, and excellent handling. The interior doesn’t offer as much standard equipment as the BRZ’s, but it is very comfortable and on par for the price point. Still, road noise may be too intrusive for some buyers. [Thursday Throwdown: Best Midsize SUVs of 2014] 2014 Scion FR-S Base price new: $24,700 EPA MPG (city/highway): 28/36 Crash Test Rating: IIHS – TSP, NHTSA – 5-Stars

2014 Subaru BRZ


Similar to the FR-S above, the Subaru BRZ sports great handling, an excellent engine, and a relatively low cost of entry. Its interior fittings are a bit better than the Scion, but road noise is still a factor. Overall, though, the BRZ does offer thrilling driving dynamics on the road. 2014 Subaru BRZ Base price new: $25,595 EPA MPG (city/highway): 22/30 Crash Test Rating: IIHS – TSP, NHTSA – 5-Stars

2014 Volkswagen Beetle

2014 Volkswagen Beetle R-Line - corn 2 - AOA1200px

Available as both a coupe and a convertible, the Volkswagen Beetle is as iconic as they come. The modern rendition is beefier and more powerful than its old-time predecessors, though. The engine is now up front, and a powerful turbocharged four-cylinder engine is available as an option. While the base engine gets the job done, we would not describe it as sporty. 2014 Volkswagen Beetle Base price new: $20,295 EPA MPG (city/highway): 24/33 Crash Test Rating: IIHS – G/M/G/G/G, NHTSA – 5-Stars

About the Safety Ratings

Safety ratings from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) are given for each vehicle on our list.


The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is tasked with crash testing vehicles for the federal government. It evaluates vehicles with an overall rating of up to five stars, which is comprised of the results from front- and side-impact crash tests, as well as rollover tests. You can find out more about NHTSA’s testing procedures here.


The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety is a not-for-profit cooperative among automotive insurers. IIHS tests vehicles in order to guide insurance rates, evaluate risks for vehicles and to give consumers a better understanding of the safety of the vehicles they purchase. IIHS scores on five separate tests which measure crash worthiness and crash avoidance. Scores are rated as Good, Acceptable, Marginal or Poor. We present these as G, A, M, P or N (not tested) in the IIHS presentation standard in order of testing:

  • Moderate Overlap Front
  • Small Overlap Front
  • Side Impact
  • Rear Crash Protection
  • Roof Strength

You can find out more about the IIHS’s testing here. In the CARFAX Thursday Throwdown, we compare vehicles in a particular class on important merits including safety, performance, and look and feel. Our goal is to highlight not only the excellence that automakers bring to the table in various categories, but also how these vehicles compare and how they appeal to different buyers within their markets. By

By | 2018-06-19T15:52:47+00:00 January 29th, 2015|Model News|1 Comment

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