Who can resist a stylish and sassy coupe?

But what do you look for when buying one? What kind of performance can you expect? How far can you go on a tank of gas? And, most importantly, can you afford the sticker price on a new coupe?

Bankrate breaks down the options in this car class based on these critical questions and chooses the best three models in each criterion. It's up to you to pick the coupe that's best for you.

Ford Mustang

Starting MSRP: About $22,100

The retro-gone-modern Ford Mustang was restyled last year, and for 2011 it now gets two new engines. Offered as a coupe or a convertible, the Mustang is powered by a 305-horsepower, 3.7-liter V-6 or a 412-horsepower, 5.0-liter V-6.

For 2011, standard features include lane-changing mirrors, or smaller mirrors within the side mirrors that provide a wide-angle view of traffic. Other standard features include air conditioning, cruise control, an electronic stability control system, and an audio system with CD player and MP3 connectivity.

Hyundai Genesis Coupe

Starting MSRP: About $22,000

Introduced last year, the Hyundai Genesis Coupe is a solid entry in the coupe car segment that Hyundai says competes directly with pricier, luxury models, such as the Infiniti G37.

The Genesis Coupe is powered by a choice of two engines: a 210-horsepower, four-cylinder or a 306-horsepower, 3.8-liter V-6. Standard features on all models include air conditioning, cruise control, climate controls, six air bags, an electronic stability system, and power windows, and locks and side mirrors. It also includes steering-wheel-mounted audio and active front head restraints which automatically adjust during a collision to provide support to reduce whiplash.

Chevrolet Camaro

Starting MSRP: $22,700

After an eight-year hiatus, Chevrolet brought back the Camaro last year to compete with the Ford Mustang and Dodge Challenger. The LS and LT coupes are powered by a 300-horsepower, 3.6-liter, direct-injected V-6. The top-of-the-line SS trim package is powered by a 6.2-liter V-8 that produces 400 horsepower when paired with the six-speed automatic transmission, and produces 422 horsepower when paired with the six-speed manual transmission.
SS models also feature a performance-tuned suspension and larger brakes. All Camaros come standard with air conditioning, power windows and locks, satellite radio, MP3 player connectivity, electronic stability control and traction control.

Porsche 911 GT2 RS

Specs: 620-horsepower, 3.6-liter six-cylinder

Porsche has a new version of its 911 for the 2011 model year and it's a street-legal rocket. Powered by a 620-horsepower, 3.6-liter, flat-six engine that's paired with a six-speed, manual gearbox, Porsche says the 911 GT2 RS coupe will go from zero to 60 mph in just 3.4 seconds. Its look is similar to the base 911 but has subtle body styling changes, including different front and rear spoilers and numerous matte-black, carbon fiber parts.

The additional carbon fiber components also mean the GT2 RS weighs less, improving its performance and increasing the fuel economy by about 5 percent, though official EPA estimates have not been released. Priced at about $245,000, the Porsche 911 GT2 RS will arrive in the U.S. in October 2010.

Lexus LFA

Specs: 552-horsepower V-10

With an eye on competing with exotics from Ferrari, Lamborghini and Aston Martin, the new Lexus LFA is a high-performance coupe aimed at jet-setters. With a starting price of $375,000, the LFA will be powered by a 552-horsepower, 4.8-liter V-10 that Lexus claims will go from zero to 60 mph in just 3.6 seconds, thanks in part to its ultra-lightweight, carbon fiber body.
As one can imagine for the price, the LFA is not lacking in equipment and will offer only a navigation system and upgraded audio system as options. Each car will be built entirely by hand beginning in late 2010, with just 500 cars planned for production in the 2011 model year.

Nissan GT-R

Specs: 485-horsepower, 3.8-liter V-6

For 2011, Nissan has made some upgrades to its GT-R to improve riding comfort. It also has added automatic on/off headlights and real-time traffic and weather capability for the navigation system.

The GT-R coupe is powered by a 485-horsepower, 3.8-liter V-6 that Nissan says logs a zero-to-60-mph time of 3.5 seconds while still getting an EPA-estimated 15 city/21 highway mpg. With a starting price of around $84,000, the GT-R technically seats four, though rear-seat occupants will be uncomfortable if they are adults.

Standard features include all-wheel-drive; antilock brakes; electronic stability control; an eight-way power-adjustable driver's seat; a four-way power-adjustable front-passenger seat; front seat-mounted, side-impact air bags; and side-curtain air bags that inflate the full area of the window to protect your head from hitting the side window or frame pillar in a side-impact collision.

Scion iQ

Fuel economy: High 30s mpg (no EPA estimates available at publication)

While it may fall into the microcar segment, the sporty little Scion iQ is 14 inches longer than a smart fortwo and it seats four, though rear-seat passengers will be most comfortable if they are children who don't need much leg-room. Sold in other parts of the world as a Toyota, the 2011 Scion iQ will go on sale in the U.S. in early 2011.

Its diminutive size will make it one of the most fuel-efficient cars on the market, achieving fuel economy in the "high 30s," according to Scion. No price has been officially announced for this model.

Powered by a 1.3-liter four-cylinder engine that will produce "at least 90 horsepower," according to Scion, standard features include air conditioning, steering wheel mounted controls, and a stereo system with USB and MP3 connectivity. It's also loaded with safety features including an electronic stability system, traction control, antilock brakes and 10 air bags. Among those is the world's first rear-window curtain air bag, which protects rear passengers heads from impacting the rear window in a collision.

Honda CR-Z

Fuel economy: 35 city/39 highway mpg

This new two-seater, hybrid car is often considered the replacement to Honda's first hybrid, the Insight. However, the 2011 Honda CR-Z is actually much sportier interpretation in styling and performance.

It is powered by a 1.5-liter four-cylinder engine paired with an electric motor that can produce 122 horsepower. The six-speed manual transmission is standard equipment and gets 31 city/37 highway mpg, while the optional, continuously-variable automatic transmission achieves 35 city/39 highway mpg. With a starting price of about $19,200, the Honda CR-Z comes standard with automatic climate control, cruise control, power windows and locks, remote keyless entry, six air bags, and electronic stability and traction control.

Mitsubishi Eclipse Coupe

Fuel economy: 20 city/28 highway mpg

The 2011 Mitsubishi Eclipse Coupe has a sporty look at a great price, without compromising fuel efficiency. It is powered by a choice of two engines. The 162-horsepower, 2.4-liter, inline four-cylinder gets 20 city/28 highway mpg, while the 265-horsepower, 3.8-liter V-6 gets 17 city/25 highway mpg.

With a starting price of about $20,700, the Eclipse technically seats four, though adults will find the back seat cramped. However, the rear seat folds to offer ample cargo space. All Eclipse models feature standard air conditioning, cruise control, audio systems with MP3 connectivity, electronic stability control, antilock brakes and six air bags.

 

Copyright 2010, Bankrate Inc.