5 front-wheel-drive coupes you might actually enjoy
Here are some unsung heroes from an extinct breed of affordable entry-level sports cars
Front-wheel drive coupes are an extinct breed. We owe that to the hot-hatches which incorporate nearly the same levels of fun with decent practicality and enough room for four people.
Although the Honda Integra Type R is considered the ultimate front-wheel-drive car, there are enough articles about it. Instead, we shall take a look at some of the more understated, obscured and affordable representatives of this deceased segment.
1. Honda Prelude
Another Honda! What a surprise! Honda has been known to be a consistent player in the compact sports car scene and the front-wheel-drive Prelude is yet another proof of that. Yes, the base version has 135 bhp from a 2-litre, four-banger which, although adequate, is hardly anything to write home about.
However, if you get the ones, equipped with the H22 engine, you get 185 bhp from the VTi and over 200 bhp in the Type S version. Combined with relatively low weight and a playful chassis and you can see how the Prelude can be an appealing proposition. Did I mention they are still affordable?
2. Volkswagen Corrado
Released in the late 1980s and based on the Golf Mk2, the Corrado was VW's answer to the small Japanese sports cars of the time. Coachbuilt by Karman, the Corrado boasted a simplistic and dynamic exterior design.
Base versions used a 2-litre SOHC four-cylinder, producing 115 bhp. However, you want to know of the other versions. Other than a 16V version of the same 2-litre engine which produced 136 bhp, you get the G60. That used a 1.8-litre Supercharged engine, producing 160 hp and 166 lb/ft (225 Nm) of torque.
If that wasn't enough, you could get the VR6 which had a 2.9-litre narrow-angle V6 engine, making 190 bhp and 181 lb/ft (245 Nm). This was enough for a 0-100 km/h in 6.9 seconds.
3. Volvo C70
If you want to blast down the highways in something more GT-oriented, then the Volvo C70 might be right up your alley. Although the most engines offered, make decent power, the one you really want is the T5.
It has a displacement of 2.3 litres and 5-cylinders. In addition, thanks to a turbocharger it makes 240 bhp and 330 Nm from, as early as, 2400 rpm. Those numbers can easily go up to around 300 bhp and 400 Nm.
In stock form, the C70 T5 is good for 0-100 km/h in 6.9 seconds and a top speed of 250 km/h. It also has four normal seats and decent luggage space, since it's based on a four-door Volvo S40.
4. Toyota Celica
The Celica, more specifically the ST202/204 and the ZZT230/231 are currently in the sweet spot when it comes to bang for the buck. The older ST204, boasts a 2.0-litre, naturally-aspirated four-cylinder engine, producing 175 bhp and 186 Nm, It is essentially the GT-four engine, without the forced induction. Here, it's good for 0-100 km/h in around 8 seconds and a top speed of 225 km/h.
The ZZ230/231 generation (1999-2006) goes down on displacement, using a 1.8-litre engine producing 143 bhp and 169 Nm. In the TS version, the engine utilizes a Yamaha-designed head which bumps figures to 188 bhp at 7800 RPM and 180 Nm at 6800 RPM. Combined with a tight chassis and low-weight - 1080 kg (2380 lbs), the TS is good for 0-100 km/h in 7.4 seconds and a top speed of nearly 230 km/h.
If you are going for a TS, ideally get the facelift model (from 2003), as the top end, on earlier ones, might suffer from oil starvation, potentially turning the engine into a grenade.
5. Hyundai Tiburon / Coupe
Image: HEEL TOE
The Hyundai Tiburon is the brand's first attempt at making a sportier vehicle. With this second generation (GK), they were a bit bolder. Pininfarina-styled body, suspension touched by Porsche engineers and Hyundai actually came up with a good chassis.
The engines, however, are where you might be let down. We are not even going to mention the base 1.6, as it should not have offered here, to begin with. The 2.0-litre four-cylinder makes 143 bhp and 186 Nm and it will last forever if you take care of it. The 2.7-litre all-aluminium V6 makes 172 bhp and 245 Nm which according to some is good for a 0-100 km/h in around 7 seconds. You can choose between three transmissions - 4-speed automatic (run away), 5-speed manual and, for the V6, an optional 6-speed manual.
For some niche markets, the Tiburon was offered with a 1.6 turbocharged, four-cylinder and a 1.8-litre, normally aspirated four-banger. Where the Tiburon really shines is the build quality and reliability. On balance, the 2.0 is the easiest to live with, returns the best fuel economy and can take some boost. 0-100 km/h in stock form is in the high 8 seconds and the top speed - 208 km/h (it goes over 220).