Best coupes 2023
Diverse and eclectic, our favourite coupes hit all sorts of different notes
The performance coupe genre is more diverse than ever, which makes bringing together a concise top ten a controversial exercise. With wildly different forms and experiences on offer, they’re near impossible to compare, and so we've chosen the best coupes not on the purity of the driving experience or the explosiveness of their 0-62mph times, but simply on how well the cars achieve a complete and desirable package.
Our cross section of the coupe market represents a spread of different types of coupe. You’ll find cars with four-, six- and eight-cylinder engines, turbocharged and naturally aspirated, front-mounted, mid-mounted and rear-mounted, plus a myriad of different characters.
Above all, these choices are great to drive, but in wonderfully different ways. From the tyre-shredding hooligans of Ford and BMW to the scalpel-sharp Alpine, with just about everything else in between, we should be in no doubt that we really are spoilt for choice when it comes to 2023’s crop of coupes.
Top ten best coupes to buy in 2023
Below is our pick of the ten best coupes on the market right now (in no particular order). Scroll down for our verdict on each car or click the links for the full reviews...
- Chevrolet Corvette C8
- Alpine A110
- Ford Mustang Dark Horse
- Aston Martin Vantage
- Lexus LC500
- Toyota GR86
- BMW M4 Competition
- Porsche Cayman GTS 4.0
- Porsche 911 Carrera T
- Bentley Continental GT S
Best coupes 2023
Chevrolet Corvette C8
Few – if any – saw this coming. The Corvette has always been big on numbers, theatre and noise but a little short on finesse, and then the C8 arrived to shatter our preconceptions. Now mid-engined and built in right hand drive for the first time, the latest Corvette is well built, supremely capable and fantastically engaging – not to mention stunningly fast.
The 6.2-litre pushrod V8 might be familiar on paper, but it's all new for the C8 with a dry sump, a 6700rpm redline and 495bhp. Thanks to the extra traction provided by the more rearward weight balance, 0-62mph comes up in just 3.2sec with a snorting V8 backing track. If that's not quite enough, the Z06 version offers extra poise and performance to meet the Porsche 911 GT3 head on.
There can scarcely have been a car that garnered so much attention from enthusiasts in the years leading up to its launch as the Alpine A110. The basics sounded too good to be true – a bespoke lightweight aluminium chassis, 1100kg weight, zesty turbocharged engine and styling that’s nostalgic without being a retro pastiche. Add to this the fact that it’s set up by Renault Sport’s suspension boffins and the only potential chink that stands out in its armour is the lack of a manual gearbox.
In reality, things were even better than they appeared on paper, as what really sets the A110 apart from so many of its contemporaries is its quite astonishing ability to float down a road with unmatched levels of compliance and sophistication. This, combined with the intensity of its powertrain, steering and brakes makes it one of the best coupes in recent memory. A testament to the A110’s chassis brilliance is the fact that the quicker and supposedly harder A110S – a model we should theoretically prefer – only diminishes the brilliance of the original. Alpine got it right the first time.
Ford Mustang Dark Horse
Ignore the daft name; the Mustang Dark Horse is, if our first drive in the US is anything to go by, pretty much everything we want a Mustang to be. Based on the seventh-generation Mustang that will reach UK showrooms next year, the Dark Horse effectively replaces the outgoing Mach 1 as the most driver-focused version in the core lineup.
The fundamentals are familiar, with a 449bhp 5-litre V8 nestled in the front sending power to the back. Some of the structure is carried over from the previous Mustang, but detail changes to the steering, chassis and powertrain bring useful extra sharpness to the Mustang's friendly, big-chested character. A quicker steering rack, revised MagneRide dampers a bigger brake package are among the key upgrades, with an optional Handling Pack bringing more aggressive aero and geometry. We won't get this kit in the UK, which is a shame as it provides markedly more vivid performance on track.
Aston Martin Vantage
The latest Vantage takes the model's brutish sophistication to a new level. With a tweaked version of Mercedes-AMG’s 4-litre twin-turbo V8 that kicks out 503bhp (and a fabulous noise to boot), it's ballistic, absorbing and just a bit lairy. On anything other than perfect surfaces or in damp or wet conditions it can struggle to put the power down, but we quite like that.
On the whole the Vantage handles well, but when you really up the pace on less than perfect roads it can become a little ragged as you approach the limit. The car’s size can also count against it and with a relatively small glasshouse it can be hard to place the car on tighter roads. As it stands, the Vantage is an entertaining steer with a delicious soundtrack and a practical cabin.
If a single car on sale today could be considered the most overlooked and underappreciated, it might well be the Lexus LC500. Even with stunning looks, a healthy 470bhp and a chassis full of advanced tech, it just doesn’t seem to find the spotlight.
Lexus developed the LC Coupe to a set of metrics that most brands could no longer justify, with a bundle of bespoke engineering sending the cost-per-unit skywards. The front suspension, for instance, was designed from scratch purely to allow for the sinewy bodywork to slip only just above the 20-inch wheels. The engine is Toyota’s superb 2UE-GZR V8, but there are no turbochargers in sight – only a quite spectacular bark created by induction in front of you and exhaust behind. Its playful chassis, charismatic drivetrain, superb quality and concept car looks combine to create a car that drives even better than it looks. We just wish more people would take notice.
The worst thing about the Toyota GR86 is how few have come to the UK. Enormous demand managed to persuade Toyota to deliver a second batch to our shores this year, and those luckily enough to secure one are in for a treat – the GR86 is the best affordable sports car of recent memory.
It may be related to the GT86 that came before, but Toyota has targeted each of that car's weaknesses to create an extremely talented and involving sports coupe. The GT86's appetite for fun remains, but with grippier Michelin Pilot Sport 4S tyres to lean on an extra torque to deploy from an enlarged 2.4-litre boxer engine, the GR86 rewards a more committed driving style and relays fine-graded feel and precision through all its controls. It's not especially quick by 2023 standards, but the balance of power and grip is beautifully judged for the road. The £32,495 asking price almost seems too good to be true.
BMW M4 Competition
Look beyond its design and the BMW M4 Competition is one of the best performance coupes money can buy. Its 1725kg weight figure is quite an increase over the F82’s 1570kg, but its new 3-litre S58 straight-six has plenty of power to make up for it. In rear-drive form, 503bhp and 479lb ft of torque help it reach 62mph from standstill in just 3.9sec.
Unlike early S55-equipped F82s, power is delivered in a manageable, linear fashion, making it a much more exploitable machine. The DCT of its predecessor was dropped in favour of an eight-speed torque-converter automatic, and although shifts will never be as swift, they’re more than quick enough for the job. Despite its heft, the M4 Competition offers more precision and response than ever. Grip is also monumental, making it confidence-inspiring and more accessible than its predecessor.
Porsche 718 Cayman GTS 4.0
It’s tricky not to sound cynical when talking about the 718 Cayman GTS 4.0, as ostensibly, it appears to be the Cayman that everyone has been asking for since the 718’s controversial introduction. The package is certainly uncomplicated, Porsche fitting the same 4-litre flat-six as found in the GT4, but with a subtle detune pegging power back to 394bhp. The same could be said of the chassis, with a standard Sports PASM damper package lowering the ride by 20mm, active engine mounts and a torque-vectoring limited-slip differential representing the beginning and end of the dynamic enhancements.
So how does it drive, you ask? In short, superbly. Its succinct ability to flow with challenging road surfaces like the Alpine A110 does, yet support its body under lateral load is unmatched in anything for similar cash. The powertrain’s response, flexibility and character are magnificent, the brakes strong and reassuring. Then it’s all underpinned with a balance so cleanly communicated and trustworthy one wonders how they instilled the character of a dedicated old sheepdog into an inanimate machine.
Porsche 911 Carrera T
There has always been a 'goldilocks' Porsche 911. The model that ramps up response and engagement just enough while remaining more usable – and significantly more affordable – than a GT3. For the 992-generation car, the Carrera T is the one you want. The changes seem minor on paper, but the T's firmer sport chassis, PASM dampers, mechanical limited-slip diff and optional rear-wheel steering make it sweeter than the Carrera on which it's based, topped off by a 35kg weight saving.
The 380bhp twin-turbo flat-six feels muscular enough for the road and fizzles with energy in the upper reaches, with fantastic response that's almost a match for an NA engine. And when the road begins to buck and dive, the T's extra bite gives you confidence to lean on it all the way through a corner. Yes, the traditional 911 handling traits are hard to find at road speeds, but the T's unique identity is absorbing all the same.
Bentley Continental GT S
The Bentley Continental GT S really does feel like the Continental we’ve yearned for since the model first appeared in 2003. The reason for this is its talented German foundations, the GT sharing a platform and V8 engine with the Porsche Panamera, with the S model including tweaked air suspension to bring extra edge to the ultra-luxurious grand tourer.
While this sounds like a compromise, fear not. The GT S still rides with the plushness you'd expect of a Bentley, but with slight extra connection and composure when you want it. The V8 is muted, yes, but it’s also more charismatic than the flagship W12 and contributes to the car’s new-found handling prowess. The GT S does more than ever to engage its driver, all without losing the opulent (some might say over the top) ambience inside and out.