Across the Pacific, there lies a continent that has a reputation for producing exceptional cars. Japanese cars have been at the forefront of efficiency and affordability, and Korean carmakers are catching up quickly. These are the sports sedans that are making the trip from the far East.
Acura’s TLX is tough to beat
Honda’s luxury brand Acura makes two sports sedans, those being the ILX and the TLX. The ILX is technically a sport compact sedan, and it starts at $26,500. All ILX models come with the 200-hp naturally aspirated 2.4-liter inline-four, mated to a DCT transmission powering the front wheels. The TLX, however, starts at $38,000 but gets two powertrain options. It gets a 2.0-liter turbocharged inline-four that makes 272 horsepower, or a 355-hp 3.0-liter turbocharged V6 with all-wheel-drive, for just $2,000 more. If you’re after more speed, consider the TLX Type S, which costs only $52,300 and has a 3.0-liter turbocharged V6 that makes 355 horsepower.
Genesis G70: a little more for a little less
Hyundai’s luxury brand Genesis makes the G70, a luxury sports sedan. Starting at $37,525, the G70 gets a 252-hp turbocharged 2.0-liter inline-four and rear or all-wheel-drive. The G70 3.3T RWD also comes with rear or all-wheel-drive, mated to a twin-turbocharged 3.3-liter V6 making 365 horsepower, for $43,145. It’s somewhat competitive with the TLX, however, the Acura ekes past with a smaller price tag and only 10 fewer horsepower.
The unremarkable Infiniti Q50
The Q50 from Infiniti is a bit plain, and price-wise isn’t as competitive as the Acura or the Genesis. The base Q50 is as much as the Genesis 3.3T, with 65 less horsepower. Meanwhile, the better Q50 Red Sport 400 does have 400 horsepower from its 3.0-liter twin-turbocharged V6, however, it starts at $55,950. Like the others, the Infiniti can have rear or all-wheel-drive. The TLX wins out still, in terms of having a complete package.
Hyundai Elantra N: the big guns
Brand new for winter of this year is the performance version of the Elantra. Normally the Elantra is a nimble little car, albeit slightly uncomfortable and ever so slightly underpowered, and also extremely lightweight. However, Hyundai went all out for the N. It uses a turbocharged 2.0-liter inline-four with 2 76 horsepower, a six-speed manual transmission, and still as light as ever. An official price hasn’t yet been listed but Car and Driver pegs it at around $30,000.
The Kia Stinger is an impressive effort
Where the Acura and Genesis almost fell into being sports sedans, the Kia Stinger feels like a purpose-built sports car. It starts out at $36,090 but already it gets 300 horsepower from its 2.5-liter turbo engine and can come with all-wheel-drive. Stinger trims go all the way up to the GT2, starting at $51,290. With that comes 368 horsepower from a turbo V6, Brembo brakes, and electronic suspension.
Lexus: the perfect entry-level luxury sports sedan
Currently, Lexus offers three different sedans. The IS starts at $39,050, with a 241-hp turbocharged inline-four, and it gets better from there at minimal cost increases. Even the ES model doesn’t get too extravagant. It starts at $40,800 for the ES 250, which has a 200-hp inline-four and goes to the $49,980 ES 350 which uses a 300-hp V6. The LS is where the Lexus starts to get pricey. For the LS 500, at $76,000 it comes with a 416-hp twin-turbo V6, and that’s just with rear-wheel-drive. Lexus offers the LS 500 with all-wheel-drive as well.
We’re getting a new Subaru WRX
You have to consider the STI lineup to find a performance vehicle from Subaru. Little is yet known about the next WRX STI, suffice it to say it will be an impressive specimen. For now, consumers will have to contend with the WRX GT. Subaru is packing this variant with Drive Mode Select, electronic-adjustable suspension, sports seats, and a spiffy sound system. Currently, the WRX uses a 2.4-liter turbocharged flat four that pumps out 271 horsepower to all four wheels. Car and Driver expects the STI version to have closer to 400 horsepower.
Some manufacturers are ditching sedans for SUVs, but these Japanese carmakers are holding strong. They are providing exquisite and affordable cars that everyone can enjoy, and they don’t appear to be stopping anytime soon.