Have profits left over from this year's sales? Start the new year on a high note and treat yourself to a sporty car that's all fun, dazzle and bling. How about a no-excuse work of art that's as far from a serious business sedan as you can get? Three coupes that fit the bill: the Chrysler Crossfire, the Lexus SC430 and the Nissan 350Z. Designed with edge, these racy head-swivelers turn in punchy performances with panache.
Chrysler's Crossfire hatchback attracts attention everywhere it goes. Priced at $30,070, it's built in Germany by Mercedes-Benz. Roadster styling sets it apart, and the retro sloping rear evokes forward motion. A V-6 engine and 215 horsepower provide plenty of performance mated with a six-speed manual transmission. Traction/stability control, ABS, and a 7.6-cubic-foot trunk are all standard.
Another sporty option is the luxurious $63,575 Lexus SC430 with power-retractable hardtop. Its sleek silhouette boasts sculptured muscle-car bumpers and chrome accents. The V-8 engine pumps out 300 horsepower, with a five-speed automatic transmission. Inside and out, the emphasis is on first-class quality and attention to detail, seen in the water-repellant door glass, rear-window timed defogger, graphite-coated wipers, leather and real wood interior, and heated front seats. Standard are ABS, traction/stability control, prewiring and a navigation system. The back seat can hold any cargo that won't fit into the 8.8-cubic-foot trunk.
Nissan's $26,800 350Z hatchback coupe is a stunner. With a 300-horsepower, 3.5-liter V-6 under the hood, the six-speed manual transmission model is well-served by a speed-sensitive steering system for tight control at high speeds. The roofline provides an overall impression that the coupe is ready for the track, sweeping dramatically to the rear. Inside is a classic cockpit-like interior for two. A 6.8-cubic-foot trunk holds overnight bags. If you really must stay in touch with the office, the two power outlets can keep your gear charged.