Identify a niche, and fill it. That works for the , in what I like to call the 4-cylinder econo-premium sports sedan market that's also home to the ...and where the used to roost before going upmarket with the current generation. This svelte was a pleasant surprise at its 2010 introduction, with its upmarket styling cues and smooth 185-bhp 2.4-liter inline-4 that comes mated to either a 6-speed manual or CVT, the latter transmission required for all-wheel-drive versions. While the range starts at $18,999 for the base S model, the driver's choice is the 6-speed GTS front-driver at $22,499 with aggressively sized P235/45R-18 Dunlop SP Sport 7000 tires on expensive-looking alloys, a decent Rockford Fosgate sound system, Bluetooth streaming audio capability and voice-command hands-free calling.
For 2011, there are slightly sportier versions called (ingeniously) the Sport GTS and more sybaritic Sport SLS, which supplant the current GTS and SLS models. And while the changes are largely cosmetic (a meaner-looking front fascia, chrome-edged rocker-panel pieces and a trunklid spoiler), the ride height has be lowered by 10 mm, and the Sport-exclusive wheels are a significant 2 lb. lighter apiece for a reduction of both unsprung and rotating mass. No real changes were made to spring rates, damping or even tires. Inside, there's a new metallic-accented steering wheel covered in perforated leather. (Read More)