Spring is in the air. It’s time to dust off the sports car that’s been sitting in the garage all winter — or better yet, time to buy a new ride for the warm days ahead. From an all-terrain legend to Italian ecstasy and a couple of athletic roadsters, one of these would be a perfect date for sunny days:
Jeep Wrangler Rubicon
When clinging to a mountain, choose this capable cleat. Completely redesigned for 2018, Wrangler’s sleeker and adorned with LED lighting, but also fortified with a refined suspension that tames both boulders and pavement. An array of powertrains include a 285-horsepower V6, light hybrid with a 270-horsepower turbo-four or V6 diesel. Choose six-speed manual or eight-speed automatic transmissions. Plug-ins arrive in 2020. Stylish interiors offer body color dashboards with stitched coverings, but also all of the latest infotainment technology. Soft tops, especially Unlimited models with powered center sections, deploy in seconds.
Base price: $26,995 (Wrangler)/$36,995 (Rubicon)
Honda Civic R
It looks sexy and moves like Bruno Mars, setting a record for front-drive cars on Germany’s famed Nurburgring of under seven minutes and 43 seconds. That’s lightning quick for a front-drive compact hatchback. Praise the 306-horsepower 2.0-liter turbo-four, six-speed manual transmission with rev-matching and adaptive suspension dampers. But, it’s not just about quick moves. Beneath wings n’ things is a roomy five-door cabin, dressed with deep sueded racing bucket seats, digital instrument display, metallic trim and flip-down rear seats to haul all of your gear really fast. If you need a little less drama, consider the Civic Si.
Base price: $34,100
This is what happens when Toyota and Subaru make whoopee. Co-developed for the two brands, the BRZ is the only Subaru without all-wheel-drive. The top doesn’t go down, but it craves curvy roads and is comfy enough for morning commutes. Acceleration comes via Subaru’s 205-horsepower “Boxer” four-cylinder engine. Shift it with a quick six-speed manual or automatic transmission. Suspension and steering are crisp and ready to play. Check out two special models: one painted Heritage Blue to celebrate Subaru of America’s 50th Anniversary and the tS with improved handling, carbon fiber wing and red accents.
Base price: $25,595
Alfa Romeo Giulia Quadrifoglio
What kind of steamy tryst is an Italian sedan packing a 505-horsepower turbocharged V6 engine and optional all-wheel-drive? Run 0-60 mph in 3.8 seconds and on to 191 mph. From the plunging neckline grille to its wide haunches harboring 19-inch wheels, the body is sexy. Order it in red! But, you may also appreciate the exotic carbon fiber hood, roof, rear spoiler and front splitter to keep it light. More carbon fiber forms the seatbacks and dash trim inside. Crank 900 watts of Harman Kardon audio, dial-in navigation and stay safe with collision avoidance systems. Adjust Alfa’s D.N.A. system to adjust the powertrain and chassis for Sport, Comfort or Efficiency.
Base price: $73,700
Mazda MX-5 Miata
Summer and convertibles go together like Lady and Gaga. And, nothing is more fun than tucking into a tight roadster like the Miata with your special love and sashay through quick switchbacks on your favorite backroad. Quickly flip the manual top, newly available in dark cherry, crank the available Bose audio system and rev out the 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine through a six-speed manual or paddle-shifted six-speed automatic. Drivers can choose base Sport, track-tuned Club or luxurious Grand Touring editions — the latter with heated seats, navigation and lane departure warning. If canvas tops aren’t your kink, Miata also comes in a fastback with removable roof panel.
Base price: $25,295