Fast & Frugal Index: 110.11
Like the Nismo 350Z, the Club Racer (CR) version of the Honda S2000 leaves the drivetrain stock, thus avoiding the need to recertify the car's fuel economy. This in the case of the S2000 is a good thing, as it is rated at 18 mpg city/25 mpg highway while still delivering sub-6-sec. 0-60-mph acceleration. However, the tweaks to the chassis, including additional body bracing to go along with the stiffer suspension and high-performance tires, raise the S2000's grip levels and thereby its fun factor. The results are quite impressive as the CR is capable of pulling nearly 1.0g on the skidpad and it flies through the slalom at 71.7 mph. And it's not a bad looker, either, with the extra aero bits that also add to the car's high-speed agility. Further enhancing the S2000's performance is stellar braking, the best of the bunch at 109 ft. from 60 mph. Equipped with a 13.2-gal. tank, the theoretical maximum range of the CR approaches 400 miles -- that's a lot of autocross cones between fill-ups.
Chevrolet Cobalt SS
Fast & Frugal Index: 113.09
If the Corvette caused jaws to drop, certainly the Cobalt SS heading the index will leave them on the floor. In this case, the Cobalt has found a particular sweet spot when it comes to balancing fuel economy with all-out performance. The turbocharged 2.0-liter Ecotec four, which has 260 bhp on tap, deserves the lion's share of the credit with its EPA city rating of 22 mpg and its highway average of 30 mpg. Remember, this is the same engine that vaulted the Solstice GXP into the top 10 over its normally aspirated sibling. But also the work done by GM's Performance Division on the car, including some heavy track time at the Nürburgring, pays huge dividends in the fun department. Not only is the car quick (0-60 in 5.5 sec.), it sticks as shown by its 0.92g on the skidpad and 72.4-mph slalom time. Throw in launch control, no-lift shifting and a range approaching 400 miles all for a sticker that's under $25,000 and you have fast and frugal defined.