A question of coupés (1)


I’ve been itching to write an entry on coupés for yonks, but I had to make a caveat first. So much so, that this single entry is dedicated to just that: what defines a car as a coupé?

Now, the origins of the term as applied to road vehicles is ancient, dating from horse-drawn carriages, and, like so many other terms (like driving, dashboard and chassis), as you can see for yourselves in the Wikipedia article. But what I’m interested in here is how the term is applied to modern cars, and how I’ll apply the term in this here blog.

To start off, there are certain cars that are called coupé, but actually aren’t really.

  • Two-door hatchbacks (e.g., Fiat Puntos and Audi A3s) – The term ‘two-door hatchback’ says it all. Just because certain greasy-haired thugs like to drive around in them far too fast than they think they can handle and have words like “Sport” and  “GTi” glued onto the back,  that doesn’t confer them the necessary style they need to be considered more than quick city cars.
  • VW Scirocco – Let’s be honest, it’s more of a stunted van than anything else. If anything, I’d say it’s more than the above two-door hatchback designation than a proper coupé.
  • Volvo C30 – Yes, it has a lot of style and is derived from a four-door saloon (S40), but again, it’s closer to the above examples.
  • Porsches, Ferraris and other cars of high-performance ilk – A coupé is all about style and beauty. If what’s under the bonnet and how fast does it go around the Nurburgring is more important than this, it’s a sports car or supercar or whatever.
  • Aston Martins – A grey area. They’re equipped with powerful V8s and V12s, and are meant to go very fast. But they’re not as sharp around tracks as most of their big-engined brethren, and ooze style from every metaphorical pore. Tough one.
  • Japanese sports cars – Take the Mazda MX-6 or the second-generation Nissan 200SX. Or the Datsun Z, for that matter. Are they sports cars or just sport style? Like the Astons, a grey area.  But I’d nudge them towards the sports car section.
  • “Faux-coupés” – I made this term up myself. Just now. With this term, I mean utter automotive crap like the Ford Puma, the Opel/Vauxhall Tigra or the awful Toyota Paseo. No style and no substance.

Coupés are, very basically, style-mobiles. They’re meant to cruise along and make heads turn. It doesn’t matter what’s propelling it, whether it’s a V6 or a 1.6-litre diesel, it’s what  beholders behold that counts. It’s the type of car the driver will slow down to look at him/herself when passing by shop windows, and does it very often for a long time. Having one is like being married to an extremely hot woman. You’ll forgive all the flaws and setbacks every time you just gaze upon the splendour of their looks.

Usually they’re based on a saloon model, and are just prettier, two-door versions of the same car. And the insanity of the thing is that they’re usually more expensive and less practical than their four-door counterparts, yet people still want them. Why? Because, as I’ve tried to press home in the previous paragraph, they look so good. Ask someone and they’ll probably deny it, but driving a good-looking car is incomparable, and I’d venture to say anyone would agree it beats driving a faster yet uglier car.

So that clears that up. Next time I can get on with it and write about specific coupés.

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