Archive for coupe

Return of the Calibra

Posted in Desirable machines, Upcoming cars with tags , , , on 11/05/2011 by Alexander

Apparently, General Motors has leaked that it plans to ressurect the Calibra designation to its line-up, in the form of a coupé, just like the original. I find this rather pleasing, due in no small measure to the fact that I like coupés quite a bit. On top of that, this coupé will sport Opel’s current design, which I’ve praised before, and not just once. I’m one of those that really liked the aesthetics of the original Calibra (apart from its drab Vectra interior), and from what I deduce I’m in a minority populated mostly by idiot modders. However, I suspect the new take on this model might be far more consensual, with Opel drawing inspiration from its current range.

The resulting package, from what can be told by the Calibra concept pictured here, is basically a two-door Insignia. I’m not a fan of coupés that resemble saloon counterparts too closely, but I can’t blame Opel’s designers for making this decision. The Insignia’s looks are dang-well fantastic, and it’s a natural step to make use of its pleasing looks and apply to other Opels. I don’t doubt it’ll have the same interior too, but again, not a bad idea, as I’ve harped on about before.

Hopefully, the engines won’t be just wanked-up V6’s with a million horsepower and instantaneous 0-60 times. I think Opel will be sufficiently lucid to include a low-consumption power-plant for a proper long-range cruiser, a Grand Tourer in the correct and sensible sense of the term.


A question of coupés (3)

Posted in Crap cars, Desirable machines with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , on 18/02/2011 by Alexander
  • The French It’s debatable whether the French have consciously tried to put up a fight with the Germans in the coupé segment. Some notable adversaries were the legendary Citroen SM, the Renault Fuego and the lovely Peugeot 504 coupé, but to be honest, it would seem that the cheese-eating so-and-so’s have decided to leave that niche alone and focus on more mainstream segments. Which is definitely a pity, because they’ve always put up an interesting fight.

    Peugeot 407 coupé – Argh. What a bloody awful car. If looking at it on its own isn’t dismal enough, when you consider it was preceded by beauties such as the 504 and 406 coupés, it makes you wonder what the hell were Peugeot thinking. Both the 504 and 406 had a fantastic trait that was to be able to be different from their saloon versions, making them look like whole new models even though they were practically the same. And they were gorgeous. This 407 coupé manages to incorporate all the ugliness of the saloon version and none of the inherent coolness of coupés.

    Peugeot RCZ – Dang, this thing’s nice. I’ve said it before, though my prediction that it would become a runaway success was biblically wrong (I tend to never be able to foresee which cars will sell like hotcakes and which will flop terribly). I won’t delve into its pros and cons, because I’ve already done that in the article linked above, but I’ll say this: it blows the Audi TT out of the water in every way (except for sales, by the looks of it).

    Renault Laguna coupé – Renault don’t delve much into the coupé market. Fortunately for car lovers, they did, with the Laguna coupé. And what a courageous move it was, with Renault making a car for one of the most badge-snobbing segments of the market. The result is interesting, to say the least, a breath of fresh air in a segment dominated by mostly the same solutions. The Laguna suffers from looking too much like its saloon counterpart (as you can see by now, it’s a common sin), which in turn was ugly to start with. So much so, in fact, that it’s the first version of the Laguna and one of the only Renaults that’s not disputing the top sales spot in its segment. Anyways, even though the Audi A5 is the best rational choice for a coupé, this two-door version of the Laguna is the best emotional choice available. And that’s important, since buying a coupé isn’t rational to begin with.

  • Citroen – Citroen doesn’t have a coupé in its line-up, and hasn’t had a proper one since the fantastic SM back in the 70’s. Which is a huge loss to anyone who appreciates cars, because when Citroen delves into the upper end of the market, it always makes something interesting, beautiful and that usually ends up getting cult status, as the DS, CX, SM, XM and C6 attest (not that their lower-end cars are bad, in fact, they’re quite the contrary in most cases). The problem is, if Citroen were to decide sit down and make a coupé right now, it wouldn’t be as good as it should, given that Citroen’s current styling cues are debatable to say the least. And Citroen wouldn’t consider it, since their strategy nowadays is to try to imitate the Germans and steer clear of their fantastic but risky projects. Just look at how they’ve abandoned future development of both the current C6 and a successor. Morons.

A question of coupés (2)

Posted in Crap cars, Desirable machines with tags , , , , , , , , on 03/02/2011 by Alexander

So now that I’ve wrapped up the debatable question as to what is a coupé, let’s get to the meat and veggies. What’s available out there on the coupé market?

  • The Germans
    The Big German Three have had the coupé market practically to themselves over the past years. This isn’t because they sell the best coupés. It’s because a coupé, as I’ve said, is a vehicle for posing, which gives way to badge snobbery very, very easily. That said, their grasp on the market is so strong, each of the German Big Three brands have two or three coupés in their line-ups. We’re going to have to break it down even further:BMW 1-series coupé – A stunted, disgusting, little bastard of a coupé, resembling it’s hatchback counterpart too closely. With not much going for it in the looks department, it has some interesting engines on offer, such as the 177bhp 2.0-litre diesel Start/Stop powerplant. My cousin has one, and it really is unimpressive. It’s crap on journeys because of its rock-hard suspension. And it’s also expensive and cramped, but hey, it’s a coupé, so that’s to be expected. There’s a new, upcoming M1-coupé, which is as exciting as the soup-stain I have on my left trouser leg. 

    BMW 3-series coupé – Not much more than an elongated 1-series, it still manages to be a far more stylish car than its smaller sibling.  It has a nice rear, but its flanks still have horrible sills and creases left over from Chris Bangle’s disastrous tenure as chief designer at BMW. The front is as bland as any other BMW, as is the ghastly interior.

    BMW 6-series coupé – The only production BMW I wouldn’t loathe owning. It’s stylish, but a bit too much, and with a €100,000 price tag + options, it screams out “ostentation!” to the four winds. The oil-burning 635d is the most interesting choice of engine, since it fits the 6-series as a GT cruiser.

    Mercedes C-Class coupé – First and foremost, this car looks like an awful, truncated version of the saloon. Horrible inside and out, the gigantic rear third stop-light is so ghastly, kitsch and tasteless it should be banned, unless Mercedes put it there for people like me to laugh at the crap taste of the sap of a driver behind the wheel. This car has zero style, thus failing as a coupé, so I won’t even bother mentioning engines.

    Mercedes E-Class coupé – The coupé version of the E-Class has always managed to look cool, relaxed and sophisticated (except for the disgustingly disproportionate W124). Again, it’s a pity when coupés resemble their four-door versions too closely, but the E-Class still manages to have a nice profile. I’m not too keen on the interior design though, with the horrendous steering wheel, and with that fussy centre console, with too many shapes and orders, it doesn’t know what it wants to look like. The lowest cylinder diesel engines are pretty impressive, as you’d expect from the current crop of German mechanical prowess in general, with the same 2.2-litre with three power outputs (136, 170 and 201bhp), but all with the same fuel consumption figures.

    Mercedes SLK – Bleeeargh. First off, it looks awful. Second, only balding, middle-aged men with jumpers tied around their necks and cruising to score with females half their age or disgusting, middle-aged blonds who try everything under the surgeons scalpel not to look like prunes with wigs drive these things. And if I’m not mistaken, it only comes as a hard-top convertible. Hence, it’s not a proper coupé.

    Audi TT – This car is suckingly nauseating to gaze upon. It looks like a stunted bar of soap. It’s far too expensive, especially when compared to its larger, better-looking brand-colleague, the A5, and even more so when compared to its most direct competitor, the Peugeot RCZ.

    Audi A5 -Probably the best rational choice of coupé available today. Nice shape, nice interior (even though it’s practically a carbon copy of all other Audis), and great choice of engines. By far the best is the 2-litre diesel with start/stop tech, which fulfils all needs well and is economic and efficient at the same time. Drawbacks include the price (having some nice options will be worth about 50% of the base-price of the car), the fact that all Audis look the same (though this one manages to be handsome) and the cheapening effect of the existence of the Sportback version.
    Nevertheless, I’ve never hid my, shall we say, hostility towards the brand with four rings, so my saying that this model is probably the best offering in its segment is saying something. A car I wouldn’t detest owning.

A question of coupés (1)

Posted in Car conception, Crap cars, Desirable machines, General opinions with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on 26/01/2011 by Alexander

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.

Amazing! Upcoming Peugeots may not be crap

Posted in Crap cars, Desirable machines, Upcoming cars with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on 25/11/2009 by Alexander

After slagging off Peugeot, and especially the 3008 quite ruthlessly, here’s an entry to prove I’m not a mindless Peugeot hater. The above image came from here, and the fanfair is grand.

Take a look at Peugeot’s new baby coupé! Auto Express has learned that the Lion is getting ready to roar into the small sports car market with this sensational 2+2, which boasts Ferrari style at an affordable price tag.

Phwoar! A insy-bitsy Ferrari! I’m being a little sarky, but let’s be honest: it looks good. Gone are the ridiculous Peugeot grills and exaggeratedly swept-back headlamps. This seems promising! Let’s read on:

Small coupés are big news! You don’t need big engines and a huge price tag to have fun, which is why pint-sized sports cars are making a comeback.

And we’re then treated to a list of future coupés that fill the above criteria, which stupidly include a MINI Coupé (a stupid concept, since the MINI is already coupé-ish, and if you look at the pictures it resembles a MINI that’s previously had cartload of bricks tipped on it) and a Toyota Prius Coupé (?!?!?? I thought a criterion was it had to be fun and pint-sized? How can a bloated, soulless object like a Prius ever be either?).

But is the news of this Peugeot coupé too good to be true? Yes. Sifting through the comments, an interesting datum popped up. The Hyundai Veloster Coupé concept looks suspiciously similar. In fact, it’s obvious this Peugeot coupé was Photoshopped from the Hyundai, which gives us two possibilities; either Peugeot is teaming up with Hyundai to give us a common platform car; or the most certain, AutoExpress has been duped. Besides, after the announcement of the 308 RC Z, it would be stupid for Peugeot to compete with itself before the 308 RC Z was even available.

But fear not! If you, for some unfathomable, irrational, bile-swelling reason have a fancy for the Lion brand, Peugeot have decided to make a car that, at first glance doesn’t completely suck.

Dubbed the 508, it marks the return of the “5” at the beginning of the designation, and harks back to my personal Peugeot favourite, the 504. It’s based on the RC HyMotion 4 concept of 2008, which shows Peugeot at least manages to make good use of its nicer concepts, unlike, say, Citroën, who ignore the C-Airplay. But I digress. This 508 car looks crackingly good, and not just for a Peugeot. It reminds me of an old Bugatti four door saloon, the EB112, which never saw the light of day. It has the same sort of profile and fundamental concept.

In conclusion, it’s a sign that upcoming Peugeots may not be dreary crap after all.

Dream Garage #2 – Alpine A110

Posted in Desirable machines, Dream garage with tags , , , , , , , , on 17/07/2009 by Alexander


Unfortunately, this car is famous for something I don’t really give a crap about: it’s competitive pedigree. Most pictures of it always show it with tacky rally headlights and stickers, while I prefer pictures of it as a gorgeous, streamlined berlinetta.

The A110 started off life in 1961, as an offshoot of the A108 coupé, an amazing-looking car in itself and, very unfortunately, so obscure as to be extremely difficult to find good pictures of and nearly impossible to find details of. Which is a pity, since most of the appeal the A110 has can be traced to the A108.

And though the A110 started out life as an Alpine, when production ended in 1983 it was Renault. Not that this made much difference, since it was powered by Renault engines from the beginning, and interestingly, a 66hp or 95hp 1.1l unit, which sounds a bit weedy for a car with racing credentials. But don’t be fooled, it had a host of other engines, that topped out with a 140hp 1.6l engine.

Its reputation was solidified by the subsequent races it took part in, but which are irrelevant to the “why?” of being in this particular dream garage. The main reason is are the looks: that beautiful silhouette and fantastic styling that puts to shame so many current-day aesthetic flops. That’s the easiest part to explain, especially since I think it’s pretty obvious no-one would want and ugly sprog in the midst of the car of their dreams.

I’ve always been a sucker for coupés. Their sleek profile and two-door cosiness seem to be what attract me the most. The A110 is a small and stylish coupé, the likes of which just don’t exist any more, and makes it all a hell of a lot more attractive still. Most coupés are gigantic, family saloon-sized affairs with massive engines. Seems a bit silly that a two-door car wastes as much space as a four-door version. The A110 is just over 4 metres long (the A108 was just 3.7 metres in length!), making it smaller than a modern-day hatchback. And another thing is that there’s been nothing analogous in recent times, a small, sexy coupé with a piddling little engine. Perhaps the closest there was was the Smart Roadster, though I doubt anyone in there right mind would say it’s nicer-looking than the A110.

So all that remains is us to look at the old Alpine in wonder, and wonder if there’ll ever be a worthy heir.

Alpine A110 Gallery