What You Should Know Before Buying Coupes
Although at one time it was common for manufacturers to offer both two and four doors on the same platform, and the coupe versions often became design icons (consider the ’57 Chevy or – from the same era – Chrysler’s 300), today you typically have a sedan lineup with an emphasis on accessibility and – on the other side of the showroom – 2-door coupes with no obvious relationship to their 4-door siblings. At Ford, the Fusion and Focus 4-doors have nothing in common with the Mustang other than their Ford logos. The Germans (and Honda) will still provide you with a 2-door variant closely related to their 4-door sedans, but all are – at this point in time – fading business models. Should you want a 2-door or the niche-oriented 4-door ‘coupe’, know that you’re sacrificing practicality while garnering that elusive ‘look at me’, at least for the duration of your commute or errand running. And if maintained properly and kept on the road, at the end of your ownership you’ll undoubtedly enjoy better resale performance than if you had purchased its 4-door stablemate. That’s if – of course – there exists a 4-door stablemate.
Exterior – When drawing a concept sketch, the designer is most often illustrating it with two doors and an aggressively lowered roofline. And whether equipped with two doors (most often) or four (BMW’s Gran Coupes, Mercedes CLS), it will be invariably be more difficult to live with than its sedan or crossover counterpart. But when walking up to an aggressive coupe in anticipation of the drive, its looks will invariably make you feel more excited by that drive. It’s simply the sense of anticipation a well-designed coupe can give you, and something many 4-doors won’t.
Interior – Given that a coupe is typically more tightly drawn, the modern interior can also seem more personal or claustrophobic. And while base Camaros and Mustangs can be purchased for around $25K, and their interiors reflect that budgeting, many coupes come from luxury carmakers and their interiors reflect those luxury price points. Plastics are still evident, but they are better plastics augmented with nicer leather, color choices and – not incidentally – as much tech as you can throw a mouse at. These cars, targeted most often to young adults, young couples and empty nesters, will be among the first to embrace the new audio and connectivity, if only because their relatively low volumes make their tech-imbued launches that much easier.
Powertrains – In the crossfire between a consumer’s desire for performance and the government’s very real desire to keep everyone (even coupe owners) as efficient as possible sits the product team. Historically a coupe means big V8 power in America or tuner-type performance from Europe and Japan. Think Fast and Furious meets the Fonz. The good news: At a time when technology seems to have finally caught up with mandates, Ford doesn’t need to reintroduce the Mustang II. Rather, they simply turbocharge the heck out of a 2.3 liter 4-cylinder, giving it V6-like horsepower and V8-like torque. They’ve done that, while Chevy follows a similar strategy with a 4-cylinder Camaro. The cars aren’t smaller, but the EPA estimates would tell you they are. Across the Atlantic, Audi, Benz and BMW are committed to the turbocharged four and – for those driving on that side of 150 miles per hour – the turbocharged six. And they go like schnell.
Safety – Unlike their convertible counterparts, there is little in the coupe menu to be off-putting to the 2-door prospect. Given what is typically their lower, more rakish profile outward visibility might be compromised, but the (potentially) reduced ride height also provides a lower center of gravity and better inherent stability. There is, however, a more driver-centric culture revolving around the design and build of a coupe, and to that end the nanny features you might find in your crossover are deemphasized in a coupe or only available in more expensive iterations. From a personal perspective, Autoblog staffers typically find a high performance coupe the safest way to enjoy that high performance.
Technology –Today, if a manufacturer opts for an introduction at a major auto show the offering is more typically devoted to newly-introduced technology within the product than the outside sheetmetal or under-the-hood enhancements. Of course, within any vehicle automotive technology can take many forms, including those intended to improve the aforementioned safety, efficiency, connectivity or entertainment. With its Tech of the Year Award in 2016, Autoblog recognized Apple CarPlay for its user-friendliness and “overall impact on bringing our connected lives into the car.” If you’re an iPhone user, the control of apps is done via a familiar interface on an infotainment screen while adding features that weren’t originally installed at the factory. Android Auto was second in the voting, delivering to the user essentially the same capabilities via Google’s phone OS.
With automotive technology’s trickle down, you can expect in-car WiFi to enjoy greater availability, and its integration into a ‘media hub’ increasingly common. Of course, what happens in the dash is not all that’s happening with the operation of the coupe. For those that obtained their license without parallel parking, the optional parking assist available from an increasing number of manufacturers will park the car for you. Rearview cameras are the norm, and 360-degree cameras are increasingly available on both luxury and more moderately priced cars.
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