What is a coupe?

Two doors and a stylish design: read on to find out what makes a coupe

BuyaCar team
Oct 19, 2017

With a roof that slopes down to the back and just two doors, a coupe is one of the least practical cars on sale. Getting into the back seats through the front doors is usually cumbersome; the low roof reduces headroom; and the boot is small. But this all misses the point.

That's because coupes are about style and performance - designed to go fast and look fast, even when they are standing still.

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Despite the practical concerns and cost - coupes tend to be more expensive than an equivalent hatchback or saloon - there's enough demand for their sleek looks that there's plenty of choice, from the small BMW 2 Series coupe and Audi TT, up to the Jaguar F-Type or Porsche 911.

Some, such as the Audi A5 (below) are redesigned versions of existing models. The A5 shares the same mechanical parts and has the same interior design as the Audi A4. It just looks curvier, has two doors, and is more cramped in the back.

As well as affecting interior space, a coupe’s flowing lines and emphasis on looking good, means the boot is often quite small, with a narrow opening that makes loading difficult. It doesn't help that it’s usually not possible to access it from the inside.

At the end of the day, a traditional coupe is a car you buy with your heart, rather than your head. But some manufacturers are looking to increase the appeal of coupes by increasing their practicality and badging some more spacious four-door cars, as well as taller sport utility vehicles (SUVs) as coupes. There are more details on this new generation below.


Other types of coupe

Car manufacturers believe that just the word 'coupe' suggests style, power and speed, and so they have expanded the definition of a coupe to cars with more doors, a higher driving position or a different type of boot in the hope that the attributes will rub off.

Hatchback coupe

Hatchbacks have a steep - almost vertical - bootlid at the back, which opens up the entire rear of the car. But some manufacturers badge their three-door hatchbacks (which have two side doors and the large bootlid) as coupes. These include Hyundai, with its i20 coupe and Vauxhall with the GTC coupe (above). They are often designed to look more stylish than the five-door versions, but don't have the traditional coupe outline.

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Four- and five-door coupes

Mercedes started the trend for larger coupes with its CLS, which it called a four-door coupe because it had a more curved design than the E-Class saloon that it was based on, as well as a more agile feel in corners. The latest version is pictured above.

Since then, other manufacturers have followed suit, so you have the BMW 4 Series Gran Coupe. This is a larger version of the standard 4 Series coupe with four side doors and a hatchback boot (making it a five-door car). There's also the Audi A5 Sportback and A7 Sportback cars, which are also five-door vehicles with sportier styling.

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SUV coupes

These are an unlikely blend of the high driving position and rugged build of an off-road sport utility vehicle (SUV) with the sporty driving feel and curved styling of a coupe. And they've proved extremely popular since the first SUV coupe - the BMW X6 appeared.

Mercedes offers coupe versions of its GLC and GLE SUVs, and BMW has the X4 (above) and X6. The Range Rover Evoque coupe is an option too.

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Reasons to buy a coupe

✔ Stylish and usually fun to drive
✔ Most coupes have rear seats, so there's room for children, at least
✔ Fuel costs can be no more than a standard hatchback or saloon


What's wrong with coupes

✘ Usually an expensive option
✘ Curved roof, small boot and (normally) two doors make them impractical
✘ Some have restricted views due to the styling   



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