What is a coupe?

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

BuyaCar team
Feb 27, 2020

Coolness is ineffable - some things are just cool, and some things just aren’t. Coupes, to most people, are the coolest type of car on the road.

Maybe it’s the sloping sleek lines. Maybe it’s the fact that they’re a lot less practical - after all, being practical is deeply uncool.

Either way, coupes exude style and performance, and are designed to look quick, even if they’re not.

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 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.

Used coupes

The coupe body style has always been a something of an aspirational car for many people. Coupes are always cast as the car you dream of, and all the coolest movie characters drive them, they're the kind of cars you dream of owning some day. They're also out of reach for most of us, their high price tags make buying a brand new coupe a serious investment, although it is possible to pick up some of the cheaper options for some very affordable prices, and we have some excellent examples available right here on BuyaCar.

Coupes: pros and cons


More stylish than other cars
Most coupes have rear seats
Fuel costs aren't too pricey


Usually an expensive option.
Impractical by design
Restricted view for driving

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.

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, with cars lik 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.

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.


Read more about:

Latest jargon busters

  1. Electric car glossary: jargon busting kWh and more

  2. What is horsepower?

  3. What is voice control?