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The comeback coupe

1892 Views 0 Replies 1 Participant Last post by  TDR

The 2012 Honda Civic Si Coupe. (Source: Honda)

Remember all the coupes that used to be?

Among the names Celica, Civic, Prelude, Sentra, Ion, Chevelle, Monte Carlo, Grand National, Integra, RSX and 240SX, only the Civic remains available in coupe form, while others have either ceased to be or dropped the coupe from their lineups.

It was a popular body style but fell out of fashion over the last 20 years.

Other than Civic, only the higher-end brands have retained the coupe style, and even then, for Mercedes, it’s only the current-generation C-Class that has returned to a coupe style (even Mercedes admits the last C-Class coupe before the current generation was no coupe).

Like Civic, the BMW 3 Series has been another diehard coupe. Honda’s Accord has also retained the coupe style.

I for one mourned the affordable coupe. I thought it was classic, particularly if given a longer hood and shorter trunk deck style. It was a way to be a little bit sporty and a little bit practical.

You got a trunk for stuff, hidden from view unlike a lot of the hatchbacks of the day, and the rear seat usually wasn’t total purgatory for anyone sitting there.

My favourites back in the day included the Toyota Celica (needed more power), Honda Prelude and the Nissan 240 SX.

It seemed as though the coupe, at least among more affordable cars, was going the way of the carburetor and the distributor cap. Destined to be just another memory.

A lot of it seemed to be due to the American resistance toward buying small cars.

But since the rise in gasoline prices has driven even the American market toward small cars, the newfound interest seems to be sparking a renaissance of sorts for the affordable coupe.

You had to go larger (Accord, Altima) or high-end (Infiniti G, BMW 3, Mercedes C-Class, etc.) to get a coupe.

A few years back, Kia came out with the Forte Koup, which, thanks to Kia’s hiring of Peter Schreyer, former head of design for Audi, has a very A5 air about it.

The 2013 Hyundai Elantra Coupe. (Source: Hyundai)

Scion is now into the second-gen tC coupe and newly arrived or arriving soon are the Subaru BRZ, Scion FR-S and Hyundai Elantra coupes.

Even MINI got into the act, with its coupe that looks a little bit like Vanilla Ice, given the roof that looks like a backwards baseball cap.

John Vernile, vice-president of marketing at Hyundai Canada, said Hyundai is forecasting a rise in market share of compact coupes to about six per cent of the market by 2014, which is enough to spark interest in offering a coupe version of the Elantra.

“We thought the Civic coupe was getting a little lonely, so we wanted to give it some company,” he joked.

Chad Heard, public relations manager at Hyundai, was even more optimistic: “We think there’s going to be a resurgence of the coupe BECAUSE of the Elantra coupe.”

We can thank Toyota’s decision to launch Scion in Canada for the tC and FR-S, both of which would not have happened with just the Toyota brand.

Toyota Canada managing director Stephen Beatty, in discussing the Scion brand’s arrival, noted that Scion gives Toyota more freedom to bring more exciting cars to Canada without fear of alienating core Toyota customers.

Will we see more coupes coming down the pipe? MINI is apparently coming out with another coupe, a three-door version of the Countryman, and the coupe style is a common toy for designers to play with on concept cars, even if the end goal is a sedan.

But maybe the addition of another affordable coupe will help this style gain more traction and attract more players.

Fingers crossed.

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