Back in the day, a coupe could be defined as a car that has two doors and a sporty look. The likes of the Bentley Continental GT, BMW M3, and Jaguar XKR are prime examples of a coupe. Choosing between a coupe and a saloon is always a tough decision. A coupe is undoubtedly more popular amongst the fans of cars with a sporty look, but what a saloon offers is something more practical. You could never have both as designing a sporty-looking roof was not possible if the car had four doors. However, thanks to the developments in technology, and with the introduction of the Mazda RX-8 in 2003 the world had its first ever coupe to have four doors.
Since what made an old-school coupe so uncomfortable for some was the fact that it had just two doors, this ‘coupe’ with four doors kick started a new trend. The Mazda RX-8 had a lower engine output than its previous model, the RX-7, but it was easier to control and was much more practical. The Mercedes CLS, unveiled a year later in 2004, was not only a continuation of that trend but also took this coupe-saloon hybrid to perfection.
Fellow German manufacturers and competitors Volkswagen, inspired by the worldwide success enjoyed by the CLS, joined the party. The Volkswagen Passat CC, released in 2008, was yet another four-door coupe, and the company’s intentions in deciding to manufacture the CC were crystal clear, as it stands for ‘Comfort Coupe’. Porsche, under the same ownership as Passat, came up with its own version of four-door coupe, the Porsche Panamera in 2009, and, on the other side of the globe, Korean car manufacturing giants Hyundai introduced the sixth generation of their famous Sonata. The Sonata YF, also known as the Hyundai i45, was an ambitious project by the Koreans which cost them around 370 million USD, although it did not exactly live up to the hype considering its staggering development cost. The list goes on and on, as the Jaguar XF, Aston Martin Rapide, Fisker Karma, and Lamborghini Estoque all fall into the same category as modern day coupes.
Credits should go to both the Mazda RX-8 and the Mercedes RX-8 for signalling the beginning of something new, and manufacturers of the automobile industry are allowed to be more creative now, as the BMW X6 suggests. Many at first glance would beg the question whether the BMW X6 is a coupe or an SUV. The answer is neither, as, it has been in fact marketed as an SAC – a Sports Activity Coupe – that has the attributes of an SUV and a coupe. The days when many consumers had the dilemma of having to choose either between a coupe and saloon or between a coupe and SUV are seemingly long gone.