Tuesday 8th January 2013


PH BLOG: WHAT HAPPENED TO THE AFFORDABLE COUPE?

Remember when cheap coupes were everywhere? Well, where've they all gone?


Back in the late 90s, I had a thing for the Peugeot 406 Coupe. I know, I know... but I remember being taken in by its snakey front end, its gently-curved shoulder line and its crisp, pert backside. (Easy tiger - Ed.) Every road test I read praised its lusty V6 powerplant and agile, supple chassis. I didn't care that at heart it was just a fairly humdrum front-wheel-drive repmobile. For me, a coupe was all about the way it looked, and the way it went - and the 406 Coupe did both in a way that got me a little hot under the collar.

200SX: a rear-drive hero of its time
200SX: a rear-drive hero of its time
What I really loved about it, though, was that it was accessible. OK, not for me - I was 13 years old at the time - but it was a car we could, theoretically at least, own. And it was just one of a whole host of coupes that, during the late 90s, brought glamour to the masses. Remember the VW Corrado, the Alfa GTV, the Fiat Coupe, the Ford Puma, and the Nissan 200SX?

Where are they now? Today's coupes start at the distinctly premium end of the market - Iím thinking here of the Audi TT and A5, Nissan 370Z, BMW 4 Series and their ilk. Thereís the Scirocco, ostensibly a successor to the Corrado - but whether it's a true, swoopy coupe or just a very handsome three-door Golf is open to debate. Same goes for the Megane Coupe. In fact, the Toyobaru and Peugeot RCZ are the only two cars I can think of offering accessible thrills in a proper, 2+2-shaped body but neither is as cheap or attainable as, say, the Puma was.

Nothing like the Puma around today
Nothing like the Puma around today
Suddenly, bare-bones Mini Coupe aside, it seems the affordable coupe is a rare beast indeed. I didn't really notice them going, but I can't help but think it's a pity. Market forces logic isn't going to stop me lamenting their demise either. Oh sure, we've got some fantastic warm- and hot-hatches, but something a little more 2+2-flavoured and a little less family-oriented for the DINKYs among us would be a delight.

Rumours of Ford reviving the Puma (or the Capri, depending on which publication you read) surface perennially, and some noises have emanated from Nissan about a GT86 rival. But apart from that, all's quiet on the cheap coupe front. If nobody wants them, that's fair enough. But you'll still find a little corner of Kent where there's a bearded man wishing such things were still around.

And with that, I'm off to browse the classifieds for old Pugs, Fiats and Alfas.

Alex

Author: Alex Robbins
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