What Is A Coupe?

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Coupes are very stylish cars with a low-sloping roof and two doors. Their design indicates athleticism and speed. Coupes are often regarded as some of the most remarkable and exciting cars on the road. These stylish performance cars peak curiosity whenever they cruise down the streets. Heads turn to catch a glimpse of their aerodynamic profile, which hints at the power beneath the hood. Coupes can be seen as the rebellious James Deans of the automotive world, offering a provocative alternative to the sensible sedans and boxy SUVs used for daily commuting.

Their sleek, sweeping shape appears ready to glide effortlessly through the air. For decades, coupes have stood as symbols of luxury, performance, and prestige. But what exactly defines this unique class of automobile? What is the history behind the term “coupe,” and what sets these cars apart? This post will delve into the origins, characteristics, and notable models of the dynamic coupe category that continues to thrive today. If you’ve ever wondered what coupes are all about, read on!


The Origins “Coupe” and its Evolution Over Time

The term “coupe” originated in the early 1900s in France,  referring to an automobile with a shortened or “cut” rear section. Early coupes took luxury sedans of their time and transformed them into sleek, aerodynamic vehicles by slanting the roofline down toward the rear. This made the cars appear nimbler and sportier while reducing interior space. The first coupe models, such as the Renault Coupe de Ville, were enclosed two-door “closed cars” that offered the speed and handling of a sports car alongside the refined comfort of an upscale sedan.

As more coupe models emerged, often characterized by aggressive, sweeping body lines, the term became synonymous with performance, luxury, and style.  While coupes traditionally featured two-doors, the concept of the four-door coupe also emerged, maintaining the sloped roofline while adding rear doors. Over time, the term “coupe” evolved from merely signifying a two-door layout to describing any personal luxury performance car with a rakish silhouette that prioritizes aesthetics over practicality.  Today, coupes continue to evoke images of driving pleasure, status, and sleek design.


Types of Coupes

Coupes are available in a wide range of styles and variations. Some of the common types include:

  • Two-door coupe: The classic coupe style with just two doors and a sloped roof, like the Ford Mustang.
  • Four-door coupe: Also known as a quad coupe, featuring four doors and a coupe-like roofline, as seen in the Mercedes-Benz CLS and Audi A7.
  • Hardtop coupe: A coupe with a fixed roof rather than one that a convertible one, similar to the  BMW 4 Series.
  • Convertible coupe: A coupe with a soft top or hardtop roof that can be folded down for open-air driving, like the BMW 2 Series convertible.
  • Fastback coupe: Features a very sloped, hatchback-like roof for enhanced aerodynamics, like an Audi A7.
  • Grand tourer coupe: A high-performance luxury coupe designed for comfort during long trips, like the Bentley Continental GT.
  • Targa top coupe: Equipped with a removable roof panel over the front seats, like a Porsche 911 Targa.
Illustration depicting the various types of coupes: A Look at Different Types

Illustration depicting the various types of coupes: A Look at Different Types


Common Features of Coupes

Coupes possess several distinctive features that set them apart. Firstly, they typically have sport only two doors instead of four. Some newer models may add small rear doors, but two doors are standard. Coupes also have a sloped roofline that gracefully arcs from the front windshield to the rear. This gives them a sleek, aerodynamic look compared to boxy sedans. The sloped roof comes at a cost though – less rear headroom and cargo space. Coupes sacrifice some practicality for style.

Other coupe features include a sporty, performance-oriented design with aggressive lines and detailing. Things like wide tires, large wheels, and expanded wheel arches add to the athletic stance. Coupe interiors also tend to be driver-focused, with details aimed to enhance the driving experience. While features vary, most coupes emphasize sportiness, luxury, and style over practicality.

Safety Features of Coupes

While coupes emphasize performance and style, they also incorporate modern safety technologies. Advanced driver assistance features are increasingly common, including automatic emergency braking, lane-keeping assist, and blind spot monitoring. These technologies help compensate for the visibility challenges of the sloped coupe body style. Additional safety tech include rear-view cameras and around-view monitoring to see all sides of the vehicle on the dash screen.

High-strength steel and crumple zones provide structural integrity and absorb impact in the case of a crash. Coupes also offer front, side, and curtain airbags to protect occupants. And many coupes include advanced traction and stability control systems, as well as anti-lock brakes for accident avoidance. It is advisable that buyers look for coupes with high crash test ratings from IIHS and NHTSA. Despite their focus on driving enjoyment, automakers prioritize safety and collision avoidance technologies in coupes.

Advantages and Disadvantages of Owning a Coupe

Coupes offer various advantages but also come with compromises. On the plus side, coupes provide sleek styling, performance, and a thrilling driving experience. Their sporty handling and responsive accelerator deliver an exciting ride. Coupes also exude an air of luxury and prestige. On the downside, the sloped roof reduces rear seat room and cargo capacity compared to sedans or SUVs.

Coupes typically come with a higher price tag than equivalent sedans, and they might feature firmer suspensions that sacrifice some comfort.  Additionally, performance coupes often require premium fuel. While these tradeoffs may be worth it for those seeking thrills, style, and status, coupes may not be as practical for buyers prioritizing passenger and cargo room.

The iconic Ford Thunderbird coupe pictured in red, a famous and influential persona

The iconic Ford Thunderbird coupe pictured in red, a famous and influential personl luxury coupe model.


Famous Coupe Models Throughout History

Coupes have a rich history, with many iconic models over the decades. In the 1950s and 1960s, the Ford Thunderbird established the category of personal luxury coupes with its sleek styling. The Volkswagen Karmann Ghia, known for its beautifully crafted small coupe design, became popular worldwide. In the 1970s, the Datsun 240Z wowed drivers with its refined Japanese sports coupe design. The BMW 3 Series coupe of the 1980s set the standard for modern luxury coupes.

Iconic American muscle coupes like the Ford Mustang, Chevrolet Camaro, and Dodge Challenger have endured for generations. More recently, luxury coupes like the Mercedes-Benz CLK and sports coupes like the Nissan 350Z have left their mark on the automotive world. From early grand touring coupes to present-day high-tech models, coupes have consistently showcased incredible style, performance, and prestige.

Is a Coupe Right for You?

Deciding if a coupe suits your needs depends on your priorities. Coupes are ideal for drivers who cherish performance, handling, and a distinctive appearance over practical considerations. Their sleek styling and athletic driving dynamics appeal to those seeking an emotional rather than purely rational choice. Coupes work best for sun-loving drivers without frequent rear-seat passengers or substantial cargo needs. It’s worth noting that limited trunk space and rear-seat room may hinder everyday errands.

On the plus side, coupes deliver excitement and individuality that basic transportation cannot match. Coupes provide style, enjoyment, and thrills that surpass comparable sedans for those able to compromise on practicality. It’s essential to prioritize your needs and wants before committing to a coupe. Test driving models of interest and carefully considering their strengths and weaknesses is crucial. . Ensure that the coupe lifestyle aligns with both your practical and emotional needs.


In short, coupes are the ultimate ride for drivers seeking thrills and unique styles. With their sloped roofs and sporty looks, coupes trade practicality for excitement. They offer a mix of luxury, speed, and head-turning design not found in basic sedans and SUVs. Coupes hit the sweet spot for those who care more about passion than practicality. While coupes have less room for passengers and gear, they speak to our emotional side. Their allure is irresistible for anyone whose heart races at the sight of a slick coupe driving by.

These iconic cars represent freedom and the joy of driving in their purest form. Whether an American muscle coupe, a European exotic model, or sleek four-door, coupes rewrite the rules and refreshingly break the mold. For drivers adventurous enough to take the wheel, coupes continue to captivate and delight.

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