Coupes are the dream machines of the American car culture. sedans are great, but too practical to epitomize the freedom an automobile brings in quite the same way as a coupe or convertible. Gathered here are tomorrow’s classics and today’s dreams of open road freedom from the pure muscle of the 2008 Dodge Challenger to the upscale luxury and performance of the Cadillac CTS Coupe Concept. We start with the most recently debuted.
Photo Credit: Staff, Automakers
2009 BMW M3 Convertible
The M3 has evolved over time from a racing homologation car into a full-fledged lineup unto itself. The newest M3 has already debuted in coupe and sedan form, and both are bona fide winners. Like the coupe and sedans, the M3 convertible comes with a 4.0-liter V-8 pushing 414 horses at a lofty 8,300 rpm, and 295 lb.-ft. of torque at 3,900 rpm. The new über Bimmer also boasts a six-speed manual transmission, locking differential, an aluminum chassis, electronic damper control, cross-drilled cast iron rotors, and Servotronic steering with Normal and Sport modes.
2009 Dodge Challenger
The most notable features of the new Challenger reside under hood, specifically, the 3.5-liter V-6 engine in the SE, and the 5.7-liter Hemi V-8 in the R/T. Buyers looking for the style of the Challenger, but can’t afford or don’t need the hairy-chested V-8 engines can opt for the SE. With 250 horsepower and a four-speed automatic, it won’t be the most exciting model, but it looks a lot like its brawnier stablemates. The R/T model follows the usual Dodge model lineup, slotting in above the SE but below the SRT8. With a 370 horsepower V-8 engine mated to a five-speed automatic, the R/T is no slouch.
2010 Hyundai Genesis Coupe
Three trims will be available for sale: the base GS with a 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine, electronic stability control and traction control, airbags all around and standard Bluetooth capability. Next up is the GT, with a naturally-aspirated 3.8-liter V-6. The GT also adds chrome interior/exterior accents, a leather-wrapped steering wheel, and more. The top model, the SE, offers either engine with standard features such as HID headlights, leather-trimmed seats, Brembo brakes and a sport-tuned suspension. Optional on the SE is a limited slip differential. Reports on the Web indicate that pricing will start at just under $20,000 and top out at over $25,000.
Kia Koup Concept
How about a 290-horsepower turbocharged engine with your Kia? If you like that you’ll probably appreciate the six-speed automatic transmission with paddle shifters, the Brembo brakes, the navigation system with Bluetooth, and what represents Kia’s first foray into coupe design. According to Kia’s own public relations spokesman, the brand known for low prices and great warranties needs to focus a bit more on the styling front. The Koup concept is a strong representation of what Spectra shoppers will likely encounter, in coupe and sedan form, sometime within the next 12-18 months.
2009 Mini John Cooper Works
Mini takes the S model’s turbocharged 1.6-liter, four-cylinder engine, makes some internal changes, adds a new intake and exhaust, and presto-chango the little engine now produces 207 horsepower and 192 lb.-ft. of torque. Maximum torque is available from 1,850 rpm to 5,500 rpm. In addition, turbo boost pressure is increased under acceleration from 2,000 rpm to 5,300 rpm, which ups the torque to 207 lb.-ft. All of that is good for a 0-62 mph in 6.5 seconds for the Mini and 6.8 seconds for the Clubman. A six-speed manual gearbox and a variety of suspension setups are available.
2009 Pontiac Solstice Coupe
With the GXP’s 260-horsepower, turbocharged 2.0-liter engine at its heart, this is the newest Solstice, a stunning coupe that promises as much as the convertible did - and just may deliver on more than looks alone. The differences are obvious: this Solstice has a hardtop removable roof and design changes to the rearward part of the vehicle, including a rear duck-tail spoiler, glass back hatch and expanded cargo area. The powertrain and interior are mostly left alone in this update. It’s scheduled to go on sale in 2009. Pricing has not yet been announced.
Scion Hako Concept
“Hako” means “box” in Japanese, a fact that is somewhat obvious when you first lay eyes on the Hako Coupe concept unveiled at the New York Auto Show. Slathered in bright orange and packed with advanced features for active youths, the Hako’s strongest feature is its unique style. One of the first things to jump to mind is a classic T-Bucket hot rod, or maybe even a '32 Ford (think ZZ Top’s babe-laden ride from the ’80s). A pure concept, nothing about a possible engine was announced.
2009 Jaguar XKR Portfolio
When you see the word “Portfolio” in a Jaguar’s name, expect three things. First, there won’t be very many of them. Second, there will be luxurious surroundings, such as leather-covered dash, sumptuous seating, high-end audio systems and maybe even a few extra performance goodies. The XKR Portfolio sports the same engine and transmission as other XKRs: A 4.2-liter supercharged V-8 coupled to a six-speed automatic transmission with manual shift control. The combination is good for 420 horsepower, and makes the XKR seriously quick.
2009 Mercedes-Benz SL
The SL roadster is the Silver Arrow’s flagship sports car – tracing its lineage back to the 300SL “Gullwing” – and Mercedes-Benz showed off the facelifted 2009 model at the Geneva Auto Show earlier this year. New features accompany the new look, including Airscarf, which is designed to keep occupants warm when driving top-down on a chilly day. The lineup for 2009 includes the SL550 and 600 and the AMG SL65 and the newly introduced AMG SL63. The two-seat, retractable hardtops arrive in U.S. dealers this spring. Pricing is yet to be announced.
BMW 1 Series tii Concept
Long-time fans of the Roundel logo will recognize the tii suffix as being one that graced the later model 2002 sedan of the 1970s. BMW has made no secret that it wants the 1 Series to be viewed as a car in the same vein as the 2002 – a light, agile, quick two-door sedan. The emphasis here is on weight reduction and aerodynamics. There's no word on what powers the BMW 1 Series tii Concept, but we suspect it’s the same twin-turbocharged, 300-horsepower inline six-cylinder engine that's found in the production 135i, along with the standard six-speed manual gearbox.
2008 Dodge Challenger SRT8
Challenger – the name couldn’t be any more appropriate. Modern American muscle has been the sole realm of the Ford Mustang for years. That ends with the launch of the 2008 Dodge Challenger SRT8, a 425-horsepower pavement-peeling retro ride that’s got enthusiasts salivating and Ford’s pony surely riled. Yeah, it’s got a Hemi, one with 6.1 liters of displacement and pushing 425 horses at 6,200 rpm and 420 lb.-ft. of torque at 4,800 rpm. A five-speed automatic transmission with a manual mode directs the engine’s grunt to the rear set of 20-inch Goodyears.
2009 Mitsubishi Eclipse
Mitsubishi took the wraps off its 2009 Eclipse in Chicago, with an Evo-inspired grille, diffuser-style rear end on GT models, new wheels, a larger rear wing and a whopping two horsepower increase in V-6 models thanks to a new dual exhaust system. The four-cylinder is the same 2.4-liter 162-horsepower unit from previous years, and is available with either a five-speed manual or four-speed automatic routing power to the front wheels. Eclipse GTs with the V-6 get a two-horsepower bump thanks to a new dual exhaust system, for a total of 265 ponies.
2009 Audi TTS
Move over, Boxster. After 10 years – much of it spent as a performance runner-up – the Audi TT gets an S of its very own. The TTS brings real performance credentials to the tune of 272 horsepower and 258 lb.-ft. of torque. Pricing is expected to settle in at around 60 grand. A turbocharged V-6 will produce 272 horsepower and 258 lb.-ft. of torque’s worth of fun. The TTS also comes with Audi's adaptive magnetic dampening system and the S-tronic dual-clutch gearbox. Performance times as reported by Audi have the coupe getting to 60 mph in 5.4 seconds, with the convertible just a shade slower.
2008 BMW 1 Series Convertible
The 1 Series Convertible has everything that is wonderful about the coupe, except in place of a fixed metal roof, there’s a folding cloth top. The 128i version will arrive first, sometime in the spring, with the 135i showing up later in the year. Drivetrains on both models are identical to the hardtop versions. The 128i comes with the 2.8 liter inline six, which puts out 230 horsepower and 200 lb.-ft. of torque, while the 135i is powered by a twin-turbo, 3.5 liter inline six, which pumps out 300 horsepower and 300 lb.-ft. of torque. Stability and traction control are standard and can be completely turned off.
Cadillac CTS Coupe Concept
The CTS Coupe Concept debuted with a diesel powertrain in an obvious tip o’ the cap to the European market, the CTS Coupe will come to North America powered by the 3.6-liter, V-6 engine. Yes, that’s the one that makes 300-plus horsepower. It comes with a standard six-speed manual transmission, sending rear-drive power to 20-and 21-inch wheels. The diesel featured on the floor is a new 2.9-liter turbo diesel currently in development. Production plans were not announced, beyond a muttered “we’re really serious about this car.”
2009 Chevrolet Camaro
Few cars have been anticipated as much as the 2009 Chevrolet Camaro. After all, this isn’t just a next-gen follow-up to the waning years of the beloved pony car. The 2009 Camaro takes the best styling cues from the 1969 summer of love model and merges them with modern day technology bringing us a Mustang racer that is not only “far out,” but also “bangin’ hot. No powertrain has been confirmed for the 2009 Chevrolet Camaro yet, but the rumor mill has most people guessing that there will be three to four engines available: two V-6 choices and at least one if not two V-8s.
2009 Mercedes-Benz SLK
With a new SLK three years away, the 2009 Mercedes-Benz SLK needs only to hold serve, tweak interest and keep the plate warm for the real update. Thanks to a bump in horsepower, a very SLR-esqe snout and a new rear, the SLK should do exactly that, though Mercedes fans will soon be clamoring for more. Improvements in the power department should keep things interesting for now, with the SLK350 enjoying a boost in horsepower, to 305, slong with 266 lb.-ft. of torque. The 1.8-liter supercharged engine in the SLK200 Kompressor goes to 184 horsepower and 184 lb.-ft. of torque.