Oh, how times have changed. Back in the day, the cool kids of the auto industry were the coupes. They were sleek, shiny, and sexy, the most alluring of the various body types that made up the U.S. car market. With just two doors, they had long, low profiles, tidy greenhouses, and big rear “C” pillars. They were the models car designers wanted to pen — their sketchpads were full of them, while sedans and station wagons were viewed as just work. The Concept cars you’d see at auto shows were coupes, and only when they were “productionized” did we see four-door versions. Let’s face it: If cars were characters in movies, the four-door Sedan would be the dull best friend of the hero who never got the girl, while the Coupe was the name-before-the-title kind of star. But now, that has experienced a 180. Four-doors get all the glory, and those few remaining two-door coupes are relegated to supporting roles if not to the dustbin. All that said, there are coupes out there that still sell and are still worthy of note, so rather than write the segment’s obituary, here are 10 best-selling coupes.
2020 Ford Mustang
The Ford Mustang was the pioneer in the sporty Coupe segment that we now refer to as “pony cars.” When introduced 50 years ago, the Mustang created a sensation the likes of which we haven’t seen since. The car sold like crazy and became a legend. These days, Ford has kept the legend alive and kicking by modernizing and adapting. So for 2020 there are Mustangs powered by 2.3-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engines as well as by 5.0-liter naturally aspirated V8s. Of course, some aspects have come a long way, like the independent rear suspension and the availability of automatic transmissions that offer up to 10 forward speeds. The Mustang still looks like a Mustang, and the long hood and fastback roofline mean the the back seat passengers have distinctly second-class accommodations. But who cares? The people in the front seats are the ones that really matter, and they are keeping the Mustang dream alive.
2020 Dodge Challenger
There is a version of the Dodge Challenger that features a 797-horsepower 6.2-liter V8 engine. No, that’s not a typo. We wrote 797 horsepower and we mean it. And so does Dodge. Of course, the availability of that engine in the SRT Hellcat more than hints about the way the Dodge brand is positioning the Challenger — as the most potent muscle car on the muscle car block. Surely you can get tamer versions of the Challenger, but even the base SXT has a 305-horsepower Pentastar V6. What might be lost in all this is the fact that the Challenge is a pretty decent family car — once the kids of the family have climbed into the back via the giant door openings. The Challenger is 10 inches longer than the Mustang, it offers 10 cubic feet more passenger space, and its trunk is three cubic feet bigger than the Mustang’s. Oh, and it comes with nearly 800 horsepower if you decide you need it.
2020 Chevrolet Camaro
While the Dodge Challenger revels in its size and gets lathered up about its horsepower, the Chevrolet Camaro has gone a different direction. It shares the same overall length as the Mustang, and from the inside it is what some might term compact and others might call claustrophobic. Its trunk has less than 10 cubic feet of volume, significantly smaller than its Ford rival. In its most basic form it is pushed by a 275-horsepower 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine. But after that, things get much more interesting with options like the SS version and its 455-horsepower 6.2-liter V8. And then there’s the ZL1 with its 650-horsepower version of the same engine but now with its mind on drugs. Sure, the Camaro can make you feel like you’re driving inside a tunnel on a bright, sunny day, but versions like the 335-horsepower V6 version and the various V8s will turn that into a positive experience.
2020 Honda Civic Coupe
The Honda Civic is one of the last remaining cars in the U.S. market that is available as both a Sedan and a Coupe. This, of course, was common practice in decades gone by, and it is likely a remnant of the fact that the Civic is now deeply in the midst of its 10th generation. A lot of Civics have passed under the bridge over the decades. In the current iteration, the Civic coupe is offered with two engine choices. The engine in the LX and Sport versions is a 2.0-liter four-cylinder that delivers 158 horsepower, while the EX and Touring trims have a 1.5-liter turbocharged four-cylinder that offers 174 horsepower plus considerably more torque. Both six-speed manual and continuously variable automatic (CVT) transmissions are available. The Civic coupe is front-wheel drive and is more compact than the Mustang and Camaro while also delivering more usable interior room.
2020 Audi A5/S5
If you looked at the Audi A5 as the two-door version of the Audi A4 Sedan, you wouldn’t be off the mark. Taking that logic one step farther, the S5 is the performance version of the A5. The A5 uses a 248-horsepower turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine teamed with a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission. The S5 ups the ante considerably with its 349-horsepower turbocharged 3.0-liter V6 and eight-speed automatic. We think this Coupe’s exterior shape is among the best in the industry, and those seeking added distinction can choose the Black Optic Plus Package that includes black exterior and interior trim, a performance-tuned suspension, 19-inch wheels, and grippier tires. The interior can be enhanced with the available Virtual Cockpit featuring a 12.3-inch configurable gauge cluster. A variety of electronic driver’s aids are available.
2020 MINI Hardtop
The MINI Hardtop doesn’t have a traditional trunk lid, so some might say it is not a coupe. But in this day and age when European four-doors claim to be coupes, we decided to include it in this roundup. Why? Because it is more in the spirit of the traditional coupe than a contemporary hatchback. The base MINI Hardtop is powered by a three-cylinder engine that does a more than adequate job, but we suspect you’ll be more satisfied with the Cooper S whose powerplant is a 189-horsepower turbocharged four-cylinder back by a seven-speed manumatic transmission. In the spirit of the original MINI, the Hardtop is very space-efficient, and that means two adults can survive in the rear seat without many body parts touching one another. We are also fans of the MINI’s whimsical instrument panel, which is strange but also easy to use.
2020 BMW 4 Series
A decade ago, the BMW 4 Series would’ve been referred to as the 3 Series coupe. Then BMW decided to add even numbers to its vehicle configuration scheme after doing quite well sticking with odd numbers for years and years. For the 2020 model year, the key 4 Series model is the 440, which is conservatively attractive in the BMW tradition. Also traditional is the 440’s rear-wheel drive platform, which delivers the handling you’d expect from the marque. Under the hood is a 320-horsepower turbocharged 3.0-liter in-line six-cylinder engine, another bow to BMW tradition. Transmission choices are a six-speed manual and eight-speed automatic. The lush interior is fashioned to accommodate four not five, and we think that was a good decision. The “4” might throw you off a bit, but this car looks, acts, and feels like a 3 Series coupe.
2019 Volkswagen Beetle
Two-doors have become so rare in today’s market that we decided to include a vehicle whose demise has already been confirmed by its manufacturer. Still, there are plenty of current Beetles on Volkswagen dealers’ lots these days and it remains on the current best-sellers list, so we figured there is no harm in putting it in front of you. To our practiced eyes, the current Beetle is an intriguing design with much more snark and appeal that its highly touted predecessor. Under its front hood is a 174-horsepower 2.0-liter four-cylinder, and it transfers torque to the front wheels versus a six-speed automatic transmission that can be manually shifted if you’re feeling especially frisky. The Beetle offers a good driving position and VW’s skillfully arranged instrumentation and controls. Handling is far better than you might expect because there is a very modern suspension under the retro-mod Beetle skin.
2020 Chevrolet Corvette
If you haven’t yet heard, after putting the engine in the front for more than 60 years, the 2020 Chevrolet Corvette will switch to a mid-engine configuration. Chevy has yet to deliver mid-engine Vettes to customers, but based on the previous generation’s sales record, we are confident the new version will make the coupe best-seller list. For one thing, it is a screaming bargain, with its mid-engine configuration, exotic looks, and stunning performance potential. Nestled behind the bucket seats is a 490-horsepower, 6.2-liter successor to the fabled Chevy small-block V8. It powers the rear wheels via an eight-speed manumatic transmission. The instrument panel will dazzle all the computer gamers in the crowd, and the driving position gives you a taste of how Formula One drivers see the pavement. All that said, the most astounding thing about the 2020 Corvette is its price — under $60,000.
2020 Hyundai Veloster
The 2020 Hyundai Veloster has the sad task of trying to follow the mid-engine Corvette on this list, an unenviable task if there ever was one. Surely the Veloster is no Corvette, but it doesn’t pretend to be. Instead, it’s an inexpensive and engaging sport coupe that, in turbocharged form, offers 201 horsepower and 195 lb-ft of torque. Equipped with the standard multi-link rear suspension, the Veloster can be a very entertaining way to get from the mountains to the seashore. Some might say it is not a two-door because it offers an auxiliary opening to enable better access to the rear seat, making the perhaps false assumption that someone wants to get back there. The Veloster Turbo engine is paired with a standard six-speed manual transmission or optional seven-speed dual-clutch automatic. The R-Spec version can be fitted with a B&M Racing sport shifter and other performance tweaks. One intriguing aspect of Veloster is its standard Torque Vectoring Control that mixes electronic stability control with the powertrain systems to enhance cornering.