We have never seen anything like this before. If you want a coupe, you buy a coupe and if you want sedan, well, you buy a sedan. It was always that simple and nothing was ever on the market that would give drivers a choice between the two.
The Germans changed all that with the Mercedes-Benz CLS. It was a revolutionary design that allowed for four-doors, but also integrated a coupe style with a sloping rear. It was a bold step and it paid off better than we expected.
Soon, a wave of new sedan-coupes began to hit the market. Well, when we say a wave, we mean more like a small ripple. The market was rather slow on the uptake, but Volkswagen soon joined the party with the CC. While the CLS was an expensive piece of luxury for a very few, the CC was more mass market. Still, like the outcast lunch table in high school, others were reluctant to join.
Years later we have a few new models that have been welcomed to the sedan-coupe table. Audi has just [unveiled the A7 and BMW is working on the Gran Coupe. Porsche has created the Panamera, which is shockingly ugly, and Aston Martin has the Rapide. Even Hyundai is getting in on the mix.
So, now we must ask, will this trend catch on further, or are we looking at a select few examples of a new fade that will soon fade away?
Hit the jump to keep reading.
From the moment that Mercedes-Benz brought out the wonderfully gorgeous CLS-Class in 2005, competitors have been trying to offer their own version of the four-door coupe. It has taken quite some time, but the style does appear to be catching on.
The four-door coupe has the traditional coupe sporty roofline, but this new sedan variant adds two more doors for a bigger passenger compartment. These new cars might not be for everyone, as the sloped rear might leave rear headroom a bit short, but some are willing to sacrifice function for form.
For 2011 there is a new CLS on the way. The current CLS is based on the older E-Class platform, while the new 2011 model will be based on a new platform, the W212. It will gain a few new stylistic upgrades, including rear fender blisters like the E-Class and a more upright grille like the SLS.
Power is likely to come from new six-cylinder and eight-cylinder direct-injected and turbocharged engines. There is even talk of a hybrid model. As you can see, the CLS is serious business for the Mercedes team.
The first automaker to join the party was Volkswagen with the CC. BMW came along behind them with the sport utility vehicle X6, which was a bit disappointing. We have heard that BMW is working on a Gran Coupe, which will be more similar to the CLS than the X6 was.
BMW is a bit late to the party with the Gran Coupe. They tried to make taller versions of the CLS, but they failed miserably. The Gran Coupe will most likely be called the 6-Series Gran Coupe and it’s expected to keep most of the same design elements as the prototype. We don’t have much information on the car as of now, but we should expect to see it sometime around 2012.
We have had the CLS and the CC for quite some time now and BMW is about to enter the mix, but even old school automaker Jaguar has joined with the XF.
We loved the XF and we actually like it more than the two German cars because of its aggressive look and fun interior. Not to mention you can get the XF with a monstrous supercharged V8 that will put out 503 horsepower.
Jaguar hasn’t stopped with the XF; they are going all out with the new XJ. The company is finally breaking from its retro styling that has dated back to the late 1960s to offer a fresh design based heavily on the XF. The 2010 XJ is just amazing and it should be a big hit if Jaguar can convince people to leave their German sedans behind.
The new styling is longer and wider than the old car. The front end has clear links with the XF, although with slimmer lights and a larger grille. Around back there are upright, swooping taillights, and black roof panels on each side of the rear screen.
Audi is now following their rivals to the design party with the all-new A7. The car is roughly the same size as the CC, but it will get some Audi touches. Like all Audi models, the high output S7 and RS7 models will follow later on in the production cycle and are expected to have a 600 HP variant of the twin turbocharged 5.2 Liter V10 under the hood.
The S7 is a bit late to the party, but it’s rather beautiful nonetheless. Thankfully, Audi hasn’t done what BMW did with 5-Series Gran Turismo and make a tall A6. In fact, the A7 is shorter than the A6.
Inside, the A7 is typical Audi. The car gets the latest MMI interface and drivers can even write commands, find points of interes,t and call up phone numbers, all on a touch pad.
Under the hood of the U.S version will be the 300 horsepower supercharged V6 from the S4. If you live in Europe you get a choice of two petrols or two diesels. All-wheel drive is also standard. Audi estimates the 0 to 62 mph sprint will take 5.6 seconds, with an electronically limited top speed of 155 mph.
Even the Koreans are getting in on this style wave. The new Hyundai Sonata is a thing of beauty. We loved it so much that we named it our top pick in the midsize sedan segment. They are even creating a turbo version.
Who wants to stay mainstream though? Why not live a little and take a look at some of the more expensive offerings. Our favorite four-door luxury sedan is the new Aston Martin Rapide. This car is just gorgeous in every single way. The front is stunning, the rear is stunning, and the interior is stunning. Under the hood is a magical V12 that helps this sedan become a rocket ship.
Not too lovely is the Porsche Panamera, which has fallen off the ugly tree. Porsche is horrible at designing things, mostly because they try to make cars that aren’t 911s, into 911s. The front of the Panamera is a bit 911ish, but the rear is horrid and the interior is equally as bad. This is one of the rare examples of the four-door coupe’s dark side.
While the four-door sedan coupes have had the market to themselves, the larger and mostly useless SUVs have begun to push their way in. The BMW X6, the Acura ZDX, and the Honda Accord Crosstour all do the same thing as their sedan cousins, just with an inferiority complex.
We really don’t like any of these new SUV-coupe things. The X6 is ugly, the ZDX is pretty hideous, and the Crosstour is the only decent one. All of these cars aren’t good off road because they’re too concerned about being a car and are not good on the road because they are just too tall.
So, we like most of these new offerings. The Rapide, CC, A7, and so on are good cars and will most certainly sell well. The others, like the Panamera, the X6, the ZDX, and the Crosstour, were just hit with an ugly stick too many times for our liking.
Will this trend continue? Yes. Just look how well the Hyundai Sonata is selling at the moment. The same can be said for the CC and CLS. Both are selling fairly well and they are both aging gracefully. The only market that hasn’t quite caught on is the American market, but what else is new?