I have long believed that the best auto reviewer is the one who can put him or her self into the shoes of a vehicle’s intended target consumer’s shoes. I have tried very hard over the past few years to do it. Friend of The Garage, Jil McIntosh does it possibly better than anyone I’ve ever read. There is one market segment that eludes my ability to morph into: the mid range coupe.
Some might say that this market segment is targeted at young, upwardly mobile women and there is no way in Hell that I’m ever going to fit into a pair of Manolo Blahniks. I would go along with this except for the fact that Jil and a number of my other female writer friends have absolutely no problem fitting into mud splattered work boots of the 1 ton pick up buyer.
Perhaps that has something to do with the fact that Jil has a penchant for (and a collection of) old iron, including vintage tractors. Some of those others I mentioned are hard core racers or rodders, so they’ve got the muscle genre covered too.
A decade ago, I worked at a Honda store where I noted that everyone loved the Accord Coupe, but wouldn’t buy one as it was totally impractical and about a hundred horsepower shy of being a sports car. Ditto the Camry Coupe a few years later when I worked in a Toyota store. Both cars looked great and drove nicely, but suffered from a lack of practicality and performance. The trunk is inevitably small and rear seat ingress and egress are hopeless.
My tester this week is a 2010 Nissan Altima Coupe, powered by the ubiquitous 3.5 liter VQ series, 6 cylinder engine mated to a CVT transmission. It’s a really nice car, comfortable interior and a pleasure to drive on a sunny day with the tunes cranked and the roof open. I think it looks great and I’ve noticed that it has turned a few heads. The problem is that I just don’t get it.
I know that I look at functionality as an important part of most of my reviews, but that isn’t always the case. I still drool all over myself when I get the opportunity to drive a Zed car, even though there is next to no practicality. The car is all about the driving experience. There are more than a few true coupes on the road that I feel the same way about, cars with 2 seats and lots of go. I love driving them. If the budget were to present itself, I would buy one myself. As a third car in the driveway.
I just can’t seem to wrap my head around these mid range coupes. You could almost call them a crossover. They don’t offer the functionality of a sedan, nor do most of them offer the performance of some of the true 2 seaters. Sure, they have a back seat, but it is tough enough to squeeze the kids back there let alone a gaggle of Carrie Bradshaw wannabes who might bust a heel while clambering in. There are more than a few stylish sedans on the market that look just as good and perform even better.
What do you think folks; are these mid range coupes a waste of development dollars or should automakers continue attempting to flog them?