Miles of smiles in Hyundai's coupe de grace

Looking for style on a budget? Hyundai's Coupe may be for you, says ANDY ENRIGHT.Beauty may be only skin deep buy Hyundai's Coupe has long majored on some serious skin-deep success.

Looking for style on a budget? Hyundai's Coupe may be for you, says ANDY ENRIGHT.

Beauty may be only skin deep buy Hyundai's Coupe has long majored on some serious skin-deep success. In its original form it found favour as a quirkily-styled budget coupe that looked a good deal more expensive than it was.

The driving characteristics weren't bad either, but as soon as you saw the interior, it was apparent it was, in fact, nothing exotic. A facelift in 1999 somewhat spoiled the looks but it wasn't until the second-generation Coupe in 2002 that we could appreciate what Hyundai's engineers and stylists had been beavering away on.


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The current Coupe is a very handsome car indeed and with a 2.7-litre V6 engine option, it can back up the looks with a charismatic powerplant. With very few demerits and a big quota of plus points the Coupe makes a sound used buy.

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What you pay

Prices for the Coupe have been depressed by the amount of import cars that appeared from Europe and aggressively-priced examples at car supermarkets. That means bargains for the likes of us, a 2002 registered 1.6-litre S retailing at about �3,000 with the 2.0-litre SE from �3,600. The desirable 2.7-litre V6 model holds its value relatively well considering the lofty running costs with �3,400 the opening point for negotiations on a 2002 car. Insurance is a reasonable group 8 for the 1.6, rising to group 10 for the 2.0 litre car and 14 for the 2.7 V6.

What you get

The value proposition we come to expect from Korea. What we still view as something of a novelty is a car that can stand comparison with the best in class without taking the upfront price into account. That's where the latest Coupe is so impressive. Take the styling. That cutback side window and the arc of the roofline shout Ferrari 456, while the front-end treatment looks like the best post-millennial American-Fords. The rounded rear is still recognisably Hyundai, but the overall effect is cohesive and mature. You'll get a sense of d�j� vu when you see the vertical gill slats behind the front wheels. Where have they come from? They are increasingly appearing on many designs, the Range Rover among them, and are another styling feature filched from Ferrari.

This somewhat shameless pilfering of other manufacturer's design cues continues inside. True, it's a pragmatic philosophy to identify what works for others and replicate it yourself, but you can't help but think 'Mondeo' when you see the clean metallic lines of the fascia. If anything, Hyundai has gone one further than Ford with some very neat touches. The central-mounted torque gauge is somewhat gimmicky but it's interesting for a few minutes to see the torque swell as the revs rise.

What to look for

Hyundai has developed a reputation for producing reliable cars, and the Coupe is no exception. It seems few owners exploited the dynamic capabilities of the handling and so most examples will have led a relatively sedate existence. Traction control systems mean front tyre wear isn't the problem it would at first appear. The only part of the car that looks a little suspect to damage is the metallic paint finish on the fascia. Test clutches on the 2.7-litre cars as they have been known to give up the ghost at surprisingly modest mileages.

On the road

The ride is firmer than you may expect for something with such a well-appointed interior.

The engine growls purposefully and the oddly-shaped gearstick can be manoeuvred between the six ratios with a nicely mechanical thunk. The handling is what we've come to expect from Hyundai Coupes - far better than the matinee-idol looks would suggest, but geared towards entertaining the average driver.

Overall

The Hyundai Coupe is probably the best used buy in the affordable coupes sector and offers a decent drive to boot.

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