No, not those hybrids, not the ones that drive down your road and you don’t hear until they are about to mount your feet! No, I will come back to those when I am good and ready to complain some more! No, I am talking about something quite different. I am taking about the increasing number of models being launched onto the market that are trying to be all things to all people. Although I am not that old (but yes, my physical tenure on this planet is definitely exceeded by my ability to complain about stuff), I remember a simpler time. A time when a “jeep” was something that was tall, chunky, relatively ugly and 4 wheel drive. A coupe on the other hand, was a low, relatively sporty car, with 2 doors and generally 4 to 4.5 seats and a design that requires a Jenga approach to reach the back seats, and the dislocation of a shoulder to exit. Simple right?!
Then one not so fine day, everything changed. BMW announced that the hugely successful X5 “jeep” was getting a brother or sister called the X6... OK cool I thought to myself. New car models are generally a good thing. The announcement came out that the car was the first “4 door coupe SUV hybrid”. 4 door coupe, I asked my good friend. What on earth is that? At that time, I was sure that a coupe had 2 doors and all the other characteristics above. According to Wiki even today:
“A coupe is a passenger car with a sloping or truncated rear roofline and two or three doors. Coupe first applied to horse-drawn carriages for two passengers without rear facing seats. the term coupe comes from the French translation of cut.”
Didn’t know about the horse drawn carriage bit, but I will not digress...
So in the first instance, my world was starting to implode just a little bit. Then I started to digest the rest.. Coupe > 4 door > 4 wheel drive > SUV. It just didn’t make any sense for any reason. It was essentially a less practical X5. That was it. There didn’t seem to be anything else to it. Same floor plan, same interior, same engines, same everything, except less boot space and uglier appearance. Yes I really wasn’t keen on the design at all. It didn’t really fit with the cool and chunky design of its bigger brother. Even when my friend picked up a brand spanking new one, I still wasn’t convinced. Not even close!
Back then I was absolutely convinced that this model, concept, experiment would never last. Bye bye random experiment, said I! Years went by and my “bye byes” became quieter and quieter, soon turning to disgruntled acceptance, once I realised it wasn’t going anywhere. In fact, not only was it not disappearing, but the lunatics in the design department down the road at a certain 3 pointed star manufacturer were looking on in wonder, amazement and envy. I give you the “GLE Coupe”! Wait, what, another one! How was it possible that they were heading down the same road, and with an even worst design. The GLE Coupe looked like what I can only describe as a large mechanical woodlouse with seats. More importantly, outside of my whining and moaning, something was happening! A genre was being born.
For whatever reason, for a while BMW and Mercedes were the only 2 doing their usual ‘model dance’ with the X6 joined by the X4 and the GLE Coupe joined much later by the GLC Coupe range. Not happy with these two German power houses hogging all of the...err.. lets still call it ‘limelight’, the rest of the German gang decided to jump right onboard the gravy train. Recently, Audi launching their new Q3 sportbacks and the even more recent Cayenne Coupe. So there we have it, the German powerhouses are here, the genre is here and it really really isn’t going anywhere. In fact quite the opposite! I can see this movement spreading across the manufacturers as they all continue to tussle for what they consider to be the best of all worlds.
There is an upside to this though! in all of my gripping, I am also recognising that these random monstrosities...err.... are actually getting better! The manufacturers are starting to think about the lines, the designs and the use cases. When I saw the GLC Coupe in 63 AMG S skin, with that large rear fin, I am not going to lie, I dribbled a little. No, it wasn’t an age issue. It actually looked kinda hot. The roof line isn’t quite there but definitely huge progress. Then came the Cayenne Coupe, which in Turbo mode, I dare say I would put somewhere on the ‘go visit’ list. Somewhere in between all of this also came the Audi Q8 and the Lamborghini Urus. Do I agree that a coupe can also be an SUV and have 4 doors? NO! but I am now prepared to accept that there is a new genre in town, its here to stay and it will continue to grow as more and more manufacturers jump on for a piece of the action.
So there you have it! I was convinced for many years that BMW had created Frankenstein’s uncle, which just needed to be taken out by the angry mob with there pitch forks and purchasing power. Now however, I am ‘meerkat curious’ about what comes next for this genre and how far we are away from one of the manufacturers creating and cracking the ultimate frankencoupe... Audi’s RSQ8 is pushing hard on those doors, so lets see who wins the race to create the this hybrid monster.
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