Peter Burgess
08/07/2009 06:08 | By Peter Burgess, contributor, MSN Cars

Hyundai Coupe 2.7 V6 review (2002-2008)

On test:Hyundai Coupe 2.7


Bodystyle: Coupe 3dr
Engine: 2.7-litre V6
Fuel type: Petrol
Transmission: 6-speed manual
Date of test: 2003


What is it?

The Coupe is the sportiest model in the Hyundai range, a three-door coupe with hatchback versatility and, nominally, four seats. The 2.7 V6 is the top of the range, coming in at well under £20,000; cheaper and slower derivatives comprise the 2.0-litre and the 1.6, both with four-cylinder engines. This Coupe was launched in early 2002, replacing the model that had been around, in one form, or another since 1996. It's a big step forward. Hyundai has never been shy of imitation, but to base the design so clearly on a Ferrari 456 is audacious in the extreme. The fact that the trick is pulled off is smarter still.

Where does it fit?

The coupe market goes through periodic cycles. One year there can be half a dozen decent contenders, another there's just a couple. It seems that the buying public has only a short term lust for these stylish two-plus-two seaters, and then they fade in the wake of sporty saloons until another new model comes along. It will be interesting to see if the Hyundai's style gives it more staying power than most. Chief rivals to the 2.7 V6 are the Toyota Celica and Vauxhall Astra Coupe. For a little more there is Alfa's rather long-in-the-tooth GTV or you could also choose a very basic and slow version of the Mercedes Sports Coupe.

Is it for you?

Coupes, as you will already have realised, are all about style at the expense of practicality and value for money. Or at least most are - taking a family BMW, Vauxhall or Mercedes and giving it two doors and a swooping roofline gets you space but doesn't make it a sports car. The Hyundai (and Toyota Celica) is different, a genuine ground-up coupe design that offers a distinctive design and a more sporting driving experience still at an affordable price. The marketing people say that four seats are a must to pass the family test, but in reality the there is very little space in the back. So if a two seater with plenty of luggage room suits is what you want, the Hyundai Coupe could be for you.

What does it do well?

Especially if you enjoy strong performance. The 2.7-litre V6 engine is a gem. The secret is the torque from the V6 engine - 165bhp may not sound that much, but the Coupe pulls like a train in the gears unlike any Celica, accompanied by a delicious subdued howl from under the bonnet. The steering is beautifully fluid, with the smallest turn of the wheel affecting the direction. Coupled to a chassis which seems to have endless grip and little roll, this is an impressively good-time machine. On the ride front, the suspension always seems to deal with surfaces in a way which belies the sporting nature of the car, and the Coupe cruises nicely with low noise levels at high speed. The leather seats, standard in the 2.0 and 2.7, are classy affairs which look good and provide plenty of support.

What doesn't it do well?

The front seats may be comfortable, but tall people will find headroom decidedly limited in the front, while only dwarves will fit in the back - it is really much more cramped than an Astra Coupe. The manual gearbox has six speeds which cuts down noise and fuel consumption at speed, but the change is heavy and awkward; the five-speed transmission in the 2.0 and 1.6 is much slicker. Economy levels aren't bad for a V6, averaging 27mpg, but the CO2 levels of 250g/km are about as bad as its gets for company car drivers.

What's it like to live with?

The Hyundai Coupe is certainly a head-turner if that grabs you. It's practical as a two-seater two, for the boot space is large and the rear seats fold flat to extend the space further. Equipment levels are the usual Hyundai good value package. All Coupes get four airbags, allow wheels, ABS brakes, air conditioning, central locking, electric windows and mirrors and a CD player. The V6 adds bigger alloys, climate control, cruise control, traction control and leather seats. Obviously there are the usual coupe problems of a low sitting position which makes access less easy than in a saloon, and the heavy rear pillars restrict visibility a little at junctions. But generally the Hyundai Coupe is an easygoing car.

Would we buy it?

Yes we would. We think the Hyundai Coupe brings some real style to the sub-£20,000 coupe category. So it wins on the first base. Then it goes extremely well too - this is a very satisfying car from the driver's point of view, with a charismatic V6 engine matched to a well-judged chassis. It should hold its value well too.

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