What Is a Sports Coupe?

C. Mitchell

A sports coupe is a class of car that is defined by the presence of two doors, a small-sized interior, and a generally sporty look. There is little practical difference between a coupe and a sports coupe. Sports coupes often have sleeker profiles, and may come with more “sporty” internal options, including upholstery choices and console trim. They may also have a more powerful engine than a regular coupe, but not always. Most of the differences are aesthetic, but sports coupes nonetheless almost always sell at a higher price point.

Sports coupes often have spoilers in the back, above the trunk.
Sports coupes often have spoilers in the back, above the trunk.

Two-door cars are usually defined as coupes. In most cases, a coupe is any hard-topped, two-door vehicle with an internal cabin space of 33 cubic feet (about 10 cubic meters) or less. Some coupes have backseats, but not all do.

A potential buyer can usually find a good price on a sports coupe at a used car lot.
A potential buyer can usually find a good price on a sports coupe at a used car lot.

The criteria for determining when a coupe becomes a sports coupe are somewhat ambiguous. In most cases, a sports coupe has slightly different body styling than an ordinary coupe. The lines are usually smoother, and “sporty” elements, like spoilers or stylized antennae, are often added.

Dealers will often market coupes with a “sport package,” which can convert an ordinary coupe into a sports coupe. The specifics of a sports package vary by dealer and by car type, but often include such things as stylized tire rims, specially-produced grills or front rails, limited-edition internal upholstery, and metallic or chrome trim around internal features. Some packages also include race car-style pedals and sleek-looking gear shifters.

Sports coupes are almost always more expensive than ordinary coupes or sedans of the same brand. This is true even though sedans are usually larger cars. Part of this pricing discrepancy likely owes to perception, a big part of the science of car sales. A sporty car has a desirable, fun-loving look that many customers are willing to pay a little more to have.

Customers looking for a well-priced coupe are often best served looking either among lower-end new cars, or among used cars. Because sports cars tend to be somewhat trendy, buyers will often drive them for a few years, then trade them in for a newer model. One can often find good deals on a second-hand coupe, either from the dealer or from a third-party used car lot.

Some of the most expensive sports coupes can sometimes also be purchased on the cheap from police auctions and lien repossession sales. When police apprehend drug dealers or money launderers, they typically confiscate all goods purchased with the tainted money. In most cases, this includes high-dollar cars, a large percentage of which tend to be sports cars. Sports cars can also go up for public sale if an original purchaser was unable to make loan repayments or otherwise defaulted on a car loan. Banks often publicly auction cars and other goods to pay off the remaining balance owed.

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