Car Tips

Stylish and functional 4-door coupe sedans

Saturday, August 18, 2012

The hottest trend in car styling is four-door cars that look more lean and graceful. Are they the best of both worlds, or do they give up practicality in order to look good?

BMW's latest model sure looks stylish: low-slung and rakish. It has the visual appeal of a coupe.

But it has four doors. It's the 2013 Gran Coupe. It's the latest stylish four-door to bridge the gap between coupe and sedan.

"Traditionally, sedans are a multi-segment profile. And so now to start seeing four-door cars with virtually a sports car kind of a profile is an exciting thing," said Stewart Reed, chairman of the Transportation Design Department at Art Center College of Design in Pasadena.

The originator in the segment is now in its second generation: the Mercedes-Benz CLS. It got the ball rolling on rakish four-door cars with a swoopy coupe profile.

There's also the Audi A7, which even adds a hatch to its coupe-like profile for some extra function.

And it's not just high-end cars: You can go the coupe-sedan route in the Volkswagen line too with the CC.

"We were the first in our class to have a four-door coupe, and we're still the only affordable four-door coupe on the market," said Volkswagen spokesman Darryll Harrison.

Like the bigger, more expensive ones, the CC is meant to appeal to someone who wants the practicality of a four-door, but with a little more panache than a conventional sedan can offer.

The promise with these cars is that there's plenty of room in the front seat and even a lot of room in the back seat. The problem is that if your passengers in the rear are going to be on the taller side, headroom is kind of in short supply.

That can definitely be a problem for any of these. The Mercedes CLS, for example, has less rear head room that the physically smaller E Class.

But Reed says looks can sometimes be deceiving.

"In some cases, some of the cars with the really beautiful silhouette are actually taller than they need to be to strike that really wonderful line over the car," said Reed.

We'll likely see other car makers jumping into this trend in the future. But for now, these rakish semi-sedans are the style leaders when it comes to cars that look like coupes, but have a bit more practicality.

"I'm personally kind of excited about the category, I think it's a nice trend," said Reed.

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