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  • October 24, 2014

Sporty Coupes: Enjoy Your Ride - Ladue News: Diversions

Sporty Coupes: Enjoy Your Ride

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Posted: Thursday, May 24, 2012 11:25 am

If you don’t need the convenience of a four-door sedan or the utility of an SUV or wagon, a sporty coupe is a great option for a good-looking, funto- drive vehicle. Coupes come in many shapes, sizes and price ranges, so if you’re in the market, you should be able to find something to fit your personality and your budget.

One great coupe option is the 2012 Honda Accord Coupe. Combining the renowned reliability of an Accord with the sporty good looks of a coupe is a great match; couple that with a powerful V-6 engine to create a powerful and attractive coupe you can enjoy every day without breaking the bank.

The Accord Coupe is a pleasing combination of angles and curves and its roofline mimics those of much more expensive European coupes. The V-6 coupe in the EX trim with leather starts at approximately $30,000, with prices for four-cylinder coupes beginning at $24,000.

The interior has nicely bolstered seats with decent leather, an easy-touse push-button ventilation system with dual automatic climate control and a radio that uses a screen in the center of the dash to display information. Radio controls on the steering wheel are a nice convenience and safety feature, and all V-6 coupes come with a sunroof and seat warmers. Getting in and out of the back seat isn’t too bad since the front seat slides forward to allow easier access. Once back there, there’s decent room for two adults or three kids. Trunk room is very large, and the rear seat folds down to expand cargo-carrying capacity.

With the 3.5-liter, 271-horsepower V-6, gas mileage is 19 city, 29 highway. A higher mileage but less powerful four-cylinder engine also is available. Fortunately, the V-6 can be mated to either a 5-speed automatic or a 6-speed manual transmission that sends power to the front wheels. Acceleration is brisk, handling and brakes are good, and the steering is nice and tight, which combined with the sporty Honda suspension makes this a fun car to drive. Due to its size and weight, the Accord Coupe is more of a GT cruiser than a nimble sports car, but quick, responsive steering and ample power mean you can have some fun tossing it through the corners when you want to.

According to Honda of Frontenac’s Martin Kingsbury, “The Accord coupe has a sporty look with a double-wishbone suspension and 271-horsepower V-6 that make it a sporty drive, as well.”

Another fun coupe is the newly reconfigured Volkswagen Beetle. Undergoing its first major redesign since its re-introduction in modern form in the late-’90s, the Beetle still won’t be mistaken for anything else, but the new Beetle is shorter in height, longer and wider. It has a roofline that reminds me of the roofline of the original Beetle convertible, of which I am very fond. As the original Beetle morphed into the Porsche 356 and then the 911, this Beetle’s new styling has some Porsche-esque lines and elements to it and is more aggressively styled than the previous model. I especially like the ‘heritage’ wheels that look like old Beetle hubcaps.

Inside, the Beetle is thoroughly modern and up-to-date, starting with keyless entry and push-button start. Ventilation is three-rotary-knob simple, and heated seats are a nice modern amenity. Navigation is optional, as is leather seating. The flat-bottomed steering wheel is a nod to its new sporty nature. Front seats are comfortable and moderately bolstered. Rear-seat room is adequate for adults, and head room is much improved over the previous Beetle. Cargo space under the hatch is pretty good and becomes quite large when the rear seats are folded. Some nice, old-style touches were retained, however, like the exterior-color door and dash trim.

The mechanicals are all modern as well, meaning liquid-cooled front engine and front-wheel-drive. Two engines are available, a 2.5 liter 5- cylinder that pumps out 170 horsepower and gets 22 mpg city, 29 highway, and a 2.0 liter turbo 4-cylinder good for 200 horses and 21 mpg city, 30 highway. Both engines can be mated to an automatic or manual transmission. Even with the lower horsepower 5-cylinder, there’s plenty of power. Handling is nice and tight, thanks to the German-engineered suspension. Good brakes and a lower center of gravity with longer wheelbase and wider track mean it doesn’t mind corners.

Brad Gilbert, general sales manager at Bommarito Volkswagen, says, “More men are buying the redesigned Beetle. They’ve sported it up with a stiffer suspension and made it lower, wider and longer for better handling and a better ride.”

The re-designed New Beetle continues the VW tradition of being inexpensive to buy, with a starting price of about $20,000, and going up approximately $30,000 for a fully loaded turbo with sunroof and navigation. No convertible is presently available, but expect one in the near future.

Robert Paster (robertpaster.com) also is an attorney in private practice, concentrating in estate planning and probate.

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