2020 and the sports coupe - a few personal thoughts
What has happened in the automotive industry over the last two decades? In the 90s, the sports coupe was one of the most beloved body types available, but nowadays almost none of them are left. As probably the most extreme example out there, Nissan had three different model series in that single market, the R-chassis, the S-chassis and the Z-chassis. Today the only one still for sale is the 370Z, but face it, it’s a relic and most likely won’t have a successor. The moment Nissan gets less money from the sales than they need for manufacturing and advertising of it, they will happily kill it off.
Many people will now say “The customers simply didn’t buy them” and looking at the overall sales numbers that is undoubtedly true. But when going more into detail, you’ll notice that there’s more to it. Cars like the Toyota GT86/ Subaru BRZ sell quite well and if you count in the Mazda MX-5, which might not be a coupe, but especially the RF almost is, then you easily see that this market isn’t dead yet.
For most manufacturers though, the only way to get some budget performance are hot hatches. Sure, they are cheaper to develop since the base is already there, but they can’t really replace a coupe. I don’t think the average GT86 owner would be as happy with an FWD hatch.
The recipe for a sports coupe might be one of the simplest in the whole automotive industry. All you really need is:
- a sleek body
- an FR layout
- make it light
- give it an LSD
Power is by far not as important in this segment, about 250-300hp would be more than sufficient here. The 370Z is in my opinion clearly the wrong approach to the topic. A naturally aspirated V6 is simply outdated and not fitting for a time in which fuel economy and low emissions are getting so important. At the same time it’s at least a 100kg too heavy, due to all of that “luxury” barely any customer in the sports coupe market is looking for.
Nissan, it would be so easy for you. You might fear the costs, but those can’t really be that bad. If you really want to save money, reengineer the 370Z’s chassis instead of developing a whole new one. You wouldn’t even need to develop a new engine, the perfect candidate is already there, the 2018 Megane RS’ turbocharged 1.8l Inline 4. It wouldn’t need any of the fancy tech the Megane has, things like the four-wheel-steering for example. I would love to see you using the IDx Nismo’s body. If you want, call it a Silvia, I wouldn’t care much about that, but this is something people most likely would actually buy in contrast to your Z34. That should even reduce your fleet emissions when you throw out the 370Z.
Even though Nissan was the best example here, there are many other manufacturers, which could get back into this market. Someone I really would like to see in there would be Hyundai/Kia. I don’t want to see such a wonderful car segment die.
I’m pretty sure there will be lots of people, who disagree with this for whatever reason it might be, but I just wanted to share my thoughts on this topic and hope that at least a few people might like it.