Best 2019 Coupes
The season’s most noteworthy coupes eclipse the style-over-comfort sportsters of yore. While past coupes always featured two doors, designers now play with two- and four-door low-roof designs. These latest models prioritize the needs of full-size humans and what they carry and still turn heads on the roadways. If you’re looking for something functional, versatile, fast — and sexier than the norm — you’ll want to kick the tires on four of the most fun rides debuting right now, ranging from the upscale to the more economical.
BY MICHAEL FRANK — Fall 2018
Bentley Continental GT
First impression: Exceedingly steeped in tradition, Bentley has been making coupes since 1952. So this complete remake of the Continental GT might not appear like a radical departure — until you look beneath the skin. Visually, its muscular lines make it more handsome than pretty and, hewing to Bentley’s stately tradition, that’s just the effect the British brand was after.
Inside look: Crack the very substantial driver’s side door and you realize you’re about to enter a space more akin to a salon than a car. The seats feature diamond quilting that took 1-1/2 years to develop, with each patterned square receiving 712 stitches of embroidery, and the cabin uses several steers’ worth of leather. One bit of theater: Bentley engineered a trick panel at the center of the dash. When the ignition’s off, it showcases veneer. Fire up the engine, though, and the veneer rolls into the dash like something out of a sci-fi film, and in its place a modern touchscreen appears.
On the road: You might expect a car weighing nearly 5,000 pounds to be ponderous. This machine, thanks to a stiff chassis, just feels uncannily agile — and, wow, can it fly. A monstrous 664 pound-feet of torque from its 12-cylinder engine provides a punch rarely felt in non-race cars. Not temperamental in the slightest, it cruises around as easily as a Honda Accord. Just, you know, a tad more exclusive.
Try this: The optional 2,200-watt, 18-speaker Naim audio system had us nearly weeping at music we thought we knew — and now know far better.
Details: From $214,600; bentleymotors.com
Mercedes-Benz CLS450 4Matic
First impression: Mercedes, slowly revising every car it makes toward a smoother, less angular look, endows the CLS with a flowing, liquid quality, redolent of 1930s cigarette boats.
Inside look: A display screen covers more than half of the dash, giving the cockpit the perception of added width, enhanced further by a sturdy plank of optional open-pore wood trim pierced by air vents that look like jet engine exhausts. Every bit as slick as the exterior, the cabin changes hues with ambient illumination (think puddle lighting you’d find in an opera house), which you can customize in any of 64 colors. Turn the temperature down and the accent color switches briefly to blue; increase the heat, and it briefly shines red. It’s a nifty trick, even if the CLS’ best virtue isn’t a sleight of hand of any kind, but rather its supreme comfort.
On the road: We tested the CLS in Germany, where we got the most out of its mild hybrid package that pairs a small electric motor with 184 pound-feet of torque to the in-line six-cylinder, 362-horsepower gas engine. We found effortless acceleration — 0 to 60 in 4.8 seconds — as well as a hushed cabin, perfect for long stretches of autobahn. Smart cruise control not only paces traffic, it reads speed-limit signs, automatically slowing the car as needed.
Try this: Looking for a bit more oomph? The AMG CLS 53 gets a more potent, 429-horsepower, six-cylinder engine that knifes about a half-second off 0-to-60 sprints.
Details: From $72,000 (estimated); mbusa.com
Audi RS 5 Coupe
First impression: To the untrained eye, you’re looking at just another sporty vehicle. Designers penned a restrained rather than flamboyant shape, with somewhat wider fenders and a lower stance only slightly belying the athletic prowess of Audi’s hottest four-seater.
Inside look: Simple, functional controls include a digital gauge cluster that transforms from providing driving information, such as g-force under acceleration, to showing Google Earth-based navigation and turn-by-turn directions. It’s all deeply, immediately intuitive, so you find yourself tapping fewer switches. Other notables: sports seats with 14-way adjustment and massage functions, useful pockets and storage throughout the cabin, and a versatile trunk. At one point, we hauled a bicycle, a backpack, a case of wine, and a few bags of groceries — all at once.
On the road: The biturbo, 444-horsepower V-6 under the hood changes personality depending on whether you drive in comfort, auto, or dynamic mode. The latter quickens shifts from the eight-speed automatic and increases the exhaust’s rasp. It also stiffens the suspension, which automatically resists the load shift created by cornering, to prevent body roll. At its fiercest, you can dash to 60 mph in 3.7 seconds. Or, thanks to that comfort mode, you can whip off the superhero guise and just tool along comfortably.
Try this: The $3,350 Dynamic package includes both a sportier suspension and a luscious exhaust note.
Details: From $69,900; audiusa.com
First impression: With its blacked-out, half-chassis glass moonroof that extends the windshield’s sweep, plus a long, low hood and ultralow grille, the Arteon looks exceptionally sporty. Taut, horizontal lines give it an aggressive vibe that fits the car’s driving persona.
Inside look: Sliding into the interior feels like slipping on a custom-tailored suit — everything just fits. The neatly leather-wrapped steering wheel provides grip and comfort, metal brightwork rims the dash but doesn’t look garish, and you can option all four all-day supportive seats with both heating and cooling. The trunk swallows nearly 20 cubic feet of cargo, big enough for a pair of golf bags plus weekend luggage, and with those aft seats folded, you’ll have more cargo room than many wagons.
On the road: The Arteon proved its mettle on both the German autobahn and on backcountry forest roads. You can toggle the suspension from comfort to sport modes, but even in comfort we found the car remains poised when cruising at higher speeds. Sport mode hunkers the coupe tautly for juking around rolling lanes. The turbocharged 268-horsepower, four-cylinder engine jumps to life quickly, too, so while the Arteon wasn’t designed as a sports car, it’s spunky, quick, and immensely entertaining.
Try this: The 4Motion all-wheel-drive option transforms the Arteon’s personality so it claws harder around corners and brings out that much more fun.
Details: From $36,500. vw.com
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