Best used coupes 2021
If you want an appealing car that mixes performance with style, the best used coupes will tick a lot of boxes
Coupes are often thought of as dream cars for many. This is because they’re cut from the same sort of cloth as sports cars, with importance placed on style, driving fun and performance ahead of more mundane things like practicality or fuel economy.
Usually featuring just two doors (although four- and five-door coupes exist too), coupes are usually easier to get in and out of if you’re sat in the front seats.
This leads to various compromises: getting in and out of the rear seats can be a struggle, for one. The typical, sloping roofline reduces rear headroom, for another, coupes aren’t usually blessed with much space in the boot.
So if you’re a one-car family or you find yourself doing the school run every day, a coupe probably isn’t the car for you. They also tend to be more expensive than equivalent hatchbacks and saloons, putting them out of reach of some budgets.
That’s where the second-hand market comes in, though. The best used coupes can be real bargains, so we’ve rounded up a handful of our favourites to demonstrate what’s possible with a little research…
Best used coupes
Audi really moved the TT on with the Mk3, so much so that it teased us first with the interior at the Consumer Electronics Show in 2014. That’s because the TT came packed with tech – it was Audi’s first model to use its Virtual Cockpit, a 12.3-inch digital panel that showed a sat-nav map and all the infotainment functions in front of the driver. There’s no central dashtop screen here.
That makes for a beautifully minimalist cabin that’s loaded with the high-quality materials you’d expect from an Audi that’s only five-years old. Touches such as the heated seat and climate controls set inside the air vents were revolutionary at the time.
The tech underneath the angular, pin-sharp bodywork creases is just as advanced. Believe it or not, this sporty coupé is based on the same platform as the VW Golf family hatchback, but with Audi working its magic on the suspension and steering, the TT is as agile as you’d ever want a sports car to be.
Audi offered a diesel when the TT first went on sale, but stay true to the car’s roots and go for the 227bhp 2.0 TFSI petrol – combined with Audi’s sharp-shifting dual-clutch S tronic auto, the 0-62mph sprint takes just 5.3 seconds, or you can opt for a little more involvement (and probably save a bit of cash) by going for the sweet six-speed manual.
Entry-level Sport trim comes with enough kit, but look at cars with a few options fitted – such as the Tech Pack, which includes navigation – to make life with the TT a little easier. Quattro four-wheel drive is also available, but we don’t think you need it; simply revel in the usability and style on offer here, helped by a big enough boot and two small rear seats for extra luggage space, all for a fraction of the TT’s cost when it was new.
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The original Audi A5 Coupe had a long, ten-year run before it was replaced with the second-generation car. The first one endured because it was very good to drive and built to last, as you’d expect from any vehicle carrying the Audi badge.
The Mk1 A5 Coupe saw many engines over the years, including a 3.2-litre V6 and a 2.7-litre V8, among others over the course of its life. The best all-rounder was the 2.0-litre diesel, which offered plenty of torque but didn’t suffer from the huge running costs of other units in the line-up.
As standard, you can expect 17-inch alloys, a leather-trim interior, a 10-speaker sound system, three-zone climate control and rear parking sensors, even on the most basic examples. The optional Sport package improves the handling of the A5 immensely, although the stiffer ride isn’t as comfortable, so think carefully about which suits you best.
15-plate A5 Coupes can be found for less than £10,000 these days, but if you’re prepared to go for a really early example you can find these for less than £4,000.
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Mercedes C-Class Coupe
Mercedes has a long history of making two-door coupes, although the C-Class was only offered in such a guise for the first time in 2011. The current-generation Coupe arrived in 2015, and early examples have now had long enough to come down in price significantly: £17,000 should be plenty to secure a 16-reg Coupe, albeit with plenty of mileage on the clock and using the 2.1-litre diesel that was so popular with company-car owners.
The C-Class Coupe is more aimed at those looking for a smooth ride than a sporty drive: the diesel engines are quite noisy when pushed, while the steering feel isn’t that invigorating. For the best possible comfort, look out for cars equipped with Airmatic air suspension and riding on the smaller 17-inch wheels that came as standard on Sport models.
Automatic gearboxes are the transmission of choice on most C-Class Coupes. Petrols get a seven-speed 7G-Tronic transmission, while diesels have a nine-seed unit. There are paddle-shifters should you wish to take manual control, but it’s easiest just to let the electronics do their own thing. Elsewhere, the on-board tech isn’t class leading but the fit and finish of the interior is excellent.
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BMW 4 Series
Much has been made of the new BMW 4 Series and its distinctive grille, although its predecessor was far less controversial when it came to styling. The previous-generation 4 Series Coupe was noted for its sleek appearance, although it had undeniable substance to go with its attractive exterior.
A plethora of petrol and diesel engines were offered on the first-generation 4 Series, and while none of them are short on power the six-cylinder units are more tuneful than the four-cylinder variants. Meanwhile the six-speed manual gearbox was a joy to use, although the optional eight-speed automatic had its own strengths.
As you’d expect from BMW, the carmaker hasn’t scrimped in terms of kit: SE-trimmed examples get 17-inch alloys, dual-zone climate control, adaptive cruise control and a host of other upmarket mod cons. The 4 Series Coupe is reasonably practical too; legroom in the back isn’t overly generous, but nor are these cars restricted to children and teenagers. A 445-litre boot is decent too, although not quite as deep as you’ll find in the 3 Series saloon.
See the latest BMW 4 Series prices on our sister site BuyaCar...
BMW 2 Series
A new BMW 2 Series is due this year, and it has a tough act to follow thanks to the brilliance of the outgoing model. That car - the first-generation 2 Series - has been around since 2014, and today you can pick up early examples of the 281d (the entry-level diesel) for less than £8,000 if you shop around. For the petrol 220i, £10,000 is the opening figure here.
As with the 4 Series Coupe, the most basic SE versions came with all the desirable kit you could possibly want while maintaining that premium look that BMWs are known for. The 2 Series Coupe handled supremely well, and the automatic gearbox optioned on some models is as slick as they get.
Though it may be a sporty proposition, you shouldn’t get the impression that the 2 Series is completely impractical. Far from it: the 390-litre boot is a decent size, and only very tall adults are likely to find the rear seats uncomfortable on a long journey. Expect somewhere south of 40mpg from the petrol engines, and close to 50mpg from the diesels.
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The Toyota GT86 is about as pure as coupes come, and is the result of a joint venture between Toyota and Subaru which saw the latter create the BRZ. First on sale in the UK in 2012, the GT86 used a 2.0-litre boxer engine that delivered 197bhp via either a six-speed manual or auto transmission. The manual gearbox is a delight to use, while the rear-wheel drive set-up helped the GT86 quickly earn plaudits for its sensational handling.
You’ll be doing well to get a GT86 for less than £10,000 these days, and you might have to put up with some rather large mileage figures on the odometer in order to do so. Part of the problem is that the GT86 has never sold in huge numbers in the UK, so there are never many used models on sale at any given time. Its relative rarity keeps their prices up, and you may need to travel further afield to find an example that ticks all of your boxes.
As standard, the GT86 rode on 17-inch alloy wheels, with dual-zone climate control, sports seats and electric folding door mirrors included too. The rear bench is really a children-only zone, while the 237-litre boot is good for shopping and not much else.
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If you want great handling and cornering ability from your coupe, the Porsche Cayman is about as capable as they come. Porsche’s reputation for exciting cars shines in the Cayman, and that’s despite a recent blip where it was decided that six-cylinder power had to be dropped in the name of CO2 emissions.
The third-generation 718 Cayman was launched in 2016 with a four-cylinder engine producing 296bhp, while the Cayman S used a 2.5-litre unit boasting 345bhp. A 360bhp GTS arrived late in 2017, followed by the Cayman T in 2019 which had a lowered suspension. Fast forward to the present day and the six-cylinder power has been reinstated: the GTS uses a 4.0-litre engine producing 394bhp, with the more focused GT4 squeezes 414bhp out of the same unit.
Porsche has a rather more dubious approach to kit than BMW, with a habit of listing equipment on the options list that some might argue should be standard on a car of this stature. Dual-zone climate control, front and rear parking sensors, adaptive cruise control, DAB radio and LED headlights are just some of the options you should check are present and correct when looking at used models. If the current Cayman is out of your price range, the previous model (from 2012) was brilliant too.
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First sold in 2010, the Peugeot RCZ never proved enough of a hit for Peugeot to replace it when its time came to an end in 2015, although the French manufacturer’s loss could be your gain: poor residuals mean there are lots of bargains to be had, with early models going for less than £4,000 in some cases. Even 65-reg cars can be bought for under £9,000.
The RCZ’s short lifespan was a shame because it was a hoot to drive and reasonably economical, and it surprised in terms of practicality too. A 1.6-litre petrol engine was offered with 156 or 200bhp, while a 2.0-litre diesel managed 163bhp. Special edition models included the Asphalt (just 75 were built), the Magnetic and the final hurrah that was the RCZ R and its turbocharged 1.6-litre engine producing 266bhp.
With its double-bubble roof, eye-catching styling and range of qualities, the RCZ is one of those cars that sticks out as something of an anomaly when compared to more conventional rivals. As such, it could yet prove to be a future classic.
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