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Coupe vs saloon – what’s the difference?

Struggling to decide between a coupe and saloon for your next car? Here’s the best pick for you

Saloons have been part of the fabric of British motoring for decades, and they’ve more or less always had the same shape. There’s a box at the front where the engine is, a big box in the middle for passengers, and a box at the back for your stuff.

Coupes have typically been a bit sleeker, a bit less practical and a bit more aspirational. But, as we’ll find out below, the line between them has blurred in recent years. Bet you’re wishing you hadn’t googled the question above now.

Coupe vs saloon – pros and cons

  • Stylish looks
  • Sportier
  • More practical
  • May be cheaper
  • Poor rear seat space and access
  • Not as widely available
  • Can feel very sensible
  • Still limited boot versatility

Which models are saloons?

Some of the most common saloons you’ll find are the BMW 3 Series, Mercedes C-Class and Audi A4 – and each of those brands also make a bigger saloon: the 5 Series, E-Class and A6 respectively. These are often referred to as ‘executive’ cars – the sort of models favoured by company-car drivers and travelling salespeople, because they feel plush and make the right impression. Office car-park kudos is guaranteed with these cars.

Saloon buyers have quite a wide choice, though. There’s also the Alfa Romeo Giulia, Mazda 6, Volkswagen Passat and Tesla Model 3, among many others. The majority of traditional luxury cars are saloons.

Which models are coupes?

As well as the BMW 4 Series and Audi A5 – coupe versions of the 3 Series and A4 – some of the coupes you’ll find are the Mercedes C-Class Coupe, Audi TT, Ford Mustang, BMW 2 Series and Toyota GR Supra. You might notice that these are all quite sporty cars – sports cars and supercars are usually coupes.

What’s the difference between a coupe and a saloon?

Saloons are usually more practical than coupes, with a roofline that stays fairly flat until it gets past the rear seats, and four passenger doors. This more ‘upright’ look maximises rear headroom – many saloons will carry adults in the back seats. A good saloon will balance comfort and long-distance driving ability with driving engagement.

Coupes, on the other hand, tend to have a sleeker shape with a more dramatically sloping roofline. Practicality is less important to coupe buyers, and many coupes don’t offer lots of rear seat space – or an easy way to get into the back seats, as conventional coupes only have two doors. Some coupes only have two seats. As mentioned, the majority of coupes have a sporty feel and a greater emphasis on keen handling – although cars like the Mercedes C-Class Coupe and Lexus RC are best considered as big-mile cruisers.

What if I want the practicality of a saloon with the style of a coupe?

An increasing number of carmakers are tailoring to this demand. The Mercedes CLA, for example, gives you sleeker looks than the mechanically identical Mercedes A-Class Saloon but still has four doors and just enough space for adults to get comfortable in the back seats.

Similarly, the BMW 4 Series Gran Coupe, Audi A5 Sportback and Volkswagen Arteon are sleeker versions of the 3 Series, A4 and Passat but still have four passenger doors. These have a handy hatchback tailgate that makes loading bulky items easy. Read our guide to hatchbacks and saloons for more info.

Which is better – a coupe or a saloon?

That really depends on whether you need rear-seat space, either for adults or for child seats. If you’re likely to be driving with other people in the car on a regular basis, a saloon will be a better choice. If you aren’t often going to have people in the back seats, treat yourself to a coupe.

Alternatively, saloons are typically more refined and coupes are usually more sporty, so your choice will also depend on how you want your car to drive.

Find your dream car at Motorpoint

Whether you’re after a saloon, a coupe or any other style of car, you’ll find plenty of choice at Motorpoint. Browse online or visit one of our nationwide stores.