I stop at the local shop and am just about to get out of the ‘new’ Hyundai Coupé when I’m confronted by a very angry woman. Fortunately, she’s annoyed at Hyundai, not me. “I just bought a new Coupé in 2005 and now they’ve gone and changed it again,” she complained, seemingly unaware that cars are replaced quite often.
“Don’t worry,” I said, reassuringly, “This is more or less the same as the car you have. You’re not missing out.” Which is true. As I went on to explain to her in some detail, the new Coupé is pretty much the same as the car it replaces. Oh, Hyundai has replaced the front wings, bonnet, headlamps, grilles and bumpers, as well as redesigning the tail lamps and adding rather cool twin exhausts.
The 17” wheels are new and standard now, too, while the interior instrumentation now glows vodka-bar blue and there are some new colours and trims, too. Except it doesn’t really look all that different, which is good news for current owners like my irate lady friend, I suppose, but bad for anyone hoping to swap their ’04 Coupé for a sexy new model.
The 2007 Coupé is a bit like Teri Hatcher, I feel –gorgeous once and still very attractive today, thanks to a bit of cosmetic tweaking, though obviously no spring chicken anymore. Oddly, the Coupé-driving woman didn’t find this funny at all. I thought it was comic genius, myself. Despite the youthful veneer the Coupé isn’t as agile as it once was, either, I continued. Compared to newer cars like the (admittedly more expensive) Mazda RX-8 or even similarly priced hot hatches, the Coupé’s chassis lacks finesse.
The ride is a touch lumpy, the steering a mite slower and less talkative than I remember, while the engine sounds coarse and strained at high speed. An automatic transmission with just four gears seems quaint and old fashioned these days, and it clearly hasn’t been endowed with the newest or cleverest software either. Unless you’re foot-to-the-floorboards, it’s chugging along in the highest possible gear, making the Coupé feel lethargic and disinterested unless you use the manual mode. Even then, all you seem to get is noise and slow-witted responses to prods of the designed-for-left hand-drive lever. Best to avoid the 2.0 auto altogether, I think, and stick to the 1.6 manual.
It’s no fireball but at least you have more control over proceedings. Oh, and if you’re thinking a 2.0-litre manual might be fun, forget it. It’s no longer offered in Ireland, I’m afraid, and neither is the wonderful 2.7 V6. By the time I’d finished my speech, the angry woman had calmed down considerably and was now looking for a way to break free from our one-sided conversation and retreat into the safety of the shop. I think I lost her around the time I started talking about the chassis, but I kept droning on anyway mainly to teach her a lesson. Don’t complain to me because your car isn’t the new model anymore, ma’am. Why don’t you buy a copy of new car and catch up on what’s going on in the car world while you’re having your face numbed with botox.
Hyundai Coupe 2.0 FX Automatic
Engine 2.0-litre 4-cylinder, 141bhp, 186Nm torque
Transmission 4-speed automatic
Acceleration 0-100km/h 10.6 seconds
Top speed 200 km/h
Economy 8.5 litres/100km
CO2 Emissions 203 g/km
Weight 1,342 kg
Boot Capacity 418 litres
Price €31,350 as tested