There is something so alluring about driving a sports coupe – much of this has to do with the style, the sleek lines front to back, and the sporty stance that exudes a notion of power, exclusivity, and speed. There is a timelessness about them too; picture a classic (C107) Mercedes-Benz SL or an ultra-modern Jaguar F-Type rolling down to your favourite Kopitiam – two different cars that shout the same thing; “I have arrived, and I’m a person of taste”.
Carmakers know this, and since the mid-seventies (prior to that there were a lot more simple “family orientated” two-door cars – think Volkswagen Beetle and Ford Escort) have been charging a premium for the perceived exclusivity and style. I digress, but the fact remains, coupes are needlessly expensive and for the most part, out of reach of the common man, especially if that common man or woman has a family and requires more space.
However, that need not be the case after a few years – coupes depreciate just like any other vehicle – and given lesser demand once they hit the used car market, they end up costing a fraction of what they did on the showroom floor. If you know where to look. Of course, it is understood that they will be a few years old by now and require some maintenance/repairs – but here are five sexy coupes that cost no more than a brand new Perodua Myvi.
Mazda RX-8: RM 30k – RM 50k
The first car on our actually has four-doors but it is every part a sports coupe. Hailing from Mazda’s glorious RX family, the RX-8 is the last of the line of performance cars from Mazda that were powered by the iconic albeit unique Wankel rotary engine. Besides marking Mazda’s re-entry to the sports car segment, the RX-8 unique suicide-style “freestyle” rear doors also showcased their trademark ingenuity when it comes to building cars.
Buying a Mazda RX-8 means to love it for its flaws, yes, its powertrain requires VERY diligent care, and engine rebuilds are expensive. However, with its characterful 9,000-rpm redline, near 50:50 weight balance, low polar moment of inertia (given it’s a proper front mid-engine RWD coupe), it’s also one of the best handling cars ever produced. Facelifted 2008 to 2012 models with added rigidity and better refinement go for around RM 50k today.
Mercedes-Benz (C209) CLK-Class: RM 25k – RM 40k
Timeless elegance, steadfast reliability, and supple comfort are typically associated with Mercedes-Benz coupe models, and as such, appeal to a buyer base that isn’t so bothered with quarter-mile drag times and how much G-forces one can generate in a corner. Available between 1997 and 2010 (across two generations), the CLK has for a long epitomised the executive coupe from Mercedes-Benz, before it was rebranded as the E-Class Coupe.
Oddly enough, prices of the better-known first-generation models (C208) are roughly the same as the second-generation (C209) model – but in keeping things fresh, we’re looking at the C209-generation this time. Though it may look just like an E-Class with two fewer doors, the C209 CLK is actually underpinned by the platform from the W203 C-Class – yes, we know it’s confusing. However, that simply means besides the exacting architecture that makes it a Coupe (and a decently sized one at that), it also offers an accomplished ride, decent fuel economy and relatively straightforward maintenance. Commonly found variants include the CLK 200 (1.8-litre supercharged) and ‘NA’ 2.6-litre V6, the latter being easier to maintain – give the car’s electronics a proper check as well.
Nissan 350Z: RM 40k to RM 55k
The Fairlady Z or just ‘Z’ is one of Nissan’s longest-running and most successful nameplates (spanning back to the 1970s), which will soon celebrate the entry of its seventh-generation model, the 400Z. The Z has always stood for a stylish, front-engine, rear-wheel drive coupe with performance and dynamic handling at its core; and the fifth-generation 350Z is no different.
In many ways, this was the Fairlady Z that proved Nissan could build a great sports car and remain profitable, which later laid the foundations for the return of the hallowed Nissan (R35) GTR. The 350Z itself found widespread acclaim globally in motorsports and its reputation on the silver screen, which has cemented its status as a cult favourite. Nissan 350Zs are also known to have bulletproof reliability save for quirky crank and cam sensors and a higher-than-usual engine oil consumption. Prices range between RM 40k and RM 60k today, a far cry from the circa RM 557k through official channels when new.
BMW (E46) 3 Series Coupe: RM 35k – RM 55k
Let’s face it, this list was never going to be complete without the addition of a two-door Beemer. The (E46) BMW 3 Series coupe or 'Ci' as is normally abbreviated behind the model badge is well known amongst enthusiasts for its blend driving performance, suave styling, and timeless proportions.
The E46 Ci is one of those Coupes that will do the daily trot and the weekend driving slot with a balance of modern driving discipline and trademark BMW tactility that is guaranteed to put a smile on your face. Powerplants range from economical four-cylinder mills to soulful (2.5- and 3.0-litre) inline-sixes mated to a six-speed automatic; look hard enough and you might even find (swapped or original) manual transmission units. We have previously detailed what to look out for when buying an E46; in brief, a thorough diagnosis by a specialist is a must before taking the plunge.
Audi A5 Coupe: RM 40k – RM 60k
The Audi A5 Coupe came at the peak of Audi’s styling renaissance in the mid-2000s – gone were the boxy unimaginative shapes of the years before, in place were simplistic contours and elegant lines that have stood the test of time. The (8T) A5 marked Audi’s return to the executive Coupe market after a hiatus of more than a decade. In addition to being a good-looking car, the A5 Coupe is also very usable, with easily the largest cabin and boot on the list, the A5 will easily seat four in comfort and carry all your luggage for a weekend getaway.
Engines range between the common 1.8-litre and 2.0-litre turbocharged variants to the larger naturally aspirated 4.2-litre V8 in the S5. The middle-child 2.0L TFSI variant is the one to go for as it balances reliability and performance in equal amounts. The 1.8-litre four-cylinder engines are known to suffer from leaking valve seals (fixed with improved parts) which requires an engine head rebuild after a few years. Comprehensive service history is a big plus; also ensure the electrical systems, and Quattro AWD system (on the 2.0L TFSI) works well before purchase.