AskDefine | Define coupe

Dictionary Definition

coupe n : a car with two doors and front seats and a luggage compartment

User Contributed Dictionary



  1. an ice cream dessert; the glass it is served in
  2. A car with two doors (variant of coupé)





Extensive Definition

A coupé or coupe (from the French verb couper, to cut) is a car body style, the precise definition of which varies from manufacturer to manufacturer, and over time. Coupés are often sporty variants of sedans (also known as saloons — see American and British English spelling differences) body styles, with doors commonly reduced from 4 to 2, and a close-coupled interior offering either two seats or 2+2 seating (space for two passengers in the front and two occasional passengers or children in the rear). Before the days of motorized vehicles, the word referred to the front or after compartment of a Continental stagecoach.


In Europe (including the United Kingdom), the original French spelling, coupé, and a French pronunciation (English koo-pay ), are used. The stress may be on either the first or second syllable; stressing the first syllable is the more Anglicized variant. Speakers of North American English pronounce coupe as "coop" (/kuːp/) and spell it without the acute accent. A very North American example of usage is the hot-rodders' term Deuce Coupe ("doose coop") used to refer to a 1932 Ford.


In the 19th century a coupé was a closed four-wheel horse-drawn carriage, cut (coupé) to eliminate the forward, rear-facing passenger seats, with a single seat inside for two persons behind the driver, who sat on a box outside (see royal carriage illustration, right). Commonly, a coupé had a fixed glass window in the front of the body, protected from road dirt by a high curving dashboard. A landau is a coupé with a folding top.
Through the 1950s opening-roof convertible automobiles were sometimes called convertible coupés, but since the 1960s the term coupé has generally been applied exclusively to fixed-roof models. Coupés generally, but not necessarily, have two doors, although automobile makers have offered four-door coupés and three- and five-door hatchback coupés, as well. Modern coupés often have the styling feature of frameless doors, with the window glass sealing directly against a weather-strip on the main body.
The SAE distinguishes a coupé from a sedan primarily by interior volume; SAE standard J1100 defines a coupé as a fixed-roof automobile with less than of rear interior volume. A car with a greater interior volume is technically a two-door sedan, not a coupé, even if it has only two doors. By this standard, the Chevrolet Monte Carlo, Ferrari 612 Scaglietti, and Mercedes-Benz CL-Class coupés are all two-door sedans. Only a few sources, however (including the magazine Car and Driver), use the two-door sedan label in this manner. Some car manufacturers may nonetheless choose to use the word coupé (or coupe) to describe such a model, e.g., the Cadillac Coupe de Ville.
Alternatively, a coupé is distinguished from a two-door sedan by the lack of a "B" pillar to support the roof. Sedans have an "A" pillar forward at the windscreen, a "B" pillar aft of the door, and a "C" pillar defining the aftermost roof support at the rear window. Thus with all side-windows down, a coupé would appear windowless from the "A" to the "C" pillars. These fixed-roof models are described as a hardtop. Targa top models are a variation on the convertible design.
During the 20th century the term was applied to various close-coupled automobiles. Through the 1950s many automakers offered several varieties of coupé, including:;Business coupé: a coupé with no rear seat or a removable rear seat intended for traveling salespeople and other vendors who would be carrying their wares with them.;Sports coupé or berlinetta: a uniquely styled model with a sloping roof, sometimes sloping downward gradually in the rear in the style known as fastback.;Combi coupé: a body type from SAAB combining the coupé lines with large loading capacity. With the growing popularity of the pillarless hardtop during the 1950s some automakers used the term coupé to refer to hardtop (rigid, rather than canvas, automobile roof) models and reserved the term sedan for their models with a "B" pillar. This definition was by no means universal, and has largely fallen out of use with near-demise of the hardtop. Similarly, a Rover P5 saloon model came in a body style with a lower roof that was called a coupé. Technically, it was cut, as the original definition required, but it was not a shorter car body.
Today "coupé" is becoming more of a marketing term for automotive manufacturers, ascribing the term to any vehicle with two or three doors, and luxury plus sporting appeal. This is mostly due to the fact that coupés in general are seen as sportier than sedan; hence a coupé would be perceived as sportier than a two-door sedan. As well, while previous two-door sedans were just a reconfiguration of the doors, new two-door sedans often have different sheet metal and styling than their four-door counterparts.
coupe in Bulgarian: Купе
coupe in Bosnian: Kupe (automobil)
coupe in German: Coupé
coupe in Spanish: Cupé
coupe in French: Coupé
coupe in Croatian: Kupe (automobil)
coupe in Korean: 쿠페
coupe in Indonesian: Coupé
coupe in Italian: Coupé
coupe in Lithuanian: Kupė
coupe in Dutch: Coupé (auto)
coupe in Japanese: クーペ
coupe in Norwegian: Coupé
coupe in Polish: Coupé
coupe in Portuguese: Coupé
coupe in Russian: Купе (кузов)
coupe in Finnish: Coupé
coupe in Swedish: Coupé
coupe in Turkish: Coupe
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