Coupe contenders

  • 17 categories of awards
  • All the winning models featured here
  • What Car? Car of the Year 2011 revealed
Words ByWhat Car? Staff

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What Car? Awards 2012 website

Best buy less than 25,000
Volkswagen Scirocco 1.4 TSI 160
List price 21,375
Target Price 20,085

The Scirocco retains its crown in our lowest price band, making it three years in a row for Volkswagens slinky coup.

This years victory is even more impressive than the previous ones, too, because there were some very talented new competitors for the Scirocco to deal with.

First came the RCZ, Peugeots stunning take on the Audi TT that offers sports-car handling and strong performance, all for an affordable price. It still couldnt oust the Scirocco, though, due to its harsher ride and more limited cabin space.

Then came the Honda CR-Z. It looks fantastic inside and out, and with smart handling and perky performance, its also great fun to drive. Whats more, its hybrid drivetrain means it has some seriously impressive environmental credentials.

As much as we like the Honda, though, the Scirocco still takes the plaudits. The sharp handling, responsive steering and slick ride will keep you entertained and comfortable, while the high-quality interior and VW badge ensure a strong image.

Volkswagen Scirocco review

0-62mph 8.0sec Top speed 135mph
Running costs
Economy 42.8mpg CO2 154g/km
Insurance group 28
Best buy 25,000-40,000
Audi TT 2.0 TFSI 211 Sport
List price 27,130
Target Price 25,261

This sort of budget gives you access to some seriously talented coups. Theres the more powerful 1.6-litre turbo version of the Peugeot RCZ, the muscular Nissan 370Z, plus various versions of the BMW 3 Series Coup and Mercedes E-Class Coup.

The Peugeot is cheaper than the Audi, but not by enough to make up for the fact that it gets nowhere near the TT for dynamic prowess. And the rest? Well, theyre all impressive cars in their own various ways, but you pay a lot more for them.

Put simply, no other rival can match the Audi TT's sheer ability. Its sleek looks, gorgeous interior and premium badge give it a level of desirability worthy of a much more expensive car. Its strong residual values also make it a sound financial investment.

Its the way the Audi drives thatll really win your heart, though. The new 2.0-litre turbocharged engine means its faster and more flexible than ever, the agile handling is grin-inducing while the ride is comfortable and the refinement is impressive.

Audi TT review

0-62mph 6.1sec Top speed 152mph
Running costs
Economy 42.8mpg CO2 154g/km
Insurance group 34
Best buy more than 40,000
Jaguar XKR
List price 77,900
Target Price 71,545

If you have upwards of 40k to spend on your coup, youre into the realms of all sorts of exotica think BMW 6 Series, Mercedes-Benz CL, Maserati Granturismo or the Bentley Continental GT. For us, though, the Jaguar XKR offers all you need from a prestige coup.

First, theres the pace from the supercharged 5.0-litre V8. The bare numbers cant describe the sensation you feel when you bury the XKRs throttle the noise is amazing and the acceleration is simply astonishing.

Corners give you even more reason to smile. The XKR might be big, but with bags of grip, superb body control, keen brakes and well-weighted steering, it changes direction with the deftness of a true sports car. Find a stretch of open motorway, though, and the XKR melts away the miles as smoothly and as quietly as any grand tourer.

True, the rear seats are only good for luggage and the running costs are astronomical. Still, some things are worth forking out for, and you get bags of luxury kit for your money.

Jaguar XKR review

0-62mph 4.8sec Top speed 155mph
Running costs
Economy 23.0mpg CO2 292g/km
Insurance group 50
Tester's view
Sometimes the normal rules dont apply. Sometimes practical and financial considerations go out of the window and you just have to treat yourself.

So it is with coups. Above all else, these are cars that you should enjoy looking at and driving.
That common thread unites them, whether its a practical, sub-20k VW Scirocco or a piece of 300,000 automotive bling such as the Rolls-Royce Phantom Coup.

For me, it makes a pleasant change to be able to put some of the more sensible considerations to one side, although our winners here are brilliant all-rounders.

The Scirocco combines edgy looks with a practical cabin, the TT is the epitome of the sporty must-have coup and the XKR is a stunning grand tourer. Tough choice.
Leo Wilkinson Deputy road test editor