Hyundai is branching out, broadening its model range. Its perky two-door Scoupe is aimed at members of the young, sporty set who want a flashy image without breaking their bank accounts.
The Scoupe (short for "sports coupe") appeals to buyers who might otherwise seek out such cars as the Geo Storm, Honda CRX or Mazda 323.It is available in a range of bright colors and is a worthy addition to Hyundai's two other cars, the Excel and Sonata.
The Scoupe appears to be a spinoff of the new Excel, introduced in 1990. Hyundai is a South Korean company that has made substantial inroads into the small-car market by offering solid cars at low prices. Some of its early cars were rather mundane, but that's no longer true.
The Scoupe LS that I drove had all the amenities of a more expensive sports coupe, from attractive styling to a full load of convenience equipment. Its only letdown was a powerplant that felt coarse and a gearshift linkage that was notchy.
What impressed me most about the Scoupe was its pert and well-proportioned styling, from the sloping nose and subtle fender bulges to the wrap-around back window. It has a clean and spare profile. And to add to the design's integrity, the interior carries many of the same styling cues. Everything blends together. Door handles that fit perfectly into the door-pull and armrest are a good example of that.
The Scoupe LS has nicely contoured sports seats and a dashboard designed to be simple and direct, with dial gauges and simple switches.
But I disliked the seat belts. They are attached to the outer edge of the doors to qualify as passive restraints. When you get into the car you must lean into the belts, and they drag across your clothes as you slide into the seat. Conversely, almost every time I got out of the car the belts would catch on the pens in my shirt pocket. Motorized seat belts or airbags would be preferable.
The 1.5-liter, four-cylinder engine is a single-overhead cam design with multiport fuel injection. The horsepower is 81. Like all Hyundais, the Scoupe has front-wheel drive.
Performance was typical of a 2,187-pound car with 81 horsepower, which is to say brisk but not much more than that.
The suspension has been tuned by Lotus, and it shows. Body roll was not at all objectionable in turns, and there was little of the nose-heaviness often felt with front-wheel drive. The Scoupe's overall balance was quite good.
Handling also gets a boost from the Michelin high-performance tires on 14-inch wheels.
The suspension is tuned to yield decent handling, and the resulting ride is on the firm side. But its firmness doesn't impart harshness.
The standard equipment list is long on the Scoupe LS. It has six-way adjustable seats, power windows, power mirrors, power rack and pinion steering, a tilt steering wheel, a dashboard cup holder, a fold-down rear seat, bronze-tinted glass and the 14-inch wheels with high-performance Michelin tires. Options on the test car included air conditioning, alloy wheels and a removable sun-roof.
The sticker price was $11,065.