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December 8, 2012

Hyundai Elantra Coupe opens doors to style

You don’t have to step too deeply into the dusty annals of automotive history to reach the time when many two-door cars were simply lower-priced variations of four-door cars.

When manufacturing technology wasn’t as advanced as today, hanging doors on autos was much more difficult for car makers. So if you could live with just the two front doors and accept the inconvenience of flipping forward the front seats so passengers could wriggle to the bench in back, car companies would sell you a two-door model for less than a four-door model, because it cost them less to make it.

Not anymore. These days, two-door variants still share the basic body work of their four-door kin. But most often, they’re slimmed, shaved and raked to look more svelte, racy and streamlined. They aim to extend a model line’s reach to young, usually single drivers who want a stylish, expressive automobile, and who consider a back seat only a stopgap for occasional use – like when they’re stuck hauling a nephew or niece.

And forget about saving money. Very often, models with two fewer doors cost more than their four-door counterparts.

Some shining examples of slick, sporty coupes (as the two-door versions are most often named) that cost more than their related sedans (the catchword for four-door renditions) include the mid-size Hyundai Elantra. The 2013 Hyundai Elantra Sedan starts at $17,590, while the Elantra Coupe lists at an opening price of $18,220. The sedan version of the Nissan Altima 2.5S lists at $23,590 to start, while the Altima 2.5S Coupe begins at a list price of $26,710. In the luxury segment, the Infinti G37 Sedan starts at $38,145, while the G37 Coupe opens at $41,195.

The popular Honda Civic Coupe is a notable exception. Its 2013 starting list price of $18,755 is $200 less than a Civic Sedan of the same grade. Of course, for that $200 discount, you give up more than 11 cubic feet of passenger volume, due to the low rake of the rear roof line.

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