THE TOP GERMAN COUPE TRIO

It was just two weeks ago that GoodCarBadCar showed clips of the most sporting models from Germany’s foremost luxury brands. Audi’s RS4, Mercedes’ C63 AMG, and the latest BMW M3. Only one of those vehicles is competing with two doors. Have you taken note of the configuration of Audi’s latest hot ticket item, or Mercedes-Benz aging but still popular CLK? Just two doors. There’s something romantic about the chopping off of doors.

While the siblings of sedans frequently suffer hot sales in their first model year, it is often the case that the practical merits of the sedan or the urge of everyone to buy a newer, more stylish model take over. For three German automakers, 100% of whom are on a presently successful tear, coupes offer increased profits while barely dipping into the coffers for extra R&D, certification processes, or name recognition.

The BMW 3-series is now available as a sedan, coupe, wagon, and as a hardtop convertible. BMW, with all its performance intelligence, chose to leave the option of a fixed roof coupe even though the convertible pulls the stunt pretty well. Why? Extra rigidity and weight savings lead to purer performance. The latest 3-series is just that: the latest – a part of BMW’s long history of handsome and elegant two-doors. Cars which effect a great degree of envy and jealousy at 5 and 10 year high school reunions, but cars that are not unreachable for the common man. We all snarl at the driver when he cuts us off in his 335i, but we sure do wish we had his car.

Mercedes has offered up a refreshing new take on its CLK. The first generation was arguably a better-looking car; the newer model the better drive. Having been on the market for a while, though, AMG turned things up a notch or three and placed a CLK in Mercedes-Benz AMG’s new Black Series. The result is basically an F1 safety car for the road. Rawer than most any recent Mercedes – AMG or not – the CLK63 AMG Black is a vicious device on the road and an excellent piece of machinery for the track. Unlike plenty of the high performance cars in today’s garages, the Mercedes-Benz CLK63 AMG Black excels as a real-world driving tool; with great traction and a ride/handling compromise to handle whatever a road can throw at it.

Audi’s is the most recent coupe introduction. The A5 and its one-up performance derivative, the S5, are what designer Walter da Silva calls his best design ever. While that isn’t true, (he once penned some gorgeous Alfa Romeo’s) the A5 is a looker. Obviously until there’s an RS5, this Audi won’t even come close to competing with the CLK Black, at least price wise. Which matters little, that Mercedes was so limited in its production that it would never make a dint in the sales of these two other coupes. The S5 utilizes Audi’s common V8 with 354 horsepower. The A5’s V6 has 89 fewer horses, but still holds plenty of juice.