Reviewed by Unique Cars and Parts
Our Rating: 1
The Cheapest Coupe
The Scoupe was released in 1990
, a time when Hyundai were making inroads on local markets by offering cheap reliable cars, but all were pretty forgettable. The Scoupe was to be a little different, however. It was even rumoured to have been designed by Giugiaro of Italdesign
. But, being a Hyundai, it was the cheapest coupe available in many markets. In Europe, for example, it was substantially cheaper than VW’s Scirocco GT II. But the question remained – was it better value.
If you checked the standard kit you may have been tempted to think it really was a bargain. You got alloy wheels
, power steering, electric windows and mirrors, remote boot release, a four-speaker stereo, and a three-way catalytic converter. Remember, this was 1990, and these inclusions were usually only seen on the options list of other manufacturers. To its credit, Hyundai made no pretence that the Scoupe was a sports car, in spite of appearances. It was, after all, simply a fancy body on a slightly modified X2 Pony platform - a bit of flash for not much cash.
At that level it worked well. Big doors opened onto a plush, well appointed cabin, and you dropped into enveloping 'sports' seats. You sat lower than in most sedans, making the facia sit high in front of you – and that may have given some the impression the car had some semblance of sporting ability. In the back seat leg and headroom were at a premium, but the Scoupe was not really trying to be a family sedan. The thin-rimmed plastic steering wheel was a bit of a let-down after the rest of the interior. The design of the instrument binnacle and centre console were ok, there was a quality feel, although you knew you were sitting in a Korean car.
On the Road
Around town the Scoupe’s engine was willing, the ride soft and the clunky gear-change was quick, while the steering was light but not over-assisted. But if you took the Scoupe onto the highway, you would soon realise you were driving a cheap car. Suddenly the willing 1468cc sohc alloy-headed unit would betray its old Mitsubishi design. Multi-point fuel injection did lift the output to 82bhp, developed at 5500rpm. Peak torque was 89 lb ft at 4000rpm. It revved eagerly, yet was never quick - the Scoupe taking nearly 13.0 seconds to reach 100 km/h from rest and topping out at 102mph. It was always loud and had an engine note which, although never coarse, was not too pleasant either.
Handling deficiencies were linked to dismal ride quality - the result of an appalling absence of damping control. Away from the low-speed city traffic, the ride went to pieces, crashing violently through pot-holes, dancing over longer stretches of road repairs, and bouncing dementedly over ridges. If you tried to corner quickly the body would squirm and corkscrew seemingly independently of the tyres. To its credit, the Scoupe did have good roadholding on 185/60 HR14 rubber, but you would never make the most of it because of the unpredictable behaviour of the body. Nearly every road tester found it to be a very unsettling experience, as was the Scoupe’s tendency to wander on the freeway, affected by cross winds and passing trucks. At least the strong brakes
- vented discs at the front, drums behind - meant you could stop in a hurry and get out, should it have all become too much.
Several changes came for 1993, when Scoupes got a facelift, including the Hyundai "H" logo, new flush headlamps plus body-coloured side mouldings and redesigned front sheet-metal, taillights, and rear bumper. The Base and LS models were fitted with Hyundai's new and improved Alpha 1.5 litre engine, featuring 12-valves
and direct-port fuel-injection. The 1495cc Alpha, with a 75.5 mm (2.97 in) bore and an 83.5 mm (3.29 in) stroke, produced 92 hp (69 kW) at 5,500 rpm and 97 lb·ft (132 N·m) of torque at 4,000 rpm in naturally aspirated form, with a 10:1 compression ratio, and 115 hp (86 kW) at 5,500 rpm and 123 lb·ft (167 N·m) of torque at 4,500 rpm when turbocharged, with a 7.5:1 compression ratio. Hyundai claimed the naturally aspirated Alpha had a 14% increase in power over its 1.5 litre Mitsubishi-designed predecessor, and the turbo produced 42% more power. Turbos came only with 5-speed manual shift, while Base and LS models could have an optional 4-speed automatic.
But regardless of which engine powered the Scoupe, for the money there were much better second hand options out there. The car failed to deliver in just about every criteria you could apply to a car. To sum it up with one word – crap. It was replaced by the much better Tiburon in 1996.