The cars we loved.
In the 80’s Hyundai was known for cheap disposable cars. After sellings every other first time buyer a Excel it seemed, Hyundi set it’s sights higher by bringing a low cost sporty coupe into the market. The Scoupe was their solution. It was based on the Excel, so it was already limited in it’s potential. The 81 horsepower four cylinder engine had just enough oomph to scoot the light weight coupe along to pass for sporty acceleration.
In 1993, the Mitsubishi sourced engine from early models gave way to a Hyundai designed turbo with 42% more power. A small redesign made the car resemble the Cavalier/Sunfire even more while borrowing themes like the Eagle talon’s a blackout top. Suspension tuning from Lotus made the Scoupe a serious contender in the low end of sporty coupe market. In the early ’90s that market had become crowded with MX-3’s, Paseo’s and Neons.
Using its affiliation with Lotus Engineering in the Scoupe proved to be one of Hyundai’s first critical successes. For the money, the Scoupe handled better than anything in its price range and nearly as well as many more expensive coupes. A new low end performance coupe sub nich had begun and Hyundai had it mostly to itself (in the American market at least).
By 1995 the Scoupe gained respectable looks and had started the process of building a solid reputation for Hyundai. 1995 was also the last year for the Scoupe. It’s disappearance left a gap in Hyundai’s performance slot until the sportier more advanced Tiburon filled it in 1997. Hyundai has since evolved the Tiburon to levels that the Scoupe could have only imagined, but the company clearly had to start from somewhere.