- Ford Puma 1998

Coupé series part 1: Tiny coupés

The forgotten cute coupés of the 90's

4w ago

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Round shapes, mostly unusable back seats and a platform shared with the manufacturer's smallest hatchback. This was the recipe for the 90's adorable tiny coupés, which are the topic for the first chapter of this series.

In the 90's the SUV-market hadn't even made its first stride. This meant manufacturers had different methods of trying to bring in new customers. Some opted to launch sporty coupé models based on their smallest hatchback. I will present the three tiny coupés I find most interesting.

I think the Ford Puma is the poster car for this segment of coupés. It was based on the 4th gen. Fiesta but only loosely. The gearbox, suspension and underpinnings were reworked for a sporty drive and the engines were co-developed with Yamaha. And they do not have a reputation of building crummy engines. The fact that the Puma was chosen as Car of the year in 1997 by Top Gear magazine speaks volumes of its capabilities and the fun factor that a tiny coupé can provide. I adore the original Puma, I refuse to accept that there's a new Ford with that model name.

Just such wonderful shapes, could be a little lower to the ground.

Just such wonderful shapes, could be a little lower to the ground.

I could talk about the Puma for a fortnight but I must move on to other unique cars in this defunct segment. Enter the Mazda MX-3.

Obviously we are all familiar with the MX-5 but a few years later Mazda came out with a small coupé based on the Mazda Familia. It was called the MX-3 and in true 90's Japanese styling it had round and soft creases everywhere. Where it stood out to every other tiny coupé was in the engine department. It had a tiny 1.8 litre V6 that generated an Alfa-esque bellow. There were 4-cylinders available too but luckily many bought the V6 version so they aren't rare. Yet.

1997 Mazda MX-3 1.8 V6

1997 Mazda MX-3 1.8 V6

And finally we arrive at the soon to be iconic Honda CR-X. The Civic-based retro machine is one of my favourite Japanese cars of all time. A black second gen. CR-X with red accents and light grey VTEC-stickers is one of the most heroic looking cars of all time. Right up there with the 70's Abarths. The CR-X was made in three generations in 1983-1997. The CR-X was offered with many engines. The most desirable engine being the 1.6 VTEC found in the second gen. CR-X, which I have covered previously here.

That engine was improved further in the 3rd generation CR-X called the Del Sol. The Del Sol was such a succes that even the Drift King himself called it the most important Japanese sports car for a decade. The sloping coupé rear was ditched for a targa top, which means I probably shouldn't count it as a tiny coupé. But being a pedant can be so boring sometimes.

The Ford Puma - as we want to remember it - went out of production in 2002 and that was the end of the 90's fun and quirky tiny coupés. Oooor was it? This week I will be posting a review of the car that I think is the last of the true tiny coupés. Can you guess what it is?

All images listed under the Creative Commons license

Ford Puma 1998 by smerkal

1997 Mazda MX-3 1.8 V6 by Kieran White

IMG_7491_edited by Grant C

1992 Honda Civic CRX 1.6i DOHC by peterolthof

Honda CRX del sel by Adrian Kot

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