In a new series called, Defining a Segment, we take a look at cars that are not given the credit they deserve. Classic car buff Winston Mace takes a closer look at the The Rover P5B. This British model can be considered the very first four-door coupe.

In the early 1960s, Rover revolutionised the automotive industry with the introduction of the P5B, the world’s first four-door coupe. The P5B retained its four doors but its roofline was lowered by about 40 mm. In addition to a sloping C-pillar, the P5B had a sleek sophisticated look. This innovative design combined the sleek lines of a coupe with the practicality of a sedan. As a result it set a new standard for style and functionality.

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The P5B quickly became a favourite of middle class executives, UK government officials including Prime Ministers. Queen Elizabeth II reportedly also owned one. Fast forward to the present day, and the four-door coupe has become a staple in the luxury car market. The Mercedes-Benz CLS is often credited with leading the charge. But it’s important to remember the pioneering spirit of the Rover P5B.

Click here to read about the first installment of this series outlining the original super saloon.

Style Innovator

The Rover P5B was a game-changer in its time. It boasted a sloping roofline and thin B-pillars, which gave it a sporty, coupe-like appearance. Despite its larger size, the P5B retained the performance of a smaller vehicle, thanks to its powerful 3,5-litre V8 engine. Inside, the P5B offered luxurious amenities like leather upholstery, wood trim, and ample legroom, making it a favorite among executives and dignitaries.

Modern Interpretations

Decades later, the four-door coupe has evolved to incorporate advanced technology, safety features, and sustainable design. The Mercedes-Benz CLS, in particular, has become synonymous with this body style. It offers a sleek, aerodynamic silhouette and a luxurious interior. 

Other manufacturers have followed suit. Models such as the BMW 4 Series Gran Coupe, Audi A7 Sportback and VW Arteon offer their own takes on this theme. The coupe look has recently found its way onto SUVs, too. The Mercedes-Benz GLC and GLE coupe along with the X4 and X6 from BMW and the Cayenne Coupe have become popular on SA roads.

Legacy of the Rover P5B

The Rover P5B’s influence on the automotive industry has long been recognised, more so since the early 2000s when Mercedes launched it’s first generation CLS which ultimately led to VW, Audi and BMW offering their own take.

The Rover’s innovative design and luxurious features set a new standard for the industry, paving the way for future generations of four-door coupes. As the automotive industry continues to evolve, it’s important to remember the pioneering spirit of the Rover P5B, which dared to be different years ahead of the competition.

Special thanks to HandH for allowing us to use these images.