Sunday, January 08, 2006



I'm curious as to what other think regarding the reasons why the inhabitants of the United States of America as a whole generally cringe when they hear "hatchback". It has gotten so bad recently (the hatred of the word hatchback) in the US that the term crossover is being applied in its stead.

When I was younger and driving my first 'real' car (my second car actually, my first died after an engine fire, and two self-destructing gear boxes, it was a 1979 Datsun B210 wagon), which was a 1986 MkII Volkswagen Golf 3 door. This car was the epitomy (to me at the time) of what a car was all about. It had a wonderful soft touch dash, a nice solid headliner, precise shifter with a decent stock throw (both side to side and fore and aft), no to mention great fuel economy, an engine that was bulletproof and liked to be worked but was happy at a lower rpm'ed pace just the same.

I did have a few friends who never understood hatchbacks (even thought their rebadge mustangs (as Mercury Capris) were also hatchbacks. They never realised that hatchbacks around the world were used for racing, rallying, et al. Sure, in the US we had good reason for the negative reviews, we had some lemons here. The Yugo being the most memorable, it was just a really bad Fiat knockoff built in Yugoslavia. We had the Renault LeCar which, in its form back then, was not something that the average american driver would deal with on a day to day basis. The horrible pacer and gremlin were examples of how piss poor American designers were capable of being. Afterall, America isn't exaclty known for its beautiful designs in the automotive world. Just as a pre-emptive note: tail fins are not 'beautiful' if anyone decides to bring up the supposed 'glory days' of design.

But I digress. The hatchback has continued in the US to be seen as a tiny, economy based automobile relegated to those who cannot afford a "real" car, for the most part. There are exceptions, such as the Golf (which can now be had for as much as somewhere in the low 30's (for the .:R32 version), but for the most part, I think everyone follows me..

Hatchbacks are nice and big inside on the whole, their design tends to mean more headroom, and overall more utility as well than their saloon bretheren. They are family cars, as well as sporty runabouts (i.e. Hothatches).. Every major manufacturer offers high performance hatchbacks, and I'm not talking estate versions either (Station Wagons for those of you who are isolationists). Alfa Romeo, Renault, Peugeot, Citroen, Volkswagen/Audi/Seat, Vauxhall/Opel/Holden/Chevrolet/Daewoo, Honda, Toyota, Ford, Mitsubishi, Suzuki, Nissan (I always wanted a Sunny GTI-R), Kia, Hyundai, etc. all make hatchbacks, and performance versions as well.

To a degree I'm happy about the views in America because it allowed me to pay less when I picked up my Chevrolet Lacetti/Optra5/Excelle/etc. However I'd still like to see people waking up and realising that SUV's are unnecessary, oversized fuel wasting jokes that shouldn't have come into existance, whereas a hatchback or an estate version would do just the same, while being safer, quicker, more nimble and more cost effective to run.

As a side note, I'm not on a limited budget when it comes to cars, the purchase of my recent hatchback (new) equates to less pay than two months wages for me, so it obiously is a choice (and this is the ONLY reason why I mention anything of my personal finances), just to stress the preference, no one will hear this mentioned again as it is immaterial.

Anyone else out there understand the lack of understanding regarding hatches?


I'm not sure I agree 100% with your post, but I do like hatchbacks, always have. I had a preference for the fastback hatchback myself, but can see merit in the 2 box 3 door ala Golf.

My first car was a Chevy Monza, and while it was an example of how poorly Detroit attempted to counter foreign models, the styling was actually very nice. I was a young man, so I kept the rear seats folded 75% of the time, and didn't haul much. I did love my Ford Festiva/Kia Pride/Mazda 121 for it's flexible character, even with only 68 hp, it's 5 speed making it fun to drive.

I'm apparently one of the few people that's slightly disapointed that the new fastback Mustang isn't a Hatch.

But I thought that part of the reason for the move away from Hatchbacks was the need to stiffen chassis. But obviously, that's not all of it, or Hatches wouldn't be so hot everywhere else.

I know that Coupes are coming back, like the Honda Civic that we just bought in July, and the new Chevy Cobalt.

But in general the move has been to 4 door sedans over the last decade.

I like 3 doors, but for some reason don't like 5 doors much. Wonder why that is?
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