Good old hatchbacks. It seems like the whole world is getting more into SUV’s and forgetting about the little economical cruisers that are hatchback cars.
Even though sales have dropped in the compact and subcompact car segments (mainly due to the SUV boom), hatchback car sales have increased 16% according to USA Today.
Brands have been busy creating new hatchback car models to keep up and test to see if it is just a fad or if the hatchback is really making a comeback.
Historically, American’s don’t like hatchbacks for whatever reason. It may be because of nasty, nasty first impressions American’s got back with the old wooden paneling and the Ford Pinto.
Ford’s hatchback history may not be that strong, but their recent line up is definitely worth a look. Including the Fiesta and Focus, since 2010 the Ford brand has been a strong player in this segment.
Overall, hatchbacks make up about a quarter of all small car sales, and Ford’s hatches out perform by 33% and 40%.
Given the success (not saying they’re connected) Honda, Chevrolet, Hyundai, and Honda all developed refreshed hatchback cars.
The reason so many Europeans enjoy hatchbacks is that they combine small car efficiency with SUV-like practicality and space. The combination means great usability and gives you the best of both worlds.
This European flavoring draws in younger buyers who want to be a bit edgy and different. I know that that is the reason I would want one. No one really bats an eye at hatchbacks, and I definitely do.
A Small History:
The term “hatchback” dates back to 1970, however a hatchback car can be dated back to the 1930’s with the Citroen Traction Avant. Even Aston Martin had an example in 1953 with the DB2 with a top-hinged tail gate.
Hatchbacks are defined as having a three-door or five-door configuration. This would mean two or four passenger doors and the hatch.
Through out history, hatchback cars have had the same general formula no matter their final shape. Form odd examples like the Audi A7 with a “fastback” design to the Ferrari FF and more recently the GTC4 Lusso.
Modern hatchback’s are in a special place. In most cases, manufactures produce hatchbacks next to similar sedan variants of the same model. For example, the Chevrolet Cruze.
The Chevy Cruze is available in sedan form or hatchback form. In this example, you can see the point I want to make in the most obvious form.
The Chevy Cruze sedan looks more like a run-of-the-mill subcompact sedan with modest space. The styling isn’t bad, but you can tell it is a small car.
On the other hand, you have the hatchback. As is apparent on other models from other manufactures, the hatchback design wears the scheme of the small car much better than the sedan.
Compact sedans have a history of looking rushed. Like they want to be bigger sedans, but can’t because they’re so small so the proportions are a bit off.
Hatchbacks wear the styling much better and look more complete in the process.
A new trend that many automakers are taking part in is the super hatch. These kinds of machines have been around for some time, with the Civic Type R, Focus SVT and those kinds of cars.
To spike interest in their new hatches, manufactures turn to the old practice of performance trims.
We see new powerhouses emerge from Ford and Honda, like the Ford Focus ST and RS, as well as the Honda Civic Si and Type R.
We can’t talk about fat hatchbacks without mentioning the daddy of all, the Golf GTi.
The GTi is and has always been the pinnacle of quick hatch backs and boy does it live up to its reputation.
Volkswagen’s latest iteration of the GTi is a powerful little thing with a lightning fast dual-clutch transmission and plenty of power to kick it off the line. Truly great stuff.
Outside of these relatively normal cars are the super hatches, like the insane offerings from Ferrari.
Ferrari offers the GTC4 Lusso now, and previously the Ferrari FF.
These two models are classic examples of hatchbacks, with two passenger doors and an economical trunk.
While the Ferrari examples are obviously very low and poised, they are quite comfortable to sit in.
The GTC4 Lusso now sports a turbo charged V8 engine which actually won engine of the year recently.
Ferrari’s 4 Lusso is as recessive as you can get for Ferrari. You get four wheel drive and four wheel steering the the Lusso as well. Very impressive and different from Ferrari.
The 4 Lusso is made to deliver the Ferrari driving experience while being the most livable Ferrari ever. It delivers very well.
A V12 is the GTC’s standard option and the V8 TT comes in the Ferrari GTC4 Lusso T.
The GTC can do 0-60 in about 3.5 seconds, which is incredibly quick for a hatchback meant for luxury.
As far as hatchbacks go in general, I’d venture to say the GTC4 Lusso is the most gorgeous and exclusive. The side view is just breath taking.
I’ll take a moment to focus solely on the Chevy Cruze. I love the work they’ve done with the new car over the old one, and love the fact that Chevy actually decided to use the hatchback design at all.
The new Cruze hatchback looks great. I know there are a lot of people who disagree, but I like it a lot. It has great lines and the stance is fantastic. It’s athletic looking and has some nice hips.
Even though the Cruze does need an SS trim to really pack a punch, the standard car is great. A great car for younger people who like edginess and style along with practicality.
Honda Civic Type R and Si:
I’ve said time and time again that I absolutely love the new styling of the Honda Civic. I know a lot of people may not because of how edgy and daring it looks, but I appreciate it. The car looks a lot more upscale and threatening than ever before.
Honda makes the Civic in a number of great looking styles. The coupe which is my personal favorite, a hatchback and the sedan.
As with a number of other manufactures, Honda utilizes the hatchback style to house all of the super high performance features for the Si and the insane Civic Type R.
The standard Civic hatch is very similar to the other variants in the styling, which is interesting given the different silhouettes.
I do like how Honda worked things. Each model looks athletic even in hatch back form. The Civic Si and the Type R are just completely different animals.
In the 2017 Honda Civic Si, you get 210 or so HP out of the turbocharged four cylinder engine.
For the Type R, you get just over 300 HP out of the same four cylinder turbo, but you are still with front wheel drive. Which according to Honda, is not a bad thing at all.
The Type R has been available in other countries than the United States for a number of years, but is now making its way over the United States’ soil and we’re all very excited.
Ford Focus ST and RS:
The Ford Focus is quite a seller for Ford. For years, Ford has moved a ton of these things and nearly everyone has had one at some point. Or at least seen 1,000 on a daily commute.
But, Ford kicked things up a notch and made the performance versions of the Focus. Starting with the SVT, and evolving into the crazy RS we see today.
The Ford Focus ST is a fantastic addition to the sport enthusiast who needs the practicality of a Focus but wants to go quickly. It’s a lovely car.
Above that, the Ford Focus RS begs for a rally career. The RS is a 350+ HP beats with all wheel drive and a great work of engineering. One of the best driving budget cars out there.
Ford also offers the fantastic Ford Fiesta ST, which is also praised as being fabulous to drive.
It just goes to show you don’t need insane power to make a great driving car. If you think the driving experience is all horsepower and 0-60’s, you might need to do some research.
The GTi is the absolute best. I know there is the Golf R which is a better performer in every way, but the Volkswagen GTi has history, and it is a perfect mid ground between the practical and the ridiculous.
The GTi can be had in manual or automatic, and both are fantastic. The DSG transmission shifts lightning fast and very smoothly.
Volkswagen’s GTi goes back very very far. Every generation looks fantastic to this day, either as a rally machine or a street fighter.
GTi’s make great first cars as well. Reliable, safe, and loads of fun to drive.
GTi’s only come in hatchback car versions, rather than sedans and hatchback offerings like some of the other cars we talked about before. It is a pure combination with a lot of history behind it, and you can feel the refinement behind the wheel when you drive one.
The Mazda 3:
The Mazda 3 hatchback car has been around for quite some time now, and matured a lot.
Mazda’s older versions of the hatchback were childish looking, and never really took themselves seriously. Which was fine, since Mazda’s buyers usually were pretty young and just wanted something crazy looking. Especially when the fast versions name was MazdaSpeed, you knew these weren’t really tuned toward the sophisticated buyer.
However, the new Mazda 3 is a beautiful car, and I maintain that to this day.
Mazda is headed in a different direction which is apparent by just the Mazda 3. They are making more mature cars, and making them more sophisticated and serious. Mazda has said that the old MazdaSpeed name is just juvenile, and I agree.
So take a look at the Mazda 3, since Mazda is moving up market. It starts here. The new Mazda 3 has a long swooping appearance and recessed passenger cabin that looks incredible.
Car design as a whole is taking a turn for the technologically advanced, and I kind of like it.
The new hatchback cars that are coming out are increasing in volume, but I can’t see any that do it with the purity of the GTi. What do you think?
There will always be room in the world for hatchback cars, and they will always fill a great purpose.