Buying a Hatchback

By Luke Caesar - General Manager - July 19, 2017

Buying a Hatchback

Hatchback owners are the type of people who don’t want to compromise on luggage space, but still want to benefit from high fuel efficiency and the convenience of owning a small car.

You might be concerned about rising fuel prices or just environmentally conscious and looking to minimise your footprint.

Many people downsize from a larger car when they no longer need it because it’s the ‘right thing to do’.

Hatchback Happiness - What To Consider When Buying:

The exact hatch that youy choose will depend on how many passengers you expect to carry, and your personal preference for the shape and lines of car.

How many doors?

This is really a discussion on appearance vs practicality. If you have small kids who are getting in and out of the back seats, you’ll definitely want to go for a 5 door hatch!

But if you rarely have passengers in the rear seats, it’s a totally different dilemma.

Practical disadvantages of 3 doors

The one downside of a longer front door is that when you park in a tight space, it’s a little harder to get out of the car than it is with the shorter front door of the 4 door model.

You also won’t have an extra blindspot that you get from the pillar in a 5 door car, (picture), making it that much easier to reverse park in the tightest spots.

When looks are a priority go 3 doors

A 3 door hatch will give you less weight, cleaner lines, and a sportier look and feel. And you usually won’t have any less space in the boot than you will with a 5 door in the same make of car.

A 3 door model will look cleaner, giving you that minimalist image. The front doors of a 3 door hatch car are often larger than the 5 door version of the same make.

You’ll have less ‘shut door’ lines, and no pillar between the rear window and the rear ¼ window.

If you’re going for a sporty model and you want to drive it on a track a 3 door option will mean less movement as you push the car to it’s maximum performance.

Boot Size

With the rear seats folded down flat, pretty soon a modest hatchback can give you as much space as a minivan. Making those IKEA trips so much easier, and saving you a ton in delivery fees when you fit more than you expect into the back.

You’ll get a LOT more boot space than you do in a sedan. And you get all of this extra space without the overhang of a boot, making squeezing into tight parking spaces in the city a whole lot easier.

When you’re buying a car the boot space will be listed in litres in the specifications. This doesn’t give you a great idea of the length, width and height you have to work with.

When you’re looking for a hatch to fit a certain amount of stuff in, be sure to eye the space or even take a tape measure to see exactly what you’ll be able to fit in.

If you’re concerned about privacy, most hatch models come with a privacy shelf that hides the items you have in the boot.

Do you have a full-size spare tyre?

Car tyre technology has evolved so much now that a flat tyre is extremely rare, and you can go years without ever getting one.

This means that when you’re buying a new hatch, perhaps the last thing on your mind is the spare tyre.

As the wheels on a hatch are small, there's really no reason not to have a full-size spare. It's worth checking the spare on your next car to make sure it's a full-size wheel, giving you the range you'll need if you do get a flat.

Resale Value

If you’re not convinced by the extra boot space, hatchbacks tend to hold their resale value better than sedans. Hatches retain 565 of their value after 3 years, while larger cars sell for 40% the original price.

Learner Drivers

With a shorter bonnet, flatter back and shorter body it’s easier for a learner driver to see the ‘ends’ of the car and avoid any car park bumps.

You’ll also have a windscreen wiper on the rear window, which not all sedans have due to the angle, making it easier to see the traffic behind you when it’s raining.

Fuel Consumption

It goes without saying that hatchbacks, being smaller and agile, consume less fuel than larger cars. They’re a naturally greener choice. With a smaller size, they can sport a smaller engine and still retain a great driving feeling.

Manual or Automatic?

This decision is partly based on personal preference, and partly on the type of driving that you’ll be doing most of the time.

Pros of An Automatic Hatch

For a little hatchback, a relatively recent automatic model will be close in price to its manual counterpart. If you’re in traffic a bit, an automatic is much easier to handle.

An automatic is also a huge advantage for a learner driver, or if you’ve got to drive in a hilly area. You’re not in danger of stalling the car at the lights, and hill starts in an automatic are smooth.

Why Drive A Manual Hatch?

However if you’re going for a ‘hot hatch’, a great driving experience might mean you sacrifice convenience for extra control of your car.

The Peugeot 208GTi doesn’t actually come in automatic. It’s the car for you if you’re looking to save on fuel, but still want a car with great performance you can drive with enthusiasm.

At the end of the day, the best recommendation I can make is that you take the car for a test drive (link), and compare the experience of the models you’re looking at. There’s always going to be a compromise between the excitement of driving a manual and the convenience of an automatic.

Australia is quickly following the US example, with 93% of Americans choosing automatic cars, you may want to put your hand up and buy a manual hatchback to keep the manufacturers making them.

The Final Decision

Some of your options similar options offering automatic gearing include the Ford Fiesta ST, VW Polo GT, Skoda Fabia RS, or Fiat Aberth. In fact, the Renault Clio only comes in a dual clutch option.

By now you would have a pretty clear idea of what you’ll need in a hatchback. You’ve probably even narrowed down a few models.

If you’re still not totally sure what you want, then taking a test drive in your shortlisted cars is the best way to compare the handling and check out if the interior space will fit your car seats, bike or golf bags (whatever you need to get in there!).