What is a hatchback?

Practical, economical and cheap: they are Britain's most popular car, but what is a hatchback?

BuyaCar team
Aug 31, 2021

Whether you're looking for cheap and dinky or fast and loud, there's a hatchback to suit every need and budget.

These are the most varied types of car on Britain's roads: the tiny Renault Twingo is a hatchback, as is the Ford Fiesta, Volkswagen Golf, the BMW 6 Series GT and the Audi A5 Sportback. Even the £230,000 Ferrari GTC4 Lusso is a hatchback. There's quite a choice.

In hatchbacks, the door that opens to provide access to the boot can technically be used to gain access to the inside of the car itself. The rear seats can slide or fold forwards to extend the luggage space available, but this open-plan-style setup is how you can identify a hatchback from a saloon. The boot of a saloon car is a separate compartment that is not accessible from the car's interior.

This generally means that a hatchback boot is much more practical when it comes to packing larger items, because the opening is much bigger, and the boot itself tends to be much wider and much taller. You can stack your luggage right up to the roof, although this does limit rearward visibility, and if you don't need to make use of the rear seats, you can fold them down to open up a massive amount of space. Despite all of this extra space, hatchbacks tend to be more compact than saloons, so they're usually easier to park and manoeuvre, too.

In modern cars, this practicality doesn't come with many drawbacks. Hatchbacks can be a bit noisier than saloon cars because only the bootlid separates passengers from the outside (saloon cars have an enclosed boot that helps improve soundproofing). But you'd barely notice the difference with the best.

A few hatchbacks do have reduced legroom to make more space for the boot - or cut back on boot space to make more room for passengers. But most modern hatchbacks are relatively spacious for both luggage and people. Some have sliding rear seats - usually available as an option - which can be adjusted to increase legroom or boot space.

The different types of hatchback

The boot on a hatchback counts as an extra door because, if you really wanted, you could climb in, jump over the back of the rear seats, and you'd be inside. That's why you have 3- and 5-door cars.

What is a three-door car?

These cars have two front doors on either side and a hatchback boot. These are most commonly small vehicles: city cars or superminis. They will usually have rear seats, which can be accessed by folding the front seats forward. Read more about three-door cars.

What is a five-door car?

A five-door car has two front and two back doors on either side, plus a hatchback boot. There are five-door versions of most hatchbacks, and their big advantage is that they are easy to get into for rear passengers. The extra doors at the back doors do make cars look boxier than three-door versions, though. Read more about five-door cars.

Are SUVs and estate cars hatchbacks?

Hatchback boots are fitted to a variety of cars, including people carriers, estate cars, SUVs and crossovers. Technically, these are types of hatchback.

However, cars that are described as hatchbacks are generally traditional vehicles that are low to the ground and fairly compact. They tend to be seen as good-value-for money and cheap to run. That's why companies that make big, luxurious hatchbacks, give them different names (such as Audi's Sportback cars and BMW's Gran Turismo models).

Used hatchbacks

Along with SUVs, hatchbacks remain the most popular type of car on the market, so it's no surprise that virtually every car manufacturer on the planet offers a hatch in some form or another. From the most upmarket brands including BMW, Audi and Mercedes, through to the budget end and the likes of Hyundai, Peugeot, Renault and Vauxhall. With a selection of three or five doors, a variety of engines, including some powerful hot-hatchbacks, this really is a versatile and wide-ranging sector.

We currently have 27110 hatchbacks available on BuyaCar with prices starting from £4,250 or £97 per month with PCP finance.

Hatchbacks: pros and cons

Pros

Big boot opening and versatile folding seats
Generally good value and cheap to run
Easier to park than a saloon car

Cons

They can be cramped
Slightly noisier than saloon cars
Lower driving position than SUVs and crossovers

What to look for in a hatchback

Getting a hatchback is a good start if you're looking for a practical and economical car. These are the features to look for to maximise its usefulness.

  • A split-fold rear seat, so you can increase luggage space and have space for a passenger in the back.
  • Rear seats that fold completely flat. Some just rest at an angle, robbing space.
  • A low or non-existent lip in the boot opening, so you can easily slide long or bulky items over the bumper and into the boot.
  • Back seats that can slide forward and backwards to create extra legroom or boot space.
  • A long wheelbase (the distance between the wheels) that maximises interior and boot space.

 

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