What is a saloon?

Looking long, low and sleek, it's often seen as a sophisticated choice of car; what makes it a saloon?

BuyaCar team
Jan 31, 2017

Saloon cars have a self-contained boot that usually pokes out of the back of the car. That's what makes them different from a hatchback.

It can make them a little quieter for passengers in the back because the boot is separate to the interior, which helps to keep exterior noise out. There may be more space for occupants too because the long design means that the seats can be spread out.

Listen to a marketing executive from a car maker, and they'll tell you how this gives vehicles a sophisticated and subtly stylish look. That can be the case: compare the Audi A3 Sportback and the Audi A3 saloon (below). 

Search for new and used saloon car deals

Saloon cars can lack practicality because the boot opening is usually small. The bootlid opens upwards but the rear screen stays in place. Some saloons have fixed rear seats, so there's no option to expand the space in the boot.

However, the cars are becoming increasingly practical. Ski-flaps are common: by folding down the central armrest in the back, you reveal an opening through which you can slide long bits of luggage such as skis or narrow planks of wood. Many models offer the option of folding rear eats, so luggage can be pushed into the back of the car. You're still limited by the narrow boot opening though. In a hatchback, the back of the car is opened up entirely and the seats fold to create a van-like space,

The increased popularity of taller crossover and SUV cars mean that saloon sales are falling, but certain models are still in-demand. The BMW 3 Series, Mercedes C-Class, Jaguar XE and Audi A4 are big-selling family cars, as are the larger models made by each company. These four manufacturers typically design their cars to feel sporty and fun to drive, or to focus on exceptional comfort. 

And although big SUVs such as the Range Rover set the standard for comfort, climbing out of the back of a big saloon such as the Mercedes S-Class or BMW 7 Series is still a prestigious way to arrive to an event.


Reasons to buy a saloon car

✔ Long, low and arguably stylish design
✔ A little quieter than hatchbacks
✔ Generally spacious inside


What's wrong with saloon cars

✘ Less practical and versatile than a hatchback, crossover or SUV
✘ Lower driving position than in SUVs and crossovers
✘ More expensive than a hatchback


What to look for in a saloon

Make the most of a saloon by finding one with the following features

  • Rear seats that fold to boost lugagge space
  • A boot opening that’s low and wide.
  • A fairly flat floor at the back, which is more comfortable for passengers in the middle.

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