Hatchback Comeback: Is the Five-Door Making a Big Return?
Enthusiasts mourning the decline of the station wagon, don't fret: if Ford has anything to say about it, the hatchback is back. Ford announced today that buyers shopping the Fiesta and Focus models are buying the hatchback models at increasing rates, a trend that could be extending to the rest of the industry.
Ford claims that roughly half of Fiesta buyers are opting for the five-door hatchback and 41 percent are opting for the Focus hatchback, with the latter figure on the rise.
It's a sign, Ford says, that more buyers are opting for hatchbacks when looking at economy car purchases. The assertion is backed up by some serious numbers, too: according to a 2010 Ward's Auto World study, 13 percent of cars bought 2009 were hatchbacks, a serious rise over the 5.7 percent figure in 1998. Considering that a number of hatchback models have been revised or introduced to the market since that study was produced, we expect that the current number is even higher.
This comes even as automakers in the U.S. have positioned five-door models as more "premium" than their four-door counterparts. Both the Fiesta and Focus five-doors require buyers to purchase higher trim levels to gain a liftgate, a trend that also extends to competitors like the Hyundai Accent.
In the case of Ford, a Focus with a liftgate comes in the SE level, which makes it $1,700 more than the base S sedan. That figure is $2,150 for the Hyundai Accent, which requires a GS or SE level to gain a fifth door, as opposed to the base GLS sedan.
Still, Hyundai predicts that they'll sell roughly 40 percent of the Accents in hatchback form, with the option to change production numbers should buyers swing the demand up even further.
While most automakers don't release itemized sales figures for models that come in multiple body styles, a look at Scion suggests that Ford's not all talk: sales of the xB and xD hatchbacks are roughly 52 percent of 2011 Scion sales, compared to 48 percent of buyers opting for the tC. Take a look at 2010 figures and that figure goes to 69 percent xB/xD to 31 percent tC.
Looking at the offerings beyond Ford and Hyundai in the compact and subcompact segments, almost every player has both a hatchback and a sedan: the Mazda3, the Kia Rio and Forte, the Toyota Yaris, and the Nissan Versa all come with the choice of four or five doors. With sales numbers like these, don't expect these hatchback trim levels to die any time soon, either.
Which do you prefer -- sedan or hatchback? Would you put down extra coin to get the extra door? Let us know your thoughts in the comments section.
Source: Ford, Ward's Auto World