Hatchbacks rule the roost of modern car fleets across most of the globe. And now, Australia's no exception.
Hatchbacks dominate volume sales of cars across the globe and Australia is no exception. The backbone of the small car segment, hatches are favoured for, above all, their versatility.
The biggest selling car in Australia in 2011 was a hatchback, with the Mazda 3 knocking off the Holden Commodore to become king of the heap. That 'event' endied the Commodore's 14 year reign. But in truth the hatch's rise began many years ago.
One of the first hatchbacks sold in Australia was the Renault 16 in the late 1960's, but it was the Japanese brands, led by the Honda Civic in 1972 that started the hatch revolution. Today, hatchbacks from Japan, Europe, Korea, USA and even Australia grace our showrooms.
To many, the hatch is the perfect car; easy to drive and park and now packed with all the creature comforts that were the exclusive domain of large cars only a few years ago. Even small hatches are roomy enough for four adults and many are inexpensive to buy, register and insure. Now, many achieve ANCAP 5-star safety rating.
Engine choices include petrol, diesel, hybrid and in the case Nissan's upcoming LEAF, electric. While the transmission of choice for most people is an automatic, some of the best manual transmissions in the world can be found in hatchbacks.
There are some mouth watering performance hatches available, such as the Volkswagen Golf GTI, the RenaultSport Meganes, Subaru WRXand the Mazda MPS to name a few.
Hatchbacks come in a variety of sizes. In the Light segment you have the Suzuki Alto. The largest hatches, such as Ford's Mondeo offer bordering on Large car proportions.
Although some models are available in a three-door versions, the most popular layout is the five-door, due to it greater accessibility. Versatility is a key to the hatchbanck's success with the ability to fold the rear seats and significant increase luggage space.
The big sellers in the light car segment are the Mazda 2, Toyota Yaris, Suzuki Swift and Ford Fiesta. In the small car segment the gold medal goes to the Mazda 3 followed by the Toyota Corolla, Holden Cruze, Hyundai i30 and the VW Golf.
Hatchbacks represent great value and prices start at around $13,000.