Where Have All the Cool Hatchbacks Gone?

On Sunday during the “big game” I’m sure everyone in the neighborhood heard me yell “WHAT THE HELL WAS THAT?!” I’m not referring to Peyton’s opening snap, but this ad from Audi:

It wasn’t the Doberhuahua that found so disturbing, but the fact that Audi has turned the A3 into another boring sedan.

Why I Love the Hatchback

Heading to the trails with my '08 Mazda3 hatchback.

Heading to the trails with my ’08 Mazda3 hatchback.

I have a love for the hatchback, the hot hatch in particular, but any hatchback will really catch my attention. They’re really just the perfect car. First of all, they’re full of utility. My Mazda is what moved most of my stuff between our apartment an our first house. Both my dogs can hangout in the back of my MazdaSpeed3 without issue, and that’s before I fold the seats flat. I can throw my bike in the back and go for a ride, and I frequently did so when I had my regular Mazda3. When I want to outdoor skate, I have a place to put on my gear.

Hot hacthes (basically a hatchback, but faster and more agile), do all this but faster and with better handling. They are performance cars in a practical package. What’s not to love?

When I bought my first Mazda3 shortly after graduation, there weren’t many options for a hatchback that didn’t scream “economy car.” Even the Focus had dropped the hatchback. My options were pretty much the Vibe/Matrix, Fit, Impreza or Mazda3. I went with the Mazda because it was a blast to drive, and I didn’t want to pay for the gas for the AWD Impreza. A few years later I had a quarter-life crisis and traded it in to buy my MazdaSpeed3 (the Subaru salesman wouldn’t take the WRX out for a test drive, his loss).

I don’t feel I have to compromise with a hatchback. Even after driving my husband’s better handling (and admittedly cooler looking) Scion FRS I handed him the keys back and said “If they ever stop making turbo hatchbacks I’m hosed.”

I fracking love this car.

I fracking love this car.

A Disturbing Trend

For a while it looked like the hatchback was experiencing a rebirth. High gas prices made these little cars more appealing than a small SUV, and since my generation never had station wagons growing up (it was all minivans and SUVs) the hatchback/wagon doesn’t come with the “mom” factor. We now have a ton of cool hatchbacks to choose from. There’s still models I looked at back in 2008. The “economy” models have been replaced with a car that is subcompact by choice like the new Chevy Sonic and Ford Fiesta. Plus, new models like the Hyundai Veloster and Kia Soul.

But as these catch on, the quirky, sporty hatchbacks are fading away. Subaru isn’t releasing the WRX/STI in a hatchback in 2015. There are rumors of the MazdaSpeed3 going naturally aspirated in the next generation, dropping from 263hp to 200hp. And now I learn that the only entry level luxury hatchback has been transformed into yet another boring entry level luxury sedan.

Maybe There’s Hope?

There are a few bright spots for hatchbacks though. Ford has released the Fiesta ST in the US, finally. And (on paper anyway) it’s a great little car for the price. The Focus ST has an interior that rivals luxury cars. And most exciting of all, the 2015 Volkswagen Golf R. A 296hp AWD Golf. I wants it.

Maybe this is just the changing of the guard.

3 Responses to “Where Have All the Cool Hatchbacks Gone?”
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