Why does Europe get all the good hatchbacks?

mznmzn Member Posts: 727
edited March 2014 in General
I was just thumbing through the May 1998 issue of
"Car" magazine which is published in England. Okay,
so I'm a litte behind in my reading... :-) Still,
I can't help but be envious of all the hatchbacks
we can't buy here in the States.

In that issue, the article called "Giant Test"
compares the Vauxhall Astra 1.8 CDX, the
Mercedes-Benz A160 Avantgarde, and the Volkswagon
Golf 1.6 SE (A4 version). Yep, that's right -- a
Mercedes-Benz hatchback!!! Interesting choices; all
these cars are 4-door hatchbacks. BTW, they ranked
the Mercedes first, Volkswagon Golf second, and
the Vauxhall third. All are great cars and I wish
we had them all.

Do you follow the European car market? Why do they
get all the good stuff?



  • enigma23enigma23 Member Posts: 36
    Europeans love hatchbacks because of their practicality. Americans on the other hand love SUV's for their practicality. The main problem why hatchback's don't sell in the US is because they have that aura of being cheap in the US.
  • mznmzn Member Posts: 727
    It sounds like the chicken & the egg. The perception in the US is that hatchbacks are cheap. Therefore, only cheap hatchbacks are sent to the States. I'm willing to bet that if Mercedes-Benz brought their hatchback Stateside, that perception of cheapness would change rather quickly!

    What do others think? Lurkers, please join us.

  • glenroseglenrose Member Posts: 13
    I started looking for a new hatchback a year ago, and couldn't believe there wasen't a good selection. I gave up and still have my old 4/door.
  • mznmzn Member Posts: 727
    It's frustrating, isn't it! Well, let's try and make our views known. Maybe US distributors will see there is a market for more hatchbacks (especially 4-door) in the US.

  • bnormannbnormann Member Posts: 335
    The new Vauxhall Astra gave the NEW A4 model golf a run for the money in this review. I can't believe GM wouldn't be able to sell this car over here. We get the Cavalier...yuck.

    I guess the count on the NUMMI cars (Toyota designed) to make their reputation in the small car segment. It's sad.

    OTOH, Ford brought over a WONDERFUL car with the Contour and they can't give them away because people think the Taurus is a better value because it's bigger. So, who's dumber, GM ot the American consumer?

    Was that a rant? Sorry. {%^)

  • SWCSWC Member Posts: 10
    Great Topic!
    Having recently returned from Europe, I wish I could have brought an Audi A3 back with me! Europeans have a different mind set as to what is considered practical as well as stylish. I currently own a 96 Blazer and am counting the days until I can trade it for an A4 GTI VR6. Most of my friends think I'm out of my mind for wanting a VW hatchback, but I just tell them "if you have to ask, you wouldn't understand!"
  • zacharylauriezacharylaurie Member Posts: 51
    I loved my Festiva hatchback. The only problem was that it was really small. I think hatchbacks and wagons are a great idea. You have quite a bit of extra space, and can put stuff like bikes in your trunk. Unless you have a Crown Victoria or some other landyacht, you can't do this. Maybe if there is another fuel crisis, America will dump all the suvs, and start getting hatchbacks and coupes again. I love those coupes! They look sporty. Especially the t-bird.
  • loungerlounger Member Posts: 32
    We do not see the variety of small hatch back cars that Europeans can choose from simply because Americans do not demand them. The lack of demand is not simply due to American consumer taste being that they view small hatch back cars as "down market." I can think of two powerful economic explanations for this lack of demand.

    1. OPERATING COSTS. Europeans pay $3 to $4 per gallon of gasoline. In addition, they pay a substantial annual tax which is based on the size of the engine in their car.
    2.SPACE. European cities were not designed with cars in mind. Roads are narrow. Parking is tight. Most of us in the U.S. live in suburbia with enormous parking lots everywhere we go in our cars. Have you been to a Wal-Mart or Costco lately?

    Thus, one can see why a European would choose a small hatch back car where an American who does not face the same constraints would view small cars as an anachronism.
  • mznmzn Member Posts: 727
    Good point, lounger. I think the cost of gas is a big factor.

    We live in Washington DC and parallel parking is a way of life. That is why I love having a small hatchback. In addition to fitting into the spot better. I can get pretty close to the car behind me and open the hatch. I've found that that can be more difficult for me with a regular trunk.

  • loungerlounger Member Posts: 32
    Well carlady, I suppose we will remain a minority in appreciating small hatch backs. I live in Miami, FL.. I drive a VW Cabrio. I had never owned a convertible before this one. In my ownership experience, I have learned that I am not a convertible guy. However, I do love the way my car drives, and I enjoy how easy it is to park my car . I am thinking of trading in my car for the next generation Golf. I would love it if Audi would import the A3 or if Mercedes would import the A Class, but I'm not holding my breath.

    One more point I like to make. When people tease me for liking hatch backs, I ask them if they think SUV's are popular, to which they invariably answer yes. And don't most SUV's have a hatch back.
  • steedmsteedm Member Posts: 14
    GM hatchbacks

    The US will not get the Cavalier, 'cos that is dead, they may get a version of the Vectra. That was my last European car, it was the best one I owned, very quiet at speed, good handling, and of course, over 40 miles per UK gallon on the highway. The 2.0 litre version with sports handling might sell to enthusiasts here.
    Down here in Texas everyone drives (or rather sits in) vans and trucks, hatchbacks are rare, and likely to stay that way.
  • prometheus67prometheus67 Member Posts: 4
    Has anyone gone to a dealer and asked if there was a way to purchase a car that is not a standard import? Say the A3 from Audi? Or the Golf IV with AWD and six gears from VW?

    I've heard of people going overseas to buy their cars and have them shipped to the US and it still costs them less than buying them in the US (Saab and Volvo are two that I know of).

    I live in DC also, and would love to have a convenient car. But I'm also a big skiier, and really want AWD in my next car.

    So, has anyone tried this? Or have any suggestions on how this might work?
  • bill42bill42 Member Posts: 29
    To Prometheus:
    Getting a non-US version of a European car to the US is probably more trouble than it is worth unless it is a really high-buck exotic car. The car will have to meet all DOT, NHTSA and EPA standards for bumpers, passive restraints, lights, side impact, emissions, etc. Assuming you get past those problems there is always problem in getting parts for non-US market vehicles.

    To Wesley d:

    Tell me about your 200hp 9-3. My Saab dealer tells me he isn't getting his first HOT (high output turbo) cars until after 1/1/99. I'm getting ready to replace my 173,000 miles Audi & a
    9-3 is a distinct possibility primarily due to the attractive lease rates. Local dealer tells me that the 200hp turbo has noticeably less turbo lag than the 185hp version. I've also been told that the suspension on the 200hp car is tighter and more sports oriented than on the 185hp car.

    Thanks for the help.
  • mznmzn Member Posts: 727
    Yes, getting an atypical import into the States is an unlikely (though very desireable) option. In the meantime, let's use the power of the internet to let manufacturers know that we want more of the "good stuff!"

    Other ideas for getting more hatchback choices?

  • 080586080586 Member Posts: 6
    I must echo the posting above regarding Saabs as excellent and rare examples of European hatchbacks available here in the states. We've owned a 93 9000 CS since it was new, and just recently bought another 9000 ('96 w/ 15,000 miles) to replace our '94 Camry. The hatchback is cavernous, and it's a very nice car.
  • steve5555steve5555 Member Posts: 1
    As a transplanted Brit, I have always lamented the lack of sporty hatchback type vehicles available in the States (although I love and had to buy a big Dodge Ram!). How I would love to have a Ford Escort Cosworth and have fun with Johnny Mustang...or a real BMW M3 with the twin VANOS 321Hp Euro Engine...or a TVR Cerbera 4.5 that can hit 100mph in 8.4secs!

    Only now with kids pepping up their civics and integras are we maybe going to see some more interesting offerings. I think that the US enthusiast is moving away from V8 pony cars to high revving 4s and 6s that us 'Euros' have been tampering with for years

    Lexus is bringing it's I200 to the States and hopefully we are going to see the real Audi S4.

    Importing a vehicle into the States is a big hassle. Bill Gates couldn't get his 959 certified and it sits in his garage. If Bill can't do it, don't bother.
  • 94mx594mx5 Member Posts: 7
    If Americans start buying more Golfs instead of Jettas, then maybe other European manufacturers would consider sending their hatchbacks our way.
  • EgospoonEgospoon Member Posts: 10
    My '88 Subaru 3-door coupe (the bigger one, not the Justy) ran basically flawlessly until it was totalled in an accident at 175K. Wonderful car, bigger inside than outside. I could fit three people and their mountain bikes. I went from there to an Impreza wagon because it was the closest thing I could find to what I had (that was in my price range), but it doesn't even have the room the coupe did. The Impreza's at 65K now and has done well, but now I'm looking to upgrade to something in the 30K range, and the 9-3 is literally the only hatchback there. It's frustrating, because while I like the Saab a lot, I am not really a car person and need something with (at least something close to) Subaru reliability. The Audi A4 Avant is a possibility, I suppose...
  • mznmzn Member Posts: 727
    For me, the bottom line is that there are fabulous four-door hatches available in Europe that we never get to see or drive, let alone buy. I'm going to ask for more choices when I buy my next hatchback. :-)

  • barbarahillbarbarahill Member Posts: 1
    I truly believe that the SUV is a fad that will ultimately wear off.
    Not all of us feel comfortable with leasing/buying an expensive SUV. The insurance is relatively more expensive, they consume more gasoline, most young people don't need all that space. Hatchbacks are a GREAT alternative that I think will fit consumer demand like a glove in the near future when smart choices will overpower pretentiousness.
  • mznmzn Member Posts: 727
    Makes sense and sounds good to me!

  • sentient_lifesentient_life Member Posts: 10
    Have you all seen the Ford Puma? IMO, it looks pretty cool. Unfortunately, it's not sold in the US. Now, that the Focus is coming, it probably won't ever be brought here. It would cut too much out of their sales on the Focus.
  • maggie9maggie9 Member Posts: 3
    RE: Buying cars in Europe for use in the US.

    It's possible to take delivery of a BMW in München drive it for a month or so in Europe (if you want), drop it off for shipment, and then take delivery again at your local dealership in the U.S. BMW takes care of all of the hassle and takes 7% of the MSRP.

    see: www.bmw.com under European delivery.

    But they don't seem to offer their hatchbacks under the program.

  • lex28lex28 Member Posts: 5

    Is BMW the only company to offer that kind of delivery program?
  • copelandukcopelanduk Member Posts: 14
    This is the exact topic i was looking for, nice one.

    I live in London and believe me having a big car here is nightmare/challenge to be savoured depending how work went that day. Having a 735i where some streets demand that contact between door mirrors occurs, (producing the "so that's why they bend back" response) is pretty impractical. But not when you consider that I want to buy a hatchback when I move to N. America in september. wrong car wrong place huh?

    Well not when Audi release the S3 (in this month's CAR magazine) or the Golf 4motion on the horizon. Both with AWD and 200+ horsepower. Now do you really want a cruiser SUV when all the off-roading you do will be when snowy roads aren't cleared quick enough? Nope.

    Some notes:
    Audi also does european delivery

    the other day I looked at a golf and geez its big, here we have the superminis (Polo, seat ibiza, peugeot 106 and 206)

    the A class mercedes is fine for having the hatch but it's more mini-minivan than hatchback (SUV's aren't hatches right?), although merc will make a hatch version of the upcoming C class. (read car magazine it has all the best news)

  • jdelayjdelay Member Posts: 5
    I will be going off the topic a little here, but it seems some of you may have the information I am looking for.

    I am thinking of buying a car in the US (a Civic HB or New Golf GL) to use here for a few months and then take to Europe. Why? because I need a car here and I get paid to take it (besides I am not sure when I'll leave).

    My concern is 1) that the 2.0 lt engine in the Golf will consume too much gas for European standards (and prices) and 2) that because US cars have catalytic converters and the European ones dont, that any repairs in the future may be very expensive (is this true? - I dont know that much about cars...).

    Can anyone give me good advise? I need it....

  • bnormannbnormann Member Posts: 335
    Why don't you get the TDI Diesel. VERY efficient, and also this engine IS sold in Europe, whereas the 2.0L 8V is not.

  • alextalext Member Posts: 63
    I think it's true, Europe does get all the good htachbacks, simply because they require it. Big cars are serious mistakes in tiny London streets.

    My personal favorite is the Mitsubishi Mirage hatchback. It's simple, sleek, inexpensive, and looks very much like the 1995 honda civic hatchback (before honda listened to its many customers and decided to go conservative). It's a really nice car that has that sporty look, but without the redundancy of a honda. I know it's sold in Japan, Europe and Australia, and I wish it was sold in the states!!! I guess either honda creates too much competition for it here or there just isn't as big market for the small car.

    Anybody out there know how a guy in L.A. could get a 96-98 mirage hatchback?
  • LackeyLackey Member Posts: 24
    I read, every month and cover to cover, Car, Evo, and Top Gear magazines. I'm an automotive anglo-phile. Every car I covet is not available in the country. The Impreza Turbos, the Mitsubishi Lancers, the Nissan Skylines, all not in America. I'm wishing the Peugeot came back to the US. I think the 206 and 306 GTIs are incredibly cool cars. Alfa Romeo too, with their GTV and 156. Affordable and fun. That works. What really kills me is the Audi S3. That is the absolute sweetist car on the planet. Will Audi import it to the US? No, they don't want to cheapen their image. What the hell! Anyways, I'll settle for the next best thing available. A black on black '00 GTI GLX arrives in two weeks with my name on it.
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