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US vs. European vs. Japanese vs. Korean (Hatchbacks)

mznmzn Posts: 727
Everyone knows European hatchbacks are better than
Japanese ones. Or is it the other way around?
Maybe the US ones are the best after all. Is it
even possible to make a comparison like this? And
is it possible to agreeably disagree? :-)

Let's find out!



  • SporinSporin Posts: 1,066
    The European market gets so many great hatches that we will never see here.

    The American public has shown over and over again that they just won't buy a lot of hatchbacks, much less expensive ones.

    These same Americans prefer to spend $30k+ on gas-guzling SUV's with suprisingly small cargo capasities.

    Oh well....
  • alfaromeoalfaromeo Posts: 210
    I welcome the creation of this 'new' forum. However, I am a little affraid that the 'vs' in the title sets the tone for 'mine is better than yours' type of arguments - which really don't apply to this discussion.
    Which is better? Chinese, Italian, French or Russian cuisine? A matter of preference and subjective taste, and in the US, we can be happy to have the choice when it comes to food. Personally, I like to vary my menu as often as possible. Why can't it be that way with cars?

    The European car market and the US are extremely different. Culture, history, geography, gas prices... they all influence peoples' likes or dislikes for certain types of cars.
    In Europe, just about everyone drives a 'stick'. In the US, most cars are auto. In Europe, a 'hatch' is often considered 'young', sporty, convenient (and not 'cheap' as in the US). More so than sedans, which are seen more as an expensive and 'no-fun' necessity brought along with family, children, and so forth. Not to speak about SUVs. It's not that people dislike them, but they cost a fortune in gas, and would be terribly inadequate in dense city usage.
    The European 'hatch' market includes countless hatches, from Europe or Japan. The market is boiling with them! In the US, the hatch segment is the ugly duckling of the car market, with a meager choice of 3-4 models only (versus 8 or 10 TIMES that number in Europe).
    So it's not a question of putting the American market up against Europe in terms of hatches, it makes no sense! All 'American hatches' are already sold in Europe!!!
    What has struck me is the fact that some 'columnists' consider it to be an attack on the 'US hatches' (none of which originated in this country, I should ad) when I mention that there are a lot of great and exciting hatches in Europe. Why should they be threatened? We should be SORRY not to have more choice in the US in the small car segment... On the contrary, it seems that some rejoice in the logic of saying "YOU CAN HAVE ANY HATCH YOU WANT, AS LONG AS IT'S A HONDA". How silly, how dull, utterly un-American! Buyers should welcome competition, not shun it!

    In the US, Japanese cars 'rule' the small car segment. Not without reason. They are durable, and have a wide appeal with buyers. But many voice that they lack 'personality', styling or finish. In steps the Focus, which has ignited a 'friendly war' between 'rice' and 'wheat' people. Can we expect more 'pasta', 'french-fries' or 'polenta' added to the menu?
    Probably not tomorrow... (to be continued)
  • alfaromeoalfaromeo Posts: 210
    I mentioned that 'all US hatches' are already sold in Europe. That is not entirely true. The Acura Integra is not sold in Europe, - to my knowledge, and big disapointment.
  • freddy_kfreddy_k Posts: 376
    When I first read who makes the best hatchback I kind of got the impression of Golf, Escort, Lanos, Civic. I kind of consider Celicas, Integras, MX3s as fastbacks. Am I way of or what? What were you thinking mzn?
  • alfaromeoalfaromeo Posts: 210
    You're right to be confused. But carlady/mzn created this column as we started discussing 'eurohatches' in the zx3 vs. civic column.
    You're also right about including the Celica, Escort and so forth, and I guess those cars have been 'overseen' in our heated discussions.
    But although technically 'hatches', the Celica (and GSR for that matter) fall into the particuliar class of 'hatchback coupes' in my opinion. Certainly, many will disagree with this segregation... To me, when we discussed 'hatchbacks', the reference was to 'boxy' hatches, or 'convenieny hatches' if you prefer, like the Golf, Civic, and 'all those euro hatches' that aren't sold in the US.

    For fear of sounding negative, I don't think this column will spark a lot of interest among columnists. The reason being that there is already a column called 'THOSE WE CAN'T GET IN THE USA' under 'news'.

    People here aren't really interested in discussing the merits of 'euro hatches' like the Peugeots and Lancia and what not, and I understand that. Why compare cars that aren't available in the US and probably never will? - at least as long as autoshifts and SUVs will dominate the US car market.

    So be it...
  • zx3beastzx3beast Posts: 661
    as always wins out .i.e. ford focus zx3 hatchback
    nobody was dreaming,thinking,or talking hatchback
    in the u.s.pound for pound the best buy in a hatch.
    sure,when price is no object,you better make a decent vehicle.i.e. euro hatches.- overpriced,
    over rated + over there.where they belong,because
    they would never make it against the japanese here.
  • tognetertogneter Posts: 245
    So, for the purpose of this forum, is the ZX3 a Euro hatch or a US hatch. They had it first...
  • sach1sach1 Posts: 22
    I am disappointed that Ford did not bring the 5-door Focus here. And the less said about Honda dropping a H/B from the redesigned 2001 civic lineup, the better. I just dont understand. Are H/B sales really so poor in the US? I would love to see some #s on H/Bs vs. sedan sales figures for the Focus and current Civic.
  • zx3beastzx3beast Posts: 661
    ford is a u.s. co.,therefore it is an american is different than euro model,however slight it may be.
  • alfaromeoalfaromeo Posts: 210
    Excuse me, but what is it with you? This is not a point of patriotism, but rather the subject of hatchbacks!
    Make some constructive remarks, and people will listen to you!
  • zx3beastzx3beast Posts: 661
    no point of patriotism was being made.unless,i
    misinterpert my own statement,being the imbecile
    i am not being able to recognize when another has
    cornered the market on automotive response was simply an answer to togneters question.nothing more,nothing less.very gump-like.
    but since you brought it up, and this is only an
    opinion now,but i believe most americans remember
    european vehicles having only one gear....reverse!
    speaking of patriotism,happy independence day and
  • alfaromeoalfaromeo Posts: 210
    I can't believe it. You stepped right into it!
  • zx3beastzx3beast Posts: 661
    just what is it?
  • zx3beastzx3beast Posts: 661
    alfaromeo not alpharomeo. sorry man.
  • alfaromeoalfaromeo Posts: 210
    This column should really be called "European vs. US hatchback market" since that's really what we are discussing...
    Check out the following Danish Toyota site, and you will see cars sold by Toyota in Europe (the Yaris and Corolla hatches for example).
  • alfaromeoalfaromeo Posts: 210
    No less than three hatches are offered by Peugeot: the 106 (tiny), 206 (Civic size) and 306 (Golf segment):
  • zx3beastzx3beast Posts: 661
    alfa- thanks for the links.they are all very fine
    looking rides. is the toyota model with hatch,the
    same as echo with trunk sold here? are there any
    euro models to be had below 16,000 u.s. dollars?
    it is interesting to see all the different hatches
    overseas that are never the way,if
    you dont push the euro hatches not many will know
    they exist.not much in the way of publicity here in the u.s.
  • alfaromeoalfaromeo Posts: 210
    Yes! the hb echo is called 'Yaris' or 'Witz' (or Vitz, can't remember) in different countries.
    'Witz' sounds like 'Vits' which means 'joke' in Scandinavia* - which is why they market it as 'Yaris' in those countries! Actually, I find that the trunk version of the echo looks weird. The hb is very futuristic, and has a more 'balanced' design. A very small car, powered by a very efficient (but noisy) 1.0 liter engine.

    Most hatches in Europe starts below 10,000 USD (some as low as 6000USD) for base models, but it IS difficult to compare car prices given the strongly fluctuating currencies and local taxes. Today's strong dollar makes many European cars sold in the US a lot more expensive than their siblings back home when you convert back from dollars to say French francs.
    Some countries like Denmark have heavy tariffs on cars (from 130% to more than 200% - an SL500 'fetches' close to 300,000 USD!). Therefore, 'ex-tariff' 'EXPORT' prices in Denmark are very low (lowest in Europe) and I have seen many Americans pick up a BMW from DK and ship it over to the US. Conversion costs are, however, a barrier to this form of arbitraging. A Honda Civic Si hatch would probably cost you 15,000 without the local taxes.

    *note about another car with a 'unlucky' name: Toyota 'MR2' - never quite made it in France... perhaps because 'MR2' pronounced in French (Eh, merdeux) loosely translates to 'hey! [non-permissible content removed]'!!!
    I believe there have been a few 'cultural blunders' like that before!
  • zx3beastzx3beast Posts: 661
    alfa - would it be fair to say that the efficiency
    + performance of euro models is driven not only in
    pride of mfg. but also the high cost of fuel in
    europe? the has regressed,building
    bigger gas guzzling suv"s.of course if they didnt sell,they wouldnt build point is that i believe the focus hatch is a big success here,is
    because there does exist a potentially large market
    for a quality,affordable hatch.competition is healthy and as you have acknowledged before more
    choices is better for the conumer.can the euro mfg.
    deliver a hatch here as in europe at the same price points? i would like to see them do it,because as a consumer,we would all much as i like my zx3, i am always open to a better-made vehicle at
    the same price points.we as consumers do short-change ourselves in our buying is an
    achievement to see the import mfg. extract the mileage + performance from those small engines.
    do you think toyota will bring that hatch here,given the surprising sales success of the focus hatch? i havent driven one yet but i understand the
    u.s. version echo is mighty peppy for a 1.5 liter
    and gets great gas the way,those translated versions would fit very nicely on some models built here.thanks for your input.
  • alfaromeoalfaromeo Posts: 210
    As I explained in my other post (in 'the other' column - ZX3 vs. Civic), I don't believe that you'll see a lot of 'euro-hatches' in the US. At least not within the next 5-6 years.
    I DON'T understand why Toyota couldn't do it. Like Honda, they are already established in the US and have a vast network of sales and service points. Bringing in another small car would simply add variable costs to Toyota. Their overhead is already 'sunk'.
    For Fiat, Peugeot, Renault and Co., it's another matter. They don't have any kind of foothold here.
    The cars they produce are fine, but that's just not enough if they don't sell.
    I also believe that the US market and the European market are very, very different. But I could ramble on about that subject until I'd be kicked out - permanently - by the column host!
  • alfaromeoalfaromeo Posts: 210
    By the way, the ZX3 is in itself, a perfect example of a hatch which has done very well in Europe. And it seems to be doing just fine here too...
  • tognetertogneter Posts: 245
    I consider the ZX3 a euro hatch built by an American company. The differences are so minute that they really come down to regional preferences.

    That said, maybe the ZX3 will open up a segment. The Golf/GTI seems to do fine, and I think more selection of euro hatches would be welcome. Personally, I'd love to get into a 306...
  • alfaromeoalfaromeo Posts: 210
    I am not saying there isn't a market for all the other hatches. In fact, I'm convinced there is. But at the end of the day, it's all economics and marketing. The auto industry is really 'cut-throat' and we have seen how some manufacturers have paid dearly for their 'mistakes' of the past.

    I think the industry will slowly tend to consolidate with fewer global players.

    One we haven't talked about... Mercedes A-klasse Talking about mistakes, this car cost Mercedes zillions to 'redesign' after the car failed the 'elg-test' in Sweden and landed flat on its head:
  • rex12rex12 Posts: 133
    I believe many of us have over looked the fact that, Americans do in fact have quite a variety of hatchbacks to choose from. They don't look like a Civic, Golf, or Focus but haven't the Daytona, Cougar, Integra, Camaro, Firebird, Capri, Mustang, and Trans-Am existed or currently exist in some form of hatch? Isn't it possible that we are using the term "Hatchback" to include only compact cars? Maybe we have to open our minds?
  • alfaromeoalfaromeo Posts: 210

    This is what I call bland!
    But back in the late seventies, the Colt looked kind'a cool in my opinion. At the time, they had a special transmission with a 'reducer' i.e. you could 'shorten' the gears. The system was developped together with Porsche.
  • alfaromeoalfaromeo Posts: 210
    The least you can do is agree with me when I say that the markets are different! This looks like a joke, but apparently it's not! (I think this is really funny!)

    I've seen Golf 'Rolling Stones' edition, Peugeot 205 'Roland Garros' and a few more I can't (or don't want to) remember...
  • zx3beastzx3beast Posts: 661
    you are right,there is a tendency to think of the
    hatch exactly as you described.technically,would
    you agree that many suv's could be classified as a hatch as well?
    alfa-back in the seventies the colt was considered by many a critic to be cutting-edge and a reliable are also correct ,the industry has already consolidated with few players today as we speak.
    just how many independent car companies are left
    worldwide? they are almost all married-up.
This discussion has been closed.