2023 Author: Eric Donovan | [email protected]. Last modified: 2023-08-25 09:36
For a long time, the notchback was considered boring by customers. But times have changed. Now this body variant is also becoming increasingly popular in the compact class.
The notchback is considered in the compact class as plain and boring. While the trunk box is a must in the automotive league, it plays almost no role in Germany's most important market segment. That could change in the future, because not only Audi and Mercedes have attractive notchback models in the starting blocks.
The VW Golf since the 1970s at the latestand put his epigones on the tailgate, the step in the body closure is decried in this country as piecemeal and senior-like. Compact class buyers wanted to differentiate themselves with the practical and sporty hatchback or hatchback from the outdated-looking status thinking of classic sedan buyers. Notchback models below the middle class disappeared almost completely from the German street scene as a result. This is different in southern and eastern Europe, where many drivers traditionally swear by the advantages of a tightly locked and non-visible trunk. This is not only about better protection against theft, but also about increased noise comfort, as the rear axle is better decoupled from the interior.
VW Jetta made for a new look
In this country, however, the frowned upon vehicle shape only regained its splendor with the new edition of the VW Jetta in early 2011. For the first time, the sedan, previously mocked as a backpack Golf, appeared as if it were made from one piece: the rear no longer looked like it was simply flanged on, but like the logical extension of the front end. It is no coincidence that VW shows this creative drive with its Golf offshoot. The model built in Mexico is particularly important for the American market, where the Wolfsburg-based company wants to grow significantly. By 2018, sales are expected to increase to 800,000 vehicles per year. That doesn't work with the classic Golf alone, because hatchbacks are absolute niche models in America.
Against this background, VW is not the only one to rely on the notchback strategy. Subsidiary Audi is also planning an A3 with a separate trunk in order to finally develop sales below the middle class in the USA. For the same reasons, a notchback variant of the A-Class is in the starting blocks at competitor Mercedes, which is based on the dynamic forms of the CLS. Both premium models want to score with their independent and chic design, so that the sedans are also competitive in Germany and can even rank above the hatchback variants in terms of price and image. BMW has already practiced this. In the USA, the Munich-based company only offers its 1 Series as a convertible and a notchback coupé. In Germany, both variants are the top models in the compact family.
Strong sales growth forecast
Experts predict strong sales growth for compact notchback cars in all markets by 2015. In the USA an increase of 26 percent is expected, in China it is expected to be 40 percent. Even in the crisis market in Europe, the notchback could become a sales engine - up to 80 percent increase in sales are possible.
Other manufacturers are also reacting. Opel, for example, is adding a notchback version to the Astra just under three years after its market launch. It is aimed primarily at customers in Southern and Eastern Europe, but is also to be actively marketed here - unlike its predecessor, which was hardly advertised. Last but not least, they also want to counterbalance the success of the Chevrolet Cruze, which has so far exclusively occupied the notchback niche in the group. With the notchback version of the Astra, the Rüsselsheim-based car manufacturer wants to further promote sales in Russia in particular.
The VW subsidiaries Skoda and Seat are pursuing a similar plan. Under the name Rapid and Toledo, two notchback models will be launched in the next few months, which will be offered in both Eastern Europe and Germany.
However, there is no reason to fear that the hatchback will disappear. Even if the new notchback models are more stylish than their predecessors, they are more likely to be an addition to the model range than a replacement for the five-door. But especially among the premium manufacturers, this addition should bring new momentum to the stuck design language. (SP-X)
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