For many years it was accepted that the only true premium car was a three-box saloon.
There were plenty of upmarket hatchbacks (Rover SD1, Citroen XM, Renault 25, Saab 9000) but the all-powerful German carmakers didn’t agree that a premium car should have tradesman-like utility.
It was only the appearance of ‘lifestyle’ estate cars that brought five-doors into blue-chip territory. The five-door fastback, however, has long been beyond the pail.
Sadly, other manufacturers have given in and dropped the format. Saab didn’t replace 9000 or original 9-3 with hatchbacks.
Renault tried to replicate with relative success of the 25 hatch with the five-door Safrane and Vel Satis, but were rewarded with terrible sales.
Even so, over the years, there have been endless stories of pukka fastbacks that never left the German drawing boards.
But all of sudden, we’re knee-deep in posh hatches. Audi is first off the blocks with the new A5 and a bigger, A6-based, A7 is also planned for the future.
BMW’s new 5-series GT is also a few weeks from launch and the company is said to be committed to a smaller, 3-series, based version. Mercedes has also shown a fastback concept based on the new E-Class.
Next week I’m attending the launch of the Audi A5 and I hope to nail down the reason for this sudden dash for utility by the blue-chip brands.
Is it simply that the hot hatch crowd has grown up and become successful? Maybe all those Golf GTi drivers have hit their mid- and late-forties, and need space for children.
If that’s the case, then the premium hatch is probably here to stay and may one day even outsell the saloon.