Hatchback

A hatchback is a type of automobile design, consisting of a passenger cabin which includes an integrated cargo space, accessed from behind by a hatch or flip-up window. Hatchbacks are also often called three-doors (two entry doors and the hatch) or five-doors (four entry doors and the hatch) cars.

Technically speaking, SUVs, station wagons and minivans can also be classified as hatchbacks. However, the term hatchback is typically used in reference to small economy cars. Hatchbacks are also differentiated by having a parcel shelf: a rigid shelf covering the cargo space that is hinged behind the rear seats and lifts with the hatch.

Saab often used the term combi coup (or 'Wagonback' in the USA) for their take on the concept. Even some typical-looking sedans (saloons) have hatchbacks, such as the Mazda 6 and the Saab 9000.

Peugeot 306 Hatchback, with the hatch lifted and the parcel shelf visible
Enlarge
Peugeot 306 Hatchback, with the hatch lifted and the parcel shelf visible

Small cars often incorporate a hatchback to make the best use of available space. Hatchbacks are often truncated, with the hatch nearly vertical, to reduce the car's footprint. This adds to the car's manoeuvrability, an important consideration in countries where small streets and traffic congestion are factors. Hatchbacks frequently include fold-down rear seats, which enable a substantial portion of the interior space to be used as a cargo area.

Many sports and medium sized cars are also designed using a variation of hatchback design, sometimes called a liftback. Here, the hatchback is angled down over the rear seats, and smoothly integrated into the tail of the car. This often improves aerodynamic performance, resulting in a reduced drag coefficient.

High performance variants of typical family hatchbacks are now common, known as hot hatchbacks.

The first mass-produced hatchback was arguably the Austin A40 of 1958 [1] (http://www.channel4.com/4car/feature/topten/classic-hatches/classic-hatches-4.html), but the first with a folding rear seat was the Renault 16, which was voted European Car of the Year on its launch in the autumn of 1965. The first British hatchback to follow the 16's mould was BMC's Austin Maxi, launched in the summer of 1969. The first Italian hatchback was the Fiat 127, which went into production during 1971. The first German hatchback was the Volkswagen Passat (Dasher in North America) of 1973.

By the early 1980s, most family cars produced in Europe were hatchbacks. Hatchbacks quickly became regular winners of the European Car of the Year award.

See also

pt:Hatchback de:Schrgheck

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