A few body style transformations turned out great. Others not so much.
Automakers always look at ways to modify platforms or even certain body styles in order to save costs and expand sales. Business is business, plain and simple. Sometimes this works out brilliantly. One example that immediately comes to mind is the original BMW X6.
BMW simply started with the X5’s platform, redesigned the body, went to its massive parts bin for various components and there you go… a best-seller that changed the crossover segment forever and forced competitors to respond.
But it doesn’t always work as well as that. Take these following hatchbacks that were also sold in various global markets sedans to satisfy the appetites of American and Chinese buyers.
Ironically, those same sedans are losing ground to crossovers, which are really just raised hatchbacks. We picked out six sedans/hatchbacks that, in our opinion, are probably best off as hatchbacks, one of which is yet to debut as a sedan but is widely rumored to do so soon. Do you prefer these as hatchbacks or sedans? Let us know in the comments.
The Audi A3 may be the one main exception on this list where the sedan version of the popular hatchback looks really good. Problem is, it loses the convenience of being, well, a hatchback. Currently in its third generation, the A3 became a sedan for the first time in 2013. This was done mainly to lure younger American buyers into showrooms who wanted a step up from their Volkswagen Golf hatchback.
As a sedan is viewed as something more “grown up,” especially by someone just beginning to climb the corporate ladder, Audi created the A3 sedan. To give you an idea just how well the A3 sedan has done in the US, you can only buy the A3 hatchback as the Sportback e-tron. Heck, the S3 and RS 3 are also sedan-only.
While the first and second generation Mercedes-Benz A-Class were way too dorky to be sold in the US (do a Google search and you’ll understand), it wasn’t until the third generation model debuted for 2013 that it could consider a US market attempt. In short, it looks great, but that still wasn’t good enough for Mercedes. Instead, the German automaker created the CLA-Class. Built on the same platform as the A-Class, the two share pretty much the same components and interiors.
The CLA is a funky-looking three-box sedan that, well, looks better as a hatchback. It was also Mercedes’ first front-wheel-drive sedan, and it originally carried a starting price of just under $30k. Just like the Audi A3 sedan, Mercedes wanted to specifically target young up and comers and bring them into the Mercedes family early. The CLA has sold well enough to warrant a second generation, due to arrive sometime next year as a 2020 model. Oh yeah, the just unveiled next-generation A-Class will also be coming to the US soon - as a sedan.
Americans are most familiar with the previous generation Mazda2, although its origins date back to 1996, before its US arrival. The third generation Mazda2 hit the US market for 2008 but was discontinued after the 2014 model year. Sold only as a five-door hatchback, other markets received a traditional sedan version that, while didn’t look anywhere near as awkward as the Mercedes CLA, still didn’t make much sense.
Why? Because owners lost the hatchback’s additional cargo space and overall better versatility. Despite that, the Mazda2 sedan sold decently in China, but was dropped after only nine months in Australia. But what if you, as a proud American, wanted a subcompact sedan with sporty looks and a fun to drive attitude? Well, look no further than the Ford Fiesta (see below).
The Ford Fiesta dates back to 1976 and was originally sold in Europe. It quickly became a smashing success. The first-gen Fiesta three-door hatchback was sold for three years in the US beginning in 1976, but was later replaced by the Escort and Pinto. When it returned to America in early 2010, Ford billed it as an answer to thirsty SUVs and trucks. Times have certainly changed. The Fiesta will soon be dead in America and trucks like the always popular F-150, reborn Ranger, and a range of SUVs and crossovers now rule the day.
But America’s brief time again with the Fiesta also saw a sedan version. Considering the Fiesta and Mazda2 were close cousins, the Fiesta sedan was for those who wanted a tiny sedan because for whatever reason a hatchback was unacceptable. The sedan was also sold in China, parts of South America, and even Russia. While it didn’t look terrible, the Fiesta sedan made little sense compared to the hatchback for a variety of reasons, perhaps the best one being the Fiesta ST was hatchback only.
You can’t even buy the Volkswagen Polo in the US. Never could. It’s probably for the best because VW, at least up until fairly recently, couldn’t figure out how to make its Golf popular in America at the level it was in Europe. Again, Americans have never been hatchback lovers. It wasn’t until the Polo’s fourth generation when a dedicated four-door sedan body style arrived. Like the Mazda2 and Fiesta, it honestly made little sense, convenience wise. Cargo space was down and its general design proportions just didn’t look quite right compared to the hatch.
The Polo sedan survived to be part of the fifth generation lineup, specifically targeting buyers in India, where it was called the Vento, as well as Russia. It must not have sold particularly well because when the sixth-gen Polo debuted in 2017 it was, once again, a hatchback only.
The BMW 2 Series is one of our favorite BMW models currently sold in the US. Available here only as a coupe and convertible, other markets, specifically Europe, received an MPV version dubbed the 2 Series Active Tourer. But the 2 Series can trace its roots back to the first generation 1 Series, itself sold as a coupe, convertible, and hatchback. Today, the 1 Series, which isn’t available in the US, comes as a three- or five-door hatchback and a four-door sedan. Why the sedan? Because China.
However, because Audi and Mercedes have achieved success in the US with the A3 and CLA, respectively, it’s widely rumored BMW will launch the 2 Series Gran Coupe in the coming years.
The 2 Series Gran Coupe is expected to be built on the same platform that’ll underpin the next 2 Series MPVs, meaning it’ll be FWD-based. However, all-wheel drive is expected to be offered for the hot M Performance version. Expected arrival date: not before 2020.