New Zealand roads are fast becoming flooded with SUVs (Sports Utilty Vehicles), while the classic hatchback takes a back seat in new car production.
Looking at the Motor Industry Association figures, SUVs covered a huge chunk of the registration numbers making up 39 per cent of all vehicles registered in 2017.
The hatchback on the other hand made up just 12 per cent of total new car registrations last year, the majority of which were Corolla rentals.
Sure, SUVs have a compelling offer, but let’s not discount a vehicle just because it isn’t the flavour of month.
When considering comfort, both SUVs and hatches offer excellent cabin space with collapsible seating configurations and, with a bit of magic, they can create a huge cargo area.
One of the obvious points of difference between the two is their height difference.
Other than having a commanding view of the road, the added height of an SUV makes it easier to get in and out of, and perfect for loading child seats and the like. Same goes for loading cargo into the boot, which is higher and easier to access.
If you’re chasing a vehicle with a bit of clearance and vehicle ability, then a hatchback simply won’t cut the mustard.
The top end models of the Volkswagen Tiguan, Toyota Rav4 and the Mazda CX-5 are all perfect examples of well-equipped SUVs designed to perform in off road conditions like gravel roads, beaches or even icy conditions. If adventuring off road is off limit for you, these SUVs have also done particularly well in the market by offering a front wheel drive passenger model - a popular choice for families with a lower cost.
Although a SUV can be seen as a ‘one size fits all’ vehicle, there are plenty of cases where a hatchback will suit your needs just as well.
Running costs of hatches will generally be lower, and the fact that they’re small and more manoeuvrable, with a lower centre of gravity, means you will probably have more fun driving them around town as well as parking in tighter spaces.
Take Subaru, for example. Hatch lovers can opt for the Impreza, small SUV buyers can choose the XV, and mid-size shoppers can take a Forester.
Looking at the price point first, the Impreza starts at $29,990, the XV starts at $34,990 while the Forester will set you back at least $39,990, so the Impreza wins the price battle.
What about space? The 4595mm Forester sits on a 2640mm wheelbase, and will take 405 litres of cargo or 1457 litres with the back seats folded flat. The XV is smaller, at 4465mm long and a 2665mm wheelbase, and luggage space drops to 310 litres and 765 litres with the rear seats flattened. But here’s the weird part - the 4460mm Impreza hatch is just about bang-on the same length as the XV, and its 2670mm wheelbase is actually longer than both. When you factor in cargo size 345 litres seats up, 795 seats down, the Impreza is a hatch that could be worth saving $5000 on.
Sure, SUVs are the trend at the moment with manufacturers across the country getting involved in a huge battle, but just because they’re popular, doesn’t necessarily mean they’re the right answer for everyone. If you’re chasing a simple two wheel drive run about, don’t rule out the less popular hatch - it may suit your needs just as well, and your wallet will thank you for it.