Fleet News

Order of the boot for most saloons

'IT is a feature of the north European market, and especially of the UK, that car buyers have never taken to smaller cars with boots. Nearer to the Mediterranean they love them. But closer to home a boot is the kiss of death.

Take, for example, the Ford Focus, Vauxhall Astra, Renault Megane and Rover 45. All are good performers in the used market unless they have a boot. The used car buyer does not favour saloons in this class due to the greater versatility of three or five doors.

However, one car interestingly bucks this trend. The Volkswagen Bora, which some regard as a four-door version of the Golf, is doing better than most.

Perhaps the key to this is in the marketing because Bora has been promoted as a sports saloon – more a 'mini-Passat' than a booted Golf. This tactic has paid off nicely for Volkswagen, with about one Bora sold for every seven Golfs.

This is a figure many other manufacturers would like to emulate, given that some are doing well to sell one four-door to every 100 five-doors. Some people do prefer saloons, feeling that valuables are safer in a boot.

However, when it comes to larger cars the rules are reversed and saloons are clearly preferred. Imagine a premium brand, such as Mercedes-Benz, Jaguar, BMW or Audi, going down the mainly hatchback route. The saloon is dominant here and eyebrows are raised when a hatch three-door appears. Of course, there are exceptions, such as Audi A3 and BMW 3-series Compact.

But a clue to the general trend comes from the limited success of the large hatches launched recently by a couple of other mainstream manufacturers, revealing that the large five-door is slipping down the list of buyer preferences.

At this end of the market, if load carrying is a must, then it seems that where an estate is available, that is the natural choice. Estates enjoy similar image and presence to saloon variants and, in some cases, enjoy even more desirability when they appear on the used car market. In the end, the rule is that the words 'large premium' and 'hatchback' simply don't go together.'

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