It’s OK for you to like the five door hatchback version of the Chevrolet Cruze, which gets unveiled at next week’s Geneva Auto Show, but don’t plan on buying one here. Hatchbacks play a critical role in brand strategy in Europe, where they account for 65% of compact segment sales. Americans, we’re told, don’t like hatchbacks, so Chevrolet has no plans to bring the Cruze 5 door hatchback to this side of the pond. If you ask me, that’s an odd strategy, because it concedes the market to companies that do sell hatchbacks here. We’re getting the all new Ford Focus in the spring, and the Hyundai i30 hatchback will replace the current Elantra Touring in the not-too-distant-future. We’re even getting a couple flavors of hot hatches to choose from, including a new VW Golf R and the much anticipated Focus ST.
I can’t speak for all Americans, but here’s my guess: it isn’t that we don’t like hatchbacks, it’s just that we don’t like poorly designed and built hatchbacks. Give us secure storage for things like laptops when parking in an urban environment, or at the very least give us cargo covers. Make sure the hatch will stand up to years of use, not months of use, before it begins to rattle. If you can build cars with intelligent cruise control, I’m pretty sure you can develop a rigid enough body to control flex and hatch sealing. Also, make them fun to drive, because Americans don’t like boring cars.
Chevy isn’t releasing any more details on the Cruze hatchback, but they do anticipate sales to begin this spring at pricing that has yet to be announced. If you need a five door hatch and live in the U.S., you’ll soon have plenty of good options to pick from. If you have a loyalty to the bow tie brand, however, you’re out of luck.