So you’re on the hunt for a new car and you’re stuck with the age-old decision – hatchback or sedan? It can be tricky to figure out which compact car has all the features that will fit into your lifestyle. Both are pretty budget-friendly and have good fuel efficiency, so how do you choose the right car for you? Hatch or sedan?
The Humble Hatchback
So what is a hatchback?
Put simply, a hatchback is a small passenger car with a generous amount of boot space – and even more storage space with the rear seats down. With more compact body styles than its sedan counterparts, the hatchback is an ideal choice for singles, couples, or families who don’t need as much space as, say, an SUV.
The first hatchback models entered the market back in the 1930s and were initially targeted towards tradesmen who had gear that needed to be transported on the daily. Previously considered “econobox” cars in that they were small, boxy, and cheap, hatchbacks have come a long way in modern-day. Now, hatchbacks are sleek, stylish, and often have sporty exteriors that make them the ideal daily drivers.
What about the sedan?
The main difference between a sedan and a hatchback is the boot – that is, a sedan is also a four-door passenger car, but with the boot space separate from the main passenger area. They are considered as having “three-box bodies” – a box to home the engine, a box for the passengers, and a box for the boot. Sleek lines and a lower body style, sedans remain to be probably the most popular cars on the road to this day.
So which do you pick?
If you’re feeling stuck and need help making the decision, we’re here to break it down you so you can determine the main key differences.
Perhaps the biggest difference between the hatch and sedan is the amount of storage space you have in the cargo area. Whilst traditional sedans are generally longer in length, small hatchbacks can often win in storage space over some mid-size sedans. But that’s not always the case. Something you need to take into account when looking at cargo space specs is that when measuring a hatchback, space is often measured floor to ceiling – which is not necessarily the best considering you still need to be able to see out the rear windows while driving.
Sedans, on the other hand, are generally measured purely in terms of floor space within that third rear “box.”
Let’s compare two of our most popular Peugeot models – the Peugeot 308 and Peugeot 508 Fastback. The 308 is a spacious hatch, with 470 litres of boot space packed into this small car, which transforms to 1185 litres with the rear seats folded down.
Comparatively, the 508 will give you 487 litres of cargo space, with 1537 litres with the seats down. So, a little bit more space, but it’s important to keep in mind that it’s a bit harder to fit certain items into a sedan due to its body style – namely that the boot space is separate from the main cabin, meaning there is a smaller space to put items through when the rear seats are down.
Also take into consideration exactly what you’ll be needing to pack into the boot space, and whether it will fit the shape of the vehicle. Got some unusually shaped or bulky items? The hatchback might be for you. Got box-shaped items or looking to chuck in your grocery bags? The sedan might suit you better.
Generally speaking, sedans are more spacious than hatchbacks. The difference in space is mostly for the rear passengers, as the longer wheelbase of the sedan allows for a little bit more legroom in the back compared to a hatch.
On the other hand, the hatchback offers more headspace than its sedan counterparts due to its higher roofline.
Both the hatchback and sedan are fairly similar in terms of safety, but there are a couple of differences between them that may sway you one way or the other.
Sedans are closer to the ground, giving them a lower centre of gravity and thus having a lower chance of rollover in the case of an accident. But only marginally – hatchbacks are also lower in comparison to SUV models, so there isn’t a huge difference there.
Hatchbacks generally offer a bit more visibility through their rear windows due to their body shape, as the sloping roof of a sedan means the rear window is at more of an angle. Their rear passenger windows are also usually bigger.
In terms of your personal belongings, a separate cargo space from the main passenger cabin (as found in a sedan) can be beneficial for security, especially if you need to store any valuables in your car.
Hatchbacks are often considered an ideal first car due to their smaller body, making it easy to handle and manoeuvre on the road, particularly when it comes to small parking spaces. Hatchbacks are generally zippy and a lot of fun to drive in comparison to larger cars, too.
Sedans are generally a more pleasant drive in terms of suspension and handling – not as zippy, but smoother and a little bit more comfortable, making them an ideal choice for families. Sedans are also often quieter on the road due to the extra layers between the rear wheels and passenger cabin.
So what’s the verdict?
In terms of a smaller car, both the sedan and the hatchback are fantastic choices. Both have excellent safety features, great fuel economy, and are easier to handle than larger cars with bulkier body styles. In terms of space, though, the good old traditional sedan will always be the most ideal option for families, with that extra legroom giving a little bit more comfort on longer drives.
If you’re a single or couple looking for a zippy, easy-to-manoeuvre daily driver, the hatchback is a fantastic option, with plenty of boot space for weekend getaways and road trips.
Check them out for yourself
If you’re after a model comparison, come down to Perth City Peugeot to compare the Peugeot 308 and new Peugeot 508 Fastback, and take them for a test drive while you’re at it.