What now for the humble hatchback?

  • Ford has built 22 million Fiestas since its launch nearly a half-century ago, in 1976.

    A measure of success that would’ve seemed unfathomable at the time, is now consigned to record books. Change tends to happen slowly, before taking place abruptly.

    As the last of one of the most popular hatchbacks ever rolled off the production line in July of this year, it was simple reminder that nothing is exempt from this law - not even a staple of neighbourhood streets.

    The Fiesta’s Siesta follows a lifetime of being one of the best-selling cars in Europe and Great Britain, consistently charting in the top-ten for new registrations.

    In fact, the Fiesta held the top spot in the UK’s annual list of best-selling cars between 2009 and 2020 - the longest run of consecutive years on top by any carmaker ever.

    By the following year however, rapid market shifts had left the B-segment supermini outside the top-ten altogether.

    A combination of the motor trade and supply chains still reeling from the Covid-19 pandemic meant many manufacturers had to prioritise parts away from less profitable small cars toward SUVs and crossovers with bigger margins.

    The Fiesta hardly suffered a decline in popularity - it still charted in the top-ten best-sellers in the first half of this year. Equally, the two-box favourite remains one of the top choices in the used market.

    It was just that the popularity of larger utility vehicles grew at such a pace since the turn of the decade, that Ford couldn’t afford not to prioritise parts in the same manner.

    Factor in the recent market shift toward electric vehicles - the universally loved Volkswagen Golf suffered a similar fate - and you had all the ingredients necessary for the Fiesta’s demise as the hatchback of choice. 

    • A Covid-induced market shock changed the production of hatchback cars. By which time, consumer tastes had shifted dramatically once the industry had re-emerged from the pandemic.

      If the pandemic was the start of a slow change, then shifting market attitudes represented its abruptness. So, what now?

      While demand for larger cars is growing exponentially, there will always be a place in the market for B-segment vehicles.

      Consumers sometimes prefer the economy and practicality of a smaller car - especially for low mileage drivers or those concerned with costs of brand-new EVs.

      And so, the race will be on between manufacturers to fill the parking space left by the Fiesta as the market-leading hatchback.

      In the meantime, may we suggest the Suzuki Swift?

    • Fans of the hatchback will find the Suzuki Swift more than ideal!

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