A dying piece of the market: the sporty three-door hatchback is in danger of extinction. But can you still track down a nice occasion? We figured it out!
Body styles come and go. The manufacturer will basically build what the consumer buys. At the moment it is mainly about crossovers, SUVs and everything in between. You will eventually also see this development on the used car market. Hopefully, the occasion needs will soon be the same as those of the customers who buy a new car NOW. For Kirsten that ball does not apply, she is looking at a used car. In this case, it actually works out fine.
Kirsten currently owns a Toyota Aygo. She bought the car for a bargain price from her mother. Initially the intention was to drive it for a year or two. She is now 8 years further. The car is now 15 years old and has accumulated 325,000 km. No, not with the first gearbox unfortunately. In the meantime, Kirsten has also saved up for a new car. First she would get a new lease car (her first), but because of Covid-19 that is postponed for a while. She was already looking at a nice Golf or Focus, but she noticed that these are all five-door autops, while she finds a three-door much sportier, more beautiful and more practical (!).
It must be a sporty three-door with a little engine power. Kirsten is relatively tall (1.80) and likes a Corolla-sized car considerably more than a Yaris-sized car. In addition, with a three-door you do not look at the B-pillar, but you just have a view. Smart thinking. Regarding the power, that should be around 140 hp. She now has 68 horsepower (“if there is one”) and it’s just tiring to have to go full throttle all the time to avoid being a moving chicane. In short, can we help her? But of course: below you can see Kirsten’s wishes and requirements in a table:
|Current car (s)||Toyota Aygo 1.0 with air conditioning|
|Buy / Lease:||Buy anyway, so.|
|Mileage:||I think about 20,000|
|Purchase a new car||Aygo is really gone now|
|Family composition||2 adults|
|Preferred models||Sporty three-door|
|No-go||Hyundai, Skoda or Kia|
Volkswagen Scirocco 1.4 TSI Highline +
The car that immediately came to mind with the idea of a ‘sporty three-door hatchback’ was the Volkswagen Scirocco. The car is a cross between a coupé and a hatchback. The nice thing is that the car really has a special exterior that certainly does not look outdated. Unlike Golfjes, there is no such thing as a ‘bare’ Scirocco, the entry level is in fact a Highline.
The 1.4 TSI with 122 hp is already pretty smooth, but the 1.4 TSI with 160 hp (thanks to a compressor) is more fun. These engines were a bit more hot. Read: slightly more tuned to performance than consumption. The engines do have the necessary points for attention. An advantage is that you can buy the oil scraper rings at Jamin, Beter Bed or Scapino.
Renault Mégane Coupé GT-Line TCe180
The best choice is the Renault Mégane. The car perfectly answers Kirsten’s automotive issues. The engine is top: with 180 hp more than sufficiently smooth and if you want there is (much) more in it. The decoration is also perfect: nice and sporty without being over the top. Nice sports seats, nice wheels and tasteful decoration.
The handling is also nice: sporty and smooth, as only French manufacturers seem to be able to do. Thanks to the dubious reliability of the Megane II, it is sometimes thought that you should stay far away from these cars, but nothing could be further from the truth. There are the necessary finishing mistakes and points for attention, but in general it is not too bad. In any case, maintenance is affordable and parts are easy to find.
Honda Civic Type S 1.8
At Honda you even get a separate badge, the name ‘Type S’. Here too, the sporty three-door was put on the market considerably more dynamically than the five-door. It is such a car that unfortunately too many people overlook, because it is one hell of an occasion. The engine, transmission and electronics generally last a car’s life (if properly maintained).
The 1.8 engine delivers 140 hp, but you have to do your best for that. Tuning makes no sense: it is an atmospheric engine. So if you find the performance ‘mwah’ you have to look further. In any case, we recommend that you save a little further if you are looking at a Civic. The Type-R can be found for not much more money. Nice specimens can be picked up around 9-10 grand.
Opel Astra GTC 2.0 Sport
As with the Honda, it is actually better to save something for the Astra OPC. In the budget you can find fine 1.8’s with good equipment. They are just a bit boring cars. The exterior of the sporty three-door Astra is fun, but inside it’s just an Astra. The 2.0T with 200 hp makes the car a lot more fun.
Not only do you have 60 hp more, but also a lot more torque and possibly some tuning potential. Thanks to the sophisticated aerodynamics, these are very smooth cars on the Autobahn. Very many neat copies are no longer there. The later Astra GTC (J) is thicker, but very difficult (if not) to find in the budget.
Citroën C4 Coupé By Loeb
Citroen has long distinguished between three and five-door C-segment hatchbacks. The difference was not as big as with the C4. The Citroen C4 is unfortunately never just a design icon and that is a shame. Then look how funky this car is! The Loeb Edition was the last of the series. These had a 1.6 THP with 150 hp and sporty decoration.
French electronics with one of the most infamous petrol engines ever built. You just have to take it. Incidentally, you have a 180 hp VTS from a few years older for 3 grand. Then you immediately have a good estimate of the costs for the first turn. The latter is of course exaggerated for comic effect. Just check carefully what can go wrong and whether the maintenance history is correct.
Mercedes CLC 180 Kompressor Prestige
Yes, you can also drive a real Mercedes for this money. And no, we are not talking about a young timer with more than 5 tons on the clock. This CLC 180 was a competitor of those cars. The CLC is a facelift version of the C Sportcoupé, a kind of hip hatchback-coupé hybrid based on the C-Class. Despite its sporting intentions, the car is anything but sporty.
But that’s what makes it so cool, it really drives like a typical Benz. The low seat, extensive adjustment options, comfortable yet undisturbed handling: with this car you can drive 200 km / h all day long. It is a bit of a special taste and not the most common Benz, but no less interesting. The CLC fits the character of the car perfectly, but a smoother CLC200 is also easy to find.
Volvo C30 Kinetic 2.0
One of the coolest C-segment hatchbacks-coupes is this Volvo C30. The car is so cool that there was not even a five-door version of it. You can only choose from a sporty three-door hatchback. So this car was actually the driving equivalent of a carnival record: ONLY fun. That fun continued in the interior, because the pleasant seats and typical Volvo dash you always got. Basically it was just an S40 / V50, but the hatchback version of it.
At the end, these were only delivered with the 2.0 engine with 145 hp. A great block that is hardly slower than the 2.4 five-cylinder, but more economical. The 2.0 also steers nicer, moreover. They are not sold very much and more luxurious ones are soon a bit more expensive. On the other hand, three-door hatchbacks are not very popular, so you can always take the gamble and make an offer.
YOLO: Chrysler Crossfire
If you want a very striking car that is easy to drive every day, then you should definitely take a look at the Chrysler Crossfire. As a sporty coupé it failed hopelessly. The chassis and the extremely slow and vague steering are not ingredients for a lot of fun. It is fine to use the stove on a daily basis. The machine is not so much very fast, but very pleasant. The manual gearbox is not very special and can be skipped.
It’s just not a very practical car, because there is no back seat and the luggage compartment is quite narrow. Secretly still quite fast cars, without you noticing. They are easy to find in the Netherlands, although a nice color is very difficult. Maintenance can be done at any Mercedes specialist.
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Alfa Guillietta 1.4 multiair. Yes 5 doors but what a top car1
The Volvo please. In a beautiful color with good rims.1
Peugeot RCZ or Laguna Coupe will also be an option
To be fair, such a Scirocco is still quite a nice thing, but with such a twincharger I would let it stand. I would do the latter with everything that contains a THP engine. From the list above, I would certainly give the Astra and Mégane a chance. By mentioning Kia (ProCeed) as a no go, you might be doing yourself short. In the right version just a good looking car and I think it’s pretty good too.