For a long time, hatchbacks didn’t get a lot of love from muscle car enthusiasts, as these rides were generally designed without power in mind so much as economy of space. There are naturally a few exceptions to this rule – any BOSS 302 Mustang fan would have my head for discounting this car’s coolness, and the AMC Javelin certainly deserves some credit for being a mean street machine – but by and large, a hatchback design does not a performer make.
Instead, most hatchbacks are smaller cars that are marketed to demographics that don’t really care about speed. For example, although there are certainly a fair share of souped-up Ford Focus ZX3s out there, I’m sure the only hotrod lovers who bought one of these babies was doing so for one of their kids.
These cars just don’t simply scream cool like a sleek coupe or convertible might, and if you try making them look fast, you’ll usually just end up with what looks like a clown car. This is especially true of the subcompact hatchbacks that have graced the road over the past several decades. However, some of these cars may not look mean, but are actually packing a lot of heat underneath the hood. This, combined with their light weight, make these hatchbacks monsters in disguise.
One such hatch is the Fiat 500, which is made by the same Italian automaker that produced the Ferraris and Maseratis that went on to break numerous speed and handling records over the years. While this sweet-looking little guy is hardly about to break any speed records, it’s so tiny that even the smallest Italian four-banger engine sets this thing off. Fiat has produced several different versions of the 500 since the company first re-introduced the model in 2007, including the Abarth, which featured a turbo engine along with a style package that didn’t look totally ridiculous. One of the coolest such limited edition 500s was the Abarth 695 Tributo Maserati, which the company made 499 of back in 2012. This convertible featured a 1.4 Turbo T-Jet 16v engine, a five-speed Abarth gearbox and a cosmetics package from the Maserati design house that made it look downright mean.
Another hatch that is certainly no joke also comes from overseas. While the Porsche Panamera is certainly large by Porsche standards, it has the biggest wheelbase of any other car in the lineup. Who would have thought that by simply stretching out a 911 turbo long enough to add a second set of doors would look so good – that seems to be all that these designers did to create the Panamera. Not only has the car been a huge sales success for the company, but it even showed – not unlike the Cayenne SUV – that the finesse Porsche designers can bring to small cars translates beautifully onto larger platforms.
There are many other hatchbacks that deserve a shout-out – here’s looking at you, Volkswagen Golf GT – but these two hatches are definitely the cream of the crop these days. Do you have a favorite hatchback? Leave your thoughts below:
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