Hatchback vs Saloon/Sedan: What are the Differences and Similarities?

2 minutes Published: 26/08/2021

Rewind ten years and the UK car market was dominated by two car body styles: Hatchbacks and Saloons (also called sedans in the US).

Manufacturers, keen to get a slice from both pies, often produced their cars in both a hatchback and a saloon variant.

This caused a fair bit of confusion over what cars were saloons, what cars were hatchbacks and what the difference actually is. Most people can correctly identify cars as either saloons or hatchbacks but a lot can’t explain why a car is one or the other.

In this blog, I’ll take a look at each car body style to tease out the differences between them.

What’s the difference between a hatchback and a saloon

Before we talk about the differences, let’s take a more in-depth look at each bodystyle.

  • Hatchback: A hatchback is defined by a hatch-type rear door that attached at the roof and opens upwards It’s also a two-box design, meaning the cabin and boot are part of the same internal space. The cabin and boot are one ‘box’ and the second ‘box’ is the the engine.
  • Saloon: A saloon is a three-box design, meaning its engine, cabin and boot are all separate internal spaces. A saloon’s boot lid is attached underneath the rear window.

When you get down to the fundamentals, that’s really all there is to it. A saloon is a three-box design and a hatchback is a two-box design. A saloon’s boot lid is attached below the rear window and a hatchback’s is attached at the roof.

However, in practice, there tends to be a fair bit of difference between the two styles. Saloons tend to be more expensive and more premium. Hatchbacks tend to be smaller and more practical.

Best hatchback cars available in 2021

The hatchback is a bit of a jack-of-all-trades. They’re cheap to lease, cheap to run, easy to park, surprisingly spacious, pretty reliable and feel good to drive.

Since they are such great all-rounders, you can always find the perfect hatchback for your needs. Here’s just a handful of our favourite hatches for specific jobs.

Best saloon cars available in 2021

Over the past few years, saloons have gone out of fashion with motorists downsizing to smaller hatchbacks or upsizing to larger crossovers.

However, that doesn’t mean they aren’t worth considering.

Saloons still offer an outstanding mix of performance, comfort and style. And if you’re looking for something a bit fancier, a saloon could be precisely what you’re after.

What about other car body styles?

Still considering the best body style for your next set of wheels, or are you simply curious? Check out our coupe vs saloon, crossover vs suv, and city car vs hatchback vs supermini posts to make sure you're totally clued up!