Opinion : Why I’m going to miss saloon cars

Ford Cortina 80

Ah, saloons… Remember those? Back in the 1970s saloons were the body style of choice, with the king of the hill being the Ford Cortina. Three-box cars were everywhere, with many people in the UK considering hatchbacks to be little more than utility vehicles that lacked prestige. Perhaps that’s why the Princess didn’t get the hatchback it deserved.

That perception was, of course, changing rapidly – especially across la manche in mainland Europe, where cars like the Renault 5 and Volkswagen Golf were proving classless and desirable, and sweeping all rivals aside. Hatchbacks were becoming the norm, and growing to meet the increasingly affluent market – so much so that, by the mid-1970s, Renault’s new flagship 30 was proudly a five-door.

We Brits were on the whole more conservative. Our favourite small family car was the Ford Escort and the biggest seller was the Ford Cortina. Take for instance the UK Top 20 sales chart for 1980 – it looked like this… a Smörgåsbord of saloon car loveliness.

  1. Ford Cortina (190,261)
  2. Ford Escort (122,257)
  3. Ford Fiesta (91,661)
  4. Austin-Morris Mini (61,129)
  5. Morris Marina and Ital (58,906)
  6. Vauxhall Chevette (46,059)
  7. Vauxhall Cavalier (41,119)
  8. Austin Allegro (39,612)
  9. Ford Capri (31,187)
  10. Renault 18 (30,958)
  11. Datsun Sunny (30,954)
  12. Datsun Cherry (30,929)
  13. Ford Granada (29,033)
  14. Renault 5 (27,023)
  15. Rover SD1 (24,240)
  16. Talbot Horizon (22,508)
  17. Austin Maxi (22,229)
  18. Talbot Sunbeam (21,619)
  19. Austin-Morris Princess (21,530)
  20. Talbot Alpine (19,374)

As you can see, the 11 highlighted cars in the Top 20 were available in saloon form. But, even back then, you could see that times were changing and the market was beginning to shift towards hatchbacks. The most ‘European’ of British cars, the Rover SD1 was doing okay, but the saloon-bodied Ford Granada was slightly ahead – if nothing else, it showed that executive cars buyers were still the most ingrained saloon car buyers of them all.

Rover SD1

Fast forward 40 years and, boy, are things different. Today’s news that the Volkswagen Passat is being phased out in saloon form tells you all you need to know about buying habits in 2022. Buyers simply don’t want three-box saloons these days, unless they’re of the luxury variety – and, even then, cars like the Audi A6 and BMW 5 Series are now being comfortably outsold by their SUV cousins, the Q5 and X5.

As for the Passat, yes, you can still buy it in Estate form – but Volkswagen’s statement that its removal from the price lists clears the way for the fastback-coupe Arteon to be a more stylish alternative doesn’t really tell the full story – because, in reality, Passat buyers are probably shifting to the Tiguan SUV, which Volkswagen confirmed was its biggest global seller in 2020, ahead of the once-dominant Golf.

So, the SUV is now the dominant bodystyle, occupying the slot once taken proudly by saloons? It would appear that way, as SUVs, crossovers, call them what you will, are now the default family car. Put that down to more practicality and all-round appeal, and the fact that so few business drivers have their car chosen for them by a cost-conscious fleet manager – user-choosing is all the rage.

A quick look at the UK Top 10 sales chart shows you just how different things are now…

Vauxhall Corsa

  1. Vauxhall Corsa (40,914)
  2. Tesla Model 3 (34,783)
  3. MINI (31,792)
  4. Mercedes-Benz A-Class (30,710)
  5. Volkswagen Polo (30,634)
  6. Volkswagen Golf (30,240)
  7. Nissan Qashqai (29,922)
  8. Ford Puma (28,697)
  9. Kia Sportage (27,611)
  10. Toyota Yaris (27,415)

Of the Top 10 cars, only two are available as saloons – and, although the Tesla Model 3 is saloon-only, I’d suspect it’s bought on the strength of its EV package, and not because it’s a saloon. As for the Mercedes-Benz A-Class – when did you last see the three-box version on the road? Exactly…

For those who tell us that SUVs are everywhere, the Top 10 sellers makes interesting reading – only the Qashqai, Puma and Sportage tick that box, with the rest of the bunch being hatchbacks. Again, us conservative Brits are behind our European cousins on that score. And look! It’s first time since the 1970s that Ford hasn’t given us the best-selling car – what a good news story for Vauxhall!

Why I’ll miss saloons

But going back to the point of this piece – I for one will miss the saloon. Although there are still plenty of saloons on the market, most notably from the premium manufacturers, they are being squeezed – so, for me, it’s game over over for the mass market.

I love the concept that there are three boxes – one for the engine, one for the passengers and one for the luggage. Simple, safe and straightforward. Practicality obviously takes a hit compared with a hatch or an estate, but you know what you’re getting with a saloon.

Perhaps that’s me just hankering for a simpler time, but if we lose saloons from the market, we lose choice. Then again,  though, like the humble MPV, it would appear their time is up. That’s a shame as I’ll miss the separate boot!

Ford Cortina

Keith Adams


  1. It is not that people don’t WANT saloon cars or their derivatives : it is the fact that none are available in any meaningful quantities. Perhaps that is why there is virtually nothing on the market that I want any more, and so I keep my nearly 18 year old convertible 320 CLK which I have had from new . If there were anything tasteful – ( and I lay emphasis on the word tasteful ) – other than the Jaguar XF which is a very nice car , but not what I want,that might replace it, I might consider a change , but……..

    • Surely it’s the other way around. If people wanted saloons they would be produced as they always have been. Manufacturers don’t stop supplying something they can sell. Sometimes they leave a car on the market too long and the demand dies away, but if people demanded saloons they would be there. They don’t and there aren’t, sadly.

    • TBH I don’t think that rings true. It’s oft quoted that the manufacturers force us down a path, that implies that the buying public are sheep. PCP deals made the Insignia and Mondeo insignificant when the “user-chooser” could have a “prestige” German badge parked up on the drive.
      SUV’s, on the other hand, offered an aging population easier ingress into the vehicle and a more commanding drive position.
      If you don’t sell what the customer wants then you have to follow the herd

  2. Why the change? Practicality? Only yesterday I needed to carry a short double extension ladder and a chair from Bournemouth to Box (Wilts). With my (tiny) VW Fox I was able to drop the rear seats, remove the parcel shelf and fit in both.
    Admittedly I was travelling alone, but with a hatch-back I could do it. As for the – from across the pond – pretentiously named Sport Utility Vehicles, just what ‘sport’ can one play in an SUV? One-upmanship? Look at what JLR have turned the Defender into – a look-at-me status symbol. Where are the WUVs – the Work Utility Vehicles that JLR and other British carmakers should be producing. It’s no wonder that the Ineos has taken the workhorse Land Rover and created the Grenadier. A pity it is not a British (built) Grenadier.

  3. I was there , I was due to have new Cortina company car , Ford we’re on strike , I suggested a Cavalier Best car I had
    Got promoted and got Granada great car but fuel crisis killed it

    My boss said We were buying 4 Princess for the price of 3
    I said no thanks and had a CAvalier 2 litre GLS great car

    • Focus like all non-premium cars in that range replaced by SUVs. Megane does not sell either. Surprisingly the Golf is still there.
      Compare to Francen number one is 208 from which the Corsa is cloned.

      BTW 1st time in 13 year that the small Peugeot overtakes the Clio.

      The new Sandero is, since begining 2022, number one : cheap nice looking and reliable – much cheaper than both Clio and 208 with same performance and economy, 3 stars vs 5 stars EuroNCap and cheaper plastics.

      Peugeot 208 : 83.129 voitures.
      Renault Clio: 81.528 voitures.
      Dacia Sandero: 75.121 voitures.
      Peugeot 2008: 71.775 voitures.
      Citroën C3: 62.761 voitures.
      Renault Captur: 50.412 voitures.

      C3 sells better in SUV “Aircross” form. As a result the 3 latter are 3 small SUVs. Even the Sandero is available as “Stepway” which is a SUV-like looking hatch with bigger wheels, wing extensions, roof bars …

      2022 will probably be the end for Talisman, 508 does not sell, Mondeo is dead … Scenic will disapear and Espace probably too.

      Saloons are not practical, not that aerodynamical compared to hatchbacks or even SUVs – SUVs offering bigger frontal area however, important for emission penalties.

      Strange to see A-Class and Mini well placed in the British top ten !!

      • A chip shortage that both Vauxhall and Tesla managed to navigate. No Fiesta or Focus in the top 10 is a shocker for Ford – they have had a poor 2021.

        People will say that Tesla only achieved their good sales because of the incentives available to EVs. But I don’t see the Renault Zoe or Nissan Leaf in that sales Top 10. They’ve done an amazing job to shift so many cars, and from such a small dealer body.

        • Renault Zoe cannot be compared to Tesla in term of price and features (dates back 2013 eve though updated regularly). Tesla is supposed to be a premium. Maybe the UK will wait a little more but most LHD countries will get the 100% Megane Electric by February.
          As for the Leaf, it does not sell better than any Nissan in Europe, despite the 1st Qashqai which was a real winner (and a disaster in Japan !).

    • The current shortage of semiconductors has hit Ford hard and there is currently still a 9 month wait for a new Fiesta according to a salesman mate of mine who works in a local Ford dealership. So I guess Vauxhall have cleaned up and it’s the only thing available off the shelf.

      • Now that Vauxhalls are Peugeot derivatives, they get into the same trouble as Peugeot ! It’s no better than Ford then.

  4. A-class saloon? I didn’t know there was such a thing. I have never seen one. Last time I rode in a saloon of any description it was a VW Jetta, the Mk5 Golf based one, which was being used as a minicab. And that was a few years ago.

    • Quite a few here in Essex normally in white (not going to mention the stilettos). It’s quite a good looking motor. It was made for the Chinese Market so to help development costs the rest if the world got it. Least the current A is better looking, the old one and the subsequent hacked up GLA were ugly as fudge.

      • @daveh not at-all for the Chinese Market ! Designed in Sindelfingen, made in Rastatt and you can see many in Germany and even in France. Not sure I’ve seen any in China. Mostly LWB C and E classes in China. There is no LWB A-Class (they are not that tall but love LWBs)

        • Sorry Phillipe, but it was, with China getting a stretched version before we got it here in Europe. In China saloons are seen as prestigious, and as Audi had already launched the A3 in saloon, they needed a competitor

          • Right Daveh I had missed the fact that a notchback A saloon existed (we do not see any here or maby confused with a C), we see mostly CLA “4 doors coupés” which are not available in China. China is going SUV as everywhere on earth now.

    • I’ve been a passenger in an A-Class saloon owned by one of my friends who has down sized from a C- Class,compared to the original A-Class it’s not got as much space as before having a very low roofline. Whether the CLA saloon which is based on the same platform is any better. it does seem a little strange that Mercedes have two cars with such a similar catagory in their product range

  5. I will miss the saloon. I drive a 3 series, before that an s60. Yes practicality isn’t great, the 3 series doesn’t have seats that drop down (previous owner didn’t pay for that option), but if someone opens the boot you don’t get the freezing cold wind in the middle of winter, don’t miss that from the focus. The only issue I had with the s60 was reversing as the focus rear end was easy to judge as it was about 2 inches from the act window, but the 3 has parking sensors so no longer an issue. Unfortunately we seem to have gone down the American obsession of SUVs. Thankfully, urs are faux, but many don’t offer any greater room than their hatchback or estate cousin. If I remember a few years ago a survey said women preffered to drive larger cars sitting higher as it made them feel safer, so this probably has changed the pattern of sales. My sister in law said this when she moved from her Fiat 500 to a Nissan Joke. She tried to push my brother to a Qashqi, he ignored her and bought an XE. Problem is higher the car is the less stable it is, so how’s that safer? And larger the car, the heavier it is, the more fuel or electric it uses, so more un-environmentaly friendly it is, should governments look at this growth in size as well as what powers Cars?

  6. I have always loved saloons, and only had another kind of car once – a Mazda 626 2.0L hatchback – no estates, or even other hatchbacks, let alone an SUV. Being a relatively short person, at 5’7″, I have never even considered an SUV, as I find that I have to “mountaineer” to get into them! Besides which, all of them look more like boxes than any other kind of car, even the best of the bunch, the Range Rover.

    I’ve never been one for small cars, so that rules out things like the VW Golf for me, even though I thought the Mark I Cabriolet was quite pretty. I’ve always had large saloons, such as three Rover 800s (all 827 SLi), one each of the Vauxhall Carlton 1.8L & Omega 2.0L, and a Mercedes 300E 3.0L, but my first love has always been Jaguar. I’ve had an S-Type 3.0L, and an X-Type 3.0L AWD, but most of my cars have been the Jaguar XJ6, of which I’ve had six – ironically enough – from a Series I 4.2L XJ6 manual/overdrive, as my first car, a couple of XJ6 (XJ40) models (two 3.6L, and one 4.0L), a Sovereign (X300) 3.2L, and my current 2004 XJ6 (X350) 3.0L. The first 3.6L XJ40 – my second car – converted me to automatics, and I’ve never owned another manual, which is principally why I bought some of the non-Jaguar cars I’ve had, as finding second-hand automatics can sometimes be difficult, especially if you’re time-pressed, occasionally been cash-pressed, and live in a rural area. That being said, I did love the Rovers and the Mercedes. However, I digress.

    The reason I’ve listed my cars is you can see that, with the exception of the two Vauxhall models and the Mazda, which were bought through necessity rather than desire, the look of a car really matters to me, and I think that saloons often do look better than hatchbacks or estates, and especially than SUV models. There are obvious hatchback/estate exceptions of course, like the Jensen Interceptor and the Reliant Scimitar GTE, but I would argue that there aren’t many that look as good as a premium saloon. It’s all personal taste of course, but that’s my view, and it’s also my view that there isn’t any car quite as beautiful as the Jaguar XJ, which is why I’ve had so many, and aim to keep my current XJ6 for as long as possible. Such a pity that Jaguar ruined the look after 2009, which lost sales, and ended up in it being cancelled altogether. That was a bitter blow to someone who’s been in love with the XJ since the age of 14. However, I digress again!

    There are practical benefits to a saloon as well of course. One is safety. A lot of saloons have a firewall between the cabin and the boot, which is a big benefit if your petrol tank goes up from a collision or some electrical fault. Another is that thefts are much easier from a hatchback/estate/SUV, as the thief only needs to break a window to access the boot. If a determined thief wants to get into a saloon boot, of course, they will make the extra effort required, but it deters opportunism, which is why far fewer boot thefts are from saloons. I’d much rather secure something valuable in the boot of a saloon, than in any other kind of car.

    I suppose one of the reasons that the saloon is going out of fashion is that, apart from the two obvious practical benefits the saloon has, as per the previous paragraph, it is true that the hatchback, estate, and even the SUV, have other practical benefits, and more of them, particularly in carrying awkward or large items.

    That’s the real problem with the modern world for me. More & more people are choosing function over form. It’s not that they no longer appreciate beauty, art, or even luxury, but that they don’t see the need for them in what is primarily a functional item. For me, those qualities aren’t about need, they are about desire. The late great Fred Dibnah understood this, and routinely pointed out how the Victorians incorporated beauty & form into the function.

    I desire the beauty of my XJ6, inside & outside, the art & craftwork that has gone into the design & build, the aesthetics of the interior, with the walnut & leather, and the luxury feel. None of these are absolutely necessary to the function, but they make me feel good, even when it’s just parked up. I’m prepared to sacrifice the ability to carry a plank of wood home from Homebase or B&Q occasionally, in order to experience the joy that my saloon gives me every single day. Besides, that’s what delivery services are for!

  7. And a two-door Cortina at the bottom! Looks so odd now – two-door saloons vanished without trace years ago. I think that was the last two-door Ford. After that, there were a few others from other manufacturers, e.g. the Jetta and Polo saloon, as well as the Nova saloon, but they were all gone by the 90s. For that matter, three-door hatchbacks are pretty rare nowadays – I can only think of the Up! offhand that is still on sale.

    • 2 doors saloons were a German specialty. See VW, 1st 4 doors was the 411 ! See DKW, Taunus 12M sidevalve, Opel Kadett A, and till end of the seventies Granada, Ascona, Rekord, Commodore. In France we have had the Simca 1100 and Renault 11 and 19 those latter taking place of a coupé in an XJC manner.
      No Mercedes, no Peugeot, no Rootes, only one Fiat (the 128), no Lancia … Some Volvo, Daf.

  8. I’m not sure there was THAT big a divide between the UK and the continent in the late 1970s. For anything bigger than a Golf, saloons were still dominant, and even in countries like France there were plenty of 3 box saloon options e.g. R12/R18, Pug 305/504/505/604, Talbot Tagora. The R20/30 weren’t great sellers, especially outside France

    Indeed for a long period more saloons have been sold in other parts of Europe than in the UK. Ireland for example bought more saloons than the UK, hence they still got the Focus saloon after Ford has stopped selling it here, and the current Mk4 Focus is still available in saloon form in many parts of Eastern Europe.

  9. It’s maybe also a bit of an age thing.

    A lot of today’s drivers (eg. under the age of 45-50) have never really known anything other than hatchbacks and SUVs. If you show them a 3 box saloon, it would be an oddity from the distant past, before they were born.

    Many of the owners of traditional saloons are no longer driving (due to age etc), which means the interest in such models ended when those people stopped driving.

    • Or purchased monoospace or SUV because less difficult to get in and out. When Mercedes dedicated their B-Class to young couples with children they discovered the average owner was …. 63 years old and a former C or E Class owner. Then they pulled-out the GLK to get more money from them !

    • I’m inclined to diagree with that. At 43, I can remember plenty of saloons through time; Montegos, Sierras, Cavaliers, 405s, 400s, 600s, 75s, plenty of BMWs, Audis and Mercs. In fact, what I drive today (3 years old) is the estate-equivalent of a saloon. Although I suspect the model is soon for the chop, living on borrowed time.

      • Premiums taken apart, the UK was probably the only European country to still purchase saloons in the eighties. No 3 box Sierras or Asconas/Vectras on the continent. A few Mastros but no Montegos, a few fastback Rovers and even 75s (kind of poor man’s Jag) though. Maybe the reason why … no export = too small a market.

        • Peugeot wouldn’t have launched the 405 with no hatchback option, and replaced it with the saloon 406 and 407 if there was no demand for a saloon in mainland Europe surely? Renault had the 9 and 21.

          Elsewhere the VW Polo Classic and Jetta plus various Fiats (Fiat Regata, Lancia Prisma and their successors) spring to mind

          • True for the Peugeots. The Renault 9 was mainly addressing the US market as the Alliance, later there has always been a C segment derivative (19, Megane/Fluence, Megane Gran Coupé (not commercialized in France), the hatchback sold 10 times more anyway. PoloClassic, Jetta, Regata, Prisma we could see pictures but none in the streets ! 407 did not sell correctly, neither 508 later-on, taxis excepted. Maybe all those were selling in Spain where the notchbacks were still popular. The 21 had a hatchback derivative, at mid-life, which immediately boosted sales.

  10. I remember a time when 3-box saloons were highly dominant in Germany. In the 70’s, they would buy 2-door in preference to 4-door especially in the larger sizes. Preferences change, personally I’m not convinced a hatchback is good enough for practicality and will always prefer an estate for the extra ‘flexibility’. In terms of a prestige-biased drive, a saloon or 2-door coupe suits me fine. My ideal compromise would have been a Galaxy or S-Max even though the ‘luxury’ trims were obviously faux diamonds. The Mk1 Galaxy had rear seats you could throw out, giving a huge dance floor or builders truck space where you could mix concrete. Or how about a Stag to carry scaffolding? Horses for courses.

  11. Sorry to be a pedant, but the Chevette and the Cavalier were also available as hatchbacks, and the Chevette was launched as a three door hatchback only, until saloon versions were introduced in 1976. In hatchback form, the Cavalier looked like an upmarket sports coupe, and the Sportshatch appealed to buyers who wanted something different to a Capri. Indeed, the Chevette was a complete range of cars from the E spec three door hatch to the upmarket GLS four door saloon, and a useful three door estate that while fairly basic was an excellent load lugger.
    Also the appeal of the conventional four door saloon lasted well into the eighties, and most manufacturers continued to market saloons alongside hatchbacks. Interestingly a car as small as the Vauxhall Nova came as a saloon and sold in reasonable numbers until it was axed in 1993.

  12. Saloons, unlike hatchbacks (the SD1 in particular), should have great torsional stiffness. My Viva 2300 had the usual X-brace behind the back seat backrest, but one of the four brace to body welds failed. This led to regular PINGs as I pressed on around roundabouts on the way to work (ironically, on a road built over a dead straight railway line). I got it welded (a frequent necessity on a 12yo Vauxhall). There are limits, of course; I recently met a chap who had fitted a 400bhp Ford Zetec engine into a Dolomite Sprint. Every few months, he takes it to a body shop to get it pulled straight again. Hardly surprising for a body structure which was originally intended to take 61bhp through the front wheels.

  13. I’d say the prevalence of the 3-box saloon was more to do with manufacturer inertia in a captive market rather than what was preferred by the consumer. This becomes obvious as soon as a real choice is offered – look at the numbers for Escort vs Orion, Rover 200 vs Rover 400, Cavalier hatch vs Cavalier saloon, Sierra vs Sapphire, Nova hatch vs Nova saloon, Golf vs Jetta, etc, etc.

    Then look back a little further and the 2-box BMC 1100/1300 was the best selling car for a number of years. OK it didn’t have a hatch but it didn’t really have a boot either !

    One major factor that influenced volume manufacturers such as Ford to churn out 3-box cars as long as possible was the cost of developing and manufacturing the hatch option. The bodyshell needs to be much stronger to take a tailgate when you add the weight of the glass, wiper motor, wiring, lights and interior trim. A simple metal boot lid and fixed rear window is far easier and cheaper to make and fit.

    Just like some manufacturers hung on to rear-wheel-drive for as long as they could. Less to do with what customers wanted, more to do with what was easiest and cheapest for them to keep on making.

  14. CUV’s (crossover utility vehicles) along with SUV’s, often with all wheel drive have replaced the ‘saloon’ for many due to their utility and value in the USA. Ford has none in NA, GM only a few (Chevrolet, Buick), Chrysler the Charger and 300, Mazda only has the 3 model in boot/hatchback versions. Honda, Toyota, Nissan, Hyundai/Kia along with luxury brands Lexus, M-B, BMW, Jaguar likely make/sell in NA most saloon cars. I have a 2021 Mazda CX-30 after having a 2014 Ford Focus saloon and it is much better if moving furniture or other large items. CUV’s and SUV’s, even small ones give drivers a better view of the road that many drivers like. Still, I do miss the trunk (boot to you in the UK) as a secure place for luggage when traveling but the utility of CUV/SUV’s in many cases offsets it.

      • Cadillac is still making saloon cars but much of their sales are upgraded Chevy and Buick model CUV/SUV’s. They are also shifting away from ICE’s to full EV’s for car models in the next few years.

  15. I can’t remember if it was Spain or Portugal but one of them was even more enthusiastic about saloons than the uk. Do you remember the rather hideous Renault 7 a booted 5. Happily we never had this in the uk.

  16. If I can say-so it’s an underdevelopped country characteristic. See where they sell more Logans than Sanderos, where they sold more Clio Thalia (or Symbol) than Clios, This was the case in Eastern Europe as well as Portugal and Spain but now vanishing. It’s still the case in Russia, Mexico, South-America …
    Question of social status even though we consider them as ugly.

    • What are you saying we consider as ugly, Phillippe? If you mean saloons in general, I couldn’t disagree more. Sure, there are some ugly ones, and some bland ones, just as there are for every other kind of car, but a good saloon generally looks better, in my opinion, like Rolls-Royce, Bentley, Mercedes, Jaguar (in the past), etcetera. There are some hatchbacks & estates that look better, of course, but not many.

  17. 1981 was probably the big turning point and the start of the decline of the two and four door saloon. The Austin Metro, Vauxhall Astra and Mk 111 Escort were launched the previous year as fwd hatchbacks and started to sell in huge numbers, while the Vauxhall Cavalier switched to fwd and was available as a hatchback and a saloon, and the more stylish hatchback started outselling the saloon. Saloons still continued to sell in decent numbers throughout the eighties, but for smaller cars, the hatchback design was more favoured as the luggage space was bigger and made cars look more stylish.

    • Renault tried to carry-on saloons since the 1969 Renault 12 till the en of the 21 in 1996 but had to introduce an unpredicted 21 hatch in between because those small opening boots did not suit the French customers. The 25 was somehow looking like a saloon with a hatch opening unlike some like GS/CX/Princess … looking like hatches and being saloons. The Scorpio, before becoming a dead-fish was probably the only one best looking as a saloon than as a hatch.

  18. Ah but hang on. The second best selling car in the UK last year and the best selling Electric car is the Tesla model 3 and that’s a saloon.

    • Indeed its become the company car of choice because of its low BIK, long range and access to the Tesla super-charger network and it effectively has no viable competition making it the 21st century Cortina.

  19. To get a separate boot, Keith Adams, you don’t just have to have a saloon. A real sports car also has one.

  20. There were some awful last attempts at saloon versions of hatchbacks. The original Skoda Fabia was available as a saloon, but this looked terrible, like someone had bolted on a boot to the back of the car, and the Ford Focus saloon looked clumsy and ruined the car’s appearance.

  21. For many in the competitive world of field sales the name of the game is still to drive something sleeker and better-looking than the all-conquering SUV. Still see numbers of conventional saloons and estates pounding the motorways as ‘rep’ cars, many of those are still RWD too. But undoubtedly a lot fewer than even a few years ago.

  22. Just goes to show that every day is a school day – I didn’t know that the Tesla Model 3 is a ‘saloon’ (more like a fastback………a Princess even). Anyhoo, I’ve never understood the appeal of the saloon car. Maybe it’s because as a child we always had estates (Vauxhall VXs mainly) or hatchbacks (Austin Ambassadors). The practicality of a rear hatch and a folding rear seat has always appealed. I’ve only had 2 3 box saloons – both BMWs – and I didn’t get the point in them. The 5 series I had in particular, even with a folded rear seat, just made trips to the DIY store or tip a bind – especially the tip – I once had to move a garden’s worth of cut brambles – it took 20 trips to the tip to get rid – with an estate that number of trips would have been greatly reduced. You could say that maybe an SUV would suit me better, but I can’t stand them (apart from the Alfa Stelvio perhaps), so, I can only hope that the humble estate car format has a few more years of life left in it.

  23. The funny part is that governments constantly shove the environment and being green in our noses but nobody stops all those bricklike tall boxy SUVs. Surely an normal saloon or estate gets better gas mileage. I’ve owned all the normal car formats so far, fastback (Rover sd1 Vitesse), estate (2 rover 400 tourers) and saloon (Rover 75). I understand people above saying they don’t get the appeal of a saloon over an estate. Sure the tourer was a lot easier to get more stuff into than my rover 75 saloon BUT and this was a big deal for me, a saloon is more quiet inside. With an estate you hear more noise coming from the rear (axle, wheels etc). A thing that a saloon that has a cabin more isolated from the boat doesn’t have.

    • Well said. I had forgotten about that being another advantage of a saloon, when I posted my comment a couple of days ago.

  24. I think saloons look better for large cars, but for superminis and smaller family cars the hatchback is so much more practical. I can remember the Metro being launched in 1980 and compared with the antiquated Mini it was supposed to replace, but didn’t, the interior space and boot space was enormous. Also having a hatchback instead of a tiny, narrow boot made getting shopping in and out far less of a chore.

    • I couldn’t seriously consider going back to a three box car. I make a trip the local tip at least once a month and the back seat gets folded down on most occasions. Our local authority started charging for bulky uplifts a couple of years ago, and it’s 40-odd squids a time. If I can fit it in the car, off we go! While I don’t doubt that hatches can be noisier than saloons, my friend’s 5-door MINI has noticeable road roar when I’m seated in the back, my trip in a Jetta didn’t strike me as any quieter than the Mk5 Golf I was running at the time. It would have taken a dB meter to make a distinction, I think. Seats up and parcel shelf in place, of course!.

    • Met three friends at Heathrow, from Califonia, their hire car was a Montego saloon, the Montego was not suitable for their luggage, a third of the luggage with no where to go, the hire company offered another car, a Fiat Uno, the Fiat swallowed the lot, all of the luggage and 4 passengers!

  25. My first car was a saloon – a crumbling but much loved Rover 213. The thing that put me off saloons was the usual absence of a rear windscreen wash/wipe. Whether it was the 213 or multiple and varied hire cars, all of them suffered poor rear visibility from road grime this time of the year…

  26. I lament the lack of saloons nowadays. In 2013 in.St Petersberg I saw many Police service Focus MK3 saloons which looked good. to my eyes. Sadly the saloon wasn’t available in the UK. I still prefer saloons / hatchbacks and their coupe derivatives.

  27. I do remember seeing 2 door Mark 2 Granadas in Germany in 1988, but to my eyes, they looked bizarre as the car wasn’t a sports coupe and was supposed to be a large family car. I gather the Opel Rekord, another Granada sized car, was available as a two door saloon and estate, which was never exported to the UK. However, the two door Rekord couple from the late sixties( a distant cousin of the FD Vauxhalls) always looked very nice.

    • Many German cars were available as 2 doors. And even as 2 doors only like the VW, not only the Beetle but the Type 3 too, even in estate form.

      Before the Granada you had all the 17M/20M/26M available in 2 doors form. And in coupé which was just a slanted rear window 2 doors, as the Rekord/Commodore. Asconas were available as 2 doors saloon and estate, no coupé because of Manta derivative.
      Same with all the 12M/15M plus Taunus TCs Mk1 and 2 (no coupé for the 3, who knows why ?),
      Ford 12M sidevlave, Borgward Isabella were 2 doors only..

      VW 411 existed as hudge 2 doors as well as 4. Estate 2 doors only.

      Same with the Volvo 544, only 2 doors, Amazon, later 144 and 244, even 264 were available in 2 doors form.
      Saab 99 started as a 2 doors, the 4 doors came some years later.
      BMW E21 existed in 2 doors only, the following 3 series got a 4 doors variant anyway.
      Why so ? Who knows …

  28. Another thing to consider about 2-door saloons is that they cater for a person who doesn’t very often need space and seating capacity. In the first 10-15 years of my car-owning life, the cars I owned very rarely had anyone using the back seats or rear doors; they were almost an unnecessary extra .

    • In an era before child locks – or rear seatbelts, child seats or anything like that – when children could roam about freely in the back of the car, having no doors in the rear was a definite safety feature.

  29. It may well be that in pursuit of accomplishing the wishes of the EU car industry to sell volume cars in the largest car market in the world, the USA, the EU car makers have skewed their products to the tastes of USA buyers, hence the attrition of the compact European saloon, and the substitution of the oversized USA – style SUV / CUV cars in the EU market

    • Range-Rover, BMW and Mercedes taken apart, which European SUV on the US market ? Why Peugeo-Citroen-Opel, Renault, Ford-Europe then ?
      Why “oversized” ? They are generally more compact than equivalent saloons.

  30. Another favourite big saloon was the Granada MK1 (also as an Estate and the tasty looking Ghia Coupe). As I don’t have need of a modern day crossover or SUV, my next car is more likely to be a Fiesta or similar – if they are still built.

    • I quite like the look of that Mondeo; it may be bigger, but it looks better than the current version which I’ve always thought looks ugly and blobby.

  31. Looks Audiesque? If they are making it there, how much would it cost to make it euro compliant, especially as there is talk of taking to North America? Would more markets reduce cists

  32. Actually not a bad looking car to me – and better than many SUV’s. I notice they are following the trend of putting the name on in single letters. I would be happy to see these on UK roads but obviously that is not the plan… shame.

  33. I sympathise with Keith’s view about the demise of saloon cars – aside from questions of appearance, many hatchbacks and estates transmit more road noise at the rear and if the boot is full, a saloon is safer in a crash (no flying luggage). The comment from ‘cyclist’ about the size of the Montego saloon boot surprised me – when I ran one I found that its generously-sized boot with extra compartment below the floor generally swallowed our family luggage with ease. However … once I tried the estate version there was no going back – it was just so convenient and versatile and I have stayed with estates ever since (currently Citroen C5 Tourer).

    • Thanks for that Dave. It was very interesting, though a pity they didn’t include the continental saloons of the day, or indeed our own Rolls-Royce-Bentley & jaguar saloons. Nonetheless, a nice look at some cars you wouldn’t necessarily think of in terms of luxury barges.

  34. Instead of barge they could have spoken about trucks, regarding the Humber’s engine – though the Sheerline and A135 were not included.

    Interesting because none of those were exported to the Continent.

    We just had Mercedes, BMW and Opel to make any.

    Ford Cologne hadn’t either.

    Only Ford France that would become Simca Vedette end of 1954 , with 2.2 flathead V8 and for a couple of years a 3.9 variant.
    And a handful Hotchkiss, Talbot beginning of the fifties that would rapidly vanish.

    Even the Italians had none, the bigger Fiats and Lancias would come later under the 2.5 liter bar anyway

    Petrol was probably cheaper in the UK then.

    • I was trying to think of what Europe was offering at this time, and all I could think of was the German cars and the Simca. I think the Sheerline, Rolls, Bentley and Facel Vega were being treated a luxury car, and Martin was calling the barge that was available to those with smaller budgets, though where was the P4?

  35. Thinking about what happened since and not focussing on BL strikes, it’s obvious that the Germans have benefitted from the EU.
    When Vauxhall and Rootes reached the EU it was too late for the British barges.
    Vauxhall was no competitor with Opel
    Rootes was already suicided with the tiny Sceptre as flagship.
    Austin was suicided with the “land lobster” 3 litre.
    Rover was still there with declining Triumph 2000/2500 too.
    Volvo was blossoming (ok they are now Chinese after not willing to marry Renault)
    Ford Cologne was taking the lead even though the Granada was more a Zodiac than a Taunus.
    Even Renault and Peugeot and later Citroen with the XM were trying a come-back that would end with the Vel Satis, 607 and C6.

    • Is there anything about the EU which has not benefited Germany? A ring-fenced export market on its doorstep, a currency which is a proxy Deutsche Mark which cannot revalue to correct balance of payments issues with other states, full employment and GDP growth for Germany, decline and destruction of economies such as Greece,Spain and Portugal and especially Italy no longer a powerful competitor

      • It’s what happens when you have competent & forward thinking government, but Der Masser doesn’t want you to know that.

        • IMHO not totally government-related. More in the way the German industry is handled by families and not hedge-funds, the Francfort stock-exchange has never been anything like the City. Families need that their groups survive and expand to feed their grand-children and the grand-children of their grand children. In the UK as in France, hedge funds hold their shares for 3 years while trying to make a jackpot by sucking the companies benefits and then throw them away, resell them in pieces when needed … See the Quandt family with BMW or the Porsche-Piëch family (even though the Porsche brothers were fighting against the terrible Ferdinand Piëch), Thyssen-Krupp … The Mercedes-Benz AG is anyway in the public, more and more Chinese, 10% Li Shu Fu (Mr Geely), 5% BYD and more to come.

          • In 2008, in a strategy of one of the worst excesses of corporate greed, Porsche were a “hedge fund that makes a few cars on the side” their profits of $128,000 per car were due to the company going short on VW shares, Vw being a company protected from takeover by acquisition of shares, Porsche came a cropper when they could not satisfy their short selling contracts, VW shares could not be bought at any price,. the market was dry

  36. @ cyclist, upmarket German cars have probably benefited from less competition as companies like Ford have abandoned the executive car market and the death of Rover and SAAB as rivals in Britain and Sweden. Lexus have tried to take on the Germans, but since badge snobs refuse to buy anything as common as a Toyota product, they’ve only had limited success in Europe even if their cars are immaculately built, quite good to drive and very reliable. Still there’s always Jaguar and Volvo for buyers who want something upmarket and less obvious than a BMW.

    • Volvo and Jaguar are out of sight in France and Germany.
      Japanese cars too, even though the Qashqaï had some success.
      Infinity was a failure, Lexus invisible.
      Japanese cars don’t sell.
      The Prius had some success while being quite the only available hybrid car.
      Made in France, Yaris and Micra are sold everywhere but France/Germany/Italy !
      Koreans are not doing that bad, especially with their EVs but sill lack image and network.

      Ford and Opel have abandonned the executive car market because of the image.
      VW had pushed Audi ahead, stopped the Audi 50 and started the VW Polo.
      Why would-you purchase a Granada with the same badge as a Ka ?
      Or a Senator with the same badge as a cross-badged Suzuki ?
      To some extent this what’s happening to Renault, super-strong in the B segment but very weak in the D segment.

    • Lexus “Luxury-EXport-US” by Toyota , the target market was not Europe, the target being the USA, and Lexus achieved, from a standing start, the Lexus took 60% of the target market in the USA. ousting MB S-class and BMW 7-series etc, we Brits have suffered from overpriced cars, without the ring-fencing of the EU we may have had access to Toyota/Honda/Kia/Hyundai cars at prices undercutting EU car makers, of which many when faced with the superior products from Japan and Korea would have gone the way of Rover.

      • Sorry but EU and Korea have free trade agreement, where is the fence ?
        Prices are not that undercutting anyway.
        Maybe Hyundai/Kia lacks image and network.
        They are doing well these days with EVs while Stellantis and VW are just starting, and the Renault Zoe has been touring around since 2013.
        Let’s see with the Megane Electric, 308EV and Opel derivatives, ID3, wether Hyundai/Kia (not speaking Tesla) is still selling.

        • The fence is the fact that EU emissions regulations and fuel taxes favoured the wishes of Eu car makers, taxation which biased buyers towards Eu manufactured diesel cars and away from petrol and petrol-hybrid cars from Asia/Japan. the strategy almost worked, 50% of the cars were diesel fueled but now down to 20% and still sliding

          • The Japanese tried to make diesels, even Subaru had a diesel flat-four. They just were not good enough. Nissan carried-on with the excellent Renault ones but the others let down, Suzuki purchased Renault diesels for a while. Co2 taxation favoured diesels instead of hybrids ? Well you missed the hybrids emission and mpg figures, the diesel maintenance costs, particle filters included. Image again. Honda had an image but their strange design and high price made them disappear from the EU’s landscape, despite brilliant technology and good image. Who would, for example purchase a Mazda, no resale value ! Look at Mistubishi, quite dead. And even if the current RAV4 has more sex-appeal than the previous versions, it’s does not make as much as the 3008/4008/Granland X. And the saloons have totally disappeared (Auris ? Avensis ?) Camry apart – 20 years after it’s back for airport taxi-drivers. The Prius as ever is doing well with taxi fleets.

  37. The UK entered the EEC in 1973 while Greece got in 1981, Spain and Portugal in 1986.

    in 1986 Rootes was out, BL drowned, Honda and Nissan had invested in the UK.
    Peugeot, Renault, Fiat were then as healthy as VW/Audi BMW or Volvo, SAAB was not that bad either.

    Before 1973, what did-we get as cars from the UK, Jaguar/RR/Bentley/Aston taken apart ?
    Some Minis, Imps, Sunbeam Alpine sports cars and Rovers.
    No Minx, no Hunter, quite no Maxi nor landcrab.
    In the sixities very few diesel Oxbridge as taxis – maybe imported from Portugal, who knows ?
    No Pricess 4L R, very few big Farinas, no Austin 3 litre.
    One or two VX4/90s (!), after 1973 the Opel dealers started to distribute a few Victors, it did not last long.

    The Bedford van was incredibly successfull, there was no French competitor (Estafette and HY were old undepowered boxes) and the German competition was Mercedes – very expensive even made in the Spanish former DKW plant.

    Maybe in the 70s the reason was lack of reliability but in the sixties, the cost/value ratio was not there due to taxes.

    In the 90s maybe things changed but in the seventies, no excuse.

  38. @cyclist I remember that the 2008 stopped the buy-out of VW by Porsche – it’s correctly described in the link you provided, but did not know that their earnings were coming from speculation and not cars nor engineering – they always engineered for a lot of companies, Lada, Seat before they became VW subsidiary, even Peugeot to update their 60° V6 with dual variable cams … When you speculate you win and sometimes you lose ! Thanks for the link.

  39. Shame the Insignia is also now being withdrawn. Now that SUVs and Crossovers dominate the market there are few other vehicles remaining that attract me to buy. Bring back the Cavalier MK1 & Cortina MKIV is what I say! PS. But I know that’s not going to happen.

    • @ Hilton D, bring back the Citroen CX, the saloon that looked like a hatch and was one of the most radical cars ever made. When it was axed after 14 years in production, it still looked fantastic and hadn’t aged like many seventies designs..

  40. I confess to being a carmudgeon

    I want my personal items locked behind metal in a boot / trunk with zero access to or from the passenger compartment not sitting under a sheet of glass where every wannabe criminal can see them.
    I also think SUVs are absolutely useless – low profile tyres mean they cannot go off road and the high ride kills aerodynamics on the motorway

    So keep giving me an updated version of the three series diesel that I maxed out at 225 on the autobahn last year and i’m happy the rest of the market can keep trend chasing to their hearts content

  41. Hear Hear… I also prefer the 4 door saloon or 5 door Hatch designs of the 80’s to nowadays. Saloon derived Coupe’s are also my favourites. SUV’s and Crossovers just don’t appeal to me so I must be getting old!

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