The Truth About Cars » Hatchbacks http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. Thu, 17 Apr 2014 19:32:20 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.8.1 The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. The Truth About Cars no The Truth About Cars editors@ttac.com editors@ttac.com (The Truth About Cars) 2006-2009 The Truth About Cars The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. The Truth About Cars » Hatchbacks http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/wp-content/themes/ttac-theme/images/logo.gif http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com Datsun to Unveil Concept at 2014 Delhi Auto Expo http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/01/datsun-to-unveil-concept-at-2014-delhi-auto-expo/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/01/datsun-to-unveil-concept-at-2014-delhi-auto-expo/#comments Thu, 23 Jan 2014 16:32:14 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=706482 Datsun Concept India

Should you happen to be in India two weeks from now, Datsun will unveil the above concept at the 2014 Delhi Auto Expo during a conference held by the offshoot automaker.

The concept heralds a possible expansion of Datsun’s current lineup, aimed at the young customers in South Africa, Russia, India and other high-growth markets. The concept appears to be a three-door hatch slotted just below the Go five-door supermini, with the Go+ MPV completing the future trio.

As far as production is concerned, the hatch will be underpinned by Renault-Nissan’s Compact Module Family platform. The flexible platform is expected to support up to 14 vehicles within the Franco-Japanese alliance’s complete range.

The concept will debut at Datsun’s press conference February 5.

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Volkswagen up! With Hybrids in LA, Tokyo http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/11/volkswagen-up-with-hybrids-in-la-tokyo/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/11/volkswagen-up-with-hybrids-in-la-tokyo/#comments Fri, 08 Nov 2013 10:00:54 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=645418 VW Twin up

For anyone who admires the Volkswagen XL1 attributes but desires a less Teutonic, more cute vehicle, the fun will be doubled when the Twin up! debuts at both the LA and Tokyo auto shows later this month.

The near-production-ready hatchback — alongside the all-electric e-up! — will come down the ramps at both shows with help from the XL1′s diesel-electric hybrid drivetrain. Modified for the the Twin up!, the setup returns a claimed 256.8 mpg while putting just 27 g of carbon dioxide into the air per kilometer traveled; electric-only mode drops the range to a city-only 31 miles.

Unlike the XL1, the Twin up! is a heavyweight at 1205 kg. Thus, the XL1′s 800 cc two-pot turbodiesel is paired with a more powerfurl electric motor for double the horsepower; 47 from the engine, 47 from the motor, the latter receiving its go-go juice from the 8.6 kWh lithium-ion battery mounted in nearly the same manner as a Ferrari 458. The little ponies are then unleashed upon the city streets through the front wheels through a seven-speed dual-clutch transmission.

If you were hoping to do some time traveling, you’ll still need a DeLorean. The Twin up!’s top speed is limited to 87 mph, with a slow sprint to 60 mph of around 15 seconds, and only in hybrid mode.

As for when you might see the Twin up! parked next to a turbonium-powered New Beetle, Volkswagen remains mum on the subject for the time being.

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Review: 2012 Fiat 500 Abarth – Take Two http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/07/review-2012-fiat-500-abarth-take-two/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/07/review-2012-fiat-500-abarth-take-two/#comments Fri, 20 Jul 2012 14:23:51 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=451893  

Abarth was founded in 1952 as a “one-stop-shop” for Fiat performance gear. What does that have to do with the 2012 Fiat 500 Abarth? Nothing. Seriously. In 1971 Abarth was purchased by Fiat, by the 1990s the “brand” had deteriorated to a trim level on questionable hatchbacks and by 2000 it was “dead trim walking.” In 2007 Fiat decided they needed a performance brand once again and resurrected Abarth with the inexplicably named “Fiat Grande Punto Abarth” and (more importantly) a complete line of clothing and accessories. Despite the apparent soft start for the brand in the Euro-zone, Fiat tells us they held nothing back for the launch of Abarth in North America. Our own tame racing driver Jack took the Abarth for a spin on the track back in March but this time we’re pitting Italy’s hot hatch against a bigger challenge: the daily commute.

Click here to view the embedded video.

Unlike the Mercedes takeover merger with Chrysler last century, the Fiat/Chrysler tie-up seems to be bearing some interesting fruit. No, I’m not talking about Chrysler’s use of MultiAir in the Dart, or the cozy relationship with ZF Friedrichshafen AG (ZF transmissions), I’m talking about Fiat getting Chrysler’s engineers involved in Fiat designs. Say what? You heard that right, the North American Abarth is not the same car as the Euro model and we can thank Chrysler. Because Fiat knew there had to be some changes for North American consumption, they told the SRT group to think outside the “Americanization” box. The result is an Abarth that borrows heavily from the Euro model but has some significant improvements. Yes, improvements.

Exterior

With just over 40,000 Fiat 500s of any description driving around on our shores, the design is unique enough to cause traffic to slow and heads to turn. As you would expect, there are plenty of go-fast tweaks on the outside of the small Italian. Out back we get a larger spoiler, ginormous dual-exhaust tips, rear diffuser and a different bumper cover. Up front the changes are more pronounced. In order to make the engine and intercoolers fit, Fiat stretched the nose of the 500 by 2.7 inches. The result of the rhinoplasty is a peculiar “trouty mouth” side profile caused by the hood stamping remaining the same. Despite this faux pas fopah (I kid, I kid), the rest of the 500′s sheetmetal is cohesive and attractive, in a way the MINI Coupé can only dream of. Rounding out the sport treatment is a 15mm reduced ride height with unique 16-inch wheels standard, and optional 17-inch wheels (the 17s are wrapped in low-profile performance rubber.)

Interior

Fiat and the SRT team tweaked the interior for Abarth duty, but the basics of the base 500′s $15,500 interior are still here. That being said, all the touch surfaces in the Abarth are close to haptic perfection with one of the best steering wheels and shift knobs available in a vehicle under $40,000. I should point out that the Abarth’s most logical competition comes from MINI, a brand known for blending expensive switchgear and steering wheels with cheesy headliners and carpet. With the Abarth’s interior bits only a notch below MINI, the decidedly lower sticker price forgives just about everything in my mind. When it comes to hauling luggage, the 500 somehow trumps the MINI Cooper with 9.5 cubic feet of cargo space with the seats in place and 26.8 with them folded (vs 5.7 / 24 cubic feet in the Cooper.)

Not all is perfect inside. The American Abarth gets unique front seats that are (oddly enough) more heavily bolstered than the standard Euro seats, but the distinct lack of lumbar support made them uncomfortable for my average sized 6-foot 180lb frame. While the Euro Abarth has optional Recaro-themed sport seats and plenty of after market alternatives, American buyers have somewhat limited options if they choose to replace the seats. This is important if you intend to track you Abarth and need to install a 5-point harness. Still, I keep returning to price. Mini’s JCW seats aren’t more comfortable, and since the Abarth is considerably cheaper, you can more easily afford to fix this deficiency. Like the regular 500, the rear seats are small, but thanks to the 500′s roof profile and the shape of the rear “foot-wells”, it is entirely possible to fit four 6-foot tall adults in the 500.

Infotainment

Like base 500 models, all Abarths are equipped with “Blue & Me.” This system combines Bluetooth integration and rudimentary voice commands. If you were expecting SYNC-like iDevice or USB control, you’ll be disappointed with the 2007-era interface. It’s too complicated to explain in print, so if you’d like to know more, check out our TTAC Quick Clips video of the base 500C. Also standard on the Abarth is Fiat’s seven speaker Bose audio system which uses a compact subwoofer under the passenger seat. Sound quality is excellent, not just for the price class the Abarth plays in, but for vehicles twice the Abarth’s $22,000 base price ($25,000 as equipped.) While the audio system’s balance is very good, with such a small driver in the sub, if you are into big bass, install your own beatbox.

Because 6 years is an eternity in the electronics world, you can’t get a fancy integrated navigation system like MINI (and just about everyone else) offers. Fiat’s solution to this problem is an oddly integrated TomTom navigation unit. I say oddly integrated both in terms of the look of the odd dashboard “docking connector” (checkout the video above for more information) as well as the unique way it integrates with the vehicle. Yep, that’s right it integrates with the car in a way your Garmin won’t. Once you pair the TomTom (with the custom Blue & Me software installed) to the 500 you can use the steering wheel buttons to command the TomTom. In addition to remote controls the TomTom will also display trip computer and media player information. While this approach is novel, it is also seriously kludgy.

Drivetrain

As with the rest of the 500, the engine isn’t an Italian transplant. Say what? The 1.4L four-clinder turbo engine is built in Michigan. Building a new assembly line in Michigan afforded Fiat the opportunity to make some improvements under the hood. While the basics remain the same with twin intercoolers and MultiAir VVT on tap, the IHI turbo has been swapped for a larger Garrett GT1446 that bumps performance in an important way. Power increases to 160HP from 158 and peaks at a lower 5,500RPM instead of 5,750. The big deal is the torque curve which drops from a sharpish peak at 3,000RPM to a 170lb-ft plateau that stretches from 2,500-4,000RPM (150lb-ft when not in “sport” mode). Thanks to the MultiAir system, the turbo’s 18psi (maximum) of boost can still be enjoyed with 87 octane gasoline (although Fiat is quick to remind us that 91 is recommended if you plan on tracking your Abarth or running in hot climates.) In an interesting nod to performance junkies (as well as those that want their turbo to last a lifetime) Fiat incorporates an “after run” electric water pump to cool the turbo after the car is shut off. Sadly Fiat missed the opportunity to add an extra cog to the 500′s transmission, instead using a heavy-duty version of the same 5-speed manual as the regular 500. Unlike the Euro Abarth models, there is no “automated” version available so working knowledge of a clutch pedal is required.

Drive

The Abarth is a flat-out blast to drive. This is not only thanks to the 60% increase in power and 70% increase in torque, but also to the low-profile tires, 40% stiffer springs, and lowered chassis.The Abarth may look like a tall vehicle, but with a curb weight of only 2,512lbs “chuckable” is the best way to describe the handling. As you would expect, Fiat tossed in a quicker 15.1:1 steering ratio and tweaked the power assist for a sportier feel. While the ratio is “no big deal” to me, the tweaked electric power steering is more important. It is still numb, but hints of feedback can now be felt through the tiller. Despite having a less fancy “elegant” suspension setup than the MINI, the little Italian is remarkably planted on poorly paved mountain roads inspiring an unexpected level of confidence.

While all these changes make the Abarth an absolute blast in the corners, they take a serious toll on ride quality for your daily commute. Unless you live in some hitherto-unknown pavement-nirvana, potholes and broken pavement are a way of life in the “land of the free.” After a week with the Abarth, I may still have had a smile on my face, but my back and kidneys had a different opinion. That being said, the Abarth is no harsher than the MINI JCW models and actually handles broken pavement with more finesse.

I’ve saved the final change made for our market for last: the exhaust note. This is perhaps the most controversial facet of the Abarth, since Fiat tuned the system to be louder than the Euro hatch. I found the drone on a long highway commute to be annoying, but passengers and our Facebook fans thought it was pure sex. Go figure.

Much like the MINI competition, straight-line performance isn’t what the Abarth is about. As you would expect with 0nly 160 horses under the hood, the Abarth scooted to 60 in just over 7 seconds. With the right driver I have little doubt a further two tenths could be cut from the time, but managing front wheel spin and traction would be essential to reducing your time. To deal with the increased weight of the North American Abarth, the SRT team cranked up the front camber to a -1.5 degrees up front. Thankfully for those interested in tire life beyond 5,000 miles Fiat has an alignment spec which allows for a decent amount of personal preference.

The Abarth is destined to make Fiat fans very happy. It’s also destined to give MINI shoppers that are willing to look at another brand a serious dilemma: is a comparable MINI worth an $8,000-$10,000 premium? Being the cheap bastard that I am, my answer is no. Consider that the MINI Cooper S scoots to 60 in 6.6 but doesn’t handle quite as well, and the MINI JCW models may get to 60 faster and handle as well as the Abarth, but they cost nearly 50% more. While I find the Abarth just a bit to extreme for my soft-suspension-loving backside, the 2012 Fiat 500 Abarth is one hot little hatch. Fiat: you have my number, call me when you stuff this engine into the 500c with some softer springs.

 

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Fiat provided the vehicle, one tank of gas, and insurance for this review

Specifications as tested

0-30: 2.63 Seconds

0-60: 7.05 Seconds (6.8 sounds plausible with a professional driver)

1/4 Mile: 15.3 Seconds @ 91 MPH

Average Fuel Economy: 26.71  MPG over 541 miles

 

2012 Fiat 500 Abarth, Exterior 3/4, Photography courtesy of  Alex L. Dykes 2012 Fiat 500 Abarth, Exterior side, Photography courtesy of  Alex L. Dykes 2012 Fiat 500 Abarth, Exterior side, Photography courtesy of  Alex L. Dykes 2012 Fiat 500 Abarth, Exterior front side, Photography courtesy of  Alex L. Dykes 2012 Fiat 500 Abarth, Exterior rear 3/4, Photography courtesy of  Alex L. Dykes 2012 Fiat 500 Abarth, Exterior rear, Photography courtesy of  Alex L. Dykes 2012 Fiat 500 Abarth, Exterior front, Photography courtesy of  Alex L. Dykes 2012 Fiat 500 Abarth, Exterior front, Photography courtesy of  Alex L. Dykes 2012 Fiat 500 Abarth, Exterior wheel, Photography courtesy of  Alex L. Dykes 2012 Fiat 500 Abarth, Exterior grille, Photography courtesy of  Alex L. Dykes 2012 Fiat 500 Abarth, Interior, gauges, Photography courtesy of  Alex L. Dykes 2012 Fiat 500 Abarth, Interior, dashboard, Photography courtesy of  Alex L. Dykes 2012 Fiat 500 Abarth, Interior, shifter and HVAC, Photography courtesy of  Alex L. Dykes 2012 Fiat 500 Abarth, Interior, shifter and HVAC, Photography courtesy of  Alex L. Dykes 2012 Fiat 500 Abarth, Interior, shifter, Photography courtesy of  Alex L. Dykes 2012 Fiat 500 Abarth, Interior, steering wheel, Photography courtesy of  Alex L. Dykes 2012 Fiat 500 Abarth, Interior, steering wheel, Photography courtesy of  Alex L. Dykes 2012 Fiat 500 Abarth, Interior, driver's side dashboard, Photography courtesy of  Alex L. Dykes 2012 Fiat 500 Abarth, Interior, dashboard, Photography courtesy of  Alex L. Dykes 2012 Fiat 500 Abarth, Interior, rear seats, Photography courtesy of  Alex L. Dykes 2012 Fiat 500 Abarth, Interior, rear seats, Photography courtesy of  Alex L. Dykes 2012 Fiat 500 Abarth, Interior, cargo area, Photography courtesy of  Alex L. Dykes 2012 Fiat 500 Abarth, Interior, cargo area, Photography courtesy of  Alex L. Dykes 2012 Fiat 500 Abarth, Interior, cargo area, Photography courtesy of  Alex L. Dykes 2012 Fiat 500 Abarth MultiAir Turbo engine, photo courtesy of Chrysler North America 2012 Fiat 500 Abarth MultiAir Turbo engine, photo courtesy of Chrysler North America 2012 Fiat 500 Abarth TomTom Nav unit, photography courtesy of Alex L. Dykes Zemanta Related Posts Thumbnail ]]>
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Kia Procee’ds With New Cee’d. Puns Are Not Our Forte. http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/02/kia-proceeds-with-new-ceed-puns-are-not-our-forte/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/02/kia-proceeds-with-new-ceed-puns-are-not-our-forte/#comments Wed, 15 Feb 2012 22:04:28 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=431045

The new Kia Cee’d may have a stupid name, but everything else about the car looks pretty attractive. Well, maybe not the grille. They also refrained from releasing any specs at all alongside these photos, so you’ll have to wait until March’s Auto Show to get the scoop. The Forte is a little dated by now, to the point where it’s hard to justify buying one over a Rio, let alone an Elantra – how about it, Kia?

Press release and gallery below

 

012012kiaceedoff Zemanta Related Posts Thumbnail 2013 Kia Cee'd. Photo courtesy Kia. 022012kiaceedoff 032012kiaceedoff 042012kiaceedoff

 

 

 

(15/02/12) — Kia’s all-European cee’d stunned audiences when it was revealed at the Geneva Motor Show just six years ago and at Geneva this year the all-new version is set to repeat that feat thanks to its elegant lines – heralding an even more successful future for the company’s bed-rock C-segment model.

Combining dynamic, sophisticated styling with maturity and prestige, the all-new cee’d five-door hatchback the new cee’d is longer, wider and lower than its predecessor, with the same long wheelbase. The elegant simplicity of its coupe-like proportions is emphasised by a steeply raked A-pillar, a very low belt-line in the front and lengthened side windows.

The front of the new cee’d is dominated by the latest interpretation of Kia’s trademark ‘tiger-nose’ grille and aggressive, wraparound headlamp clusters housing signature LED daytime running lights.

Wide track and solid stance
In profile the pronounced front and rear wings emphasise the car’s wide track and solid stance whilst above the taut, strongly sculpted door surfaces, the steeply raked A-pillar, sweeping roofline and integral rear spoiler accentuate the sporting aesthetics of the new model’s generous glasshouse.

The entire exterior is accented by numerous small yet highly significant detail touches which add to the prestige and premium feel of the new cee’d without detracting from the purity and elegance of the overall design.

These include a new, bolder, more sophisticated Kia badge, the indicator blade protrusion in the front headlamps, the Kia-signature windscreen head castellations, the chrome side glazing surround and the cee’d-unique, aerodynamic shaping of the tail lamp which extends into the adjacent bodywork.

New premium interior
The new cee’d features a completely new interior hallmarked by a more premium look and feel, higher perceived quality, improved switchgear, touch-screen technology and enhanced driving position ergonomics.

The dashboard layout features a cockpit-like design with an aircraft-themed, driver-oriented fascia. The main control panel wraps around the steering wheel, placing all switchgear within easy reach of the driver, and the main control groups such as audio and air-conditioning have been segregated to bring a more premium, luxurious, big car feel to the interior.

Carefully considered precision detailing gives the cabin a more prestigious look and feel than that of the current generation model. Soft touch materials add a new tactility to the driving environment. Instruments and switchgear are picked out in very thin chrome, the door handles are built up in a layered sandwich of high quality materials and the door opener itself has a sculpted, one-piece, shell-like quality reflecting the premium values of the new interior design.

 

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Will GM Bring Us A Diesel, Manual Station Wagon? http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/01/will-gm-bring-us-a-diesel-manual-station-wagon/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/01/will-gm-bring-us-a-diesel-manual-station-wagon/#comments Fri, 27 Jan 2012 18:00:16 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=428309

The Chevrolet Cruze hatchback that’s sold in virtually every market except the United States still won’t be coming to America – but we may have the chance to get a Cruze wagon, if Automotive News has their story straight.

GM is apparently working on a Cruze wagon, essentially a stretched version of the already attractive Cruze hatch. Yes, general wisdom says that Americans don’t buy hatches. But the Ford Focus, Hyundai Elantra Touring (which debuts next month), Volkswagen Golf, Kia Forte5, Toyota Matrix and Mazda3 all exist – why not something from the bowtie brand? As AN notes, the Cruze did very well in 2011′s sales charts and all of the volume was composed of 4-door sedans. Surely a Cruze 5-door would add something to the mix? Canada, a strong market for the Cruze, and hatches in general, would gobble this thing up. A Cruze Eco hatch with a 6-speed stick would be a fantastic way to get around in my books. Or what about the prospect of a wagon version of the Cruze diesel? Let’s not get too ahead of ourselves here…

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Junkyard Find: 1973 Chevrolet Nova Hatchback http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2011/07/junkyard-find-1973-chevrolet-nova-hatchback/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2011/07/junkyard-find-1973-chevrolet-nova-hatchback/#comments Tue, 12 Jul 2011 13:00:01 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=402295
Remember the early Nova hatchbacks? They didn’t sell very well, probably because the hatch cost $150 more ($810 in 2011 dollars) than the Nova coupe with a traditional trunk. I can’t remember the last time I saw one, and I wouldn’t have noticed this one in my local self-service yard, had it not been for the sharp eyes of the Tetanus Neon LeMons team co-captains, visiting Denver from Houston and stopping at the junkyard on their way to the airport for some Neon throttle-body shopping.

This car, while reasonably rust-free, is probably too beat to have been worth restoring; while the Nova hatches of this era are rare, they aren’t worth enough to warrant pouring lots of money into a project car.

The 307 small-block-Chevy was the standard V8 available with the ’73 Nova, although there’s no telling how many engine swaps this car endured during its nearly four decades on the road.

This car was surrounded by a moat of icky, oily mud (Denver is in the grip of an unseasonably wet and humid July), so I wasn’t motivated to climb into (or under) the car and check for the presence of a Powerglide transmission. ’73 was the last year of the ol’ two-speed automatic in the Nova, which would make a Powerglide-equipped hatchback an interesting mix of 1950s transmission and 1980s body style.

DOTJ-72NovaHatch-14 DOTJ-72NovaHatch-01 DOTJ-72NovaHatch-02 DOTJ-72NovaHatch-03 DOTJ-72NovaHatch-04 DOTJ-72NovaHatch-05 DOTJ-72NovaHatch-06 DOTJ-72NovaHatch-07 DOTJ-72NovaHatch-08 DOTJ-72NovaHatch-09 DOTJ-72NovaHatch-10 DOTJ-72NovaHatch-11 DOTJ-72NovaHatch-12 DOTJ-72NovaHatch-13 Zemanta Related Posts Thumbnail ]]>
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June Sales: Subcompacts And Small Hatches http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2010/07/june-sales-subcompacts-and-small-hatches/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2010/07/june-sales-subcompacts-and-small-hatches/#comments Thu, 08 Jul 2010 15:50:44 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=360538

Kia’s Soul didn’t have the most electrifying launch sales-wise, but with the release of its second buzz-worthy ad, the funky little box is becoming a major player in our A/B/Small Hatch segment. The Nissan Versa is clearly the dominant player here, selling nearly twice as well as the Soul. Meanwhile, there’s a tight pack of offerings that have moved at least 20k units this year, that ranges from the aged HHR to the MINI Cooper. Look for a big shake-up in this segment once Ford’s Fiesta production hits high gear.

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January Sales Snapshot: Selected Small Hatchbacks http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2010/02/january-sales-snapshot-selected-small-hatchbacks/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2010/02/january-sales-snapshot-selected-small-hatchbacks/#comments Mon, 08 Feb 2010 21:55:56 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=344644

As we’ve noted before, there are lots of ways to skin a segment. Here’s one of them. Notice that four of the top five sellers here are also available as sedans, the Honda Fit being the only exception. Interestingly, compact hatches tend to carry a premium over their sedan variants.

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