It’s weird to think of a hatchback being driven by anything else other than the front wheels.
On the other hand, it is pretty rare to find a hatchback that is powered by the rear wheels unless its a custom-made creation. Does a certain rear-wheel-drive Toyota Auris come to mind?
BMW has been perfecting the art of RWD hatch’s for some time with the 1 Series, while Renault also had a go with the uber cool Clio V6.
The idea of a RWD hatch is pretty cool in theory but its not the case from a design and mechanical point of view.
Factors to consider
One of the main reasons why a RWD hatch isn’t feasible is because of space constraints. Taking into account all mechanical intricacies involved, it takes up more interior space than a FWD. When he was still with Top Gear, Jeremy Clarkson did a comparison between the 135i hatchback and the GTI and the 135 didn’t have the space the GTI did.
Everything from centre console to legroom space has to shrink in an already small body. From a performance perspective though it makes complete sense but other than that it is not really beneficial. The VW Golf GTI is front wheel driven but no one can fault its performance.
Leave RWD to sedans
Yes there are other models like the 200SX and Trueno that people also put in the hatch category but they lean more to being coupe sedans. Renault also tried their hand in the RWD hatch arena with the venerable Clio V6 and what a creation it was.
To give an indication that RWD hatchbacks are no longer, BMW is making the latest F20 1 Series a front-wheel-drive. Yes it won’t put power down to the ground in the same way as a RWD would but you have the 3 or 5 Series to do that.
The recipe of FWD hatchbacks is one that works and RWD configurations should be left to the sedans.