Shatchbacks VI: Hatchbacks Under Siege

Can it really be five months since the last Shatchback update? OK, there was an impromptu spotting frenzy in Lisbon back in the summer, but PetrolBlog has been lax in getting more booted horrors on to the hall of fame. So without further ado, I give you Shatchbacks VI: Hatchbacks Under Siege. With grateful thanks to @jeckythump for the inspired title.

Believe it or not, there are a dozen Shatchbacks waiting in the wings, so deciding on the four for this instalment was rather tricky. But rest assured, if it doesn’t make the cut this time, it’ll be gracing your screens very soon.

Fiat Albea – @JWinstanley

Fiat Albea - Shatchback on PetrolBlog

James Winstanley likes nothing more than cutting short family holidays or taking time out of his busy schedule to spot Shatchbacks. You may remember back in Shatchbacks III that James risked the wrath of his better half to go off gallivanting in search of a SEAT Cordoba? Well now he’s gone one better and has employed an intrepid crew of spotters to sniff those Shatchback truffles.

Chris Hooper found this LPG-fuelled Fiat Albea sat in a field somewhere in the UK. What’s that? You’ve never heard of the Fiat Albea? Come to think of it, neither had I, but a quick trawl around the interweb revealed that these things are made in Turkey and are based on the equally hideous Fiat Palio. Amazingly, the original design was penned by none other than Giorgetto Giugiaro, Whoever said he did his best work in the ’60s and ’70s was quite clearly out of their mind. The Albea is a prime example of what can be done with two arms tied behind your back, a blindfold and the greatest hits of the Cheeky Girls pumped through your headphones. We should be saluting Mr Giugiaro.

But perhaps we shouldn’t be too hard on the Albea. It is after all an example of a Shatchback that looks better than its hatchback counterpart. Sure, ‘better’ is a relative term, but credit where credit’s due. I’m also slightly encouraged by the marketing speak that can be found on the Albea’s website.

A car to introduce you to new emotions, like visiting a new country, meeting new people, falling in love. New Fiat Albea is new inside and out, from external design to its interiors to safety equipment.

And there was me thinking that it introduced us to new emotions like sheer panic, mild hysteria and complete hatred. I clearly had it all wrong.

Mazda 323 saloon – @RetroandClassic

Mazda 323 saloon - Shatchback on PetrolBlog

I’m amazed that we managed to get to the fifth instalment of Shatchbacks without mentioning the Mazda 323. In hatchback form at least, I’ve always held a mild fondness for the car. The third generation from the late ’70s looks ripe for some retro rear-wheel-drive fun and the 323F remains a rather pretty little car, assuming it has been left alone by the modding brigade. We must also pay hommage to the fourth generation which gave birth to the PetrolBlog favourite, the Sao Penza.

But when it comes to the 323 saloon, I’m afraid I have little affection or fondness. If there’s ever been a car so uninspired, so lacking in any redeeming features and most likely to ruin an otherwise cheery mood, then I’m yet to see it. At least with some Shatchbacks, you can almost admire the sheer ridiculous and ugliness of the thing. But not with the Mazda 323 saloon. In fact, I really can’t think of what to say about it.

So instead, I’ll give you some facts about American peanut butter. Did you know that there are enough peanuts in a one acre field to make 30,000 peanut butter sandwiches? Also, a gentleman called Tom Miller pushed a peanut to the top of Pike’s Peak using his nose? It took him nearly five days. He’s clearly a man who’s looking forward to National Peanut Butter Lover’s month in November. Finally, Arachibutyrophobia is the fear of getting peanut butter stuck to the roof of your mouth. Amazing.

Right, back to the Shatchbacks.

Citroën C Elysée – @mhayward1990

Citroën Elysée Shatchback on PetrolBlog

It’s a question that I’m often asked. What would happen if you took all the best bits from the Citroën ZX, Xsara and Saxo and created a new car? You’d like to think that it would create a practical, economic and fun to drive compact car.

A similar question was obviously posed to the Dongfeng Peugeot-Citroën Automobile company but rather than focusing on the best bits, they instead chose a more radical approach and concentrated solely on the worst bits. The result is the Citroën C Elysée.

On the face of it, the name sounds so promising. When said in a French accent, the name brings to mind images of Parisien cafés, walks along the banks of the Seine and beautiful French women. Sadly, once you’ve set eyes on the car, such images are instantly erased from your mind. But the name is the least of the C Elysée’s problems. Whichever way you look at it, even taking into account the recent facelift, this is a real mongrel. The front and rear look totally out of keeping with the area between the A and C pillar. It just looks wrong. Yes, it’s an improvement on the original Elysée, but that’s a little like saying that one half of Jedward is mildly less irritating than the other.

No, the Elysée is not for me. Give me an original ZX Volcane any day of the week.

Chevrolet Classic – @polodrivercom

Chevrolet Classic Shatchback on PetrolBlog

Just making the cut for this instalment, I give you the Chevrolet Classic. Seemingly without any sense of irony, Chevrolet has given this Brazilian rehash of an early ’90s Vauxhall Corsa the title of ‘Classic’. Now this is already a ridiculously overused word as it is. Just look at the classic car section on eBay Motors to get some idea what people pass off as classic these days. A rough dictionary definition of classic would be along the lines of being of the highest quality or standard. I really can’t see the little Chevrolet fitting nicely into this.

It did have a mild facelift in 2010 which managed to make it look less like a Corsa and more like a Chevrolet, but the fact remains – the rear end is atrocious. In fact, the Chevrolet Classic represents all that is bad about Shatchbacks. It started off as something different, was punched and kicked until it fell into shape and has a stupid, stubby box on the back that’s totally out of keeping with the rest of the car. Classic Shatchback. So perhaps the naming strategy was right all along?

And with that moment of inspiration I’m afraid that’s it for episode five – thanks for the nominations. If you’ve previously made suggestions for future updates, don’t worry, they haven’t been forgotten. I just worry that if I unleash too many at once, I could end up breaking the internet. Or something.

Look out for Shatchbacks VII: Citizens On Petrol. Coming soon to an internet near you. Certificate 18. Contains mild horror.

Albea image courtesy of Chris Hooper; 323 image courtesy of Caralynn; Elysée image courtesy of Matthew Hayward; Chevrolet image courtesy of PoloDriver. Thanks also to the National Peanut Board for the peanut facts.

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Gavin Big-Surname
The chief waffler and founder of PetrolBlog in 2010. Has a rather unhealthy obsession with cars from the 80s and 90s, and is on a one-man mission to collect the cars nobody else wants. Also likes tea and Hobnobs.


  1. September 21, 2011

    Congratulations on your 200th blog post! I’m nearing my 200th comment one of these days 😉

    • September 22, 2011

      Ha! Rather embarrassingly, I’ve just discovered that this was number 199. Oh dear – need to think of something suitable for 200 now…


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