The sporty hatchback has been around for nearly 50 years – many experts date its production genesis back to the MGB-GT of 1965. But its American market primacy likely peaked in the mid-1980s, when the body configuration accounted for nearly 40 percent of new vehicle sales. It's pretty much been in popular local decline since then.
Yet as Americans begin paying attention to issues like fuel economy, practicality, and the efficient use of space, hatches are gaining in popularity once again. But these vehicles aren't the punishing forms of debtors' prison they once were. They're increasingly the most interesting and innovative segment of the market. To prove this, we've selected nine of the latest lift-back models, each of which fits squarely in the category but busts out of the, ahem, box in unusual ways.
Honda FCEV Concept
Honda has shown an admirably tenacious commitment to the alternative propulsion system known as the fuel cell. These magical motors run on compressed liquefied hydrogen, which is harnessed from the air and release nothing from their tailpipes but a bit of water vapor. (Of course, the hydrogen-separation process requires energy, though it could be powered by clean energy such as solar or wind.) This latest concept is shaped like the offspring of an ibuprofen caplet, a ceramic wok, and an open Leatherman tool, but we dig its radical design language. Honda's concept cars tend to come to production nearly unchanged, so we look forward to seeing this soon at the local compressed liquefied-hydrogen fueling station. [honda.com]