BOOTS AND ALL

Peugeot 308 sedan is built exclusively for the all-important Chinese market

Peugeot 308 sedan is built exclusively for the all-important Chinese market.

I’ve written on more than one occasion about the endless compromises that rule the lives of all involved in car design. These poor guys and gals are forever juggling cost, weight, safety, ease of repair, environmental considerations and many other factors. Not to mention that old ogre of time, of which there never seems to be enough.

Another compromise that has been intriguing me lately is in an area some may consider mundane – sedan boots. Mundane, that is until you have to use one and discover that loading stuff is not as easy as it used to be.

Modern design is seeing the back of the car being raised for improved aerodynamics. At the same time the rear window is being pushed ever further backwards, partly, again, to smooth out the airflow, but also because stylists dictate that this is the latest trend. And heaven help anyone who doesn’t follow the dictates of fashion.

Taller rear ends make for deeper boots, which is good. But that short tail means the bootlid is getting smaller in each new generation, which is not so good. We are reaching the silly situation where boots have a larger volume than every before, but the size of the largest box that can be inserted through the opening is becoming smaller. Try to load a moderate sized TV in a box as I did recently and you may find it’s just not on (or should that be not in!).

It’s even becoming difficult to get a couple of large suitcases in some of today’s boots. Same story, there’s plenty of room for them, but they won’t slot through the opening. Back in the olden days, upmarket car makers sometimes developed special luggage that fitted neatly into the available space. Is that an idea that’s due for a revival?

Okay, hatchbacks are easier to load than sedans, but not everyone wants a hatch. Personal taste is part of this and there’s the fact that a hatch body isn’t as strong as that of a sedan. That’s because there’s no metal below the windscreen of a hatch as there is in a sedan.

Our friends on the other side of the Pacific aren’t keen on hatchbacks. Not sure why, but the Americans much prefer four-door cars to five-door ones. Seems the Chinese have similar tastes, Peugeot has just sent us some photos of a 308 sedan that has been specifically developed for that market, and which will be unique to it.

Anyhow, make sure you check the boot of a sedan you’re considering as part of your pre-purchase inspection.

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