Ford Bronco Sends a Message About the Future of Hot Hatchbacks

In the 1970s and 1980s, the hot hatchback market was on fire. The VW Golf, Ford Escort RS, and Toyota Tercel were economical small vehicles stuffed with horsepower. In a country that was recovering from oil embargoes and newly enacted clean-air restrictions, many people transitioned from land barges to the smaller rides. Over time, however, those two-door powerhouse hatchbacks mostly disappeared. But, the Ford Bronco is a new vehicle that makes a return to the two-door formula. Does this signal a new exploration of modern hot hatchbacks, but in crossover or SUV form?

The Ford Bronco was launched as a two-door

The 2021 Ford Bronco two door model, which is set to compete against the Jeep Wrangler
The 2021 Ford Bronco | Ford

First, let’s state the obvious. The Ford Bronco is not a hatchback. It has a tailgate and a liftgate. The new SUV is also based on the Ranger platform, not a small economical hatchback runabout from decades past. Finally, the legendary model is also not likely to achieve the 35 or more mpg that the small cars or yesteryear did. 

All that being said, the Bronco is an unusual launch. The majority of vehicles out in the market today are four-door models. Yet, the consumer’s desire for small hatchbacks has faded in the United States. So, those cars have too. But, Ford’s new off-roader is being launched directly at that two-door segment. It’s easy to see that this action is to link to the nostalgia of the original Bronco of the 1960s, which were two-door models. But, could it also be Ford’s attempt to try the waters of the two-door crossover and SUV market?

The two-door Hyundai Tucson

I thought I was alone in that thinking. I thought the new two-door Bronco would eventually fade away after a few flash-in-the-pan years. Four-doors is the way the market is right now, right? Even Jeep Wrangler sales are stronger on the four-door model. Or, was I thinking incorrectly about the four-door preference of consumers? Then, our friends over X-Tomi Design created a rendering of a two-door hatchback-like Hyundai Tucson. And,… the rendering is stunning.

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The rendering looks like a modern interpretation of a hot hatchback. However, it is clearly not a small car. Instead, it is the Hyundai crossover with the rear two doors absent. It has the design language of the new Tucson flowing well through the shortened platform. It’s not a convertible, like the new Ford Bronco or the Jeep Wrangler. But, the design is strong enough that it would stand on its own.

The shape in the rendering is very reminiscent of the hot hatches of times gone by, yet more smoothly executed. Not everybody is going to like a boxy shape like the Bronco and Wrangler. The more aerodynamic shape of the Tucson in two-door form, as depicted in this rendering, may be the modern alternative of a small and sporty hatchback vehicle, but in crossover form.

The Ford Bronco will determine if a two-door Hyundai Tucson has a shot at reality

A white two-door hatchback sits on a paved lot
1976 Volkswagen Golf GTI Mk I | Volkwagen

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Here’s the reality. An informal Twitter survey in August said 38.2 percent of reservations for the Bronco are for the two-door model. But, that Twitter account has now been suspended. So, who knows if that was valid or not. Even if true, it will still take a couple of years of sales to see if that two-door percentage will hold.

In the meantime, other manufacturers will probably watch Ford’s entry in the two-door segment to see if there is sustainable success. If so, then maybe another manufacturer will venture into the foray. But, don’t hold any breath. Alas, between now and then, the Ford Bronco and Jeep Wrangler will hold the majority of the two-door segment’s sales, with Mini and the Fiat 500 far behind and. Sadly, memories of the Honda CRX, Shelby Omni GLH, and Mazda GLC will be just that, memories that continue to fade.