Liftback

Liftback

[lift-bak]

A liftback is a car body style in which the cargo space (boot) is accessed through a tailgate that extends up to the higher end of the C-pillar and includes the rear window. Liftbacks have either fastback-like rear ends, which are significantly sloped compared to more vertical hatchbacks, or are notchback-shaped. A good example of a "fastback-shaped" liftback is the 5-door Ford Mondeo, while the Daihatsu Applause is a prominent "notchback-shaped" liftback.

The term "liftback" was popularized and perhaps even created by automobile manufacturers marketing when automotive body styles evolved and new models, whose trunk cover would open along with the windshield, were introduced. This would not only enhance practicality compared to sedans, but also allow for better aerodynamic performance (reduced drag coefficient) compared to notchbacks. To emphasize this, the name "liftback" was applied.

Although first liftbacks, like the Toyota Corolla E-55, were mostly 3-doors, the vast majority of current liftbacks are 5-doors. Rarely, automakers introduce a 3-door version of the 5-door liftback, usually labeling it as a coupe for marketing reasons. An example of such "liftback-coupe" is the 3-door Saab 900 (NG).

The term "liftback" did not gain such mainstream acceptance as "hatchback" or "sedan". It is almost never used in the United Kingdom, where liftback cars are particularly popular. There, 5-door liftbacks are in general called hatchbacks. Note, however, that a 2-door fastback body style with a boot, which does not include the rear window, will be called a "fastback coupé" (e.g. the Sunbeam Rapier Fastback Coupé).

In many cases, the classification of a particular model as either liftback or hatchback might be disputed. An example of how similar hatchbacks and liftbacks might be is the Toyota Corolla E100, whose 5-door hatchback and liftback bodies looked very much alike (though the liftback had a slightly longer and bigger trunk and less vertical tailgate). It should probably be concluded that a classification of a liftback as a hatchback is not entirely wrong, as the liftback might be regarded a variation of the hatchback body style.

Combi coupé

One of the pioneers of the liftback body style, Saab Automobile, presented their first liftback model in 1974. It was a variation of the Saab 99, and to distinguish it from already known sedan and sedan-based coupé, Saab coined the term "combi coupé", which was to emphasize the combination of the practical side of station wagons (known in some European countries as "combis") and the aesthetic appeal of coupés. For the American market, the "combi coupés" were called "wagonbacks". The body style continued through many other Saab models until the 21st century, although Saab dropped the "combi coupé" label at some point, in favor of "hatchback" for 5-doors and "coupé" for 3-doors (both being variations of the same liftback body).

See also

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