You might not be familiar with the Fiat Linea, Renault Symbol and Peugeot 301, but in places like Turkey they’re big sellers.
These are all small, or smallish cars with boots rather than hatchbacks, and they sell against four door versions of models like the Ford Focus and Vauxhall Astra. In Britain cars like this were once common, but demand has shrunk to such an extent that neither Ford nor Vauxhall has bothered to flog them here for around a decade.
They’re existence elsewhere is a sign of the times. For many British buyers hatchbacks are the popular choice, but a recent holiday in Turkey has revealed buyers with different sets of priorities. This is a market that is conservative with a small C, so saloons are popular. Turks would once have been given tired old models that had been pensioned off elsewhere, but with markets like Turkey, Brasil and India becoming ever more important, car makers are more than willing to re-package their modern mechanical bits to meet local tastes.
Thus the outwardly bigger Fiat Linea is closely related to the Grande Punto, the sober Peugeot 301’s body is perched on a sub structure closely related to the decidedly left field Citroen Cactus. As for Renault’s Symbol, this is actually a lightly made over Dacia with a large, luggage carrying bussell.
This shared DNA gives these vehicles a slightly familiar look, although inevitably something that stars off resembling a car you see everyday here looks progressively odder around its derriere.
This is particularly true of the Astra and Focus, two thoroughly modern cars which to fresh eyes look big hipped with boots grafted on to their rears.
However, all this means that buyers in what were once considered emerging markets are also getting the safety and environmental paybacks of the latest car technologies, even if the cars themselves aren’t capable of swallowing small wardrobes. Until quite recently Fiat was quite happy to offer Turkish buyer re-worked versions of models like the 131 saloon, which started life in Europe forty years ago. Badged as the Dogan, there was an estate, but this model was, inevitably, most popular as a four door saloon.