Focus ST and the Clio200 Turbo – show that this is an issue people are pretty passionate about. But it looks like this is the start of a trend that we’re set to see more of. Sales figures of three-door cars have dropped off to such an extent now that most manufacturers will seriously be questioning the point of developing such a model in their next cycle.
So where does that leave three-door fans? Well, buying a five-door hatch, whether they like it or not, is the obvious answer. But Ford’s Focus ST estate – and the arrival of Renault’s not unattractive (but not for the UK) Megane GT estate – has made me wonder whether the small, fast estate could, if the three-door does become extinct, fill the vacuum.
Fabia vRS in understated estate form for the first time. Meanwhile, further up the scale, Mercedes reports a 106 per cent jump in sales of its E-Class AMG estate year-on-year in 2012. A different class of car, true, but a staggering figure and worth mentioning.
There’s no doubt that appetite for performance estates is ramping up in the UK, then. But this isn’t a new idea. Honda’s Civic VTi met with some success in Aerodeck form back in the late 90s. And then there was Ford’s Focus ST170 estate, which came shortly thereafter. I’ve always had a yen (no pun intended) for both. Maybe it’s the way an estate’s longer waist and curtailed rump suits spoilers and chunkier bumpers. Or maybe it's more conceptual - the idea of a workhorse being elevated to become something greater than its humdrum origins. Whatever the reason, I can’t shake the fascination.
Three-door hot hatches have been a part of the landscape since the genre was invented, and I know many still prefer them. But I can’t help but feel their extinction is fast becoming an inevitability. At least if they were replaced by hot estates, we’d have alternatives – and, potentially, very appealing ones at that – to the five-door hot hatches that we'll be seeing more of as a result.