What is a saloon car?

Saloons are sleek, stylish and sophisticated; but what exactly is a saloon?

BuyaCar team
Jan 5, 2022

If you struggle to squeeze your car into tight parking spaces, a saloon may not be the perfect choice of car for you. The rear boot of a saloon is entirely separate to the cabin and sticks out the rear end of the car, resulting in an elongated body to accommodate that additional storage space. Because saloons tend to be long they can be difficult to manoeuvre compared to a compact car such as a hatchback. If you’re looking to buy a saloon and want some assistance to help you manage the vehicle’s large size, keep an eye out for cars that are equipped with parking sensors as these could help you avoid hitting a wall or another vehicle when attempting to park.

Saloon cars have steadily decreased in popularity over the past decade as a result of the growing popularity of SUVs, while hatchbacks have also remained popular due to their practicality and great value for money. They may not be the most popular type of car on sale today, but saloons are still favoured by many drivers for their sleek, stylish looks.

Saloons are also renowned for their comfortable and well-equipped interiors. The separated boot helps to keep road noise out of the cabin for a quieter drive, while the car’s long design provides more interior space for passengers looking to stretch out and get comfortable.

If you listen to a car manufacturer's marketing, then you'll hear how a saloon car's long and low profile gives vehicles a sophisticated and subtly stylish look. Not sure if that's true? Compare the Audi A3 Sportback and the Audi A3 Saloon (below).

Audi A3 Sportback

Audi A3 Saloon

Saloon cars are generally less practical than hatchbacks because of their smaller boots. The boot lid opens upwards but the rear window is fixed in place, so there is less available space than in a hatchback.

Saloons do often have a few tricks to make them a bit more practical. Some saloons offer ‘ski-flaps’: by folding down the central armrest in the back seats, you reveal an opening through which you can slide long bits of luggage such narrow planks of wood, or indeed skis. Many models offer the option of folding rear seats, so larger items of luggage can be pushed into the back of the car. You're still limited by the narrow boot opening though. In a hatchback, the back of the car is opened up entirely and the seats fold to create a van-like space.

The increased popularity of taller crossover and SUV cars mean that saloon sales are falling, but certain models are still in-demand. For example the BMW 3 Series, Mercedes C-Class, Jaguar XE and Audi A4 are big-selling family cars. These four manufacturers typically design their cars to feel sporty and fun to drive, or to focus on exceptional comfort. While big SUVs such as the Range Rover set the standard for comfort, climbing out of the back of a big saloon such as the Mercedes S-Class or BMW 7 Series are unmatched for their luxurious interiors and sophisticated presence.

Family-sized saloon cars will often also be offered in a more sensible flavour, in the shape of an estate car that combines the length of a saloon with a tall hatchback boot.

Used saloon cars

The saloon car market is primarily formed of models made by the more upmarket brands like Audi, BMW and Mercedes, but there are also a handful of cheaper alternative options available to you including the Volkswagen Passat and Mazda 6.

BMW 3 Series front three quarters view

BMW 3 Series

Used deals from £26,910
Monthly finance from £567*

Volvo S90 rear

Volvo S90

Used deals from £18,490
Monthly finance from £0*

Alfa Romeo Giulia

Used deals from £15,790
Monthly finance from £0*

Saloon cars: pros and cons

Long, low and stylish design
A little quieter than hatchbacks
Generally spacious inside

Less practical and versatile than a hatchback
Lower driving position than in SUVs and crossovers
More expensive than a hatchback

What to look for in a saloon car

Make the most of a saloon by finding one with the following features:

  • A deep, low, and wide boot opening.
  • Seats in the rear that fold, in order to boost luggage space.
  • A flat floor in the rear. This means there is more room for passengers.


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