Seat Official Says Hidden Rear Door Handles Hurt Sales of Previous Leon


Hidden door handles are a cheap and effective way to make four- or five-door cars look like coupés. They first appeared on the Alfa Romeo 156 and soon other car manufacturers began adopting them too, with Seat and Honda being the first examples that spring to mind. However, are these concealed handles effective? Well, while they do offer some cars a sportier appearance, they may not necessarily help sales.

Take the previous generation Seat Leon, for example. To compensate for the lack of a three-door variant and to make it look more dynamic, designers decided to fit hidden rear-door handles. Apparently, that didn’t help sales. Quite the opposite, if we're to believe Seat UK Leon product manager James Buckell.

"We just didn't appear on enough people's radar," Buckell said of the hidden door handles. "We sold to enthusiasts - people who wanted the coupé look and the five-door practicality - but I hate to think how many sales we missed because other potential buyers dismissed the car as a three-door."

This may be why Seat decided that the new model will have rear doors with visible handles placed in their conventional position. Of course, those who want the coupé look now have the Leon SC, the first three-door in the model’s history.

Buckell's remark is a rather interesting one. Is it possible that some buyers didn’t notice the contour of the Leon’s rear doors? The truth is not every car buyer out there is an auto connoisseur. Who knows how many people out there consider the new Honda Civic hatchback a three-door as well?

By Dan Mihalascu




sabman said... »March 26, 2013

Some people are so stupid, they had to sacrifice the beauty of having a clean rear door cope style, just so some stupid non-car enthusiasts could buy them, why don't they just, i don't know..........research, look, ask first?, really p!55es me off!
But rant over, new Leon is still a nice car, even if its just another golf.........................

Johann vR said... »March 26, 2013

The real reason for not buying a car with silly hidden rear door handles? Look at the height of them. Children can't reach them. Not rocket science. So every single time you get to the car you have to open the rear doors for children of a certain ago. A pain and a very good reason not to buy said car.

Ugly said... »March 26, 2013

IMO the front doors look well out of proportion on such cars, so makes them look funny!
A regular 2-door car would have much longer front doors. Or maybe it's just me??

RGT said... »March 26, 2013

That's nonsense. If these ''children of a certain age'' can't reach the door handles, then they're probably too young to be getting into the car themselves. It also means that they would need a child seat and an adult making sure they're properly secured in that child seat. So you see, they would be accompanied by an adult anyway.

Either way, it's your responsibility as a parent and legally as the driver to make sure anyone that young is safely seated in the car.

comment said... »March 26, 2013

What about the new Clio...?! It has a hatchback and a estate version with hidden doors and it looks supreme to me.

Sérgio Gonçalves Dinis said... »March 26, 2013

Actually it doesen't take much to understand why the Leon was not a hit. It was ugly as hell, on a not-so-good platform. Sure it had the cupra engne with 230hp for the price of a TDI VW... but it also had torque steer like a motherfu----

Furthermore, it looked like an egg with wheels, with a bad interior and a awfull reputation of being a boy-racer / ricer car.

jcdbs said... »March 26, 2013

The first car to have Hidden door handles was the 5 door version of Nissan Terrano/Pathfinder D21

Designerdrew said... »March 26, 2013

People aren't THAT stupid. It costs manufacturers more to produce these 'hidden' handles as they require a lot more designing and tooling. They are often awkward to open from certain angles and as 'Ugly' rightly pointed out they often make the car look ill proportioned, particularly odd in cars that then go on to have a rear quarter window - the late Leon and the peugeot 206 estate.

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