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