Wed, Nov 24, 2004 - Page 16 News List

Sliding doors provide the answer for some city commuters in cars

By Fang Wei-tuo  /  STAFF REPORTER

Space can be a problem in Taipei, and sometimes there is precious little room to even open the door of your car. Getting in and out is easier with sliding doors, a fact that has not gone unnoticed by many car manufacturers. We are now seeing the sliding door design on a lot more compact cars and MPVs (multi-purpose vehicles).

The idea of sliding doors is not actually that new: they Sliding doors have been used on vans and SUVs (sports-utility vehicles) for some years now. This is primarily because traditional doors on larger vehicles are simply too big to be opened wide in certain situations, and sometimes passengers might even find it difficult to get out for lack of space to the side of their vehicle. The sliding door was seen as the answer to this problem.

In that case, you might be wondering why car manufacturers are not adopting this new door design on all their cars. The problem is that even though they require less lateral clearance, the vehicle still has to have enough height on the side and space to the rear for the sliding rails to be fitted, which narrows the choice down to larger vehicles and vans.

And there is another thing. Compared to traditional doors, it takes more physical strength to pull the sliding door open and back. To overcome this problem, higher range cars have been fitted with electrically powered slide doors, making them easier to use.

These restrictions had prevented the use of sliding doors on hatchbacks and compact cars in the past and this was especially true for cars like SUVs with their shorter rear sections.

Car designers never forgot the advantages offered by the Car designers never forgot the advantages offered by the sliding doors concept and as MPVs and cars with higher storage areas became more popular, we started seeing a lot more sliding doors.

In the 2002 Paris Motor Show Peugeot unveiled a car with the "Sesame" design concept, incorporating the more ample rear storage space with the convenience of sliding doors.

At this year's Geneva Motor Show people were introduced to the new Opel Trixx and its small car concept, with sliding doors opening to the rear and front. This design not only made it much more convenient to get in and out, but offered a highly versatile interior concept.

A few months later, the "Sesame" design was reincarnated in the Peugeot 1007, bringing together the practicality of a spacious compact and the convenience of sliding doors. At the same time, this had the effect of getting other car manufacturers wanting to get in on the act.

The Mazda 5, previously kept under wraps save for the release of a few photos of the exterior, finally made an appearance at this year's Paris Motor Show.

The Western motor media, in general, had originally thought the new car was to be next in line in the MPV and SUV range, but at this show they found out that it was in fact successor to the Premacy. Apparently, Mazda had also come to the conclusion that sliding doors were the best way to assure ease of access to the back seats of their new car.

Translated by Paul Cooper

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