What are the best hatchbacks on sale right now? Our expert guide runs through the 10 best models available on the market right now, and explains why they should be on your shopping list.
So what is a hatchback? In short, it's a relatively compact car with a boot lid that incorporates the rear window. Hatchbacks also allow you to access the boot load space from the rest of the cabin. This is different from saloon cars which have separate boot areas and a rear section that makes it longer, with a narrower boot opening.
Alright, so a hatchback may not offer the desirable, roomy body shape and lord-it-over driving position of the best SUVs , but they're still incredibly popular both as new and used cars. Why is that?
Well, for starters, they're affordable. Typically a traditional hatchback model costs thousands less than the small SUV equivalent, despite it being heavily based on the hatch underneath. The best hatchbacks will also be more fuel efficient and cheaper to run than heavier, less aerodynamic SUVs.
That reduced weight of a hatchback model doesn't just benefit fuel economy, as being lighter and lower to the ground also improves the performance of the engine. What's more the ride and handling are usually better overall too.
Another advantage of the hatchback is that larger and more practical boot opening versus a saloon car. Being able to fold down the back seats also further increases versatility.
Hatchbacks aren't all powered by old-school petrol or diesel engines, either. Some of the best electric cars for sale today are hatchbacks. They range from small electric city cars like the Peugeot e-208 and to bigger models like the Cupra Born.
Whether you're in the market for a compact hatchback or desire something a bit bigger and more premium, heycar's experts have picked out 10 of the best hatchbacks you can buy in the UK. And, if your children have already outgrown a hatchback, we've got expert guides on the best family SUVs and estate cars.
If you're ready to buy we've got over 20,000 Used Hatchback Cars for Sale, while if you want more choice, we have over 70,000 Used Cars for Sale. If you're looking to save money, check out our guide to the Best Car Deals.
Best hatchbacks 2024
1. Mercedes-Benz A-Class
Year launched: 2018
Time to move it up a league in terms of size, image and, er, price. The latest Mercedes A-Class is a posh family hatch which rivals the BMW 1 Series and Audi A3 – but we reckon it’s the one to go for out of this premium trio.
A new Mercedes-Benz A-Class will set you back upwards of £24,000, with the most desirable models topping out at closer to £35,000 (and that’s before we look at the rapid AMG super hatches). But you can save a heap of cash by looking at nearly-new examples – with year-old models available for less than £20,000.
Be careful, though, as it’s a very spec-dependent car. For all the bells and whistles you want the AMG Line Premium Plus, which features the top-level infotainment as well as 64-colour ambient lighting and an electric panoramic roof. With a lower spec the A-Class isn't quite as desirable.
2. Toyota Corolla
Year launched: 2019
If you’re not ready to make the move to an electric car but fancy dipping your toes into efficient electrified drivetrains, a hybrid model could be the ideal compromise. And no one can beat Toyota’s expertise when it comes to hybrid power.
The Corolla is the Japanese brand’s answer to cars like the Volkswagen Golf and Ford Focus. And, you know what? It’s really very good.
Not only will it be very reliable and cheap to run, but the Corolla is also sharply styled, has a classy interior and is surprisingly good to drive. There are two hybrid motors available: a 1.8 and a 2.0-litre. We reckon the smaller engine is the one to go for, unless you really need near-hot-hatch performance.
3. Volkswagen Golf
Year launched: 2020
The VW Golf continues to be one of the best hatchbacks around, even after so many years. It’s comfortable, refined and good to drive, really everything you’d want from a city car which can also stretch its legs on longer journeys.
It’s economical too, which means running costs won’t run away with you, and you get a decent amount of kit on the entry level Life model.
You get a super looking interior which is smart and stylish, and the infotainment and cluster displays will catch your eye in this modern aesthetic. It’s spacious as well, with the most comfortable front cabin in its class and the 381L boot is on par with many of the hatchbacks in this list.
There's plenty of second hand stock too, with three year old Life models available for under £15,000.
4. Mazda 3
Year launched: 2019
Is there a mainstream car manufacturer with a more attractive line-up at the moment than Mazda? The Mazda 3 in particular is quite a looker – but it's going to need more than sharp design to tempt you away from a Volkswagen Golf.
Fortunately, not only will the Mazda 3 turn heads of passers by, but its interior is just divine – with a premium feel and one of the most user-friendly infotainment systems on the market.
If there’s one thing that lets the Mazda down, it's the engines on offer. Mazda reckons its clever Skyactiv-X unit is a good substitute for diesel-power and, while it’s certainly efficient and does the job, it’s neither that refined nor particularly fast. The lower-powered Skyactiv-G is even less punchy, which is a shame as the Mazda 3 is actually quite fun to drive once you’re up to speed.
5. Cupra Born
Year launched: 2022
Recognise the overall shape of the Cupra Born? That's because underneath it's heavily based on the Volkswagen ID.3, but it gets an angrier and more distinctive design.
What's more the Cupra has a (slightly) nicer cabin, with a better choice of materials than its VW sibling. You still get the same modern layout and very roomy interior, though, plus the same fiddly infotainment sadly.
The Cupra Born's USP is that it aims to be the first electric hot hatchback, with a sportier driving experience than the ID.3. Sure, it's not ultimately as fun as a petrol-powered hot hatch, but it still handles tidily and offers plenty of performance with that instant EV punch. With a range of up to 340 miles on a charge it's also very competitive overall.
6. Honda Civic
Year launched: 2022
The Honda Civic has been a commendable and reliable family hatchback for decades now, and still makes a great used buy. However the latest model changes the formula quite a bit.
It might not look dramatically different from the old car on the outside, but it really is all-new. Gone are the traditional petrol and diesel engines, it's now hybrid-only - but it's a seriously impressive hybrid with strong performance, great efficiency and a surprisingly enjoyable driving experience.
It might be more expensive than its closest rival, the Toyota Corolla, but it's better to drive and nicer to sit in, too. With much better infotainment than the old Civic and a real uptick in quality it can compete with the premium brand models, not just mainstream hatchbacks. The one downside is cost - even the cheapest one is £30,000 and, because it's so new there are no used bargains to be had.
7. Renault Megane e-Tech
Year launched: 2022
It's taken Renault a surprisingly long time to follow up the success of the immensely popular Zoe. Nearly a decade, in fact. But while the French firm is late to the game with a fully-fledged, long-range electric family hatchback, the new Megane E-Tech has shot straight up the class leaderboard.
Its sharp-suited design hides what is probably Renault's best-ever cabin, with a stylish design, a user-friendly Android infotainment system and plenty of space. You also get loads of standard kit even on the base version.
You can choose from either a 40kWh or 60kWh battery in Europe, but the latter is the only one offered in the UK. It's the one we'd choose, though, because it gives the Renault Megane E-Tech a competitive 280 miles of range. Comfortable, quiet and with decent performance, it's accomplished on the road, too. It's an electric car that demands little compromise.
8. Skoda Octavia
Year launched: 2020
The personification of Skoda’s ‘simply clever’ approach to car-building, the Octavia is a piece of engineering brilliance. What’s more, if you have a budget of around £15,000, you’ll get a car ridiculously easy to drive and wonderfully practical.
Like a few cars in this list, the Octavia was replaced by an all-new model in 2020. It's smarter to look at and even more high-tech, although the previous generation is still a good solid family car. That’s excellent news because there are some cracking dealers on offer right now for petrol and diesel versions of the outgoing Octavia.
The interior has a workmanlike simplicity that’s nothing short of brilliant. The boot, for example, is huge at 590 litres. The interior is comfortable and has acres of head and legroom in the front and rear. Equipment levels are also very good on mid-spec models, which means you can get an awful lot for your £15,000. Stepping up to the latest model brings even more space, a greater feeling of quality and an accomplished driving experience, although you'll need at least £20,000 to get in one.
9. BMW 1 Series
Year launched: 2019
The BMW 1 Series is a cracking hatchback, with plenty of space inside and an excellent interior layout that’s stylish as well as practical. It's fun to drive too, and with a range of engines to pick from there’s even a fab hot hatch option in the 128ti if you want to put some extra pep in your step.
There’s easy access to ISOFIX points which makes fitting car seats a cinch, and the 380L boot is big enough for a weekly shop. The infotainment system is also excellent, with a slick interface and top-notch navigation at your fingertips. There's support for Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, if you prefer utilising your smartphone's apps in your car.
The 1 Series is a popular car, which means there's plenty of choice in the second hand market, with prices for the latest generation (2020) starting at around £16,000 - a tidy saving on the new list price of £28,740.
10. SEAT Leon
Year launched: 2020
The SEAT Leon often plays second fiddle to its classier, more refined Volkswagen Golf cousin, but it looks considerably better value as a used buy.
With a stylish and sporty design plus an agile driving experience it'll appeal to the young (or the young at heart). There's a range of engines to suit every need, from the affordable 1.0-litre turbo petrol to the punch and efficient diesels. There's also the hot Cupra Leon if you want more performance.
Buyers on a budget will be pleased to know that the previous generation SEAT Leon remains a great buy, too. Its infotainment system is easier to use than the latest model, although the interior is a bit plasticky and the ride is firm on some versions. But as a spacious, dependable and likeable family car it's a good value choice.
Best Hatchback FAQs
A hatchback car has its boot behind the rear seats, positioned as part of the cabin. This is different to a saloon, which has its boot sticking out of the back of the car and forming a separate compartment. Hatchbacks come in a range of sizes – from city cars like the Kia Picanto to small hatchbacks like the Ford Fiesta and family hatches like the Volkswagen Golf. You could even class big, premium cars like the Audi A7 and Porsche Panamera as hatchbacks.
The best hatchback on sale today very much depends on factors like your budget and how much space you need. You can't go wrong with the Ford Fiesta – it's a perennial best-seller in the UK and represents an unbeatable combination of value for money, stylish looks and driving entertainment. If you'd like something a little bigger, we'd recommend the Volkswagen Golf or Mazda 3, or the hybrid Toyota Corolla. The Volkswagen ID.3 is an excellent electric hatchback, while the Skoda Octavia should be the choice of anyone who needs a big boot.
A hatchback is usually a traditional small or family car – a Ford Fiesta or Focus, for example. A crossover SUV is intended to fill the gap between these cars and full-size SUVs, hence the 'crossover' term. An example is the Ford Puma, which is similar in size to the Fiesta on which it's based, but with a higher seating position and more ground clearance.
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