Top 11 Best Hatchback Cars
Thinking of buying a hatchback? A great hatch needs to be well-rounded, spacious enough to be called practical, cost-effective to run and with enough of a sense of excitement to keep the driver happy.
The segment is one of the most varied out there. It’s packed with practical five-doors that do more than just carry around a small family.
There are economical options, some that pack a powerful performance punch and others that offer luxury.
But which is the right hatchback car for you? Here we look at some of the best hatchbacks on the market today in 2019.
Motorway’s best hatchback cars to buy are reviewed below:
2. Toyota Prius
3. Ford Focus
7. Honda Civic
8. SEAT Leon
10. Vauxhall Astra
11. BMW 1 Series
1. Volkswagen Golf
Time and again, you’ll find the Volkswagen Golf high up in hatchback buy lists like this one. It sets the benchmark for what a great family hatchback should be. It does all the crucial bits well – space, running costs, safety, technology – and holds its value too. But there’s more to it than that.
It’s a car that families love. That drivers love. It’s a car that’s sold 30 million units. And there’s good reason why.
As you’d expect from VW, the Golf has a range of engine and trim options – including the new battery electric e-Golf – so whether you’re looking for a hot hatch or something fuel-efficient, you’ll find what you want from the range.
The ride is really where the Golf pips its competitors to the post. Its handling is smooth and easy, even on pothole-filled roads.
It’s also incredibly self-assured because the grip is good the suspension is agile and steering is well-weighted.
So that’s why the Golf is great to be behind the wheel of – but what’s it like for your passengers? It’s spacious and practical, that’s a fact. You could fit two tall adults in the back easily and plenty in the boot, whether you’re loading luggage for a holiday or simply fitting in the weekly food shop.
With its storage bins and cubbies, it’s a pretty comfortable car for passengers to spend time in.
Then there’s the impressive array of standard technology. Every Golf, including the entry-level model, comes with features like a 8” touchscreen, Apple CarPlay, Bluetooth, stop-start technology and more.
Other cars from the Volkswagen group are hot on the Golf’s heels, so if you’re looking for something a little cheaper to buy then continue through the list.
Price: From £18,765
- Varied range of engines
- Good level of standard tech
- Other options in the VW group cheaper
2. Toyota Prius
It’s no bad thing that the Prius is known as the taxi driver’s choice of car to buy. The fact that it’s fuel-efficient, tax-friendly and comfortable to spend time in can only be seen as plus points for hatchback drivers of all kinds.
Even if you’ve never driven one, there’s a good chance you’ve experienced the interior space. Passenger room is ample, both in the front and the back. There’s plenty of room to lean back, stretch your legs out and enjoy the journey.
Three adults can sit shoulder to shoulder or two child seats can be fitted. The Prius also excels in boot space – you’ll easily fit a buggy and luggage back there.
So, what really sets the Prius apart from its competitors? It’s exterior styling is fresh and modern, almost futuristic. It’ll polarise opinion, but if you like it then you’ll love it. The interior isn’t quite as divisive.
The layout is clean with lots of touchscreen Entry level models do feel significantly cheaper than the Business Editions trims, but it’s solidly-built and sensible.
It’s now in its fourth generation, which makes it something of a pioneer when it comes to hybrid cars. The petrol-electric hybrid engine is reliable, efficient and surprisingly refined. Drivers can drive short distances on electric energy alone or a combination of petrol engine and electric motor.
If you needed any more convincing on the Prius’ capability, then here it is. Toyota celebrate the car’s multiple award wins over on their website “For Carbuyer, the hybrid hatchback saw off all comers in its search for the Best Economical Car, while What Car? considered the Toyota to be the safest model among the market’s large family cars.”
Price: From £24,245
- Interesting exterior design
- Plenty of interior space
- Best MPG you’ll find anywhere
- Interior feels cheap in places
- People might think you’re driving an Uber
3. Ford Focus
Like the Volkswagen Golf, the Ford Focus is a titan of the hatchback world. It’s an extremely popular hatchback to buy and was actually the best-selling car in the world a few years back.
Where the Focus stands apart is in its pure, unapologetic pursuit of fun. The Focus is nothing less than a pleasure to drive.
Its handling is sharp and even tight at times while the body control is stiff – in a good way. That’s all before you even opt for the popular sporty versions; ST and RS.
Each of the engines from the line-up (whether you’re looking at petrol or diesel) is equally as economical, with a smooth performance.
Like the Prius, the Focus’ sharp, futuristic styling polarises opinion. But better to stand out then be vanilla, right? Our opinion is that it looks sleek, thanks to that long bonnet and wheelbase. It looks more expensive and dare we say; classy, than ever before.
Ok, so the Focus is a little let down by its interior space. It’s not as roomy as some of the other cars on this list. Back passengers won’t feel cramped, but they’ll feel like they have less legroom than say, the SKODA Octavia.
You’ll fit four adults in without issue. But it does make up for some of that with high-quality materials like soft touch plastics and touchscreen interfaces. The boot space isn’t bad either, 375 litres – enough to fit a baby buggy but you might need to remove the cover.
Families will appreciate the active safety equipment. There are a host of smart technologies that have been designed to protect the driver, their family, and other road users.
Active Braking and Pre-Collision Assist for example, with Pedestrian and Cyclist Detection which warn you of potential collisions and even apply the brakes automatically if you don’t react in time.
TopGear reviewed the 2019 model and hardly had a bad word to say about it: “Success in a hatch isn’t just about the drive. The Focus has the rest of the bases well covered too.”
Price: From £18,300
- You’ll love the drive
- Good handling
- Safety equipment is a nice touch
- Interior space is average
- This is the UK’s most popular car so you won’t stand out from the crowd
4. MINI 5-door Hatch
The MINI Hatch hatchback provides an interesting alternative to the sector. As with all MINIs, driver experience is at the forefront of this car. Its low centre of gravity makes it a lot fun to drive but the larger version of the Hatch offers a lot of practical benefits too.
The MINI Hatch looks great and feels comfortable to drive. The handling is just what you’d expect based on MINI’s reputation – it’s heavy, firm and direct with weight at the front of the car. If it’s your style, you’ll really enjoy the experience.
The technology inside the latest model brings a lot to the table. The round interface brings charm and makes the interior of the car feel much livelier than any of the others on this list. There’s MINI’s sat nav and journey planner features as well as Apple CarPlay and Bluetooth connectivity. Just about everything you need these days. With the addition of safety features, you can enjoy peace of mind too.
It’s also not a bad choice for a small family. Four can be seated comfortably, five at a squeeze – you definitely feel there’s more room back there than with the 3-door equivalent. And kids will love its bold design and funky interior.
We bet you’re wondering if the MINI Hatch is worthy of the word ‘spacious’. The folks at AutoExpress gave the car a long-term test and were impressed by its roominess “With the rear seats folded flat, I had 719 litres of space to play with. And while I needed a couple of trips, the boot swallowed some big bags of ornamental slate, shrubs several bags of compost, eight-metre-long garden canes, flowers and cobble stones.”
Price: From £16,890
- Surprisingly practical
- Great fun to drive
- Good level of technology
- More spacious alternatives available
- Add ons add up quickly
5. SKODA Octavia
Everyone’s favourite comeback kid, SKODA, really know what they’re doing when it comes to hatchbacks. Their Octavia is a multi-award winning, well-loved car with heaps of benefits.
After a recent facelift, the Octavia looks fresh and modern. It stands out on the road for all the right reasons. The headlights are sharp and angular while the silhouette is elegant.
It’s not as exciting to drive as some of the other cars on this list, but its steering is self-assured and handling is agile – so there are still a lot of plus points.
Space is key with this car. It’s one of the Octavia’s main selling points. A family of five, even with older kids, can all fit in comfortably.
It’s probably closer to the segment above hatchback – more like a Mondeo. And the driving position is good too, you sit in an elevated position behind a clutter-free, well laid out interior. That 590 litre boot calls out to families who like to pack less than lightly for their holidays.
Wondering if it’ll suit your family? WhatCar have no doubts. They even named it 2019 WhatCar Family Car of the Year. “Let’s start with space, because despite undercutting the likes of the Ford Focus and Volkswagen Golf on price, it has more rear leg room than many executive saloons.
The Octavia’s boot is also huge; indeed, we managed to fit 11 carry-on suitcases below the parcel shelf, one more than the enormous Audi Q7 luxury SUV swallowed.”
What’s even better is that you can choose from a variety of engine options and specs, including the sporty vRS version.
Price: From £18,310
- Good price
- Sturdy and solidly built
- Impressive all-rounder
- It lacks individuality
- Driving experience isn’t a thrill, but opt for the vRS and that could change
6. Audi A3 Sportback
Like the Octavia, the Audi A3 is a well-rounded family hatchback. With a little extra luxury.
Inside is where you feel that premium luxury. It’s spacious, with heaps of tech and some lovely materials. The Virtual Cockpit (also known as the digital dash) brings things like 3D mapping, audio information like Spotify and phone details into your eye line.
When it comes to the exterior, its design won’t shake you to your core, but it’s a good evolution on what Audi has done well for years – bold and handsome.
The engine range is broad, which is a big bonus – from the turbocharged 1 litre economical to the 2 litre diesel. Whether you go for a peppy TSI or economical TDI, you’ll find that it drives beautifully. As you’d expect an Audi to.
TopGear gave it a solid 7/10 scoring, commenting that it’s “The definitive example of rock-solid, sensible, impeccable German engineering”.
But what about those practical aspects you’re looking for from a hatchback? The Audi A3 comes with ample space. In the front, passengers have a good view of the road and plenty of legroom. And in the back there’s enough leg and headroom for adults to sit comfortably, even on long journeys.
When it comes to boot space, you get just as much in the A3 as you do in the Golf, which is plenty. 380 litres to be exact.
Price: From £22,190
- Good tech
- Luxury levels of features and detailing
- Great, timeless design
- An expensive option
- Tight in the back with three people
7. Honda Civic
The Honda Civic hatchback is hard to miss. We talked about futuristic looks previously with regards to the Toyota Prius. If that’s futuristic then the Civic is nothing less than space-age. Its looks aren’t gimmicky though, they remain elegant and angular.
The good looks and high quality continue on inside. The interior feels upmarket and looks modern. It’s not as spacious in the back as some other hatchbacks, but with four inside you’ll all feel suitably comfortable. And the great news when it comes to practicality is that the Civic has a mammoth boot.
Carwow were impressed by the Civic’s interior offering “Climb into the Honda Civic and you instantly feel cocooned by its low-slung seats, raised centre console and wraparound dashboard. It certainly feels sportier inside than a VW Golf or a Vauxhall Astra and comes with plenty of soft, yielding plastics in most of the areas you’ll touch regularly.”
The best thing about this hatchback has to be the drive, though. It’s peppy – keen even. It holds itself well around tight corners and comes with plenty of grip.
Not many people know how far back the Honda Civic goes, dating way back to the 1970s where it started out as a supermini. It’s come on a long way since, and deserves as much attention and intrigue as core competitors like the Focus and Golf
Price: From £19,100
- Exciting design
- Upmarket interior
- Great driving experience
- You won’t fit three adults in the back
- Engine range isn’t particularly varied
8. SEAT Leon
Golf, Octavia, Leon – even the A3. There are some differences between these hatchbacks besides the badge. But with the SEAT Leon you get a lot of the perks for less of the price.
For starters, it’s sportier than the standard Octavia and Golf models. It’s powerful, peppy and can even give you a good growl if you work it. But don’t be fooled – it’s just as much of a family hatchback car.
It’s fairly spacious, with a good boot but the lower headroom means it doesn’t feel as airy inside, and loading bulky items can be a bit trickier.
The Leon is sporty in action as well as looks. SEAT seem to have that dynamic look down that gives their cars a certain level of style and fun.
The auto industry seem in total agreement that the Leon is a great looking car, evo commented; “Sound proportions, sporty detailing and bright colour and trim options, consider the Leon a Golf’s more attractive Spanish cousin.”
While some entry level hatches feel as though they’re scrimping on interiors and technology, the Leon’s feels like just enough. It’s sensibly laid out – you can find everything easily – and it feels nice to the touch rather than cheap hard plastic. Bravo, SEAT.
Price: From £18,260
- Sporty styling
- Fantastic boot space
- Interior feels cheap in parts
- Less refined drive than some other models
9. Mercedes A-Class
Mercedes know how to do refinement and refined is just what the A-Class is. Well-built, good looking and packed with great features and technology. Of course it’s a Merc, so it’s a pricier hatchback option but we’d be daft not to include it on a list of excellent hatchbacks.
Let’s start with the tech. You get a 7” hi-res screen as standard (and can level up to a 10.25” screen if the fancy takes you), which is your window to your sat nav – which comes with great features like live traffic updates – and driving data.
What you probably really want to know is how this Merc drives. It feels good, smooth and agile. It’ll cruise on long roads as well as handling itself well around town.
The driving assistance technology comes in handy too, with cameras to help you park and alerts and notifications to warn you of potentially dangerous situations.
The tech goes a long way to making the A-Class feel like a luxury car, but it also excels with materials too. The leather is plush and the plastics soft-touch. Carbuyer claims the A-Class to be “the class leader on the interior front: design, quality and technology are all excellent”.
The space is good. The front sliding seats can accommodate the tallest of passengers comfortably thanks to ample headroom. In the back, it’s a similar story to the A3. There’s enough room, but not much more than that. You’ll feel it if you’re tall. 360 litres of boot space makes the A-Class plenty practical for those intending to lugg a load, too.
Price: From £23,075
- A refined experience from start to finish
- Superb build-quality
- You’ll love the interior and tech
- Six footers won’t enjoy the rear room
- Engine options are lacklustre
There isn’t a soul in the UK that doesn’t know just how popular the Vauxhall Astra is. Head off on a long drive and you’ll spot a dozen of these ubiquitous hatchbacks before you leave the dual carriageway! But there’s good reason for that popularity, particularly since Vauxhall gave it a well-deserved update.
Vauxhall rarely goes wrong with styling. They keep things simple and chic. The Astra’s headlights are angular but aren’t alien. It has a broad, dominant stance but isn’t imposing. Step inside and you’ll discover more good stuff, like soft touch, high-quality surfaces and trims.
The drive is composed, which makes it a joy for families who like a weekend away. And while we’re on the subject of families, you’ll fit yours in with ease thanks to the Astra’s flexible seating and general spaciousness.
It’s actually possible in this hatch to seat three in the back fairly comfortably. And with lots of useful storage bins and a good-sized glovebox, you’ll find it easy to keep what you need – phones, drinks, sweets – close to hand. The boot size is fine, 370 litres which is the same as (or almost the same as) the Golf and A3.
There’s a lot on offer in the technology department. The infotainment screen sits neatly on the dash with actual buttons, which makes it more intuitive than some of the other touchscreen systems. And one of the best parts is that even the entry-level models come with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, which gives you total smartphone mirroring and compatibility.
The Astra gets all the big ticks – space, style, practicality and cheap-to-run costs. It’s well worthy of making your hatchback shortlist.
Price: From £18,900
- Strong all-rounder
- Extremely practical
- Average-sized boot
- Headroom could be improved
11. BMW 1 Series
Sitting at the more premium end of the hatchback segment (along with the previously mentioned A-Class) is the BMW 1 Series.
Sink into the seats, turn the key and enjoy that smooth experience. The 1 Series is known for being an agile drive. But that doesn’t mean it can’t also be incredibly fun too. The 1 Series’ rear-wheel-drive sets it apart and makes it totally unique in the segment. And it’s that same RWD makes it feel sporty – even racecar-like.
The range of fuel-efficient engines helps you recoup some of the money you lost when you opted for a luxury hatchback. TopGear were mighty impressed with what some of the engines were capable of; “Even the 190bhp, 7.1sec-to-60mph 120d averages 65mpg and the new 1.5-litre three-cylinder (yes, really) 116d EfficientDynamics Plus averages a staggering 83mpg, emits 89g/km CO2 yet still does 0-60mph in around 10 seconds. It’s one of the greenest diesel cars you can buy – staggering.”
It’s not as practical as some other hatchbacks, but if you don’t need to fit a family in then worry not. There’s plenty of room if you don’t need to load child seats or buggies into the boot.
It’s definitely the choice for keen drivers who want to enjoy their behind-the-wheel experience while also being economically minded.
Price: From £23,050
- Great drive and handling
- Phenomenal-looking car
- Economical running costs
- Less spacious than other hatchbacks
- High list price
Ready to buy your hatchback? Hatch a hatchback plan…
Hopefully now you’re feeling a little closer to knowing what hatchback you’d like to test drive. There’s plenty of choice in the segment, so the best thing is to get out there and discover what you love.
The good news is that if you need to size up in a few years, many of the cars on this list have estate versions too.
Looking for something different to a hatchback?
If you’re looking for an estate, SUV, small car, hybrid or battery electric car, then we can help you navigate those waters too – we’ve pulled together a list of some of our favourite guides below.