Top 11 Best Hatchbacks
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, some even boast sports car levels of performance.
Hatchbacks have evolved in recent years and options are many. 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 to buy or lease on the market today.
Motorway’s best hatchbacks to buy are reviewed below:
- Volkswagen Golf
- Toyota Prius
- Ford Focus
- MINI 5-door Hatch
- SKODA Octavia
- Audi A3 Sportback
- Honda Civic
- SEAT Leon
- Mercedes A-Class
- Vauxhall Astra
- BMW 1 Series
1. Volkswagen Golf
Time and again, you’ll find the Volkswagen Golf high up in hatchback buy lists like this one, setting the benchmark for what a great family car 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 hatchback 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 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.
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.
Then there’s the impressive array of standard technology. Every Golf 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 Toyota 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 at the back.
Three adults can sit shoulder to shoulder or two child seats can be fitted with ease. 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.
Entry level models do feel significantly cheaper than the ‘Business Edition’ 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.
You can drive short distances on electric power alone before the combination of petrol engine and electric motor take over.
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 newcomers 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.
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.
Like the Prius, the Focus’ new, larger, more American styling polarises opinion. But it’s better to stand out then be vanilla, right?
It’s hard to argue the fact that the current Focus looks more expensive and dare we say; classier, 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 seat 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.
The Focus does make up for some of those space shortcomings with high-quality materials like soft touch plastics and gloss black accents throughout. Boot space isn’t bad either, measuring in at 375 litres.
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.
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
MINI have finally released a 5 door version of their most popular hatchback.
Yes, it may look a little odd at first with its stretched body and extra doors but it keeps those retro chic MINI looks while adding some much needed practicality.
The MINI Hatch looks great and feels comfortable to drive. Its handling is just what you’d expect based on MINI’s reputation – it’s a fun drive around town with light and nimble handling.
Jumping inside you’ll find the MINI packed with tech. It keeps that classic round interface throughout, giving something the MINI something totally different to anything else on the market.
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.
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.
Price: From £16,895
- 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 practicality.
After a recent facelift, the Octavia looks far fresher. It will never stand out on the road but it’s smart looks are hard to be offended by.
It’s not as exciting to drive as some of the other cars on this list, but its steering is direct and handling can feel quite 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 the hatchback – more like a saloon. 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.
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 Sportback is a well-rounded family hatchback. With a little extra luxury.
Inside is where you feel that premium quality. 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 hasn’t changed much in the last five years or so, 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 1.0 litre to the 2.0 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.
But what about those practical aspects you’re looking for from a hatchback? The Audi A3 comes with ample space, 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
- Nice features and detailing
- An expensive option
- Tight in the back with three people
7. Honda Civic
Honda’s latest Civic hatchback is hard to miss. We’ve 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 the inside, with an upmarket interior and modern dash.
It’s not as spacious in the back as some other hatchbacks, but can sit comfortably enough. And the great news when it comes to practicality is that the Civic has a mammoth boot.
The best thing about this hatchback has to be the drive, though. It’s peppy – keen even. With a choice of either a 182 PS or 120 PS turbocharged petrol engine, or a 120 PS i-DTEC diesel.
You can also opt for a CVT automatic gearbox or a 9 speed fully automatic, the latter is only available on the diesel though.
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 as core competitors like the Focus and Golf
Price: From £19,405
- Exciting design
- Upmarket interior
- Great driving experience
- You won’t fit three adults in the back
- Looks aren’t to everyone’s taste
8. SEAT Leon
Golf, Octavia, Leon – even the A3. They may all share components but 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, with dynamic handling across the range.
Some engines feel a little lacklustre, so opt for the 1.5 TSI with 130 PS as a minimum.
It’s fairly spacious, with a good boot but lower rear headroom means it doesn’t feel as airy inside, and loading bulky items can be a bit trickier.
If you need more space you can always opt for the SEAT Leon Estate instead.
While some entry level hatches feel as though they’re scrimping on interior quality 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 £18,590
- Sporty styling
- Fantastic boot space
- Interior feels cheap compared to a Golf
- 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 yet packed with great features and technology.
Of course it’s a Merc, so it’s one of the pricier hatchback options, 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 (which can be increased 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. Well the A180d is a good all-rounder, it balances decent around town performance with legs long enough to make motorway speeds fairly effortless.
It does however take a rather lethargic 10.2 seconds to get to 62, but that’s the same as the 1.6 diesel Audi A3.
There are two petrol offerings the A180 and A200, forget the A180 as it just has to be worked far too hard to keep up with traffic. There’s also a plug-in hybrid A250e which will hit 62 in just 6.6 seconds.
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, Mercedes have definitely improved the build quality over the last generation A-Class.
Space inside 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.
360 litres of boot space makes the A-Class plenty practical for those intending to lug lots while on the move.
Price: From £23,160
- A refined experience from start to finish
- Superb build-quality
- You’ll love the interior and tech
- Six footers won’t enjoy the rear
- 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 first dual carriageway. But there’s good reason for that popularity.
Vauxhall rarely goes wrong with styling. They keep things simple and chic.
This new model follows that theme, with the most minor of updates to the front bumper. There’s now full LED lighting up front giving the Astra a sharper look.
Lots of work has been done to the suspension and chassis setup on the new Astra, every engine is also new. There are three petrol’s, a 3 cylinder 1.0 litre turbo and two 1.4 turbo’s making 105, 125 and 150ps respectively.
Apart from that you’d be hard pressed to tell them apart. It’s underneath however where things have changed.
There are also two diesel options, both are 1.6 turbo available in either a 110 ps or 136ps. You can also opt for a manual or 6 speed automatic gearbox.
Getting behind the wheel you find the Astra is incredibly well set up, it’s sporting but not at all hard or stiff.
The ride is superb across the range, but feels especially sharp in the higher power 150PS models thansk to their sportier spring rates.
It’s actually possible in this hatch to seat three in the back fairly comfortably. Boot size measures in at 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 £18,905
- Strong all-rounder
- Extremely practical
- Average-sized boot
- Rear headroom could be improved
- Looks like a facelift
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, press the start button and enjoy a true sports hatch. The 1 Series is known for being an agile drive, but that doesn’t mean it can’t also be incredibly fun too.
Being rear-wheel-drive sets it apart and makes it totally unique in the segment.
The range of fuel-efficient engines helps you recoup some of the money you lost when you opted for a sporty hatchback.
Even the 120d with it’s 190bhp has a 7.1 0-60mph time and still averages 65mpg.
There’s also a new 1.5-litre three-cylinder 116d which averages a staggering 83mpg, emits 89g/km CO2 yet can make the 0-60mph time in around 10 seconds.
It’s not as practical as some other hatchbacks, but if you don’t need to fit a family in then worry not.
It’s definitely the choice for keen drivers who want to enjoy their behind-the-wheel experience while also being economically minded.
Price: From £24,430
- 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.
There are plenty of incredible PCP lease deals on the market to cover the cars we’ve listed. 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.