Best used hatchbacks

Versatile, value-for-money and available in a wide range of sizes: there's a model for you among the best used hatchbacks

John Evans Matt Rigby
Mar 19, 2019

Versatility and value-for-money. These are the metrics from which the best used hatchbacks are measured. And the cars on this list excel in both areas.

Hatchbacks come in all shapes, sizes and prices, from city cars such as the VW up! to luxury sports cars such as the Porsche Panamera. However, the backbone of the hatchback world is the family hatch, a masterful blend of passenger and boot space, reasonable running costs and sometimes, an engaging driving experience.

Bought used, most family hatchbacks offer great value for money. And, if they were registered before 1 April 2017, road tax could be as low as £30 a year. When choosing one, you should consider precisely what you want it to do, but also fundamental things like the number of doors (five is more convenient than three), the shape of the boot (as well as it overall volume) and key safety features, such as the number of Isofix child seat attachment points available.

Here are 10 hatchbacks that get some or all of these things right:

 

1. Ford Focus

Our pick Ford Focus 1.0 T EcoBoost 125PS 5dr
Latest Ford Focus deals from £7,212
Finance from £120 per month

The Focus is the definitive family hatchback, the one by which all others are judged. That’s especially true in the way it rides and handles. Grip levels are high and the steering lets you know precisely where the wheels are pointing. As well as being entertaining on back roads it’s composed and settled on motorways. The best engines are the 1.0 125 PS EcoBoost and 2.0 TDCi diesel.

The Focus was revamped in 2014 when it received much-needed styling tweaks, and a classier and better-looking dashboard. However, the changes stopped short at addressing the car’s major weakness: rear interior and boot space. There’s just not enough of it compared with more modern rivals, although not so little that it’s uncomfortable. Zetec is the best value trim, but Titanium is worth having for its extra features.

An all-new Ford Focus was introduced in the second half of 2018, bringing with it a little more style, more modern equipment and extra space while retaining all the qualities that make the Focus great to drive. It has also driven the prices of used Focus’s down.
Ford Focus buying guide

2. Peugeot 308

Our pick Peugeot 308 1.6 BlueHDi Allure
Latest Peugeot 308 deals from £6,250
Finance from £113 per month

The Peugeot 308 was billed as a match for the VW Golf when it was launched in 2013, Peugeot claiming to have made great strides in terms of the car’s styling, build quality and overall refinement. It was a bullish claim. Few rivals can match the Golf’s quality and refinement, but the 308 gets close.

Fit and finish, technology, boot space and the way it rides and handles are all excellent. If you’re being picky, however, you might feel there’s not quite enough legroom for adult passengers. The driving position takes a little getting used to as well, especially as the steering wheel is small and you look over it rather than through it to see the instruments. It’s a stylishly different approach to designing a car interior, but make sure you feel comfortable with this slightly eccentric layout.

The car was updated in 2017 with every model now having a sat nav as standard. Our pick of the trims is Allure.
Peugeot 308 buying guide

3. Vauxhall Astra

Our pick Vauxhall Astra 1.0T SRi EcoFlex 5dr
Latest Vauxhall Astra deals from £5,800
Finance from £105 per month

The popular Vauxhall Astra has for years been almost the default hatchback for many car buyers, an allure built mostly on providing great value for money. This is especially true as a used purchase, as the model’s popularity means there’s always plenty of cars on sale to choose from.

On top of being great value, the latest version of the Astra now adds good looks and lots of space (there’s easily enough for a six-foot rear seat passenger to get comfortable behind an equally tall driver), plus a well-shaped boot. Where the Astra really impresses, however, is in the way it rides. The supple suspension masks broken-up road surfaces extremely well.

There’s a bewildering array of trims and engines to choose from, but SRI Nav with either the 1.0T 105PS turbo petrol or 136PS 1.6 diesel gets our vote.
Vauxhall Astra buying guide

4. VW Golf

Our pick VW Golf 1.4 TSI Match 
Latest Volkswagen Golf deals from £7,671
Finance from £127 per month

It’s no accident that the VW Golf has regularly been a top 5 best-selling new car in the UK for decades – it’s a classless, practical, almost timeless car, whatever version you choose.

That new car sales performance is reflected in the used market, where demand for the Golf is equally strong. You’ve only to look at the prices of used ones to see that. What buyers are paying for is the Golf’s sensible solidity and security, the way trim remains firmly anchored and the way its suspension flatters the worst roads.

Interior space front and rear is good, and the boot’s 380 litres is perfectly acceptable, albeit far from cavernous. The seventh-generation model was revamped in 2017, but pre-facelift models are better value and just as well built. Match trim has most things you’d want including air-con and adaptive cruise control but lacks a sat nav. It’s our pick.
VW Golf buying guide

5. Skoda Octavia

Our pick Skoda Octavia 1.6 TDI Elegance 5dr 
Latest Skoda Octavia deals from £7,490
Finance from £132 per month

The Octavia may be based on the VW Golf but you’d never know it from the size of its boot. Where the Golf’s measures 380 litres, the Octavia’s measures a massive 590 litres.

So that’s holiday luggage sorted. Or a fortnight’s shopping. Plus there’s enough room inside for five adults (although the three in the back could be a touch squished). The driving experience is not quite as polished as the Golf’s and refinement levels are not as high, but it’s still perfectly enjoyable to drive and a decently refined car. Interior trim is a little hard and plasticky in places, too, but you get the impression that it will last almost indefinitely no matter what punishment you throw at it.

Choose upmarket Elegance trim and the economical but strong 1.6 diesel and the Octavia makes a convincing case for itself. Only its price looks a little steep given its less than starry image.
Skoda Octavia buying guide

6. BMW i3

Typical example BMW i3 94Ah with Range Extender
Latest BMW i3 deals from £14,980
Finance from £243 per month

The BMW i3’s futuristic looks divide opinion. Many love its fresh take on family hatchback design, but some find its lines a bit fussy and ungainly.

Its sci-fi looks are backed up by an equally advanced drivetrain, however. The i3 can be specified as a purely electric car – with no petrol motor at all – or as what is called a ‘range-extender’ version. This is a small petrol engine that doesn’t drive the car’s wheels directly, but helps generate power for the battery, to make it go further between battery top-ups (or petrol fill-ups). All i3 models offer a surprising turn of speed, but the i3s, introduced in late 2018, offers a little more pace and slightly sportier handling.

Early pure electric models with lower-capacity battery batteries struggled a little for range, especially the smallest 60Ah model, which can only muster around 70-80 miles between charge-ups. Later models fare far better, with a range of between 150 and 230 miles (the latter for the range-extender).
BMW i3 buying guide

7. Renault Megane

Our pick Renault Megane 1.5 dCi Dynamique S Nav
Latest Renault Megane deals from £10,000
Finance from £147 per month

We’re talking about the latest Megane here, launched in 2016.

Highlights of this stylish French hatch are much improved build quality, better styling inside and out (a bit of a return to form for Renault), an improved driving experience and a much more up to date – even plush-feeling – interior. Its boot is bigger than a Vauxhall Astra’s (434 litres compared with 370 litres) but it’s an achievement that has come at the expense of rear interior space.

Go for the economical 1.5 diesel in Dynamique S Nav trim with, as the name suggests, a sat nav.
Renault Megane buying guide

8. BMW 1 Series

Our pick BMW 116d ED Plus 5dr
Latest BMW 1 Series deals from £9,190
Finance from £138 per month

If it’s a sporty drive you’re looking for, you’ve come to the right place with the BMW 1 Series. This little family hatchback is a traditional rear-wheel-drive BMW. This means it’s more entertaining to drive than a VW Golf, and much more like a traditional sports car - except with the added bonus a practical hatchback body.

The only slight problem is that rear-wheel drive also means the rear cabin is a little cramped, owing to the fact that the transmission tunnel (required to take power to the rear wheels) reduces footwell space.

Interior quality is almost without equal, however, and BMW makes terrific diesel engines: smooth, refined, punchy and economical. The 1 series’ 1.6 diesel is no exception.
BMW 1 Series buying guide

9. Kia Cee'd

Our pick Kia Cee'd 1.0T GDi ISG 2
Latest Kia Cee'd deals from £6,741
Finance from £109 per month

If a thoroughly sensible seven-year/100,000-mile warranty doesn’t tempt you into a nearly-new Kia Cee’d, then how about the prospect of rock-solid reliability? Or great value for money?

On top of all that, the Kia Cee’d delivers the practicality, driving experience, equipment levels and interior build quality to match any of its rivals. In short, the Kia Cee’d is a Golf in everything but the VW badge. In 2018 a refreshed model was introduced, but the qualities of both newer and older models remain undimmed.
Kia Cee'd buying guide

10. Audi A5 Sportback

Our pick Audi A5 Sportback 2.0 TDI SE
Latest Audi A5 Sportback deals from £12,899
Finance from £184 per month

The Audi A5 Sportback may be based on the Audi A4 saloon but it transforms that car into a more practical proposition. That said, like the BMW 3 Series GT, it’s a sporty, almost coupé-like car.

It’s most at home on the motorway and is fun on twisty roads, but lacks the BMW’s sharpness. Many versions are fitted with Audi’s famous quattro four-wheel drive system that boosts grip levels on slippery roads.   

It’s a shame it’s not just a bit bigger. The 480-litre boot is the same size as an A4’s but of course you can drop the rear seats to create a much more usable load area. The rear cabin is cramped, too. Really, there’s space here only for children.
Audi A5 review

            

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