Best cheap hatchbacks

Looking for an affordable, reliable, jack-of-all-trades kind of car? The best hatchbacks offer space, value, plenty of equipment and more

James Wilson
Sep 30, 2021

Cheap hatchbacks are miracle workers. Not only are they affordable, comfortable, practical for their size and fun to drive in many cases, but they're typically easy to drive and cost very little to run. Better still, with hatchbacks varying from cheap city cars to supersized family cars with massive boots, there should be one to suit your needs and budget.

Talking of 'budget', your cheap hatchback doesn't have to be basic; if you want it to come with a hint of luxury there are numerous options from compact but posh-feeling Minis to large and upmarket Audis to choose from. Click on the link below to search for the best deals on hatchbacks of all sizes available now.

If you're unsure what 'hatchback' means, it refers to cars where the metal and the glass rise together when you open the boot, leaving a wider opening than with a saloon where just the metal rises and the glass remains in place.

The main benefit with a hatchback is that you can load larger items into the boot and you have an increased amount of load space for the length of car if you lower the rear seats. One downside is that some saloons - where the boot is better separated from the cabin - can be quieter on the motorway, but the difference is normally small.

All the hatchbacks featured below can be scooped up for less than £12,000, including a selection of hybrid, petrol and diesel models and those with manual and automatic gearboxes. Opt for finance, and monthly payments typically come in at around £150 per month - far less than this in some cases.

Pick certain models and you can benefit from long warranties that mean you'll be covered even if you choose a three-year-old car, especially if you go for something like a Kia, which comes with a seven-year warranty. Read on to find the best hatchback for your needs.

Best cheap hatchbacks

1. Dacia Sandero

Best cheap hatchback for price and size

Our pick Dacia Sandero 0.9 TCe Ambiance
Used deals from £4,900
Monthly finance from £112*

The Dacia Sandero is incredibly affordable new and even cheaper used, making a second-hand Sandero a steal. The Sandero's key selling point is that it is the cheapest new car you can buy, and while that doesn't necessarily ring true on the used market, it's still great value considering it's the same size as a Renault Clio.

To get the best Sandero deal, you'll want to pick the right model, though, as entry-level Sandero Access models are very, very basic - so basic they don't include a radio, any electric windows or air-conditioning. All of the other trims thankfully come with far more kit for a relatively small premium.

With petrol and diesel engines on offer, you get a choice between a super-cheap and basic 1.2-litre petrol, a more responsive 0.9-litre petrol engine, which thanks to a turbocharger offers greater power, plus a diesel option for increased fuel economy. The 0.9-litre 'TCe' petrol should suit most drivers well. You'll have to stick with a manual gearbox, though, as an automatic is not available.

If you can afford higher monthly payments, a new version of the Dacia Sandero went on sale in 2020, and prices for that start at £201 per month.

DACIA SANDERO BUYERS' GUIDE

2. Skoda Fabia

Best cheap hatchback for great equipment and technology

Our pick Skoda Fabia 1.0 TSI 95 SE L
Used deals from £8,795
Monthly finance from £178*

The Skoda Fabia is a great all-round hatchback – it comes in at the right price, with the right engines - provided you avoid the least powerful 60hp option - and the right equipment, with only entry-level S trim proving a little basic. Go for an SE L model, on the other hand, and you get loads of standard kit for your money.

As standard SE L models come with alloy wheels, cruise control, rear parking sensors, LED daytime running lights and a 6.5-inch media system which includes sat-nav as well as Apple CarPlay and Android Auto functionality.

A wide range of Skoda Fabias are available, so whether you are hunting for a petrol, diesel, manual or automatic you should be able to find the right car. There is even an estate version (which is still technically a hatchback) should you need a larger boot. This has one of the largest boots available in a car this size, so it's well worth considering if you want the most practical car for your money.

SKODA FABIA BUYERS' GUIDE

3. Kia Rio

Best cheap hatchback for a long warranty

Our pick Kia Rio 1.0 T-GDI 100hp '3'
Used deals from £12,350
Monthly finance from £221*

This version of the Kia Rio launched in 2017, so depending on your budget you could be looking at either a current-generation Rio or the previous-generation version. This means that you can choose from higher-specification old models or mid-specification new-shape models for less than £12,000.

Even if you go for the old version, in most cases you should have plenty of years of warranty left, since Kia covers its vehicles for seven years or 100,000 miles (whichever comes first). This means that you can be confident that if anything out-of-the-ordinary goes wrong with the car, the warranty should protect you if the car is defective. Consider that a three-year-old Ford Fiesta would be out of warranty while a three-year-old Rio would still have four years' cover left and this is a big selling point.

Don’t think that is all the Rio has to offer. Opt for one of the diesel models and you get a vehicle with extremely high official economy figures - some nearing the 80mpg mark. While it may be hard to achieve those figures on real roads, you can be sure that this is one of the most economical small cars and could dramatically cut your fuel bills if you cover high mileages.

KIA RIO BUYERS' GUIDE

4. Toyota Yaris Hybrid

Best cheap hatchback for eco-credentials

Our pick Toyota Yaris Hybrid Icon 5dr
Used deals from £9,995
Monthly finance from £189*

Toyota has a long history of producing petrol-electric hybrid cars and the Toyota Yaris is one of the smallest hybrids you can buy. As the Yaris Hybrid has been on sale for a number of years, it is the car to go for if you want a small, affordable used hybrid hatchback, with plenty of choice available - and as a result, prices are low too.

The Yaris is ideally suited to those who regularly drive in built-up areas as the assistance from the electronics helps you save fuel and when you brake it helps to recharge the battery pack. Be aware, though, that while Yaris Hybrids have been on sale for many years, most Yaris models are conventional petrol and diesel models, so if you want a hybrid double-check whether the ones you're considering are hybrids.

The Yaris's hybrid system is classed as 'self-charging', meaning that the car cannot be plugged into the mains to charge. It offers a boost around town, contributing to reduced fuel consumption rather than being able to power the car for any great distance using battery charge alone. As with any hybrid, this version of the Yaris comes with an automatic gearbox.

TOYOTA YARIS BUYERS' GUIDE

5. Skoda Octavia

Best cheap hatchback for space

Our pick Skoda Octavia 1.6 TDI 115hp SE L
Used deals from £10,424
Monthly finance from £197*

The Skoda Octavia may not look exciting, but it's one of the best cars money can buy, as it covers so many bases. The Octavia is spacious, comes with plenty of standard equipment and a range of fuel-efficient engines.

With so much on offer, however, Skoda has increased prices compared with previous versions, so it isn’t as keenly priced as it once was. Pick a used model, though, and you can get far more for your money.

The Octavia is built on the same platform as the Volkswagen Golf - meaning it benefits from a wide range of petrol and diesel engines and manual and automatic gearboxes - but offers a huge boot and enough space for five.

As for the best model to buy, like the SE L specification offers a great balance between equipment and price – SE L replaced Elegance, with the latter being a great option if you find a slightly older car that fits the bill.

SKODA OCTAVIA BUYERS' GUIDE

6. Renault Captur

Best cheap hatchback for those after a crossover

Our pick Renault Captur 0.9 TCe 90 Iconic
Used deals from £7,799
Monthly finance from £165*

High-riding crossovers and SUVs can normally be considered as inflated hatchbacks, which is why the Captur makes it on to this list. While those seeking driving thrills will want to look elsewhere (few high-rise crossovers can beat a regular hatchback for agility, as their height makes them roll more in corners) the Captur looks good, has a smart interior and thanks to fuel-sipping engines should be cheap to run.

For £12,000 you have a wide range of models to choose from, including updated 2017-on models, so restrict your searches to post-2017 models if you want the freshest looking models. An updated version arrived in 2020, which has helped push prices of the previous generation down.

Iconic models are the best spec-wise but the best engine for you will depend on how and where you drive. The TCe 90 petrol is great for those who drive mostly around town while the TCe 130 petrol is a better option for those who often find themselves on faster roads, as it has more power. Diesel versions are available too, as is the choice between manual and automatic gearboxes – although not every engine has an automatic option.

RENAULT CAPTUR BUYERS' GUIDE

7. Peugeot 208

Best cheap hatchback for those after some fun

Our pick Peugeot 208 GTi Prestige
Used deals from £9,200
Monthly finance from £174*

Proof that fun doesn’t always have to be expensive is the Peugeot 208 GTi - now available for well under £12,000 for a relatively recent model. The hot 208 features a powerful 1.6-litre turbocharged petrol engine producing just over 200hp - plenty of power for a car of this size and weight.

These figures translate to a 0-62mph time of less than seven seconds and a top speed of more than 140mph. That said, the official fuel economy figure sits at more than 45mpg - so if you drive in a relaxed manner your fuel bills should be reasonable. Consider that the 208 GTi is such a fun car to drive, however, and you're likely to be having too much fun zooming around to worry about the economy you're getting.

There have been three main trims offered – the standard GTi, GTi Prestige and GTi by Peugeot Sport. GTi Prestige models come better equipped (with niceties such as sat-nav and a panoramic glass roof for a more airy feel, but the Peugeot Sport models came with extra performance parts.

PEUGEOT 208 BUYERS' GUIDE

8. Ford B-Max

Best cheap hatchback for those after a people carrier

Our pick Ford B-Max 1.0T EcoBoost 125hp Zetec
Used deals from £6,850
Monthly finance from £160*

As relatively compact people carriers go, the B-Max is mighty good. Not only does it fill the brief of being practical, easy to use and cheap to run, it is also great to drive, largely down to the fact it is closely related to the agile and fun-to-drive Ford Fiesta underneath the skin.

Ford also threw in some rather snazzy doors, with the rear doors sliding open – great for avoiding car park door dents while letting impatient children, or indeed adults, in and out of the car – while the front doors open normally, with no pillar separating the front and rear rows of seats. This makes it supremely easy to get in and out - wherever you're sitting.

On the second-hand car market, there is a good choice between petrol and diesel models, plus those with automatic and manual gearboxes. As for trims, Zetec, Zetec Navigator, Titanium and Titanium X are the most common, with Zetec being the model to pick. Zetec includes a digital radio, electric windows, air-conditioning, a heated windscreen and powered mirrors.

FORD B-MAX BUYERS' GUIDE

9. Seat Mii

Best cheap hatchback for those after a tiny vehicle

Our pick Seat Mii 1.0 60hp SE 5dr
Used deals from £7,250
Monthly finance from £135*

Simple, fun and cheap to run sums the Seat Mii up. While city cars which drive well around town are common, the Mii stands up well to being driven on the motorway as well.

Petrol engines are the only option, but buyers can choose between manual and automatic gearboxes. If price is your biggest concern, then SE models are the ones to go for. As standard SE includes alloy wheels, air-conditioning and electric front windows. Should you want sportier styling, though, FR Line models are the ones to hunt down.

Back in 2011, the Seat Mii scored a full five stars out of five in official crash testing, however, it was retested in 2019 and scored just three stars, as the tests have become harder. While the Mii is still a safe small car, if you want the absolute safest option you're better off going for a bigger model or a hatchback launched more recently and benefitting from the latest safety kit.

SEAT MII BUYERS' GUIDE

*Representative PCP finance - Ford Fiesta:

48 monthly payments of £192
Deposit: £0
Mileage limit: 8,000 per year
Optional final payment to buy car: £2,923
Total amount payable to buy car: £11,926
Total cost of credit: £2,426
Amount borrowed: £9,500
APR: 9.9%

Buyacar is a credit broker, not a lender. Our rates start from 6.9% APR. The rate you are offered will depend on your individual circumstances.

 

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