Best hatchback cars 2024

Family hatchbacks offer a compelling blend of practicality, affordability and driving enjoyment. Here are 10 of the best hatchback cars you can buy right now.

By Craig Cheetham Feb 6, 2024

If you don’t want the running costs of an SUV, but need a car that’s big enough for the school run or has a large enough boot for a week away, then a mid-size hatchback could be just the ticket

The best hatchbacks are fun to drive and offer refinement and comfort, with the practicality of folding seats and compact enough dimensions to make them easy to park and manoeuvre.

 

They usually come with a broad range of specification options, too – petrol, diesel, hybrid and sometimes even electric, with manual or automatic transmission. That means you’re highly likely to find one that’s ideal for your needs, whether you live in the city or are based in a rural area. 

Each of the cars on this list offers great value for money. The best advice is to whittle your shortlist down to two or three models that suit your requirements the most, then hunt for the most appealing deals, new or used. Here are the 10 best hatchback cars you can buy right now.

 

SEAT Leon

Best hatchback car for outright flair
Our pick: SEAT Leon 1.5 TSI SE Dynamic
Read our full SEAT Leon review

Of all the best hatchback cars on our list, the SEAT Leon is arguably the most stylish, with angular, dynamic lines and a strongly sculpted profile. If you’re in the market for a car that has a bit more verve than its rivals, and at a very attractive price level, then the SEAT Leon is it.

Available in a simple line-up of three trims – SE, SE Dynamic and the sporty FR – the SEAT Leon is marketed as a sporty hatchback and aimed at a younger audience than many of its rivals. But that doesn’t stop it from being practical, with a decent-sized boot and a comfortable, spacious cabin. There’s state-of-the-art connectivity as well.

Five engines are offered: 1.0, 1.5 and 2.0-litre turbocharged petrols, a 1.4-litre hybrid and a 2.0-litre diesel, meaning there’s a SEAT Leon to suit all requirements.

Volkswagen Golf

Best hatchback car for feelgood factor
Our pick: Volkswagen Golf 1.5 TSI SE
Read our full Volkswagen Golf review

If there was ever a blueprint for the ideal compact hatchback, the Volkswagen Golf would be it. Now in its eighth generation, it remains one of the most desirable cars of its type. 

Well built, beautifully engineered and fantastically comfortable, the Volkswagen Golf feels like a special car even in the lower trim levels, while higher-specification models feel very special indeed, albeit at a price.

For day-to-day duties, the mid-trim petrol and diesel variants will suffice, while there are also hybrid and plug-in hybrid models available if you have the budget. All are spacious, refined and well-packaged, with a comfortable ride and fun, predictable handling. Safety kit is excellent, and multimedia connectivity as good as anything else in the class. 

Audi A3

Best hatchback car for premium luxury
Our pick: Audi A3 40 TFSI S line
Read our full Audi A3 review

If you want all the accoutrements of a luxury car, but don’t have the space or need for a posh saloon, the Audi A3 is a brilliant compromise. It’s every bit as smartly finished and aspirational as larger Audis, while its relatively affordable pricing means it’s a regular at the top end of the sales charts

Based on the same platform as the Volkswagen Golf, the Audi A3 offers an even more upmarket feel to its interior and is well-equipped and stylish, with a vast choice of specifications. The most desirable are at the higher end of the line-up, where all the best tech is to be found, including digital screens for both the instruments and centre console. 

Petrol, diesel, plug-in hybrid and mild hybrid engines are all on offer. The entry-level engine is the 1.0-litre 110PS petrol, badged 30 TFSI, but the 150PS 1.5-litre 40 TFSI is notably more powerful and not much more expensive. It’s the pick of the range, unless you require ultra-low emissions. If you do, there are two TFSI-e models that will cover up to 40 miles on electric power alone.

Ford Focus

Best hatchback car for driver appeal
Our pick: Ford Focus 1.0 EcoBoost Titanium
Read our full Ford Focus review

If you love driving, then you’ll love the Ford Focus, which is not only a practical and well-trimmed family hatch, but also has a superb chassis, with fantastic steering and handling to rival some sports cars

There’s also a vast range of engines and trim levels to choose form, whether that’s the lively EcoBoost petrol units or Ford’s punchy and frugal diesels, which still make a lot of sense if you cover larger mileage. All are well-equipped and the latest models come with Ford’s exceptional SYNC5 infotainment system, which is compatible with both Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.

You’ll find a Ford dealership in almost every town, plus there’s a wide range of nearly new and used examples to choose from should you wish to save a bit of money over a new one.

Vauxhall Astra

Best hatchback car for surpassing expectations
Our pick: Vauxhall Astra GS 130PS
Read our full Vauxhall Astra review

Now in its eighth generation, the latest Vauxhall Astra has evolved from the rather ordinary hatchback it once was to being a sharp and desirable machine, with fantastic styling led by the new ‘Vizor’ front end and bold LED headlamps. 

Under the skin, it has an agile chassis, making it a lot of fun to drive, while there’s a good spread of power choices with petrol, plug-in hybrid and full-electric versions all available.  Unless you need a hybrid model for tax or emissions purposes, the 1.2-litre 130PS petrol engine is your best bet. It’s a versatile and lively all-rounder. The 1.6 plug-in hybrid – the GSe – is also a great car, but it’s notably more expensive. 

The Vauxhall Astra is also well catered-for in terms of in-car technology and safety, sharing many of its systems with the Peugeot and Citroen models that were developed alongside it. In a class where it was once an also-ran, the Vauxhall Astra is suddenly a desirable option.

Renault Megane

Best hatchback car for exterior style
Our pick: Renault Megane RS Line TCe 140
Read our full Renault Megane review

The Renault Mégane is hard to beat in terms of style – its full LED headlights, C-shaped front indicators and scrolling rear indicators, plus bold front grille, make it an alluring proposition. It’s not quite as dramatic inside, but the cabin is stylish enough, with a smart upright central touchscreen display and supportive sports seats.

Furthermore, the 1.3-litre 130PS turbo engine that powers the bulk of Renault Mégane models is a bit of a hidden gem – lively, economical and with a pleasing soundtrack, it makes the car good fun to drive, especially when equipped with the six-speed manual gearbox. A dual-clutch auto is also offered, but it’s not as engaging. If you need maximum frugality, there’s also a 1.5-litre diesel, but it’s quite rare to find one. 

The Renault Mégane was recently replaced by the new Renault Mégane e-Tech Electric, which is offered only as an electric car. It means the model is only available used, but there’s plenty of choice.

Skoda Octavia

Best hatchback car for luggage capacity
Our pick: Skoda Octavia 1.5 TSI SE DSG
Read our full Skoda Octavia review

The 600-litre boot you get in the Skoda Octavia wouldn’t disgrace some estate cars. It’s also much bigger than you’ll find in many tall and boxy SUVs. Add to that comfort, refinement and excellent value for money, and the Czech car is a convincing choice.

There’s a wide range of petrol and diesel engines from which to choose, and while the interior space matches that of a big car, the running costs do not. 

For many owners, the petrol 1.5 TSI models will make the most sense, especially with the dual-clutch auto DSG gearbox, but don’t discount the diesels if you do big mileages. Skoda makes some very good ones.

Peugeot 308

Best hatchback car for style and dynamics
Our pick: Peugeot 308 1.2 130 Allure
Read our full Peugeot 308 review

Luggage space in the Peugeot 308 is some way off what you’ll find in the Skoda Octavia, but that’s the case for every other family hatchback. The 470-litre offering will be suitable for most, and it’ll expand to 1,185 litres if you fold down the rear seats.

However, unlike the Skoda Octavia, the Peugeot’s boot has been enlarged by squeezing rear passenger room, making the back seats cramped for adults. It does have a more stylish look, though, which may well be a priority for some owners and lends the French car a healthy dose of chic appeal.

Under the extremely handsome exterior, it’s the same as the Vauxhall Astra and has the same engine choices, of which the 130PS 1.2-litre petrol is the best all-rounder.

Hyundai i30 Fastback

Best hatchback car for under-the-radar appeal
Our pick: Hyundai i30 Premium SE
Read our full Hyundai i30 review

The Hyundai i30 Fastback is based on the spacious Hyundai i30 hatchback, but with a bigger boot. The five-door model’s 450-litre boot space can accommodate a surprising amount of luggage, and even when fully loaded, the car feels more agile than the standard hatchback, which has a 395-litre capacity. 

Considering the sleek and sporty appearance, the fact it has quite so much space may come as a surprise, but it’s not a car you should overlook, not least because it’s also great to drive. It has sharp steering and handling and a range of lively turbocharged engines, with a choice of six-speed manual or seven-speed dual-clutch automatic gearboxes. 

It is also offered with a five-year, 100,000-mile warranty for extra peace of mind.

Honda Civic

Best hatchback car for families
Our pick: Honda Civic EX Sport
Read our full Honda Civic review

The Honda Civic is a great hatchback car on many levels, with performance and handling near the top of the class and an excellent reliability record. But its real trump card is the space on offer. 

It’s almost as practical as an SUV, with loads of rear legroom and a massive boot, but in a sleek, handsome body. The space comes as a result of its longer than average wheelbase and wide track, making it a more roomy option than rivals such as the Vauxhall Astra and Volkswagen Golf

It’s also a lot of fun to drive – not quite as sharp as a Ford Focus, but with fine roadholding and rewarding steering that make it engaging on twisty roads. Even the hybrid models are perky, and Honda has a well-earned reputation as one of the best manufacturers of petrol engines in the entire car industry.