Written by Richard Bush ▼

Top ten best family hatchbacks

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Hatchbacks are the most popular segment on UK roads, with the likes of the Volkswagen Golf, Honda Civic, Ford Focus and Vauxhall Astra common sights and familiar names in the small family car class.

These cars - known in industry jargonese as C-segment models - mix practicality, interior size, good road handling and ride comfort and value for money. They are the undoubted all-rounder in European markets, and their continuing popularity is assured.

As such there is an ever-growing list of hatchbacks on the market, with ever-expanding niches such as small MPVs, hot hatches, coupe-cabriolets, small estates, crossover SUVs and 'hatchoons' all branching out from the hatch base.

It may be increasingly hard to discern which manufacturers make the best hatchbacks, and what to look for in a hatch. That being the case, we've compiled a list of what we reckon to be the best small-family hatchbacks on the market, with plenty of alternatives to consider if the main contenders don't take your fancy.

What's more you can use our request-for-quote process to get no-obligation free quotes on the car of your choice, or browse used models if you're ready to buy.

If you're just researching a purchase, be sure to check out our rundown of the top ten best hatchbacks below, and check out our expert reviews while you're at it.

Audi A3

Audi A3 Audi A3

The best of the 'premium' hatches, the Audi A3 has size and build quality on its side, plus the new refreshed model offers slick styling.

However, it's big (especially in Sportback versions) and it won't disappoint in handling, comfort or performance.

Citroen C4

Sadly the Citroen C4 doesn't transform into an ice-skating robot, but it is sufficiently different to be an eye-catching alternative to some of the other C-segment hatchbacks.

Impressive technology, nifty gimmicky steering wheel, funky exterior, comfortable interior.

The C4 won't win in the handling or practicality stakes against the Focuses of this world, but it offers something interesting and different.

Ford Focus

The Daddy. Multilink suspension, best-in-class handling, huge interior space and the ever famous EcoBoost engine range. The Ford Focus does it all, and it generally does it better than competitors.

Where Ford often gets it wrong, Ford of Europe generally gets it right - and the Focus is the most obvious example of European Blue Oval ingenuity. Ominpresent for a reason - it's a very good car.

Honda Civic

Honda Civic Honda Civic

The Honda Civic looks like nothing else on the road and is as fun to be in as it is to look at, with a futuristic cabin.

Certainly not the most practical hatch on the market though, with poor rear visibility and space, and a fairly harsh ride. The boot is huge though, so whack the third passenger in there if in doubt.

Handling doesn't quite live up to the Civic's space-age looks unfortunately.

Still, who cares when a hatch looks and feels this good? Brilliant.

Kia cee'd

If you can get past the unusual name, the Kia cee'd represents a bit of a seachange in the C-segment, er, segment. Kia's hatchback is a Korean car that breaks into the cosy Euro hatch world and shakes it up a bit.

Ride and handling is competent, size and practicality is decent, and running costs are very favourable - particularly with seven-year warranties.

Styling on the three-door pro-cee'd is also interesting, though the five-door is where the smart money is. Not a million miles away from the Hyundai i30, but this one has the edge.


Mazda3 Mazda3

Recently refreshed with the sexy Kodo body language, the Mazda3 will do everything you require of a hatchback quietly and without fuss. Comes up to scratch in all areas, but handling is the 3's forte. It's based on the Focus, so should do everything the Ford can.

Not the best looker in the line-up, but if that's not your thing you aren't likely to care. The 3 creeps in under the radar a bit in this line-up, but that doesn't mean it isn't an excellent hatchback.

Renault Megane

Renault Megane Renault Megane

Renault actually went a bit interesting with the last iteration of the Megane - shaking ass and all - so the French manufacturer has shaved off the rough edges to produce a typically European hatch, albeit one that boasts pleasing coupe lines.

This one's a lot more comfortable than the previous model too, with the slight trade-off that handling isn't quite what it once was.

The Renault Megane is a smart all-round package that combines looks and practicality to a good degree. A full coupe three-door version is huge fun, too.

Seat Leon

Seat Leon Seat Leon

VW underpinnings mean the Leon will always be a competent car, but it's fun to drive, comfortable and well built too.

In the right trim, the Seat Leon looks sufficiently cool and different from the rest of the pack. With the right engines the Leon will provide enjoyment and comfort all in one, too.

All Leons are five-doors, so practicality worries aren't an issue. Save a couple of grand on a Golf and get a car that's essentially the same.

Vauxhall Astra

Always the bridesmaid, Vauxhall supposedly went and bought a Focus and took it part to see how it works to build this Astra. As a result it covers the bases, with its own perks thrown in as well.

The Vauxhall Astra comes down on the handling side of the drive versus comfort equation, and it's good fun when paired with a decent engine.

Also built in the UK, so worth considering for that reason too.

Volkswagen Golf

Volkswagen Golf Volkswagen Golf

If the Focus is The Beatles, the Golf is The Stones. It's hard to say why, but cooler kids favour them, even if the Ford arguably has the edge.

An evergreen sight on roads, the latest Golf is one of the strongest iterations.

Engines and suspension set-ups - mostly carried over from the previous Volkswagen Golf model, but still up to the job - mean the Golf is one of the best drives in the segment, and probably the best in terms of quality and reliability.

Hatchback alternatives

If you're prepared to go out on a limb, or simply looking for a favoured marque, you could consider these other C-segment hatchbacks.

A blurring of the edges of the segment means that coupe and SUV-style models are now considered C-segment models, so any of the following may be worth a punt.

BMW 1 Series

Stylish exterior, though hardly unique when compared to other BMWs.

Good engines and strong handling can't overcome the fact that the 1 Series, as a hatch, doesn't really work. Small stowage space and high asking prices for a decent spec push it out of the top ten.

Chevrolet Cruze

Recently introduced new hatchback from Chevy that echoes the same muscular design of its Spark city car brother. Fair engine choice and up-to-date styling all round - but its compact body lets it down a little in the practicality department.

Hyundai i30

Quite desirable since its refresh with a new face and new fangled interior. It's either this or the Kia cee'd if they're your watchwords. Not much to choose between them, but the Kia's warranty is more generous.

Mercedes A-Class

Is it a hatchback? No-one knows, but of all Mercedes models the A-Class hatch is the most comparable to the other cars on the list.

Comfortable, roomy, practical. A realistic alternative to a Ford Focus? Probably not.

Mini One

The Mini exists in a niche of its own, but it's a potential hatch rival to the likes of the Golf and 1-Series. Fast, fun and cool - but hopeless if you need to transport more than two people.

Nissan Qashqai

Not really a hatchback in the classic sense, hence its absence from the top ten here, Nissan's mould-breaking Qashqai is a good drive, very roomy, comfortable and well made.

Some models are two-wheel drive only, and the most obvious C-segment alternatives.

Peugeot 308

A new 308 has recently been released and it ticks all of the un-ticked boxes from its predecessor, which included both looks and drive. But the highlight of the new 308 is definitely its new found style, with interior space being fair.

Skoda Octavia

Don't be fooled by the rear - the Octavia is a hatch (or 'notchback' if you're a geek) at heart, and a good one to boot. Roomy, practical and, since its refresh, well put together.

It's basically a Jetta, which is basically a Golf. And it'll be much cheaper and probably just as good, if not better.

If it wasn't for its backside it would be in the top ten.

Subaru Impreza

Breaking hearts of fanboys everywhere, Subaru decided to make the new Impreza a hatch. Clarkson was never more right than when he described it as a 'melted Rover 200'.

Not a bad car - it'll do most things well - just a puzzling one.

Toyota Auris

A safe and rather conservative option. Where Honda went mad with the Civic, Toyota hasn't really done anything with the former Corolla.

The Auris is a decent car and also comes with a hybrid variant, but many other cars are more fun and cheaper.

Citroen DS4

As part of Citroen's DS Line it naturally offers a sporty appeal and oodles of equipment - although quite a hefty price tag. If you are going to opt for a DS Line Citroen, why not go for the customisable DS3 supermini or luxurious DS5 estate.

Volvo C30

More of a coupe than anything else, but if you're willing to branch out, the good-looking, good-driving C30 is a possibility. A bit on the steep side, and limited practicality but you may not care when you're behind the wheel.

Volvo S40

Another head scratcher for those who like to classify their cars by segment. The S40 is another hatchback with a boot, possibly lined up against the premium hatches of Audi and BMW, but with a dash more practicality and space.

Alfa Romeo Giulietta

Very good looking car indeed, with sporty body lines and a stylish front grille. Its engine range is also quite impressive. Unfortunately it didn't quite make the cut into the top ten.

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