Best hatchback 2024
There's no getting away from the fact that hatchbacks aren't as popular as they were a decade or so ago. Today, a lot of buyers prefer SUVs, which combine the practicality and low running costs of a hatchback with the high-riding stance of a 4x4.
But hatchbacks still have their place, which is why you're here looking for the best one. Some of the names are familiar, like the Volkswagen Golf and Ford Focus, but there's also a new breed of electric hatchbacks, such as the Cupra Born and Renault Megane E-Tech.
Why should you consider a hatchback in the age of the SUV? Well, they're likely to be cheaper to run, better to drive, easier to park and, in most cases, more affordable than their high-riding counterparts. We also reckon they look better, but that's a subjective opinion.
Here, we've name the best new hatchbacks you can buy right now.
The Volkswagen Golf is a family hatchback icon. It is the defining silhouette of the sector, and still one of the most recognisable cars on the road. It’s also one of the most popular, regularly appearing high up in the sales charts both in the UK and across Europe. The latest Golf 8 has a modern front end and an even more high-tech cabin, with nearly every control centered around a central touchscreen. It takes some getting used to, but does mean the Golf is more feature-packed than ever. Affordable petrol and diesel engines are offered, a plug-in eHybrid gives up to 44 miles of pure electric driving, plus there’s a broad range of sporty Golfs as well: pick from petrol GTI, hybrid GTE, diesel GTD or the ultimate Golf R hot hatch.
The latest Corolla has a far more interesting design than previous models, as Toyota looks to inject more verve into its model line-up. This carries through to the interior, which is as impeccably built as you’d expect. It’s roomy, with good passenger space and a decent boot – and that’s despite the Corolla coming as standard with a ‘self-charging’ hybrid powertrain. Pick from 1.8-litre or higher-output 2.0 motors: either will amaze you at how much driving can be conducted in zero-emissions electric mode, particularly around town. There’s a recent added incentive for buying a Toyota, too: up to 10 years’ manufacturer warranty, provided you get the car serviced at Toyota retailers.
The latest Mercedes A-Class is proving to be a real hit here in the UK. It’s a premium car that’s a regular in the best-selling cars chart, helped by enviable retained values that keep monthly finance payments competitive. The good-looking A-Class has a standout interior that feels modern and upmarket, while we love the array of screens – including the option of augmented reality sat-nav. Add in the deep-down feeling of integrity you get from all Mercedes-Benz cars and it’s easy to see why the A-Class is so popular. The flagship A 35 AMG and A 45 AMG models sit at the top of the range and offer the performance to rival a six-figure sports car.
A comprehensive overhaul in 2022 has kept the Ford Focus at the top of its class. Improved engines boast fuel-saving mild hybrid tech, and onboard functionality is to be enhanced with even larger screens for the infotainment system. It handles corners in a really engaging way, and never fails to put a smile on the face of its driver, regardless of what's under the bonnet. The 280PS 2.3-litre turbocharged ST hot hatch simply enhances this effect further.
The Cupra Born claims to be the first proper electric hot hatch, and we’re not going to argue. Cupra is SEAT’s performance brand, and all its cars are injected with performance, agility and a feeling of fun behind the wheel. Okay, so the Born isn’t quite up there with the best hot hatches in terms of outright fun, but it’s still very entertaining to drive, with tidy handling and lots of electric punch when you hit the accelerator. It’ll also manage 343 miles from a full battery, which is very competitive against even non-performance EVs.
The Mazda 3 is a top choice for enthusiasts and design aficionados alike. The company that gives us the MX-5 sports car has injected some of that spirit into its five-door hatchback, which handles in an engaging way and has some really effervescent engines. Our favourite is the Skyactiv-X, a revvy and revolutionary 186PS motor that delivers 30% fewer emissions than a traditional petrol engine. As for design, the Mazda 3 is an undoubted beauty. Its body is beautifully sculpted, with almost concept car-like surfaces, while the high-quality, tactile interior is more premium than some genuine premium brands. Then, of course, there’s Mazda’s promise of exceptional reliability, as the icing on the cake.
The current SEAT Leon is a car that’s evolved from an overtly sporty model into something well-rounded, but still with a welcome dose of sporty spirit. While it handles in an engaging way, the ride is more comfortable and noise levels are lower – particularly in the e-Hybrid plug-in hybrid. It’s a good looking car on the outside (we like FR grade) and it feels high quality and user-friendly on the inside. If you want the ultimate Leon, racy sister brand Cupra will also sell you a variant with the pace to beat a Ford Focus ST. Whichever Leon you choose, all benefit from the SEAT Easymove programme, which simplifies the purchasing process and maximises value for money.
The Skoda Octavia is a commodious family hatchback with an enormous 600-litre boot, even with the rear seats up. Not only is that bigger than any other hatchback in this sector, it’s also a match for many estate car alternatives. Plenty of Skoda ‘Simply Clever’ design touches, such as the ice scraper inside the fuel flap, make it easy to use, too. The Octavia also has loads of room for passengers, while an all-turbo range of engines provides enough oomph to cope even when fully-laden. The acclaimed Octavia vRS sits at the top of the range and is a genuine alternative to the Golf GTI.
The venerable Kia Ceed has recently been facelifted, giving it a fresh appearance and a further lift in interior quality and technology. As it was already a stylish and well-equipped car, this only enhances its appeal. Kia has even introduced some high-impact metallic colours (we love the new orange hue). Great-value prices are a feature across the board, particularly for the core 158PS 1.5-litre T-GDI petrol engine, which is available with a manual or seven-speed DCT automatic gearbox. There’s also the obvious draw of Kia’s excellent seven-year, 100,000-mile warranty, for ultimate long-term peace of mind.
Renault Megane E-Tech
The latest generation of Megane is an all-electric machine that marries up Renault’s considerable expertise in EVs with a new standard of interior and a sleek design. Where once the old Megane was an also-ran to the Ford Focus and Vauxhall Astra, the Megane E-Tech is now a top choice. All models are loaded with features, the cabin is the best that Renault has ever made, and the 60kWh battery will give you up to 280 miles from a single charge. It drives well, too, and the infotainment system is excellent.
What is the most reliable hatchback?
As some of the nation’s best-selling cars, the best family hatchbacks featured here are generally all very reliable. Our tips for the most dependable models are the Toyota Corolla and Mazda 3, which benefit from ever-excellent Japanese reliability. The Kia Ceed is also a very robust car that’s backed up by a seven-year warranty. Premium BMW and Mercedes-Benz models are reliable too, as are well-proven choices such as the Ford Focus. Increasingly, electric cars are proving themselves as very reliable choices, too, because they have far fewer moving parts than petrol or diesel vehicles.
Can I get an electric hatchback?
Full-electric hatchbacks are starting to fill up the showrooms, and there are more to choose from than we’ve listed here. While we love the Cupra Born and Renault Megane E-Tech, you could also check out the Volkswagen ID.3, along with the new Vauxhall Astra Electric, Peugeot e-208 and Citroen e-C4 Electric.
What is the best-selling hatchback?
In 2022, the MINI Hatch was the best-selling hatchback in the UK, among a sea of smaller hatchbacks like the Vauxhall Corsa and Ford Fiesta, and SUVs like the Nissan Qashqai and Ford Puma. The Volkswagen Golf was a top-seller, too. In 2023, the Vauxhall Corsa is likely to finish 'top of the hatches', although the MINI Hatch and Ford Fiesta will run it close.