Top 10: Small hatchbacks
Downsizing used to mean sacrificing the space, comfort, and convenience features that we took for granted in bigger, more expensive cars. But no longer thanks to high quality and comfortable small cars. Here we list your most popular 10.
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It may not have the most 'youthful' of images but the Fabia is nontheless a very good hatchback. Plus with sporty looking versions like the Monte Carlo - pictured above, you can at least inject a bit of style into the mix.
It's a big step forward from its predecessor with a far better interior and improved material quality. Equipment levels are decent with entry-level S models getting DAB and Bluetooth connectivity, with the SE adding better audio and air-conditioning. Quiet, comfortable and safe it’s a solid all-rounder.
The latest Ford Fiesta takes everything that has given its predecessors so much success – practicality, sensible pricing and great handling – and adds in extra comfort, refinement and technology. It’s easily one of the best small hatchbacks on the market.
Perfectly set up for British roads, the Fiesta irons out rough roads and potholes plus is surprisingly quiet on the motorway. Yet it still has excellent, communicative steering and a light gear change. That means it’s great to drive on a B road and makes light work of corners.
We like the small Toyota’s blend of build quality and refinement plus going for a hybrid version brings some very impressive efficiency figures. By combining a 78PS 1.5-litre petrol engine and the Hybrid Synergy Drive it claims to achieve 78mpg with just 75g/km of CO2. That said, the standard petrol engines offer decent enough economy with lower prices.
Whichever Yaris you choose there’s little in the way of handling flair but its composed and smooth riding. It also looks good and is quite well-equipped. Plus, being a Toyota, it's very unlikely to ever go wrong.
The latest Jazz takes all the strengths of its predecessor - namely clever packing, an incredibly practical interior and Tardis-like amounts of space - and builds on them to create one of the best small hatches on sale.
It's also well equipped for the money and comes with pretty much all the extras you will ever need. Add in its big car feel along with a high quality finish and the Honda starts to justify its higher price tag. Plus of course no other small car offers as much interior space and practicality as the Jazz - helped by its clever 'magic seats'. It's simply the most versatile small car on sale and one that's easy to recommend.
The Suzuki Baleno might not be the most exciting car on sale, nor is it particularly luxurious, but if you’re looking for good value above all else it’s a great choice. Affordable prices, a generous level of standard equipment, plenty of cabin space and low running costs make the Baleno a compelling choice for thrifty buyers.
The nearest rival for the Baleno in terms of size, space and price is the Skoda Rapid Spaceback, but it doesn’t have the same amount of standard equipment and it costs more – though it is available with diesel power. However, if you want a petrol-powered family-friendly hatchback the Suzuki Baleno makes a lot of sense for budget-conscious buyers.
It's odd that Suzuki has two small hatchbacks in its range. Apparently the Baleno is the car you buy with your head while the Swift is the one you'd choose with your heart. Quite. We think the Swift has the nicer interior and although not as spacious as the Baleno, it's also better to drive.
It's available with the same engines - but given the choice, we'd opt for the 1.0 Boosterjet which gives the Swift a surprising turn of speed but also returns strong fuel economy figures.
Those who want a classy small car can’t go far wrong with the i20. Designed and built in Europe, the i20 is nicely suited to life on UK roads, with suspension and steering that make it easy to drive on our much maligned British roads.
Until the arrival of the 1.0T GDI, it did not offer the best engine range in this class, but there is little else to pick fault with. Build quality is excellent, the handling is decent and practicality is good – plus there is a five-year unlimited mileage warranty to give buyers some extra peace-of-mind.
Effortless to drive, spacious and backed by an excellent range of petrol engines, the Volkswagen Polo is the best excuse you’ll ever need for downsizing your daily driver. Admittedly, it lacks the value of its talented rivals, but the refined and practical sixth-generation Polo is one of the most-accomplished cars in its class.
The best engine in the range is the 1.0 TSI. In our view it's one of the best turbocharged three-cylinder petrol engine you can buy, with lively performance and claimed economy exceeding 60mpg.
It may be one of the older models here, but we still think the little Clio is a good looking hatchback. It's also decent to drive with the 0.9 TCe a great match and surprisingly refined for a small three-cylinder engine. You can expect around the mid 40s for mpg according to Real MPG.
Equipment levels are generally good, bolstered by the optional R-Link infotainment set up, but the Clio is starting to feel its age inside. The interior quality and design feel a step behind others like the Skoda Fabia.
If you liked the previous generation 2 - and we did - you’ll find the latest model has really moved the game on for the smallest Mazda. The styling is much sharper than before and the 2 benefits from the super-efficient Skyactiv technology with a range of 1.5-litre petrol and diesel engines.
Good to drive and with slick controls, there’s also a smart cabin featuring touchscreen infotainment. Things do get a bit pricey higher up the range though.