Express & Star

The best hatchbacks you can buy in the UK today

Crossovers may be all the rage today, but small hatchbacks still have a say in the car market.


Crossovers and SUVs might be the go-to choice for British car buyers, however, the familiar hatchbacks can still win the hearts of a lot of people.

Hatchbacks still offer the same number of seats and impressive practicality of their high-riding cousins, but, with a more familiar driving experience and often better dynamics.

There are still plenty of offerings from European, Korean and Japanese car makers on the new market for hatchbacks.

Here is our guide to the best family hatchbacks on sale in the UK today.

Mazda 3

The Mazda 3 is one of the best looking small hatchbacks on sale. (Credit: Mazda Media UK)

The Mazda 3 is a great car to drive with sharp handling, a stylish exterior and a smart interior. It scores well with practicality, too, while running costs are low thanks to all versions getting Mazda’s M hybrid technology which lowers CO2 emissions.

Not only that, but Mazda’s always score well for reliability and after two decades and four generations of the 3 later, it’s a tried-and-tested platform.

Honda Civic

The Civic is great to drive and has one of the biggest boots in this sector. (Credit: Honda Media UK)

Now over 50 years old and into its 11th reincarnation, the Civic is one of the best hatchbacks you can buy today. Its cavernous boot space and class-leading driving dynamics make it one of the most appealing and entertaining cars in this segment.

All standard Civics now are hybrid only which should be good when it comes to running costs.

Additionally, you can also get a Type R variant with 319bhp and a six-speed manual gearbox, making it a perfect choice for the motoring enthusiast.

Ford Focus

The Ford Focus has been one of the best-selling hatchbacks in the UK ever since the original went on sale in 1998. (Credit: Ford Media Centre)

Sadly, next year, the Blue Oval is killing off one of its much-loved models – the Focus. But, for now, we’ve still got it and are making the most of its excellent driving experience thanks to sharp handling and well setup chassis – plus you can also get petrol or hybrid powertrains.

Furthermore, not only is the Focus a practical hatchback, but you can also have the option of an estate version as well.

Interior space is also impressive with decent leg and headroom for four adults and you can get an ST model that has a 2.3-litre turbocharged engine and 283bhp.

Vauxhall Astra

The Astra is good to drive and affordable to run. (Credit: Stellantis Media)

Like the Focus, the Astra is a very popular car here in the UK and since its first generation appeared over 40 years ago, it has gone on to become a very grown-up and likeable car.

The latest Astra went on sale in 2021 and shares a lot of its underpinnings with the Peugeot 308. Available in electric, petrol or hybrid format, the Vauxhall has affordable running costs across its range and if you want even more practicality, you can get it as an estate, too.

Skoda Octavia

The Octavia has class-leading interior and boot space. (Credit: Skoda Media UK)

The Octavia is a great all-rounder and that’s because it does everything so well. Its boot is one of the largest of any hatchback at 600 litres while the estate increases to 640 litres. It’s comfortable to drive and is very well made with a smart and easy-to-navigate dashboard.

A hot VRS model also gives more power and grip and is a lot sharper to drive, while still being able to carry passengers and their luggage in comfort. Its underpinnings are shared with the Volkswagen Golf, but the Octavia offers more interior space and luggage capacity.

Toyota Corolla

The Corolla is a great all-rounder. (Credit: Toyota Media UK)

A famous name that has rejoined us within the last five years is the Toyota Corolla. Once called the Auris, the familiar Japanese hatchback has been around since 1966 and in that time it has been known as one of the world’s best-selling cars.

The current generation is good to drive, offers ultra-low running costs and has a classy cabin – while maintaining Toyota’s reputation of making solid, dependable and reliable cars. An estate version called the Touring Sports is available as well as a Commercial version which is perfect for business users.

Volkswagen Golf

The Golf is the bench setter for small hatchbacks. (Credit: VW Press UK)

The Golf is seen as the benchmark of all the small family hatchbacks and that’s because of the image it has made for itself over the last 50 years. Available in hatchback or estate forms, the Golf has always been the vehicle of choice for those looking for a sensible and sedate car that does everything you could ever want a vehicle to do.

It’s well made, reasonably good to drive, has a solid cabin and an upmarket feel and there are performance-oriented models available including the GTi, R and Clubsport versions.

Audi A3

The A3 has a premium feel with low running costs. (Credit: Audi Press UK)

The A3 is virtually the same car as the Golf but with a slightly more premium badge. The interior quality of the Audi is one of the best in class and you can get a variety of different powertrains including petrol with mild hybrid technology, plug-in-hybrid and sporty S3 and RS3 versions.

Furthermore, the A3 can be had in either hatchback form or even as a compact saloon – giving buyers plenty of choice.

BMW 1 Series

The 1 Series may be front-wheel-drive now, but it’s still got great driving dynamics. (Credit: BMW Press UK)

The current 1 Series is the first iteration in its 20-year history to come with front-wheel-drive, but don’t let that put you off. The change in drivetrain still makes the BMW great fun to drive with direct steering and decent performance.

Space in the back may not be as spacious as a Golf or Civic but the 1 Series should be relatively affordable to run and own thanks to decent fuel economy and low emissions.

Peugeot 308

The 308 has bold exterior and interior styling. (Credit: Stellantis Media)

The 308 shares its running gear with the latest Vauxhall Astra, but the Peugeot has a much bolder exterior and interior look. Not only that but the Peugeot can be had with an electric version and a plug-in-hybrid variant to help with keeping running costs to a minimum.

While the backseats are a little snug for passengers, it makes up for that by offering a very large boot capacity.

Sorry, we are not accepting comments on this article.