10 of the best used family hatchbacks you can buy

07 July 2022 Blog

While SUVs might be more popular than ever, the humble family hatchback is usually exactly the car you need – here are 10 of the best hatchbacks you can buy

Crossovers might be giving the humble hatchback a run for its money, but this master of most trades remains the go-to choice for thousands of UK families. It all boils down to a classic combo of value for money, affordable running costs and compact dimensions bursting with five-door practicality. You can even have fun behind the wheel if you pick wisely, so no wonder seven out of the UK’s top-10 best sellers were hatchback-shaped in 2021.

The only problem is that buyers are spoilt for choice, which is why Motorpoint’s whittled down the current crop to a top-10 best of in the guide below…

VW Golf

The Mk8 Golf doesn’t so much re-write the rulebook as add a small appendix, but that’s long been the secret of its middle-class success. So this is a largely careful evolution of the Mk7, with similarly generous space in the same footprint and a gentle tweak to the exterior design. The bigger news is the introduction of mild-hybrid engines, a more cost-effective plug-in Hybrid 225 to sit below the GTE (basically a plug-in hot hatch) and a surprisingly radical tech roll-out that turns temperature controls into digital sliders and puts most controls on a touchscreen. The GTI is the most family-friendly hot hatch money can buy, and just remember that for humbler Golfs you’ll need 150hp or more for the multi-link rear axle with improved comfort and handling. 

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Tesla Model 3

Not long ago only early adopters popping brave pills bought Teslas, but get this – in 2021 the pure electric Model 3 became the UK’s second best-selling car of all kinds. The niche is now mainstream. The fact that the 3 is Tesla’s most affordable model and gives business buyers a big benefit-in-kind kickback clearly helps, but the appeal runs far deeper than that. The low-bonnet/big roof design is UFO cool, there’s a spacious interior plus a trunk and a frunk, and a whopping great 15-inch touchscreen to control pretty much everything, even a whoopee cushion. Factor in perky dynamics and thumping performance with up to 374 miles of range and it’s no wonder Brits can’t get enough of ’em. 

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Ford Focus

The Focus has always been the driver’s choice in this segment and the new one still leads the pack with its supple suspension and fleet-footed handling. A 50mm longer wheelbase compared with the previous model gives best-in-class rear legroom too. Turbodiesels come in 1.5- or 2.0-litre flavours, but the diddy 1.0-litre Ecoboost petrols are our pick – they offer surprisingly eager performance, especially when boosted by optional mild-hybrid tech for 155hp and an easy vault over the 50mpg bar. ST Line trim is your ticket to hot-hatch looks for less money, but the real McCoy is the ST with a 2.3-litre petrol engine shared with some versions of the Mustang. 

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VW ID. 3

Why the three in the name? Because Volkswagen says the ID. 3 is next in line after the Beetle and Golf, aka the mass-produced royalty of German car making. Crikey, no pressure then. Like its predecessors, the ID.3 is relatively affordable, but it’s a clean-sheet design built on new underpinnings and powered by nothing but electricity. Performance isn’t whoah-there rapid like a Tesla Model 3, and nor is the ID. 3 particularly exciting to drive, but its ace card is comfort and refinement on the go, an interior that’s much roomier than the compact exterior suggests and build quality to make the Tesla look shaky. Throw in up to 258 miles of zero-emissions range from a relatively small 58kWh battery and it’s easy to see the appeal. A radical VW, then, but one that’s déjà vu all the same. 

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Mazda 3

The unsung hero of the hatchback class, the Mazda 3 bottles much of the lightweight, responsive brilliance of Mazda’s MX-5 sports car and uncorks it in a more practical five-door body. The driver-focused cabin feels refreshingly calm in the touchscreen era (though an 8.8-inch touchscreen is standard), and the exterior design’s so slick and smooth you could skim it across a lake rather than take the bridge. Pick from 2.0-litre petrols with mild-hybrid tech or a 1.8-litre turbodiesel, there’s a choice of manual or auto gearboxes, and you can even upgrade from front-wheel drive to i-Active all-wheel drive. A hidden gem.

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SEAT Leon

The Seat Leon is a VW Golf letting its hair down on a Spanish resort holiday – the two are basically the same under the skin, but outside and in the SEAT rocks a younger, more stylish vibe. Core models are powered by either 1.0- or 1.5-litre petrols, both of which are optionally available with an eTSI mild-hybrid boost, or there’s a 2.0-litre turbodiesel to max out mpg. Spend a little more – well, £34k new is hot-hatch money, to be fair – and you can upgrade to a plug-in hybrid for 40 miles of zero-emissions freedom. The Cupra is your actual full-house hot hatch, or just pick FR Sport trim for a pinch of that spice with lower running costs.

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Kia Ceed

Not only is the Ceed a chunk cheaper than predictable choices like the VW Golf, it also boasts a seven-year 100,000-mile warranty, so even a four-year old model with 40k miles has as much warranty in hand as the default German offers when new. 1.0-litre petrols return up to 54.3mpg, diesels break through 60mpg, but the Ceed pulls at heartstrings too courtesy of a sharp design (the Korean maker nabbed Audi’s head of design years back), agile handling and trick infotainment features including an 8.0-inch touchscreen and Apple CarPlay and Android Auto as standard.

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Vauxhall Astra

Vauxhall’s just replaced the 2015-to-2021 Astra with a new ’un that’s well worth a look, but it also means there are even more tempting deals to be had on the previous model, which remains an underrated and cleverly engineered car. It’s a whopping 200kg lighter than its predecessor, easier to fit in a parking space but roomier inside, and boasts a chassis specially developed to flow over the UK’s – ahem – unique roads. Bag a 1.4-litre turbo petrol and you’ve got juicy performance with a whisker over 50mpg and a chassis that can dance over challenging landscapes like a primary schooler skipping through a playground.

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BMW 1 Series

Some people think BMWs have to be rear-wheel drive or maybe all-wheel drive at a stretch, and that the latest front-wheel-drive 1 Series should be pushed immediately from a cliff. What they won’t say is that driving from the front helps unlock much more rear-seat room and luggage space for growing families, and that the 1 Series still drives brilliantly because BMW’s honed its front-wheel-drive art on the Mini. Live Cockpit infotainment is arguably class-leading (and we’ll argue that case), three-cylinder petrol and diesel engines sip at fuel like hamsters gasping at pipettes, or why not go all-out with the M140i – a feisty all-wheel drive hot hatch that can run circles round the rear-drive oldtimers.

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Mercedes-Benz A-class

The A-class is Mercedes bringing its A-game to the hatchback segment. There are frugal petrol and diesels, all-wheel drive hot hatches in either warm A35 or molten-hot A45 flavours, and the A250e plug-in hybrid does a little of everything very well indeed – it’s quick despite fielding only 1.3 litres, handles tidily and can run free on electricity for up to 44 miles at a time. The best is saved for the interior, which brings a level of quality and premium fairydust that makes rivals look dowdy. MBUX infotainment is the jewel in the crown with twin 7.0-inch infotainment screens (or larger for higher specs) controlled by touchscreen, touch control or even ‘Hey Mercedes’ voice control that understands you better than a best mate.

Search used Mercedes A-Class models at Motorpoint