By Matt Robinson
Hatchback is such a broad term that it can apply to almost any car on the market, but because you will have read our full rundown on precisely what constitutes a hatchback (of course...but it’s here if you haven't) you’ll know that we’re looking specifically at things like city cars, superminis, compact hatches, family machines and more.
Below you’ll find the most popular hatchbacks you can lease today, of varying shapes and sizes. There are lots to choose from, so we’ve separated them into categories that you can quickly jump to if you’re especially interested in a certain type.
City Car Hatchbacks
These are the most affordable new cars on sale today and the smallest too. Designed as urban runarounds, they were once pretty primitive and therefore not much fun to live with, but if you don’t require a ton of cabin space then the latest, much-improved models might be all the hatchback you need.
You’ll be surprised how grown-up and refined this Korean city car feels. The second-gen Hyundai i10 of 2014 was a cracking little thing but the Mk3, launched in 2020, steps things on again. Lots of space in the cabin for this size of car, plenty of equipment, a long manufacturer warranty – all offered at competitive lease rates.
Annoying typographical its name may be, but the up! has always been the most desirable of the three city cars from the Volkswagen Group – the others being the SEAT Mii and Skoda Citigo, both of which are now electric-only. The cheeky little up! still comes with petrol engines and has the strongest residuals, so leasing rates are affordable.
This is related to the Hyundai i10 but the Kia Picanto is more wilfully stylish on the outside than its Korean cousin. You get big-car driving manners and loads of useful kit on the Picanto, with the 1.0-litre T-GDI three-cylinder turbo petrol being a particular engine highlight. Massive manufacturer warranty, too.
It’s not in the first flush of youth, having launched in 2014 in its second generation, but the Toyota Aygo continues to look sharp. Its Manga-inspired front-end styling keeps the Aygo funky and even the minimalist interior has an interesting look of its own, while running costs are as cheap as the proverbial chips.
Nothing does chic city style like the Fiat 500. An all-new model launched in 2021 went fully electric, but the petrol-powered car continues alongside it as the ‘500 Classic’. Small rear seats and boot aside, the 500 represents desirable motoring at its most affordable level.
Also Check Out:
SEAT Mii Electric
For years, the best-selling car in the UK was the Ford Fiesta and that is an ideal example of a supermini. Typically a 5-door hatch, as 3-door bodies are rarely offered by manufacturers these days (save for performance models), families with younger children could live with a supermini on a daily basis thanks to the increasingly luxurious specifications on these types of cars.
You don’t get to be the best-selling car in UK history by chance. The Ford Fiesta is now well into its seventh generation but it is still going strong, with smooth turbocharged engines and a quality interior. Alongside the excellent regular cars, there are even high-luxury (Vignale), performance (ST) and lifestyle (Active) derivatives of the Fiesta for you to consider.
Vauxhall’s evergreen Corsa has become a really impressive supermini following the latest generation’s 2019 launch, with evidence of the Peugeot-Citroen Group’s ownership clear to see in its uplift in quality. A fully electric model called the Corsa-e is offered but even regular combustion cars are well worth a look, thanks to their smart styling and a classy cabin.
Based on the same underpinnings as the Volkswagen Polo, SEAT seems to work out the supermini formula better than its German overlord. The Ibiza might not have the jazziest cabin in this class, but its sharp styling and sweet chassis make it tempting enough, only for SEAT to then ladle on lots of kit for your money, cheap running costs and competitive lease rates too.
Don’t snigger – there might be a blue-rinse connotation around Honda’s supermini contender but the Mk4 Jazz, launched in 2020, does many things very well indeed. It has a much-improved interior which retains those clever Magic Seats in the rear, allowing for the loading of tall items, while its clever hybrid drivetrain is smooth and refined, offering a neat balance of power and economy.
Superminis are rarely more attractive than the Peugeot 208. It has the sort of looks that seem like a concept car has made it into production barely changed, while the interior is one of the most interesting in this class – if you can get on with a tiny steering wheel, that is. Strong engine and trim lines are augmented by a fully electric version called the e-208.
Also Check Out:
Three of the top 5 best-selling cars in the UK were hatchbacks of this size. A family hatchback is big enough to function as a family motor, yet small enough to be easy to park in tight spots. They’re also very affordable to lease and won’t break the bank to run, either.
Two Volkswagen Group products make up our top 5 here but it’s the SEAT Leon we’re most impressed by. It blends youthful looks and attractive cabin design with some impressive in-car tech, a superb chassis and typically excellent petrol and turbodiesel drivetrains. There’s also a plug-in hybrid model if you want a bit of zero-emissions motoring from time to time.
Distinctive styling and a roomy, well-built cabin are the Honda Civic’s calling cards in the showroom, but you’ll want to lease one when you realise just how well this Japanese car drives. Wonderful, smooth VTEC Turbo engines power the range and you’ll find few finer manual gear shifts in all the world. Want some heat in your Civic? Try the wild Type R hot hatch out for size.
The Octavia’s greatest trick is that it is based on the same chassis as the Volkswagen Golf but the Skoda’s body is much bigger, so that you get far more cabin space and a massive 600-litre boot to play with for your money. Not only that, but the Skoda’s fastback shape is really appealing and the interior finishing is also top-notch on the latest Mk4.
Don’t be put off by Toyota reviving the Corolla nameplate for its latest compact hatch, launched in 2019. While older Corollas may have been phenomenally dull things, the new one is a sharp-suited, hybrid-powered class act, with a great chassis and a smart, generously equipped interior. It’ll likely be as reliable as clockwork, too.
Comfort, comfort, comfort – that’s what you get with the funky Citroen C4. It uses crossover styling themes in the main, but with a ‘Progressive Hydraulic Cushion’ suspension set up to be as soft as possible and a load of sound-deadening around the passenger compartment, the C4 will ease you through long-distance journeys in the most cosseting fashion imaginable.
Also Check Out
We all know Tony Blair famously coined the phrase ‘Mondeo Man’ back in the early 2000s – well, these are the cars which compete in that class today. Large hatchbacks and fastbacks aimed at both private and business users, these cars are designed to be a little more affordable than full premium rivals from Audi, BMW and so on.
Never has a car been more aptly named. The third-generation Skoda Superb launched in 2015 and it is not only absolutely massive inside (there’s an Estate version too, if you need to cart even more stuff around), but it feels like a top-quality item in everything it does when it’s on the move. A brilliant, brilliant machine, this. You might even say ‘superb’…
One of the best-looking cars of recent years in any market sector, the Peugeot 508 might appear to be a saloon but its cleverly hidden rear hatch means it is in truth a fastback. Hybrid drivetrains make up a good proportion of the range and there’s even a fast model with 360hp, but any 508 is going to make you happy with its handsome and accommodating cabin, refined manners and pleasing performance.
The Vauxhall Insignia is a much-underrated car, in our opinion. It’s almost as big in the cabin as the Skoda Superb, even if its boot doesn’t match up to the Czech car’s, and the Insignia has some of the finest adjustable dampers in the automotive business. Updates for 2021 have kept the Vauxhall feeling fresh.
Think of this as a racier Volkswagen Passat and you’ll understand what the swoopy Arteon is all about. There’s a deeply gorgeous Shooting Brake estate available too but the regular fastback is still a looker – and yes, it has a proper hatch at the back and everything. The cabin quality in here is second-to-none amongst its peers.
The Mondeo is still going but not for much longer – Ford is going to kill it off after 28 years in service. Therefore, lease one now while you still can, because despite the ageing interior and the lacklustre Hybrid model, a decent turbodiesel Ford Mondeo still has a cracking chassis and solid drivetrain.
These are cars of the size of a Volkswagen Golf, Ford Focus or similar, but which come from some of the more prestigious German manufacturers. As a result, they are often slightly more expensive to lease but they can be attractive financial propositions, due to their stronger residual values.
Audi A3 Sportback
Essentially a posh Volkswagen Golf, the Audi A3 Sportback is the ultimate aspirational hatch in this sector. It comes with a high-performance S3 model and even plug-in hybrids under the TFSI e badging, but any A3 has chiselled looks, a top-notch cabin and superb drivetrains. Quattro all-wheel drive, available on some models, only enhances the Audi’s all-round appeal.
The Mercedes A-Class is the most popular car of this type in the UK, thanks to its impressive lease rates. Not only that, but you get a fine-looking vehicle with one of the greatest cabins in any hatchback going – especially if you go for a higher-spec model with the full twin-screen MBUX infotainment and augmented-reality satnav.
BMW 1 Series
Once the standout car in this class due to its rear-wheel-drive nature, the 2019-launched third-generation of the BMW 1 Series is now much better in terms of its interior packaging. The looks won’t be to all tastes, but the quality interior and decent drivetrains in the BMW should satisfy anybody.
These are models which are not based on pre-existing hatchbacks, like the aforementioned Peugeot e-208 or Skoda Citigo-e, but rather cars which are only available with electric power for propulsion. These represent the long-term, zero-emissions future of affordable motoring.
It might look like the ‘old’ Fiat 500, which continues as the ‘500 Classic’ going forwards, but the all-new Italian city car is electric-only and all the better for it. Sumptuous ride quality and impeccable town manners couple to a zesty EV drivetrain that will give up to 199 miles of range if required.
Spectacular Scandi style denotes the Polestar 2, an all-electric hatch from the same parent company which oversees Volvo. Few cars have an interior as plush and eye-catching as the Polestar’s, while its large battery and twin electric motors means the 2 can do range and speed – up to 292 miles on a charge and 0-62mph in 4.7 seconds.
There was a Volkswagen e-Golf for a while but the ID.3 has superseded it. This is the first model in Volkswagen’s new all-electric family of cars, all to be sold under the ID banner, and you get stylish looks, a stripped-back but futuristic cabin, and up to 342 miles of range on a single charge of the biggest battery available in the ID.3.