By Matt Robinson
What Is A Hatchback?
The hatchback is a popular choice for many and is one of the best-selling car-types in the UK. But what, precisely, is a hatchback? It is solely defined by its boot. If your car has a door (hatch) that opens upwards and is attached to the roof of the car, your car is a hatchback.
Which Cars Are Considered Hatchbacks?
There are loads of hatchbacks for you to choose from. If you don’t need a big car, you could go for a compact hatchback like the Kia Picanto, or any of the Hyundai i10, Toyota Aygo X or the Fiat 500 ‘Classic’ – or even the Electric model, if you’re feeling adventurous.
Looking for something a little larger? The Renault Clio, Vauxhall Corsa, Ford Fiesta or the Volkswagen Polo might be something worth considering; these size of cars are often referred to as ‘superminis’, by the way. Step up into something slightly bigger again and you might want to check out the Ford Focus, Vauxhall Astra or the SEAT Leon as something a bit roomier for you and your passengers.
What's The Difference Between A Hatchback And A Saloon?
The hatchback tends to be more compact for 1 thing, whereas saloons usually include more premium, upmarket models and are generally more expensive. There are other differences too, with the hatchbacks classed as a 2-box design where the cabin and boot are both parts of the same space – as in, 1 box is the cabin and boot, and the other contains the car's engine. The saloon, however, has a 3-box design, which means its cabin, boot and engine are all parts of different internal spaces.
What Is A Hot Hatch?
A hot hatch is a high-performance version of the hatchback. If you love car styling, the hot hatch usually includes bold design flourishes, normally including a tasty set of big alloy wheels into the bargain. Find our more in our pick of the very best hot hatches available in 2022.
Best Hatchbacks Of 2022
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.
Best 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 and all offered at competitive lease rates.
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 3-cylinder turbo petrol being a particular engine highlight. Massive manufacturer warranty, too.
Toyota Aygo X
Toyota has replaced its long-serving Aygo city car with the Aygo X (that’s pronounced ‘Cross’), which looks very similar but has a higher-riding, crossover-like stance. The styling and the surprisingly roomy interior are strong points, while the 1.0-litre 3-cylinder petrol engine is efficient, if not massively powerful as it lacks for a turbocharger. Nevertheless, the Aygo X’s bountiful equipment lists more than make up for the car’s lack of oomph.
Fiat 500 'Classic'
Nothing does chic city style like the Fiat 500. An all-new model launched in 2021 and 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.
Best Supermini Hatchbacks
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 performance (ST) and lifestyle (Active) derivatives of the Fiesta for you to consider. And a notable midlife model facelift at the end of 2021 kept the Ford supermini looking fresh.
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. No wonder it was the UK’s best-selling car of all in 2021, then.
The Volkswagen Group offers many variations on the supermini from its various brands, but the best of them right now is the Mk4 Skoda Fabia. It has all the usual Skoda attributes – it’s big inside with a large boot, while there’s lots of equipment provided across the spec levels – but the stylish passenger compartment is now of the highest quality, while the ultra-refined Fabia feels fantastic on the motorway; almost like a car twice its size and cost.
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.
Like the Honda Jazz above, the Toyota Yaris hasn’t always had the most enviable image. But the fourth-generation model of 2020 ought to change all that. It looks belting on the outside, it has a solidly made and attractive interior, and the 1.5-litre, 3-cylinder hybrid drivetrain is not only full of charm and great for efficiency, but the refinement levels have been massively improved over its immediate predecessor. In short, the Yaris Mk4 has gone from also-ran to genuine title contender in the supermini class.
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Best Family Hatchbacks
In 2021, 2 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.
There are two Volkswagen Group products making 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.
This is 1 of the longest-serving cars on sale today, with the latest Honda Civic Mk11 – yep, ELEVEN generations – launching in 2022. But such a long evolution has led to a truly excellent family hatchback this time around. Its slightly bland exterior styling is about the only black mark, as the Civic Mk11 is brilliant to drive, has only planet-friendly hybrid drivetrains and the superb interior has a weird highlight – some of the best air-vent controls ever!
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 model 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.
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Best Large Hatchbacks
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 super-fast model with 360hp, but any 508 is going to make you happy with its handsome and accommodating cabin, refined manners and pleasing performance.
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.
Best Premium Hatchbacks
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 TFSIe 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 – because it has switched to a front-wheel-drive architecture for this outing. The looks won’t be to all tastes, but the quality interior and decent drivetrains in the BMW should satisfy anybody.
Best Electric Hatchbacks
These are models which are not based on pre-existing hatchbacks, like the aforementioned Vauxhall Corsa-e 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 335 miles on a charge and 0-62mph in as little as 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.