Mazda3 hatchback

£16,995 - £23,745

The Mazda3 is one of the most fun-to-drive family hatchbacks currently on sale. It's bettered only by the brilliant Ford Focus and slightly more expensive BMW 1 Series, but beats them both for practicality and matches them for running costs.

While the Volkswagen Golf and Vauxhall Astra are the default choice for many, the new Mazda3 is well worth considering if you want a stylish, well built and dependable family car with enough room for four and enough equipment to rival the best in class.

All models come with 16-inch alloy wheels, air-conditioning, all-round electric windows, cruise control and Mazda's new infotainment system with app functionality. Top-spec models get bigger wheels, front and rear parking sensors, a jet-fighter-style head-up display and an upgraded Bose stereo.

We’d recommend you avoid the basic petrol engine and choose one of the higher-powered petrols or diesels. The petrol is punchy and quiet, but the diesel is smooth and will return impressive fuel economy on longer motorway runs.