Hatchback models are hugely popular thanks to the practicality of a large boot opening. Here we take a look at some of the best hatchback models of all shapes and sizes.
There was a time when almost every car had a boot separate from the interior and accessed by just a small bootlid. Fast-forward to today, and far more models are designed to maximise passenger and cargo space, with a large hatchback and compact engine or electric motor squeezed well out of the way.
A hatchback brings big advantages, with the most important being a much bigger boot opening. If you’ve ever tried wrangling a piece of furniture or mountain bike into a saloon, you’ll know it can be difficult or even impossible. A hatchback can open up the entire rear of the car from floor to roof height, with a much lower loading lip designed for you to slide awkward items inside.
Hatchback boots are also easy to access in almost any parking space and garage, with hydraulic struts or even electric power designed to make opening and shutting the boot easy. This is preferable to the side-opening tailgates of some SUVs like the Ford EcoSport and Mercedes G-Class, that can be awkward in tight gaps and very heavy.
Luckily, hatchback fans are spoilt for choice, because not only does just about every supermini and family car come with a hatch, so do most crossovers, SUVs and an increasing number of high-performance and luxury cars. Our list of the best hatchbacks on sale in the UK right now includes everything from a city car, to family-friendly models, a hot hatch, luxury cars and even two electric cars.
The Volkswagen up! is a perfect example of a small hatchback, with a cube-like shape that’s almost entirely devoted towards passenger space. Despite its city car proportions the hatchback allows you to load surprisingly bulky items, and if the 251-litre boot isn’t big enough, folding down the rear seats frees up 951 litres of luggage space. The 1.0-litre petrol engine makes it affordable to run, and adding a turbocharger gives it a decent turn of speed too. Agile handling is equally well suited to city driving and country roads, and the up! is easy to park wherever you’re leaving it.
Our favourite supermini, the Ford Fiesta, is also one of the most popular hatchbacks ever sold in Britain. It’s been so successful thanks to its combination of affordability, style, practicality and by being surprisingly good to drive. Ford’s engineers certainly know how to sprinkle some magic on its supermini, giving it sharp steering and agility, without making it uncomfortable. The boot has grown slightly to 292 litres, and the hatchback is now wider to make loading easier. A variable boot floor is also available to help make the load area a flatter shape.
The SEAT Ibiza is bigger and better than ever, now boasting a 355-litre boot that’s larger than some models from the next class up. Its hatchback makes access a doddle, while the optional £150 Storage Pack adds space under the boot floor, cargo nets and storage drawers under the front seats. Handily, even the entry-level SE spec now has split-folding rear seats, which was a bugbear of the now-discontinued 'S' trim. Interior space is plentiful for passengers and there’s an impressive range of engines and technology on offer.
Park the Skoda Octavia and Volkswagen Golf next to each other, and you probably wouldn’t guess they’re almost identical under the skin. A longer body and stretched boot makes the Octavia look like a car from the Ford Mondeo class, and its luggage space is massive as a result. There’s 590 litres of space behind the back seats, and the boot lid opens to reveal a long and wide aperture. It’s a well thought out space too, with a 12v power supply, hooks for shopping bags or takeaways, and optional cargo nets to keep items secure. There’s also a Skoda Octavia Estate if you need even more room.
It might be an SUV, but the Peugeot 3008 is essentially a hatchback on stilts, and we rate it extremely highly. Not only does it look completely unique on the outside, its i-Cockpit digital instruments are also impressive. The interior doesn’t just feel ‘gadgety’ either; the use of quality materials, and even a swathe of fabric for the dashboard, help set the 3008 apart. Practicality is good too, with 520 litres of space behind the back seats, and a commendable flat loading floor when they are tilted forwards. This can be done using levers in the boot. Even the front passenger seat backrest can be laid flat for carrying really long items.
Just because a car has a practical hatchback, that doesn’t mean it can’t be fun and fast. In fact, the latest breed of hot hatchbacks are faster than most sports cars from just a few decades ago. Hyundai might not have the same hot-hatch pedigree as Volkswagen or Peugeot, but its i30 N is a triumph as a first attempt at taking on the Golf GTI and 308 GTi. It’s fitted with a 2.0-litre turbo petrol with 247 or 271bhp (if you go for the Performance version), but its sublime handling is even more impressive than its acceleration. Extra chassis bracing has a very small impact on boot space, but at 395 litres there’s still plenty of space for shopping trips or family holidays.
Some early electric cars had a small boot because precious interior space was taken up by bulky batteries, but the latest Nissan Leaf has no such issues. Clever packaging means the battery pack is kept low down, mostly under the rear seats, and the car’s 435-litre boot is larger than those of most hatchbacks with petrol and diesel engines. In comparison, the Volkswagen e-Golf makes do with a 341-litre boot, while the Hyundai Ioniq Electric has 350 litres. There’s also plenty of room inside for rear passengers, with four adults able to get comfortable and doors that open nice and wide to make getting in and out easy. With a driving range of up to 239 miles and fast-charging, the Leaf is now an electric hatch that should appeal to more customers than ever.
Think of a hatchback and a luxurious executive model probably won’t come to mind, but the Audi A5 Sportback is just that. Despite its sleek looks, the large powered bootlid creates a large opening that makes the Audi much more flexible than a saloon like the Mercedes C-Class. There’s a loading lip to lift items over, but the 480-litre boot is generous, and folding the rear seats down even creates a flat loading space. There’s plenty of space for four adults inside, but a pronounced transmission tunnel means a middle back seat passenger has definitely picked the short straw. Audi’s broad range of petrol and diesel engines with optional quattro four-wheel drive means there’s a version to suit almost everyone.
Like the Nissan Leaf, the Tesla Model S was designed from the beginning to be a fully electric car, so you don’t have to worry about its hardware impinging on interior space. Instead, the Model S is both stylish and practical, with not one, but two boots. Like the A5 Sportback, there’s a loading lip to haul baggage over, but the rear boot is certainly a good size when you do. There’s also a lengthy and flat loading space with the rear seats folded down, and you could previously even add two small rear-facing child seats to make the Model S a seven-seater. Use up all the space in the back, and there’s also a 150-litre boot under the bonnet that’s ideal for a charging cable or quick shopping trips.
The Ford Focus has slipped out of the limelight in recent years, shown up by increasingly talented and better value rivals. For its 2018 reinvention, Ford started with a clean sheet of paper. Out went formulaic design, in came premium influences that introduce a stylish, desirable look inside and out. Material quality is improved, too. Meanwhile, enthusiastic drivers are in for good news – the Focus betters most rivals for handling feel and cornering prowess, with a real 'hot hatch' feel, even in the least powerful versions. Passengers will be happy, too – especially those in the back, who enjoy more space than in any previous Focus. The boot, meanwhile, compares well with the Volkswagen Golf's. With impressive fuel economy from clever petrol and diesel engines, the latest Focus is the best yet.