The best hatchbacks to buy in 2020

  • Which is the best hatchback of the bunch?
  • They’re a great alternative to crossovers, and often cheaper
  • We pick the best family hatchbacks for 2020

Best hatchbacks to buy 2020

The five-door hatchback is the most versatile and widely talented bodystyle of all, suiting everyone from first-time buyers to families and business use. But the rapid rise of the crossover and SUV means this traditional model really needs to impress.

With the Ford Focus taking the crown as the Best Small Family Car in the Parkers Awards 2020, it set the bar high, but with the arrival of the Kia Ceed, Toyota Corolla and Mazda 3 since then - and a new Volkswagen Golf - it has a job on its hand to continue its reign. The latter returns as a strong seller in the UK thanks to its high-quality interior, extensive engine and trim range and comfortable-yet-accomplished drive.

The best hatchbacks on sale don’t just have to be the best family car. While a good hatchback needs enough space for a small family and a decent sized boot, it also needs to have a user-friendly interior and low running costs, it needs to be easy and comfortable to drive and – importantly – affordable, whether you’re paying cash or, like the vast majority of new car buyers, on PCP finance. You can also take out a personal lease, with some competitive leasing deals available too.

We brought five hatchbacks together to test them back-to-back to see which is best. The Mazda 3 and Toyota Corolla are relative newcomers – as is the Kia Ceed – while the Ford Focus and Volkswagen Golf are established names that are hard to beat. We’ve ranked them in order below.

The contenders:

Best hatchbacks - rear

1 - Mazda 3

Red Mazda Sport Lux

The 2020 Mazda 3 immediately looks the part with eye-catching style that affords it a high sense of desirability. Its talents aren’t just skin-deep though. The 3 is a car that drives well – not only is it enjoyable and fun like any other Mazda car, it’s also comfortable and quiet for when you’re on a long journey or bumpy road and want to relax.

The Mazda 3’s interior is also one of the best in this class with high-quality materials, a design that’s simple yet elegant and an excellent driving position. The media system is also easy to operate with a nice large screen and a simple rotary wheel to make selections. The only niggles are restricted rear visibility and cramped rear accommodation due to a low roof and small windows (bear this in mind for baby seats), plus a high loading lip to get to the boot.

New price:  £21,840-£32,365
Leasing price: from £236 per month
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Boot capacity: 358 litres

2 - Ford Focus

Blue Ford Focus ST-Line X

The Ford Focus took the crown as the Parkers Small Family Car of the year for 2020, and that’s down to its spacious interior and engaging driving experience. Despite its compact exterior dimensions, there’s a vast amount of space inside – even in the rear seats, with plenty of legroom and a barely-intrusive transmission tunnel.

Some models have black headlining and, without a large sunroof, can feel quite dark in the back despite the space. It also has a usefully sized boot. It’s not all perfect – higher-spec trims can be costly and the ride can be fidgety on slightly rough roads, meaning it’s not necessarily the most comfortable. It’s the one to go for if you’re a keen driver because of its sharp steering and handling, but what’s more important is that it’s easy to drive. The controls across the dashboard are also very easy to use.

New price: £20,515-£31,900
Leasing price: from £217 per month
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Used price: £12,095-£22,920
Boot capacity: 375 litres

3 - Kia Ceed

Red Kia Ceed GT

The Kia Ceed may not be the most interesting of hatchbacks, but it’s a very accomplished one. It’s very easy to drive and the interior is one of the most user-friendly out there. The touchscreen is simple to operate, and large, well-labelled buttons to control pretty much everything else is refreshingly simple. It’s also solid inside, but not quite matching a VW’s quality standards.

The Ceed manages to blend an easy drive with one that still feels nicely balanced, meaning it doesn’t feel wayward in corners thanks to good body control and a fine ride. The steering and other controls are quite light, and the interior will have enough room for most – just not as much as in a VW Golf or Ford Focus, but the boot is of a decent size, just with a slightly high loading lip.

New price: £18,710-£27,845
Leasing price: from £194 per month
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Used price: £12,770-£20,810
Boot capacity: 395 litres

4 - Volkswagen Golf

2020 VW Golf front three quarters

You can’t go far wrong with a Volkswagen Golf. The Mk8 version builds on the previous car's extensive ranges of engines and trim levels and remains hugely talented in many areas.

The interior is the benchmark for the tech on offer and quality of the materials used, it’s impressively comfortable in any seat and in any trim, and the interior is spacious for a family. Everything is very easy to operate, whether it’s the full-width infotainment screen and driver's display and the boot is big enough to easily fit a large pushchair. It’s not the most exciting to look at or be in, but it’s better to drive than ever and wouldn’t look out of place at a fancy hotel, either.

New price: £23,900-£29,905
Leasing price: from £257 per month
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Boot capacity: 380 litres

5 - Toyota Corolla

Black Toyota Corolla Hybrid

The Corolla name is back for the car that’s replaced the Toyota Auris, and what a difference it is. The Corolla has an eye-catching design that’s worlds apart from the car it replaced. However it’s not all show and no go. The Corolla trumps most other hatchbacks for running costs, with a choice of two hybrid powertrains that make it relaxing and very easy to drive, not to mention cheap.

It also has a comfortable interior – at least in the front – with good quality materials and a generous amount of equipment. The media system lags behind rivals, and isn’t the most spacious hatchback in the rear. And while the boot is a decent size, the opening is high and not especially wide, which is more difficult to load heavy, bulky items into.

New price: £21,305-£30,035
Leasing price: from £213 per month
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Used price: £15,550-£25,355
Boot capacity: 361 litres (313 litres for 2.0-litre Hybrid)

Other hatchbacks to consider:

Your choices aren’t limited to just the cars above. There are many other hatchbacks that we would recommend depending on your priorities and your budget. Scroll down to see what else you should consider if you’re looking for a five-door hatchback. 

Honda Civic

Blue Honda Civic 2020

Whether you like the look of it or not, the Honda Civic is one of the best hatchbacks for practicality. Interior space is second only to the Skoda Octavia, with enough room for two adults to stretch out in the rear (there’s almost a flat floor in the back) and a large and flexible boot. It’s also very good to drive – feeling similar to the Mazda 3 in terms of ease and balance – with an excellent manual gearbox and an excellent ride, boosting comfort.

It’s at the costlier end of the class, but with that comes more standard equipment than many of its rivals, and a good choice of engines (we’d pick the 1.0-litre petrol or 1.6-litre diesel) and plenty of trim levels. Interior quality is fine – if not as plush as others – but it feels solid and interior storage is also up there with the best. Just avoid those with CVT automatic transmissions and stick with the excellent manual. If you want the most fun, the Honda Civic Type R hot hatchback is brilliant.

New price: £19,575 - £33,275 
Leasing price: from £231 per month
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Used price: £9,155 - £29,160 
Boot capacity: 478 litres (420 litres for 1.5 and Type R)

Hyundai i30

Blue Hyundai i30 N Line

The Hyundai i30 uses the same mechanical parts as the Kia Ceed, so it comes with the same wide range of engines, but adds the appeal of an exciting hot version called the i30 N. The majority of buyers will stick with a regular model, and with these you’ll find lots of standard equipment across the range, an interior that’s solid and well-built and very easy to use, and one of the biggest boots in the class (at least for the more traditional boxy hatchbacks).

The drive is focused more on ease of use and comfort than sportiness, but that’s no bad thing as it’s refined and relaxing with good visibility, while the 1.0-litre T-GDi and 1.4 T-GDi petrols are both impressive. It falls behind on interior space though, with more limited rear seat space than other models, while some will find the bland design a bit uninspiring.

New price: £17,130 - £29,495
Leasing price: from £223 per month
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Used price: £8,755 - £23,955
Boot capacity: 395 litres

What to read next:

Best small cars to buy in 2020
Best first cars for young drivers
Best small SUVs to buy now

*Deals are correct at time of publication. Everyone’s financial circumstances are different and credit is not always available – Parkers cannot recommend a deal for you specifically. These deals are indicative examples of some packages available this week. Bauer Consumer Media Limited is an appointed representative of ZenAuto Limited for the broking of regulated hire agreements. ZenAuto Limited is authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority. ZenAuto Limited's registered office is Number One, Great Exhibition Way, Kirkstall Forge, Leeds LS5 3BF. ZenAuto Limited's company registration number is 10967345. ZenAuto is the trading name of ZenAuto Limited. Terms, conditions and exclusions apply.