When it comes to the first car you drive, most of us will end up behind the wheel of a small hatchback. That’s normally down to two things. The first is that they tend to be the cheapest cars on the market, and so there are a lot more deals available on both new and used small hatchbacks. They are also one of the easiest types of car to drive, their small stature making them easy to handle. It’s a big reason why most driving instructors use them as their cars for lessons.
Whether you are a new driver or not, a small hatchback is one of the most versatile driving options on the road. And the good news is that there are a lot of options to choose from. So which should you go for? We break down some of the options below so you can find out which small hatchback is the right car for you.
If you know your cars, feel free to skip over this section. But for those new to cars, it can be good to know what exactly we mean by a small hatchback. Well the hatchback part comes from the way the boot opens at the back. The back door lifts up at a hinge at the top, revealing the boot inside. This means that a hatchback’s boot doesn’t have the same height as an estate, but it does tend to create enough space to store buggies and baggage, without adding too much size to the car itself.
A small hatchback is also normally defined as being three-door, so the kind of car where you have to move the front seats forward to get in the back. In the past, this meant a bit of a clamber to get in, but the most recent small hatchbacks have been smartly designed to be easier to access. But many of these models are also available in a five-door version, should you want to ensure you can get in the back nice and easy.
The two most popular small hatchback options in the UK are the Ford Fiesta and the Vauxhall Corsa. They are popular for a very good reason as they are two of the best all-rounders on the market.
The Ford Fiesta seems to excel in all areas, but you’ll find its smart use of interior space to be one of the most attractive features. Whether you have kids or adults in the back, you’ll find the car to be relatively spacious, so not too uncomfortable for journeys long or short. The Fiesta also has very responsive handling, making it fun to nip around town.
The Vauxhall Corsa shares many qualities with the Fiesta. It provides a good blend of comfortable driving with an economic edge that means you will get a good MPG no matter which engine option you choose. It also feels nice to drive, something that might not matter to some but you’ll definitely feel the benefit on long journeys.
The east Asian market seems to produce some of the best reviewed small hatchbacks on the market. The Hyundai i10 is no exception. Winning several car of the year awards when it was first introduced in 2008, the more recent variations of the i10 have increased the amount of built-in car technology that you get as standard. It also makes great use of the interior space, so again more comfort.
The Honda Jazz won WhatCar?’s small car of the year award in 2022, and it really is one of the smarter options on the road. The most recent models come with one of the best value hybrid engines on the market, so you’ll go a lot further for less.
The Fiat 500 is still one of the most striking looking cars on the market, over 60 years after the original classic model made its debut. But it’s not just about the iconic looks. The 500 is a great car to drive around town, thanks to the excellent seating position that gives you a view of the road that makes you feel you can spot any hazard before it happens.
Another retro classic come modern superstar is the MINI Hatchback. While it might have grown a bit in size since its 60s heyday, the modern MINI combines an excellent driving experience with the styling that still turns heads today.
If you want a car that suits you more as a professional, then there are some excellent premium small hatchback options. The BMW 1 Series is a car that has all the style and substance of its larger siblings in the BMW Series lineup, but nicely compacted into a 3-door option. It’s also been designed for those speedy autobahns, so it’s a lot of fun to drive.
The Audi A1 is likewise another premium option that takes other models in the company and shrinks it into the small hatchback package. It is possibly the best looking small hatchback on the market thanks to Audi’s bold styling, and the interior has been designed to make you feel comfortable just by looking at it, never mind driving it.
The Nissan LEAF is quickly becoming one of the most popular cars in the UK, proving electric vehicles can be a real option for drivers, not just an alternative. With a range of 168 miles, it will easily get you around town, and the increased number of charging points mean you don’t have to plan out long journeys as much as you might have done previously.
The Renault Zoe is another option for those wanting an electric car with bold looks. It’s one of the smoothest driving experiences you have, with a comfortable suspension and lack of electric engine making it ideal for peaceful driving. It also comes with a good amount of tech as standard, so you get a lot for your money.