Best used hatchbacks 2022
We provide a round up of the best used hatchbacks - cars that are great for practicality, running costs and comfort
A used hatchback could be just about the best all-round transport you can buy. These models are designed to be good at everything, and there are so many models out there that offer just that.
There's an enormous amount of hatchbacks available on the second-hand car market, so we've picked out some of the best choices, which you can find below. Each one succeeds in being a great all-rounder, suitable for being your only car all year round.
The family hatchback class is made up of cars that are around the same size as a Volkswagen Golf or Ford Focus - those cars are often seen as the benchmark in the class. They often come with a huge range of trims and engines, from lowly 1.0-litre petrol models without air-con all the way up to fire-breathing 300bhp hot hatchbacks with all the toys you can think of.
Yet the best of the breed for most people is somewhere in between - a small petrol or diesel engine that brings high fuel economy and good reliability, plus a spacious interior with all the equipment you need and nothing you don't. Read on for our picks.
The best used hatchbacks to buy
- Volkswagen Golf
- Toyota Corolla
- Subaru XV
- Skoda Octavia
- Toyota Prius
- Ford Focus
- Vauxhall Astra
- SEAT Leon
1. Volkswagen Golf (Mk7)
- Our pick: 1.4 TSI Match Edition (2017/66, 52k miles, £12,597)
With nearly 50 years of development under its wheels, it’s no surprise the evergreen Golf still sets the compact family hatchback standard. That’s particularly true of the Mk7 machine that arrived in 2012. Smartly styled and spacious, it’s also great to drive and has one of the most varied range of engines and trim levels in the business, so there’s something for all tastes and budgets.
A big part of the VW’s vast appeal is its classy yet classless image. Its mix of rock-solid build quality and top-notch materials gives the cabin real premium appeal. If you get one of the facelifted cars from 2018 then there’s also the option of a TFT instrument display and a widescreen infotainment panel.
You’re also spoiled for standard kit, but it’s the mid-range Match that delivers all the features you’ll ever need. Highlights include adaptive cruise control, alloy wheels and auto lights and wipers, plus Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connectivity. The inclusion of autonomous emergency braking and seven airbags brings peace of mind, too.
The Golf provides a first-class driving experience. Well weighted steering and accurate handling make it reassuring from behind the wheel, while few rivals are as calm, comfortable and composed on a long run. There’s also an engine for every occasion, from the zero-emissions all-electric e-Golf through to the fiery GTI and R models. Yet it’s the refined 1.4-litre TSI petrol that’s our pick, combining punchy performance with running costs that won’t break the bank.
There’s room for five people and a generous 380-litre boot. And if you want more carrying capacity, there’s also a cavernous estate.
With prices starting at around £4,000, the Golf is more affordable than you’d think, while stronger residual values than rivals means you’ll get back more when it’s time to sell. Factor in excellent reliability and it’s not hard to see why the VW is such a used-hatch hit.
Buyacar finance options
Monthly payments for this Golf are £242 through BuyaCar.co.uk on a four-year hire purchase contract with a £3,000 deposit. This makes it an affordable second-hand choice in 1.4 TSI Match Edition form. At the end of the contract the Golf will be yours for £14,641 overall, which is less than the cheapest and most basic new petrol-powered Fiat 500, yet the Golf offers lots of space and standard equipment for the money.
2. Toyota Corolla (Mk12)
The Corolla used to be a four-wheeled proxy for dependable but dull motoring, but that changed with the current 12th-generation machine. Head-turning looks and nimble handling make it genuinely desirable, while its hi-tech hybrid engines are smooth and very frugal. It’s not as roomy as the best in the class, but it’s a well built, reliable and attractively priced used choice.
3. Subaru XV (Mk2)
Our left-field choice is proof that Subaru rarely does things by the book. The XV is ss much a crossover as a family hatch, the Japanese machine features raised suspension and four-wheel drive for genuine go-anywhere ability.
The limited engine choice includes a punchy diesel and a thirsty petrol unit, while inside the car trails rival models for space and quality. Yet for rugged, all-weather peace of mind nothing else comes close to the Subaru XV.
4. Skoda Octavia (Mk3)
Like all the best family cars, the Octavia appears to have been designed from the inside out. Despite only being a little longer than its most obvious rivals, the Skoda features enough legroom in the rear seats to shame most large executive models, while the car’s vast 590-litre boot will swallow everything you can throw at it. Then there are the numerous thoughtful touches, from the umbrellas stowed under the front seats, to the ice scraper behind the fuel filler flap, and the numerous cubbies and cup-holders that mean this big Czech hatchback takes family life in its stride.
You won’t be left wanting for kit, either. All versions are generously equipped, but the mid-spec SE genuinely has everything you’ll need. Not only does it come with climate control, electric windows and parking sensors, it also has an eight-inch touchscreen infotainment set-up with Apple CarPlay, Android Auto and crisp graphics. Importantly for a family car, there’s also lots of safety gear, with autonomous emergency braking and a full complement of seven airbags.
5. Toyota Prius (Mk4)
The Prius came of age when this fourth-generation version arrived in 2016. Combining the previous car’s smooth and efficient petrol-electric powertrain with genuinely composed ride and handling, the distinctive hatchback proved a hybrid hit. Early cars claim emissions as low as 70g/km CO2, meaning tiny tax bills.
6. Ford Focus (Mk4)
The Ford Focus is a great choice of used hatchback if you care about how a car drives. The Focus is one of the most entertaining hatches you can buy. It has quick and responsive steering, punchy engines, a comfy yet controlled chassis and a lovely manual gearbox.
The EcoBoost versions deliver good fuel economy yet are still fun to use, or there are diesel options for those doing high mileages on the motorway. The Focus is comfy and refined at speed, so it's great no matter what kind of road you're on.
It's spacious enough for most, but it's not as practical as the Golf or Octavia - the rear seats aren't quite as roomy.
7. Vauxhall Astra (Mk7)
The Vauxhall Astra's anonymous looks hide what is a fantastic everyday car, so don't overlook it. It's made even better by the fact that there are loads for sale at excellent prices, so it's a bit of a bargain.
The Astra is fun to drive thanks to a range of surprisingly punchy engines, especially the diesels, and an entertaining chassis that stays composed on country roads and is fun through bends. The interior is bland, but it gets the job done, with plenty of tech and comfy seats.
There are auto and manual versions, and while the manual is more fun, the auto is great for those who regularly commute in traffic.
8. SEAT Leon (Mk3)
The SEAT Leon is a sister car to the Skoda Octavia and Volkswagen Golf, and it's the sharpest to drive of the trio. It has the same engine range, so we can again recommend the 1.0-litre or 1.5-litre TSI petrol units for their frugality and quietness.
You might want to look at the Leon instead of the Golf or Octavia because it's also the most stylish - we reckon the sharp looks are the best of the three. It's good value and comes with loads of tech including smartphone connectivity on most models, so you don't need a version with sat-nav since you can use Android Auto or Apple CarPlay instead.
The Leon is practical, with a big boot and roomy rear seats, and while it's a little stiffer than the Golf or Octavia, it's not uncomfortable.
Now find out more about the best used cars you can buy...