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Best used hatchbacks 2024

Hatchbacks offer great practicality, low running costs and comfort – these are the best used hatchbacks currently on the UK market

Family hatchbacks are one of the most versatile classes of car and that shows in their huge popularity. It all bodes well for used car buyers who will find a huge array of choice on the market but it can also mean pinpointing the best used hatchback to buy isn’t always straightforward.  

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Below, we've picked out some of the best choices currently around including our 2023 Used Hatchback of the Year. Each one succeeds in being a great all-rounder but some are better in key areas than others and may be a better fit for some buyers.

The family hatchback class is made up of cars that are around the same size as a Volkswagen Golf or Ford Focus, cars that are often seen as the benchmark in the class. Hatchbacks come with a huge range of trims and engines, from lowly entry-level 1.0-litre petrol models all the way up to fire-breathing 300bhp hot hatchbacks with all the toys and in-car tech you can think of.

Yet the best option for most people is somewhere in between - a small petrol, diesel or plug-in hybrid 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 top picks.

The best used hatchbacks to buy:

  1. Kia Ceed
  2. Volkswagen Golf
  3. Citroen C4
  4. Toyota Corolla
  5. Subaru XV
  6. Skoda Octavia
  7. Toyota Prius
  8. Ford Focus

1. Kia Ceed (Mk3)

  • Our pick 2 1.0 T-GDi (2021/21, 35k miles, £12,499)
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The Kia Ceed is a great used family hatchback and you don’t just need to take our word for it – you should listen to the car’s owners too. The Ceed landed a coveted top-10 finish in our 2023 Driver Power satisfaction survey, with drivers full of praise for the Korean model’s blend of practicality, reliability and value. Yet there’s more to this family-friendly Kia than the sensible stuff, because it’s also stylish, good to drive and packs an interior that looks smart and is dripping with tech.

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The Ceed has come a long way (and dropped the apostrophe from its name) since the original burst onto the scene in 2007. Now in its third generation, the handsome hatch has gone from also-ran to class contender, and the same can be said about the ProCeed five-door coupé, a sensible Sportswagon estate and an SUV-inspired XCeed.

The Kia easily into family life, thanks to a roomy interior with plenty of handy storage, plus a usefully shaped 395-litre boot. The cabin also benefits from slick design and a high-quality feel, while all models get air-con, a DAB radio and powered and heated door mirrors, plus an easy-to-use touchscreen infotainment system with plenty of smartphone connectivity. 

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A decent line-up of petrol and diesel engines power the Ceed, although it’s the 113bhp 1.0T GDi three-cylinder unit which offers the best blend of performance, economy and refinement. On the road, the Kia’s handling is precise and confidence-inspiring, teamed with a well controlled ride makes it a great all-rounder. 

More importantly for used buyers, the Kia represents cracking value for money. Not only have prices now dipped below £10,000, but almost all examples will benefit from the balance of the brand’s renowned seven-year warranty, which brings unmatched peace of mind. Factor in wallet-friendly running costs and bullet-proof dependability and it’s not hard to see why the Ceed is such a second-hand family-hatchback hit. After all, thousands of happy owners can’t be wrong.

2. Volkswagen Golf (Mk7)

Last year’s winner is this year’s runner-up, but the Volkswagen Golf is still a solid choice. Few competitors look and feel as classy, and it still leads the way for refinement and comfort – with 50 years of development under its wheels its no surprise that the evergreen Golf is still one of the VW Group’s best-sellers.

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Solid residuals mean it’s not the most affordable, but you do get a lot of car for your cash. Opt for the mid-range Match trim and you’ll have all the features you’ll ever need. Highlights include adaptive cruise control, alloy wheels, auto lights and wipers, as well as Apple CarPlay and Android Auto smartphone connectivity. Facelifted cars from 2018 onwards also come with the option of a digital instrument display. Safety kit like autonomous emergency braking and seven airbags will also bring peace of mind.

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Factor-in excellent reliability and rock-solid build quality - alongside a vast range of powertrains from the zero-emission all-electric e-Golf to the GTI and R models – and there’s a Golf out there for every requirement.

3. Citroen C4 (Mk3)

Here’s proof that you don’t need to sacrifice style in pursuit of a sensible set of wheels for the family. This Citroen C4 combines versatility with coupé-like kerb appeal, while few rivals are as comfortable and relaxing to drive. Plus, it took top spot our 2023 Driver Power poll. 

Prices aren’t yet at really tempting levels, though, but standard kit is fairly generous. The trim line-up starts with the well-equipped Sense which includes 18-inch alloy wheels, auto LED headlights, rear parking sensors, a 10-inch touchscreen, Apple CarPlay, Android Auto and dual-zone climate control. Upgrade to either Sense Plus, C-Series Edition or Shine Plus specifications you’ll be treated to luxuries such as a head-up display, leather upholstery and heated front seats.

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Living with the C4 day-to-day shouldn’t break the bank as running costs are reasonable and fuel economy above 50mpg for petrol cars and 60mpg for diesels on a WLTP combined cycle.

4. Toyota Corolla (Mk12)

The Toyota Corolla has always been a very dependable and reliable option for motorists around the world – and the same can be said for its 12th-generation machine. With eye catching looks and nimble handling, the Corolla is a desirable family car.

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Running costs are impressive thanks to efficient self-charging hybrid engines and peerless reliability from the Japanese manufacturer. Interior cabin space might not be as generous as its rivals, however, the Corolla has decent levels of kit as standard and some of the best safety systems currently available. Naturally, reliability is strong with Toyota offering up a standard three-year warranty which can be extended every year following an annual service at a Toyota dealership.

5. Subaru XV (Mk2)

Built for rugged and tough environments, the Subaru XV is a capable off-road alternative to a larger 4x4 or SUV, with the Japanese machine featuring raised suspension and four-wheel drive, with genuine go-anywhere ability. 

Engine choices are slightly limited compared to rivals but there's both an option of a punchy diesel or petrol unit. Interior space and quality gives off the impression that the XV is built to last and equipment is generous across the board, with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto coming as standard, as well as a range of safety kit resulting in strong NCAP ratings. While the XV is as much a crossover as a family hatchback, there should be plenty of room for dealing with day-to-day family life.

6. 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.

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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.

7. 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 low tax bills, as well as low running costs thanks to the efficient engines and long warranties offered by Toyota. 

8. 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 and engaging 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. Despite the controlled chassis and responsive handling, the Focus is also comfy and refined at speed, so it's great no matter what kind of road you're on.

On-board kit is generous and Ford’s SYNC infotainment system is slick to use. With enough cabin space to deal with the majority of challenges posed by family life, it isn’t quite as practical as the Octavia or Golf and the rear seats aren’t quite as roomy.

Now find out more about the best used cars you can buy...

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Chief reviewer

Alex joined Auto Express as staff writer in early 2018, helping out with news, drives, features, and the occasional sports report. His current role of Chief reviewer sees him head up our road test team, which gives readers the full lowdown on our comparison tests.

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