The small hatchback market is one of the most hotly contested. So, for a car to stand out, it really must be a cut above the rest. To help narrow it down, we’ve considered a long list of criteria when it comes to discovering the best small hatchbacks. As well as being affordable, it must drive as well on the motorway as it does in the city, offer decent levels of equipment, have good boot space and give the driver and any passengers a comfortable space and room to relax.
The compact dimensions and impressive visibility of the i10 make it a joy to drive around town. Yet for trips further afield, the 1.2-litre petrol engine option has the power to easily reach motorway speeds.
With a tight turning circle and light steering, manoeuvres are a doddle, and to ensure parking is never an issue a rear-view camera comes as standard on mid-level models and above. Plus, with the likes of daytime running lights as standard, it is easy to see the incredible value for money on offer from the i10.
It may be a five-seater, but things would be pretty cramped with three adults in the back, so it is best suited to carry four. Meanwhile, the 252-litre boot is far from class-leading but does offer plenty of space for your weekly shop or a few carry-on suitcases for trips away.
2021 winner of What Car? Car of the Year, the Toyota Yaris is riding an all-time high. With dinky dimensions, an advanced mild hybrid petrol engine and an impressive reputation for reliability, there really is no reason the Yaris should not be on your list if looking for a great all-round small hatch.
The driver-focused interior puts everything well within reach, so you can relax knowing everything is right where you need it. Meanwhile, a rear-view camera improves the already outstanding all-round visibility, and automatic headlights and rain-sensing wipers offer a touch of luxury as standard.
The five-door model is certainly easy to get in and out of, but like the i10 it is predominantly tailored to making shorter trips. That being said, the boot capacity is slightly bigger than the i10s and can easily cope with up to four carry-on cases.
Of course, the Fiesta features in our list of best small hatchbacks. Britain’s bestselling model for 12 years running has more than proved its worth as a contender, so let’s explore why in a bit more detail.
Firstly, it offers unbeatable handling that no manufacturer can compete with. Ford has tuned the Fiesta to deliver the kind of fun and feisty drive that everyone can appreciate. From learner drivers just starting to old pros, the Fiesta has something to offer everyone.
Add to that a strong range of models and it offers something to suit most buyers too, from the basic entry-level models to the luxury Vignale trim or sporty ST-Line models. It also means there is plenty at your fingertips when it comes to kit, from functions like Ford’s Quickclear windscreen to its advanced SYNC 3 infotainment system.
When it comes to cabin space, the Fiesta has more rear passenger space than the Yaris but doesn’t quite match that of the SEAT Ibiza. The boot has room for five carry-on cases, so is ideal for getaways with friends
If you need a bit more space than the Fiesta offers but still want great driveability, the SEAT Ibiza is your best option. As well as space for three adults, the boot is larger than the Fiesta’s, so copes easily with a pram and a couple of large suitcases.
With three engines, the option of an automatic transmission and extensive trims, you should have no problems finding the right Ibiza. Base models come with a basic 6.5-inch infotainment system. But it is the eight-inch system available on higher-spec models that is arguably the best in its class for usability and connectivity.
Whether you are travelling in the city or covering motorway miles, the Ibiza cruises along without being disturbed by minor jolts in the road. Plus, it has well-weighted steering and remains composed even through twists and turns.
The Dacia Sandero is an outstanding small hatchback and an award winning model for value and overall usability. With Dacia’s no-nonsense attitude to motoring, you can get the essentials you need at a price no other manufacturer chooses to compete to with.
Three engine choices, including a bi-fuel option, ensure the Sandero is ideal for a range of driving requirements. Built on the same platform as the current Renault Clio, it offers a surprisingly modern ride. The softer set suspension means it rides smoothly over bumps and the interior offers similar space to that found in the Jazz, with room for six carry-on suitcases in the boot.
Although the entry-level Sandero comes with only the absolute basics, you get more kit as you head up the trim range. You can benefit from the likes of an eight-inch touchscreen, rear parking sensors and a rear-view camera, so you can get as much or as little as you need.
On sale since 1990, you know you are on to a good thing with the Clio. Over its many years on the market, it has continued to evolve to ensure it remains relevant to modern buyers. The latest models come with an upmarket interior equipped with state-of-the-art technology.
With a raft of engines, including a hybrid petrol option, it is easy to find a Clio to suit your driving style. What’s more, it comes equipped with everything you need to stay connected on the move.
The Clio offers good driveability, whether you’re on the motorway or twisty country roads with well-controlled body lean and good grip. Although, it doesn’t quite have Fiesta levels of handling refinement.
A wide rear seat means it is one of the best models for seating three adults in the back. While the whopping 391-litre boot is not just bigger than many models in this class, but also those above.
If space is one of your top priorities, the Jazz is probably your best choice when it comes to small hatchbacks. Thanks to its boxy MPV-like shape, it is one of the best small hatchbacks for five adults to travel in and has a well-sized boot. Plus, it offers unsurpassed versatility with rear seats that flip up cinema-style enabling you to load taller items in the rear compartment.
The high-riding position gives you excellent visibility, and when combined with its small dimensions, means parking in tight spots is a breeze. Plus, the modern interior features some of the most advanced safety features, so is sure to keep you and your loved ones safe.
The Jazz is not the cheapest model on this list, especially when you compare kit. However, it is a model which holds its value incredibly well, so is a worthwhile investment.
The all-new 208 is a sporty and sharp small hatchback and one of the best looking models in the class. It’s all-new redesign follows the success of larger SUV and saloon models in Peugeot’s line up, with a sophisticated and performance-inspired style while retaining all the practicality and usability needed of small hatchback.
As standard the interior is well kitted-out with a 7-inch touchscreen display complete with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. A sat-nav is also available on the ‘Premium’ trims. Peugeot’s i-Cockpit design lets the 208 boast a purely digital interior space, which is both stylish and ergonomic for a truly unique driving experience.
At maximum capacity the boot can hold 1106 litres of boot spaces with 311 litres available as standard with the rear seats up right. Peugeot’s BlueHDi diesel engines and PureTech petrol engines are more efficient than ever, with an e-208 all-electric model also available for electric car drivers.