Currently reading: Top 10 best crossover hatchbacks 2024
Not quite hatchbacks nor compact SUV, these hiked-up, style-savvy, affordable five-doors tick a lot of boxes for modern families. Which is the best?

The modern crossover hatchback has become something of a statement in 2024: a car bought by those who don't want what everyone else has got.

Not quite hatchbacks, not quite estate cars and not quite compact SUVs either, they combine elements of all three breeds within a fairly compact footprint and are presented at a fairly affordable price. And, typically, they chuck in a dose of alternative style for good measure. In some quarters, they're known as sports utility coupés, in others even as fastbacks.

The increasing popularity of cars like these is beginning to undermine their status as alternative choices just a little. But for now, and for as long as other market segments continue to outstrip them for sales, a good crossover hatchback will remain an equally appealing leftfield option for what it is, as well as for what it does.

What they do, of course, varies a little depending on precisely how they're defined. Within this list, then, you will find responsible economy-biased options with hybrid powertrains but also performance-tuned derivatives and cars explicitly intended for off-road use. All are roughly C-segment-sized, however (we rank supermini-based compact crossovers here); and while few here need cost much more than £30,000, some can be snapped up for even less. 

1. Cupra Formentor

For years, Cupra was the sporting division of Seat, much like R is to Volkswagen, but today it stands as an independent brand, with unique model designs and an altogether more athletic calibre than that of the old mothership.

The Formentor wasn't the first product of the new Cupra operation (that was the 306bhp Cupra Ateca, introduced in 2019), but it is by far the most convincing, being rakishly handsome, surprisingly spacious, rounded, refined and pleasant to drive, appealingly versatile and enduringly alternative. We like it rather a lot.

The engine line-up is quite broad, taking in smaller and more economical petrols, a couple of plug-in hybrids and a choice of 2.0-litre turbo petrols, one of which uses the same four-wheel drive system and engine as the new Volkswagen Golf R. In other markets, Cupra even went as far as shoehorning Audi's thumping five-cylinder RS engine into the Formentor VZ5, although that was never offered for UK sale.

Being well priced in relation to premium-brand rivals and with an inviting, rich and well-executed interior (the VW Group's oft-criticised infotainment system notwithstanding), the Formentor sits pretty at the top our list of crossovers hatchbacks.

Cupra formentor 2023


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2. Volkswagen T-Roc

Volkswagen's first attempt at a crossover hatchback was a very impressive one. While the company continues to offer the Volkswagen Tiguan to those who want a more practical compact SUV, the T-Roc first appeared in 2017, offering sharp, interesting styling, a well-made interior and handling characteristics more akin to those of a small hatchback than a proper SUV.

It's not quite as good to drive as the Formentor, it isn't quite as practical and its interior quality is a little questionable in places, but the T-Roc remains easy to recommend for its air of rounded classiness and completeness.

A facelift in 2022 brought new headlights and front-end styling, plus sportier R-Line looks for those who wanted them, as well as softer and more tactile interior trim materials and some new infotainment technology.

Available engines include 1.0-litre, 1.5-litre and 2.0-litre petrols (latterly with four-wheel drive), as well as 113bhp and 148bhp 2.0-litre diesels, but the pre-facelift T-Roc R performance model has yet to be replaced.

Mid-spec models are ueasonably priced, and while like-for-like versions of the Seat Ateca and Skoda Karoq are still slightly cheaper, they don't combine VW-typical slickness-in-operation with practicality and refined style in quite the same way.

Vw t roc front tracking

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3. Peugeot 408

Just as it was a little slow in joining the compact SUV set, so Peugeot is slightly behind the curve in joining today's crossover market. The irony here is that, with the original Peugeot 3008, the company launched quite a bold and alternative crossover hatchback way ahead of its time back in 2008 (which was even available in diesel-hybrid form), only to replace it with a much boxier and more conventional compact SUV some years later.

Now the firm's using the same platform as the 308 hatchback and 3008 SUV to offer something different again: the 408. With a raised ride height but an arcing roofline and elongated hatchback tail, this car clearly prioritises style in a way very different than the original 3008 of 15 years ago. It's longer and lower than some cars in this list but still distinctly a crossover in its stance.

Interior roominess is impressive here, in a cabin that evidences all of the progress than Peugeot has made over the last decade in giving its cars greater premium appeal. Boot space exceeds 500 litres, and adults should be almost as comfortable in the second row as up front.

Peugeot offers 1.2-litre turbocharged petrol and 1.6-litre plug-in hybrid powertrains as part of a somewhat truncated engine range. The simpler and lighter petrol rides and handles better, the heavier hybrid feeling heavier in its ride gait and firmer at low speeds. At times, the petrol-electric powertrain struggles through a few clunky drivability quirks too. But body control is good and handling fluency quite impressive in both cases.

With upper-trim level hybrids nudging north of £40,000, this isn't one of this chart's better-value entrants - but it does show that Peugeot can come up with desirable alternative cars again, when it puts its mind to it. 

Peugeot 408 2023

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4. Mazda CX-30

We like the Mazda CX-30. Its silky handling and plush interior stand it out in this class, and the attractiveness and sophistication of the svelte exterior design is quite a rare thing, matched by few rivals in this class.

Neither is it an especially complicated device in concept: there's a choice of two petrol engines and either front-drive or four-wheel drive. The pricier e-Skyactiv X option uses Mazda's innovative SCCI lean combustion technology to cut fuel consumption quite impressively in longer-range cruising. But with either engine you get Mazda's mild-hybrid technology as well, while very nicely judged handling traits delivered on a ride and handling compromise that's a little on the sporting side of the class norm.

The car falls down a touch in terms of interior space, because it's smaller than some cars here; and both engines lack the easy-access turbocharged torque of many rivals, so they need to be worked harder than you might expect if you want the car to really perform.

Otherwise, the CX-30 is arguably the most dynamically accomplished car in this class.

Mazda cx30 2023

5. Kia Niro

Back in second-generation form, the Kia Niro is out to catch your eye. Having moved way beyond the visual appeal of its slightly bland and amorphous-looking predecessor, the new Niro has angular features and much greater chunky visual presence. You will notice it when you see one; and you will be sure of what you're looking at, thanks to the greater design cohesion that Kia is conjuring across its many model lines now.

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The car's similar in proportions to its predecessor, so it doesn't extend far beyond the usual footprint of a standard hatchback, but it does sit a little higher on the road. Interior space is particularly good, especially in row two; and if you choose the right powertrain option, boot space is pretty competitive also.

The car's driving experience isn't quite as impressive as some of its other selling points. While refined enough (and both rangey and punchy if you go for the Niro EV), the 1.6-litre turbocharged engine of both the hybrid and the plug-in hybrid doesn't take to hard work very willingly, while the controls can feel a little anodyne. Driven more moderately, though, both combustion-engined versions of the car can be impressively economical; and prices on the regular hybrid start well below £30,000.

Kia niro 2023

6. BMW X2

The X2 is one of the more unusual additions to BMW's X-branded range of cars, those models with greater practicality and a raised ride height. It's at least as much hatchback as crossover, but that's no bad thing, with the boxier BMW X1 carrying the more practical role.

Back in 2017, this became one of BMW's first front-wheel-drive cars - but that shouldn't discourage those who cherish driving, who should put the X2 at or close to the top of their wishlist. The car launched with a choice of petrol, diesel and hybrid powertrains, the diesels having now been deleted from the engine range. But car's surviving three- and four-cylinder turbo petrol engines offer plenty of muscularity and decent refinement.

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There's a petrol-electric plug-in hybrid derivate (25e xDrive) too. The top-of-the-range BMW X2 xDrive M35i is no doubt the most fun to drive, but for daily driving duties, the less versions have a more rounded compromise.

The X2's steering is enjoyably direct, while body control is excellent by the standards of the class. There are more practical alternatives but few that are as dynamically keen.

Bmw x2

7. Toyota C-HR

The Toyota C-HR was a breath of fresh air when it came out at the end of 2016, when it became one of the first cars in this chart to show that crossover hatchbacks really could look desirable. Seven years later and towards the end of its life, it still stands out - and it has the handling to back those sporty looks up, too.

While the 120bhp 1.8-litre hybrid powertrain can feel a bit gutless, the 182bhp 2.0-litre version is usefully brisk and a little bit less given to rev at the drop of a hat.

Inside, while that sloping roofline eats into rear head room at little bit, this remains a reasonably practical four-seater for adult passengers.

Toyota's infotainment system wants for some features when compared with rivals, although the facelifted version has Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connectivity as standard.

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Toyota c hr 2023

8. Audi Q3 Sportback

Few firms have embraced the cult of the crossover quite so completely as Audi, which offers an almost endless array of Q-badged models, from the Audi Q2 through to the imposing Q8. Many are also offered in Sportback guises, which throw a dash of coupé styling into the mix.

Based on the standard Q3, the Q3 Sportback features a lower roofline that adds some kerb appeal but robs those in the rear of some head room - although the boot remains unchanged, at 530 litres. Under the skin, it has the same choice of petrol and diesel engines, plus a fairly well-priced plug-in hybrid option - and, of course, the availability of Quattro four-wheel drive that brings enhanced traction but is still better suited to slippery roads than the rough stuff.

It's a composed, capable and refined car to drive but offers little in the way of driver engagement, and the low-speed ride can be on the firm side, particularly if you specify sport suspension or larger wheels.

The interior has plenty of style and impact about it, is fairly solidly finished and is packed with digital touchscreen technology - although it doesn't have the solidity of material quality feel of Ingolstadt's bigger models.

Chances are you will really have to love the Sportback's looks to justify forking out the extra couple of thousand pounds over the dynamically identical and marginally more practical Q3. But for Audi buyers, design has always been a big draw.

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Audi q3 sportback 2023

9. Mercedes-Benz GLA

Where the original Mercedes GLA was little more than a ruggedised Mercedes A-Class, the latest one is the result of a much more considered design effort. It's still not the cheapest or most practical option, either in this class or that you might find in your Mercedes showroom (the Mercedes GLB offers more utility, and if you're looking for value, you shouldn't look to Stuttgart anyway), but it will be much more appealing to anyone after a stylish crossover.

The latest generation capitalises on the A-Class's appealingly designed and materially upmarket cockpit and versatile MBUX infotainment system. It also manages to tick the all-important SUV box of a high hip point. Despite big wheels and AMG Line suspension, it even manages to deliver good ride comfort.

If you want to go fast in your crossover hatchback, none will go faster than the – deep breath – Mercedes-AMG GLA 45 S 4Matic+. Thanks to a faintly ridiculous 416bhp, it will sprint to 62mph in 4.3sec. Yes, £66,000 is a lot of money for a crossover, but it's a surprisingly serious performance car.

Among the other engines are a batch of much more affordable and sensible four-cylinder turbocharged petrols and diesels, as well as the tax-efficient GLA 250e plug-in hybrid. Meanwhile, for those who're ready to go fully electric, the Mercedes EQA is ostensibly an EV conversion of this very car.

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Mercedes benz gla 2023

10. Subaru XV

Genuine off-road capability isn't generally high among the priorities of most crossover hatchback shoppers. But for the few for whom it does figure – Scottish travelling midwives, junior veterinarians, retired birdwatchers and all the other stereotypical Subaru buyers you've ever heard mentioned - there's the Subaru XV.

The Japanese brand offers something different than others in this class, because not only does the XV have four-wheel-drive, but it also has proper centre-diff-based permanent symmetrical 4WD and a useful 220mm of ground clearance. So while rivals use clutch-based, part-time four-wheel drive, the XV really does drive all of its wheels all of the time. On the right tyres, it really would go much farther and climb higher off-road than many would believe.

Subaru offers the car with only one hybridised petrol engine: a 2.0-litre turbocharged boxer with 148bhp of power, which can be had in manual or CVT automatic form. It's not an exciting engine, but it does have an unusual offbeat charm.

Subaru Global launched a third-generation model in 2022, called the Crosstrek, although there's no news from the company's UK distributor about when sales of it might start here.

Subaru xv 2023


Matt Saunders

Matt Saunders Autocar
Title: Road test editor

As Autocar’s chief car tester and reviewer, it’s Matt’s job to ensure the quality, objectivity, relevance and rigour of the entirety of Autocar’s reviews output, as well contributing a great many detailed road tests, group tests and drive reviews himself.

Matt has been an Autocar staffer since the autumn of 2003, and has been lucky enough to work alongside some of the magazine’s best-known writers and contributors over that time. He served as staff writer, features editor, assistant editor and digital editor, before joining the road test desk in 2011.

Since then he’s driven, measured, lap-timed, figured, and reported on cars as varied as the Bugatti Veyron, Rolls-Royce PhantomTesla RoadsterAriel Hipercar, Tata Nano, McLaren SennaRenault Twizy and Toyota Mirai. Among his wider personal highlights of the job have been covering Sebastien Loeb’s record-breaking run at Pikes Peak in 2013; doing 190mph on derestricted German autobahn in a Brabus Rocket; and driving McLaren’s legendary ‘XP5’ F1 prototype. His own car is a trusty Mazda CX-5.

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