The traditional family hatchback segment may not be the market's fastest-growing, but it remains one of the most important and hotly contested. WIthin it, class stalwarts are reinventing themselves all the time, while brand new entrants come along with regularity, each intended to break through and take the market by the scruff of the neck.
Very few make much of a dent in the established power of the blue-chip contenders. The traditional family hatchback as we once knew it no longer really exists. Once humble day-to-day hauler of people and their luggage, these cars have been transformed into often quite striking five-door aspiration machines that offer something for everyone, whether you're looking for a frugal diesel, a peppy small turbocharged petrol engine, bargain transport or something with an upmarket flavour or a sporty lilt.
Below are our top 10 family hatchbacks currently on sale.
Ford’s new Focus has claimed back its old spot at the top of the Autocar family hatchback pile with its outstanding handling and superbly pliant, well-resolved ride. Having arguably been in slight decline since the death of the Focus mkI, the best-handling family hatchback in history is undoubtedly back to its very best on driver appeal.
There’s plenty of space inside, a completely new platform and exterior has given the Ford a new lease of life. Its cabin still doesn’t quite offer the same levels of fit-and-finish as a Volkswagen Golf or Seat Leon, though.
This fourth-generation model is available with both petrol and diesel engines, while base models make use of a torsion beam rear suspension configuration and passive dampers instead of the multi-link arrangement, partnered optionally with adaptive dampers, of more powerful models. Even the lower-end and less sporty configurations of the car stand clear of their rivals for handling dynamism, however.