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The best hatchbacks for 2021

Looking for a family hatchback that can go the distance? We’ve rounded up some of the best 2021 has to offer.

The sumptuous Volkswagen Golf 8

The sumptuous Volkswagen Golf 8

Crossover SUVs might be big sellers at the moment, but the trusty 5-door hatchback never goes out of style. Hatchbacks are versatile, fun to drive and come with all the space and connectivity you could wish for. And this year’s most wanted models don’t disappoint… could you be driving one of these in 2021?

A powerful statement: Volkswagen Golf Mk 8

It’s perhaps more premium in price than your run-of-the-mill hatchback - but then there’s nothing average about the Golf. It’s been leading the way in design, technology and performance since the first model left the factory in 1974, with more than 35 million models sold. The 2021 version, the Golf 8, is being pushed by the German manufacturer as the ultimate modern hatchback – and it’s difficult to argue with them. The Golf 8 has delivered big changes to the model’s core design and technology, with a sharper, more streamlined exterior including a dominant chrome strip across the minimalist front grille, and new technology under the bonnet. Ground-breaking ‘mild hybrid’ powertrain and engines are here in five choices, with the eHybrid model delivering 50 miles on its electric motor alone. Meanwhile, the interior builds on VW’s past promise of the ‘8’ as a “total digital environment’, with stunning, immersive digital instrument display, gesture control infotainment screen, impressive self-parking function, and super responsive outer sensors.

Future driving, now: The Ford Focus

The Ford Focus is already a huge seller, but 2021’s version builds on the models fourth-generation redesign which has made it bigger, sportier and more capable than ever. Driver and passengers will experience the premium-level comfort Focus fans are accustomed to, while having the option of a mild hybrid which promises 10% more fuel efficiency and 20% better acceleration than the combustion engine alone. Here, it is complemented by an electric motor and an additional 48-volt battery. Elsewhere, the driving experience has been refined to include an array of assistance tools, including adaptive cruise control and lane centring, while in the cabin you can access multiple features including sat nav, remote locking and location finder, thanks to the FordPass Connect app.

The British family favourite: Vauxhall Astra

The 2016 Vauxhall Astra was named European Car of the Year, and five years on, it’s still a star among UK cars. Its 2021 revamp gives the Astra a hybrid drivetrain underneath its aerodynamic body work, which ensures it keeps up, and then some, in a highly competitive segment. That Astra front grille is resplendent with active matrix LED headlights, while the cabin is a delight, with the addition of extra safety features and two 10-inch screens, one for the digital cockpit and one for the touchscreen infotainment system, with app pairing to Apple and Android.

K-car, absolute star: Kia Ceed

The Ceed’s 2021 release shows a serious side to a perhaps quirky brand, bolstered by an industry-leading 7-year warranty. Ushering in a more refined drive, with new features and a smart leather-trimmed interior, the 2021 Ceed (minus the pesky apostrophe of yesteryear) has a new diesel hybrid engine option to go with a nifty 201bhp GT option, while its longer profile gives the Ceed a more streamlined silhouette and a sharper performance. Inside the cabin, there’s an impressive floating touchscreen and the driver will enjoy helpful features such as lane keep assist as standard. It’s all combined with the practicality you’ve come to expect from Kia, with plenty of legroom for five passengers, a 625-litre boot and, on the top spec trim, a few optional treats, like heated rear seats. Plus, if you’re looking for off-road appeal, the XCeed trim promises to be a bulkier, barnstorming option.

Low key, low emissions: Peugeot 308

A humble hatchback that looks set to offer plenty in both looks, tech, and performance, the Peugeot 308 retains the Gallic flair and panache of its forebears, with some cool new touches, like its dynamic new Peugeot lion badge which is more reminiscent of a modern sports franchise, and smart chrome details streaking off from it. 2021’s Peugeot 308 has excellent fuel economy across the range, with most delivering upwards of 50mpg, and the Blue HDi 100 version claiming up to 65mpg. The 308 interior is minimalist but considered, retaining the smaller, sporty i-Cockpit steering wheel, which gives the driver more room to manage the user-friendly touchscreen controls, with the infotainment system housing both sat nav and smartphone mirroring for Apple and Android technology. And with its piercing ‘cat’s eye’ LED lighting guiding drivers through murky Alpine pass or winding coastal road, the array of tech and aesthetic artistry on show makes the 308 a magic little number.

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About the Author

John McCallum